N01: Starting Social

A series of DMs I just sent on starting from scratch with social media; useful for small gaming brands, streamers, or individuals.

Last week I was asked by a manager of a fledgling esports team about how to create a presence online, and how to treat their social media. While this isn’t a complete guide by any means, I feel like my answers were a good place to start for people looking to get in the right mindset, and away from “I’m small, so I must not have any value.”

As with many things, the “whys” are just as important as the “hows”, but hey, I’ll throw in some direct orders there, too.

Thanks for the people who’ve signed up for this newsletter! I’m hoping to keep it informative and informal.

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1. Create value

Your primary role in determining your direction in your social media is how you can create value to your audience. Asking yourself the question "what value can I bring?" is a good way to keep yourself in check because it's a blunt question that can have really simple, or really complicated answers.

You can be valuable by:

  • Providing information that helps people follow your team, stream, or players.

  • Providing highlights to your streams or matches that help people catch up on things they may have missed if they can't watch live.

  • Providing information and context to why those clips are special. Your knowledge of your game and your product and your ability to communicate it is valuable, and helps to improve your audience's understanding.

  • Being funny, entertaining, or informative about things going on in your scene, instead of just with you.

It's a hard question to ask yourself because you can't be afraid of the possibility that you don't have that answer yet. If you're an individual, it can be a bit of a bummer to think "okay, I don't have anything". However, think about what knowledge you have that you take for granted; being able to communicate it to enrich other people is valuable.

The thought of "I can't do anything different from the big brands/streamers" is an okay thought to have, because it means you need to drill deeper. What makes you "you?"; without judgment or risk of an existential crisis, ask yourself "why am I special [in this context]?"

Even just being able to say "one of our players has a nice personality" or "I believe in positivity in my scene" or "I want to see my small niche grow" is something to build off of. You don't need to be totally unique, but you have to realize that you, as an individual person, are going to have different thoughts, values and methods than "the big players," and that's something you can work off of.

Please keep in mind that this relationship should be one based on altruism - you have to want to do it to genuinely help people. If you're just doing it for clout, or to increase a follower count, people can tell, and your ability to build a solid community will be affected in the process. Don't make memes just to schedule memes. Make memes because they're funny, and you like to make people laugh.

There's a difference.

2. Do it sustainably

Be honest with yourself about your ability to keep doing any project you start. If you commit to tweeting about every match start to your team, make sure you can ensure that level of quality. Don't set a standard you can't keep, and realize that your personal level of involvement is part of that.

Don't be afraid to admit there's only so much you can do — being realistic about this means you aren't making your fans suffer a downtrend in quality. You want them to always be experiencing a positive trend in quality, and your ability to keep it going is dependent on your resources and you.

By taking an honest look at yourself and saying "what do I have the resources to do?" without putting pressure on yourself to do what you think you're "supposed to be doing", you can put your effort into actually valuable things. You can also make sure it's maintained for enough time for people to see its value.

3. Build goodwill with your fans

By making things that are valuable, you build a bank of goodwill with your fans. By asking them to buy things, or by producing sponsored things (which, really, are asking fans to put up with the marketing so you can pay the bills), you're withdrawing from that bank.

By producing things with altruism, you're always in the mindset of making more deposits to the bank of goodwill than withdrawals. Over-withdrawing from your bank means your brand and perception suffers long-term (if not permanent) damage.

4. Track things

I don't like to be obsessed about numbers, especially at the small level, but convincing people to give you money in sponsorships or partnerships is going to be about tracking why you can bring good things to their brand.

A "key performance indicator" (or KPI) is something you track in order to determine your success. The nice thing about this is that it doesn't have to be something like followers — it could be something like "do people feel comfortable in my chat?" or "do people feel happy to be part of my community?"

However, externally, you're probably going to want to keep an eye on things that influence the scale of your reach, and how much engagement you can bring to a partner.

The earlier you learn how these things work, the better. I'm not saying to hunch over and obsess about numbers, but data can be used positively, and you'll be expect to collect it if you're entering a business agreement.

5. Media, Copy and Branding

Learn Photoshop. Learn Premiere Pro. Find free equivalents if you need it. Learn how to edit photos and make graphics. Photos should be cropped in a 1:1 or 2:1 dimensions for social media.

Learn how Twitch clips work to easily grab video. The more media (photos and video) you have as "ammunition", the easier it is to make better social media posts. Think about your pool of photos and media as valuable; you never know how long you'll have to make it last.

Don't abuse emojis. Don't abuse caps lock. Don't abuse hashtags. People will rarely remember if you don't do something, but they'll always remember if you do something badly. Less is more.

Look at accounts you like yourself, and try to think "what do I like about it?" "What connects with me?"

Other useful stuff

Use http://www.hemingwayapp.com/ to find flaws in your copy, and make it shorter, more punchy, and to the point. However, try to find a balance between what it suggests and actually sounding like a human: I don't follow the app rigidly, but it helps me find my bad habits (adverbs, cliches, etc).

Other useful link is https://thefutur.com/learn, because they have a lot of videos about learning about branding, design and marketing if you've never been taught.

However, at its core, the thought of "create value" should probably what guides you if you're just starting out.

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