The Essential Guide to YouTube Gaming Channel Promotion
Game marketing proffesional and coffee addict.
The road to one million subscribers is not paved at all. It’s a battleground filled with barbed wire, shell holes and bloody trenches – echoing the screams of those who have fallen. While this guide can’t get you a metaphorical airplane (or a zeppelin) that could carry you over the field of battle, it can help with one important aspect of warfare – marketing.
Make no mistake – the obvious Battlefield analogy makes a ton of sense when you consider the sheer number of YouTube gaming channels that’s out there. There is around half a billion gaming video content viewers worldwide – and you are competing for their undivided attention. While you definitely can’t hope to be relevant to all of them, you can figure out how to reach out to those that matter.
You need to stop thinking about subscribers as random, faceless gamers – and relate to them as real humans – people with unique interests, personalities and needs. Having a deep understanding about who your ideal subscribers are is critical to every aspect of your gaming channel – from the types of videos you’ll create to the ways you’ll promote them.
Related to that, here’s one good advice – have a niche. While you might want to create videos about almost everything from roguelike RPGs to 4x strategy games, it’s a sound idea to have a unifying channel theme – and it doesn’t have to be a game genre. Your ‘’thing’’ can be science-fiction themed games, pixel-art games or games that have unicorns in them. And while you might be alienating certain audiences with your particular focus, it gives you a hell-of-a-competitive advantage compared to creators that roll with the ‘’spray-and-pray’’ tactics.
Having a strong nucleus around which your gaming channel is built also means you’ll have an easier time figuring out who your ideal subscribers are. The simplest way you can do this is by creating ‘’gamer personas’’. We can define them as fictionalised representations of your ideal subscribers – think of them as NPCs. You can create one or more, each with a made-up backstory, age, interests, game genres, motivations, goals and frustrations. Instead of making educated guesses, you can also interview your gamer friends.
Knowing exactly who your gamer personas are can not only inform you of ways to promote your content to them, but can also give you great ideas for your next video.
Conducting target audience research can also inform you about an essential ingredient you need to promote your YouTube gaming channel the right way – branding. Look at your noble gaming endeavour in this way – it’s a business. Think of yourself as an entrepreneur running a company – and all companies need branding.
You might already have an awesome logo, kickass intro, jaw-dropping channel art and branded social media posts – but you might doing it wrong. Are they telling your story? And more importantly, are they relevant to your target audience?
Branding is a complicated term – it’s not just fonts, colors, logos and graphics. It’s your unique voice, in a way. It’s what makes you (and your channel) one-of-a-kind. From the narration style you’re using to your online, written communications – it’s what defines what other people say about you when you are not in the room.
‘’As an entrepreneur, one of the biggest challenges you will face will be building your brand. The ultimate goal is to set your company and your brand apart from the crowd. If you form a strategy without doing the research, your brand will barely float – and at the speed industries move at today, brands sink fast.’’
And while our single advice as far as your online voice goes is just to be you – we can certainly help you out with some basic rules and tips you should follow to create a consistent visual branding strategy.
Bethesda Softworks – good example of consistent online branding.
Follow what the big brands are doing.
Color psychology might sound like bulls*it – but it works. Our brains are naturally wired to associate certain colors with emotions. It does not uniformly work for all ages and genders, obviously, but you might want to spend a little bit of time reading about it so you can figure out what would work best to attract and retain your target audience.
If you look at the promotional material of any well known brand, you’ll see that they constantly use the same colors, everywhere. In their logo, in their online posts and images. Follow what the big brands are doing: choose two to five colors to use consistently throughout all of your videos, images and social media posts. Using the same colors over and over again will help subscribers become familiar with your channel and instantly recognise that it’s your video that just came out.
Now, what do you need for a color palette? Two to five colors. That’s it. Here’s an extremely useful tool called Coolors that can help you to make a badass palette in no time.
Fonts are an essential part of visual branding. Just like handwriting can say a lot about who we are, fonts can be used to express similar traits. When it comes to the choice of fonts you’ll be using for your videos, social media posts, avatars and headers, you should pay attention to readability. Most successful YouTube channels use a combo of Sans-Serif/Sans-Serif fonts – the reason being easier readability, especially on mobile devices.
So, what do you need? One font for your headings (custom video thumbnails, for example), and one for the ‘’body’’ (let’s say, commentary you’d like the viewers to pay attention to). Here’s a great site that can help you to choose a perfect font pair.
