A guide to hobby & social media – The Meta (Part 1)
This is the first post in series that will form a guide about setting yourself up online to showcase your hobby. Topics I will cover are;
- Setting up social media accounts
- Getting your first like and follower
- Continuing to grow your online following
- How to use the various platforms available to grow even further
- What not to do
- Useful online tools
I’ve had a few people talk to me regarding this topic. How to set up social media, a blog or some other form of online media to get themselves out there and involved in a larger community. The reasons for setting up online vary greatly, from not having anyone to play with to wanting interaction and that feeling of “Yeah, I am pretty good at this painting stuff even though my wife doesn’t care”.
I work in web and so I go through these motions a lot with my clients. Many people don’t know about all this social media nonsense and only really use Facebook to interact with friends, large brands and perhaps some hobby related Facebook groups. If this is you and you want to get yourself and your minis out there then keep reading. If you’re a business then this will form a good guide, but there are other aspects that need to be considered. I may do another post about this or feel free to contact me via Facebook or Twitter to discuss.
This first part has very few practical steps, it’s more about thinking and decisions. (Although I do reference 40K, this guide isn’t 40K specific. It could be applied to any tabletop game).
Make the Decision
This can be hardest step, taking the plunge by getting your head in the right place and ready to unleash your awesomeness on the world. Once you have decided to be involved in a wider online audience you should embrace it with both Power Fists! There will be doubts in your mind about time commitments, being told you’re no good and getting zero interest, these may materialise into real situations but it will be worth it. Prepare to be praised, critiqued and called a heretic for the world wide web is much like war in the 41st Millennium – Chaos!
Choosing a Name
Many online hobbyists don’t use their real name. Many do of course. It’s entirely up to you whether you use your real name or an online handle which you’ll become known as. Mine is Cadian Shock for example.
The reasons for not using a real name are perhaps not obvious. But speaking to others it appears to be mainly done to hide their love for the hobby from friends, family, a partner or work colleagues. Perhaps there will be a time one day when we can all be open about our hobby interests without fear of persecution! If there are other reasons please share and I will attempt to address these too at a later date.
If you’re a business and interacting with real people/taking their money you’ll certainly want to use your real name and/or company name.
Stop & Think
Its very easy to do everything at the start of an endeavour like this, its exciting after all! You should think about why you’re doing this before posting anything and everything. Stop and think for a short time about why you’re are reaching out into the online universe. Some possibilities might be;
- Showcasing your amazing painting skills
- Looking for feedback on your short stories centred around 40K
- Sharing your inner tactical genius for Imperial Knights
- Displaying your homemade terrain, game board and room dedicated to your hobby
This doesn’t need to be set in stone because you can always steer your content in a new direction. But by having a direction and a purpose from the beginning you can focus on one or two audiences and serve them well rather than spreading yourself too thinly and achieving nothing.
This part is optional as it can be boring / time consuming, it can also stop you from going insane and from going to bed at 4AM on a week day. Just like in a table top game your units exist to fulfil a purpose, they exist on the table to get your force closer to victory by achieving objectives. You should think about what objectives you want to achieve online with your social media presence and/or blog.
Without this its very easy to fall into one of the following traps, I have done all three and I am sure there are more waiting for me;
- Doing anything to drive traffic and make those graphs move upwards
- Doing nothing as you get lost in your 10 incomplete projects
- Reposting content on social media and forums to get traffic / feedback / comments
By deciding what you want to achieve each month or week you can move towards that goal, it will also help you focus your content to be more useful, interesting and relevant. It can also act as a personal motivator to complete projects. These objectives only need to simple and above all achievable, a few examples;
- Increase traffic each month by 10%
- Get one comment on a blog post each month
- Increase Facebook page likes or Twitter followers by 10%
By focusing on these simple objectives you will produce better content more regularly, you will attract the right audience and grow your following slowly and in the right direction.