A comparison of social networks

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April 18th, 2009

Part of our strategy for getting the word out about Overgrowth revolves around various social networks. Pretty much the only way we grow is organically through word of mouth. This is why we take social networking sites very seriously, because we are able to grow without being dependent on (insert giant news site here) to randomly write an article on us.

We have tried a lot of things, and here are the top five sites that have been really good for us. Here's a skittlr to view all of them at once: Overgrowth Skittlr!

Web 2.0 Explosion
Web 2.0 Explosion

1. Facebook (3750 fans)
Facebook is the king, hands down. It has long since been the largest social network in the world, and pretty much everything about it is designed to be spread virally.

It is perfect for game developers, because it supports a music player, high def videos, photos (a.k.a. concept art and screenshots), and notes (a.k.a. the Wolfire Blog). Therefore, I try to treat our Facebook Page as a valuable standalone site instead of simply a way to redirect people back onto wolfire.com.

Our Facebook Page gets around 350 visitors per day with occasional random spikes boosting it to 1000 - 2000.

2. YouTube (412 subscribers)
I think we all are familiar with YouTube. It is the uncontested king of video sites. It's 720p HD is ideal for demoing video games. A lot of people treat their video provider as sort of a dumping ground for their videos to embed on their own site. YouTube is actually much more than that.

One thing we've noticed is that some of our videos that we put up on YouTube get crazy amounts of traffic even though we've never even posted about them. I've always wondered how this happens and where these videos are getting so much traffic from. YouTube recently launched a hardcore analytics tool for their videos and now I can answer this question precisely. It turns out that YouTube has a number of ways to promote videos internally. Search, showing up at the end of YouTube videos, showing up on the sidebar of other videos, and other random internal YouTube stuff makes up about 30% of all our video views. Some of our videos have over 30,000 views purely from internal YouTube features.

We get 300 - 1.5k video plays per day, and about 30% of those are from internal YouTube features. The rest are from embedded players on ModDB, our blog, and the direct sharing on AIM, etc.

3. ModDB (417 watchers)
ModDB is sort of like a collection of Facebook pages but it is just for indie video games and mods. Pretty much the perfect fit for us. While it doesn't have the insane 100 million users / day that Facebook does, it is a huge site and has a lot of potential to raise awareness about your game.

We tend to get about 100 visits / day on average to our ModDB page, but every week when we update our page with some new news, we get a boost to around ~1000 visitors.

4. Steam (435 members)
Steam is probably the hardest to quantify. We definitely get a lot of people contacting us on Meebo claiming to have found us through our Steam page, but we don't really get any stats from Steam. Also, our Steam page doesn't really have any fancy features so it is mostly useful for transferring people over to Facebook and ModDB.

5. Twitter (447 followers)
I really, really wanted to love Twitter. There is so much hype about it and all of my friends seem to twitter non-stop. It is gaining traffic exponentially. Could it be the next Facebook? Well, I gave it a fair shot, but I am sad to report that it is not too useful, albeit very addictive.

How can we measure Twitter's impact?

Well, it is pretty easy to just look on Google Analytics and see how many referrers we get from Twitter. The answer is about 40 per day. Anyone on Twitter who shares a Wolfire Blog post or links to Overgrowth is counted in that figure. This includes my very own tweets that often link to Wolfire. So how many people are clicking on my tweets and how many are organic from other people spreading the word about us? Well, using a URL shortener like bit.ly, I can tell exactly how many. The answer is that only about 10-30 people click on my links.

I think I will save my criticisms of Twitter for its own blog post, but basically, it is pretty misleading. You will think that you are building up a huge crowd, but the truth is that most of your updates will be seen by virtually no one. 40 hits per day is nothing to sneeze at though, and maybe Twitter will become more useful later on, so I will continue to use it.

So that has been my experience so far with various social networks. What are some other ways we might reach new people?