You could use your own picture for social media avatars and YouTube profile picture. However, existing and potential subscribers will have an easier time at recognising your brand if you use a logo across all your online networks and platforms.
So, how to go about it?
First, your logo needs to use the colors from your color palette. Second, while you might want to go overboard with a bunch of ‘’bling’’ effects such as metal textures and a whole bunch of shading, keep your logo simple and minimalistic. Think in terms of Steam, Snapchat and Twitch – something that is instantly recognisable and easy to remember.
In case you’re not proficient with Photoshop or Illustrator, don’t despair. There’s two things you can do to come up with a perfect logo:
- Use Canva
Canva is an online graphic design tool – one that you can use to create virtually anything you’d ever need for online promotional purposes. From social media headers and post graphics, to presentations for potential sponsors – and yes, you can even design a logo with it.
- Hire a designer
You have no idea how to make a kickass logo? Head over to Fiverr and hire a designer. Fiverr is an extremely affordable freelancing platform – gigs start as low as $5.
Posts & Headers
C-o-n-s-i-s-t-e-n-cy. Get a poster of that word and slap it on the wall. Whether it’s Instagram gaming quote or a Twitter post announcing your latest video, you need to make sure that the fonts and colors you are using are uniform. Same goes for your YouTube channel – don’t deviate from your branding style. You can use a previously mentioned tool, Canva, to quickly design all your social media posts, as well as your YouTube channel art.
Do you really need a website?
Let’s ask it another way.
Do you really want to make money with your YouTube gaming channel?
You might want to open an online store with your branded, gaming merchandise – or you might want to find a sponsor and promote their stuff. Or both. In any case, having a responsive, killer website is a must-have, both for promotional and monetary reasons.
How do you make one? What tools do you need to use?
It all depends on what you long-term goals are. In case you want to do ‘’affiliate marketing’’ (aka, find a gaming equipment store, for example, and have them as a sponsor), you can go with Squarespace or WordPress.
First one is a simple DIY solution.
In case you want to go with the latter, you’ll need a couple of things. First, hosting – you can get a year’s worth and a domain fairly cheaply from hosting providers such as Hostgator, GoDaddy and Namecheap. Second, a working knowledge of the WordPress platform, or the desire to learn how to use it. One of the best selling WordPress themes, Divi, comes with a visual builder and can be mastered pretty quickly, even if you are not that tech-savvy.
”Having a responsive, killer website is a must-have, both for promotional and monetary reasons.”
The other ‘’I don’t wanna deal with that website stuff’’ route you can take is to hire a pro web designer – Upwork, an online freelancing platform is a good place to look.
What elements do you need for your website?
Well, you might want to have it in the form of a blog – with your gaming videos taking the role of traditional blog posts. You need icons that link to your social media networks. If you have a Patreon account, you want a big-ass header promoting it, preferably at the top of every page.
In case you want to open a shop – you can use Shopify from the very start, or link to it from your main website. Squarespace has it’s own e-commerce solution, while there are numerous e-commerce plugins for WordPress, WooCommerce being the most used one.
Finally, one other essential element of your website should be an email subscription form. In the world of online marketing, email is the equivalent of gold – and you want to amass as much of it as you can.
Social Networks & Online Communities
“The painter has total control over what they’re showing to the viewer.”
SELLING A DREAM — Your social media strategy might rely on ‘’follow-for-follow, like-for-like’’ model. While mass-following people and liking their posts on Twitter and Instagram might get you a bunch of followers, will it get you a bunch of engaged followers? Will it get you fans?
Twitter might seem as a hyper-speedy informational highway – in it’s essence, it kinda is. The way you want to use it is as a tool to encourage online word-of-mouth marketing.
First tip – have a 100% completed profile. This means a branded, mobile-optimised header photo, profile photo and profile description, making sure your theme color matches your brand, and including a link to your website or YouTube channel. You can use bit.ly to shorten the link and track clicks – and you might want to experiment a bit. Have the Twitter profile lead to your website for a week or two, and then switch it to your YouTube channel. You can use this simple testing tactics to send visitors to your other social networks as well.
When it comes to tweets, don’t make them all about yourself. You can try posting a branded quote from relevant games every couple of days and see what that does in terms of engagement or you can retweet other YouTubers stuff while adding your own comments. Or gamer memes or gifs.
Be creative and experiment with a bunch of different posts! Tweets accompanied with graphics tend to have higher engagement rates, so make sure you use them.
When it comes to how often you tweet, the simple answer is as often as possible. This doesn’t mean you should spam – but you should post the same tweet at least 3-4 times a day, every 6-8 hours. You only need to make sure that the ‘’pause’’ between each tweet is at least 20-30 minutes. You can take advantage of tools like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule your posts in advance.
While you might already be using Crowdfire to mass-follow and unfollow a whole bunch of people, the most useful feature of this app is the automated messaging, triggered when someone follows you. Most YouTubers set up one, boring message, usually with the same formula ‘’Thanks for following, please check out my channel and subscribe’’. Avoid cliches and experiment with a whole bunch of auto-messages (you can set-up more than one). The goal here is not to get people to check out your videos instantly – the goal is to start a conversation. Something along the lines of ‘’Hey bro – I’m bored af, can you recommend me a cool game to play?’’ seems like an organic message you actually typed, and not automated.
Instagram can be a powerful marketing tool – if done right. As it lacks the spammy features of Twitter, your posts are more likely to be seen and that affects how often you should posts – one or two times a day.
Types of content you should post on Instagram are short clips from your videos, gaming memes, tips and quotes. You can even use it as a blogging tool – for example, you could identify a common problems gamers face when playing ‘’X’’ game, write a couple of hundred words of useful tips that can help with solving those problems, and accompany them with a branded picture that sums up the question (or the solution) as a simple title.
Again, as with Twitter, you need to experiment and figure out what type of content works best for you – an obvious way to track this is the number of likes and comments on posts.
Instagram is notorious for allowing users to include only a single working link – the one that goes in your bio. While this might seem as a handicap, it actually gives you a great advantage. You can use bit.ly to set up a tracking link, and you can change it every couple of weeks – you can send traffic to your channel, website or other social networks, and measure what works best.
You should utilise Instagram Stories to post informal video content – bunch of food and drinks around your keyboard, your setup, your pet or even as a way to inform your followers your new video is out.
Boasting with 100 million daily active users and 8 billion mobile videos viewed per day, Snapchat is one of the fastest growing social apps and networks worldwide. There are a few ways you can use it to promote your YouTube gaming channel.
- Post behind-the-scenes videos and pictures – broken keyboards, brand new GPU’s or half-eaten pizzas.
- Publish random, funny stuff that you might encounter during your day.
- ‘’Snapchat exclusive’’ gaming videos and screenshots.
How the heck do you get Snapchat followers? You can post your Snapchat badge and personalised URL on your other social media accounts, as well as your YouTube channel.
Reddit is the probably the bloodiest trench in our imaginary YouTube gaming battlefield. It’s that place where you should venture with caution – unless you want to get ripped to shreds.
First, make sure that you read all the subreddit rules before posting anything.
Second, be active on Reddit. Comment and post stuff that’s not related to your gaming channel – there’s an infinity of subreddits and you can find those that match your interests and engage with other redditors there.
Third, when you are post a link to your gaming video, make sure you are posting in a relevant subreddit. Don’t post in r/gaming as soon as you jump on the platform. A good strategy would be to find a less known subreddit that is a perfect match for your target audience – r/stellaris, for example, if you made a video about Stellaris. If you just started, you can consider posting in r/newtubers.
Have some class – don’t post random comments asking people to subscribe to your channel. Do some networking instead. Find a YouTuber that has a similar target audience, contact him and try to get him/her to say yes to a co-marketing agreement.
In the world of marketing, co-marketing is a term for ‘’two companies collaborating on promotional efforts for a co-branded offer.’’ In other words, you and your new business partner can make guest appearances on each other channels. You can agree to share each others videos via social media.
You can organise a contest (‘’Win a Generic Supercool Gaming Mouse’’, for example) use gleam.io to manage it, and you can both promote it, everywhere. All you need to do is to make sure that all your graphics contain both of your branding elements – logos, colors and fonts.
Besides making sure that your YouTube profile is perfect in terms of visual branding, copy and connected social media accounts and links, you should include long, relevant descriptions for every single gaming video you post – while including the links to your social media accounts, and your website as well. YouTube SEO (search engine optimisation) can get you a ton of organic, search traffic. Don’t miss out on that.
Remember that website we talked about?
The very last bit about an email subscription form?
Email is far from being dead. In fact, email marketing is 56% effective for retaining users – in your case, YouTube subscribers. Compared to social media marketing email marketing is super effective!
So, depending on what you used to build your website, you either have native email form solutions, or, in case of WordPress, a whole bunch of available plugins you could use to set up newsletter subscription form, such as Contact Form 7, Bloom, WPForms and Gravity Forms.
What you need next is an email marketing automation service provider.