Kickstarter Lesson #243: Instagram

6 February 2018

Do I really have time to expand your social media presence to a new platform?

That’s the question I’ve asked myself for years in regards to Instagram. I’m constantly on Facebook, Twitter, and BoardGameGeek, and my content creation schedule is already quite busy:

  • Sunday: personal blog entry
  • Monday: KS Lessons blog entry, personal blog entry
  • Tuesday: game design YouTube video, personal blog entry
  • Wednesday: Facebook Live video or project update, personal blog entry
  • Thursday:  KS Lessons blog entry, personal blog entry
  • Friday: game design YouTube video
  • Saturday: KS Lessons YouTube video

Each of these is about more than just creating the content–it’s about interacting with people who engage with that content.

Not to mention that my social media engagement is almost exclusively on my computer, while Instagram is built for your phone. In fact, until recently, you literally could not post to Instagram using your computer (only via your phone).

All of this added up to me ignoring Instagram. But then, a few weeks ago, I got an email from Kristi at Peace, Love, & Games. She also manages the Instagram account for Tasty Minstrel Games, and she encouraged me to be more active on Instagram. So, despite the various excuses I listed above, I decided to give it another try.

2 weeks later, and I’m loving Instagram. Here’s why:

  • It’s low-maintenance. I post 1 photo a day, and I usually check in a few times to answer questions, like comments, and scroll through my feed. At most, I spend 5 minutes a day on Instagram.
  • It feels good. This is hard to quantify, but simply put, Instagram feels like a happy place. It’s relaxing to scroll through the photos, and because of the filters you can apply to the photos, everything you post feels special. There’s something else that I can’t quite put my finger on, but it just has a distinctly happier feel than other social networks in which I’m active.
  • It’s flexible. My Instagram account is under my name, which probably isn’t ideal for Stonemaier Games. However, it gives me the freedom to post pretty much anything I want, which is nice. Here’s what I’ve posted over the last 2 weeks:

Now, Instagram isn’t entirely without problems. I’ve found the user interface to be a little confusing, and there’s still stuff I haven’t figured out (like how to scroll through new comments without weeding through new likes). Unlike on Facebook, people rarely use their real names on Instagram, which makes it less personal. And it’s still pretty much just a mobile platform, though Hootsuite–the web app I use to manage my Twitter accounts–now lets you post to Instagram.

But overall, I’d recommend it. I have a daily alert that reminds me to post on Instagram, which has helped me get into the habit. Unlike Facebook, where I rarely post anything on my personal account unless I think it’s worth the time and attention of everyone who follows me, I really do feel free to post something light, fun, and transient on Instagram. Like cats sitting on my game design notes, samples I get from my manufacturer, or food with a story.

Update: It appears that Instagram users often use hashtags as a way of connecting to the overall web of images on the platform (opposed to the more comical use of hashtags on Twitter). So, if you post a photo of a board game, you might add #boardgame. You can search for hashtags to follow your own brand on Instagram as a way of seeing what other people are posting about you and your games.

Is all this social media worth the effort? I think so. It’s hard to quantify, but I see a lot of value in relationship marketing. I want people to feel like Stonemaier Games is a friend, not some distant, cold corporation. And the friendship goes both ways.

Do you use Instagram? If so, do you have any tips for new users? Also,  you should follow me on Instagram here!

Also read:

17 Comments on “Kickstarter Lesson #243: Instagram

  1. I’m a solid advocate of Instagram for all the reasons you state. One thing I find true of most publishers is that they spend very little (at least from my perspective) time showing off their games art and development in a strictly visual sense.
    It’s a missed opportunity and sharing that art, design and development with the community will only strengthen their ties to the games and brand.

  2. I’ve read of Instagram as a photo diary (day in the life), and as long as you practice for one photo per day, you may inadvertently find your life get more interesting, chasing that cool photo for the day. :)

  3. I dont use Facebook, or Instagram. With that aside I admire the heart you put into your company Jamey. To insure you get to connect with your fans and not have them feel like they only exist to fund your aspirations. I appreciate the efforts you put in to communicate followers. Thanks again

  4. Jamey,

    Given the degree of outeach you’re comited to at the present time, as long as you can afford 5 min (or a bit more) per day, it’s well worth it in terms of garnering new followers through the gorgeous art associated with many of your titles.

    Cheers,
    Joe

  5. I think it’s great that you’re on Instagram. To me, it feels different from other platforms because it’s such a celebration of the games we’re playing. More in-depth commentary usually takes place on other platforms, while Instagram is a fun way to show how games appear in our day-to-day lives.

    Also, cats.

  6. Instagram has been my primary social media platform of choice due to my primary use for “social as promotion / networking tool” began when I was promoting an art gallery and my own art shows down in South Florida. Like you, I’m using my own name as my account, but for me, that has worked out as over time as I’ve transitioned to more board game related posts, I’ve kept my friends/fans who are sharing the journey with me, rather than hoping from an art exclusive account to a board game exclusive account.

    There are 2 things you mentioned that sparked a realization for me:

    1) The overall positive feel of Instagram versus other social platforms. In my experience, Twitter is very polarizing and snarky. Facebook is very much a debate platform. Whereas Instagram is neither, and it’s also mostly supportive in the comments. (with the occasional bot comment) Thanks for making me cognizant of it!

    2) Hashtags. When I first got on Instagram back in 2012 I didn’t know the first thing about “hashtags” and at the time, people were relatively new to them. Facebook either hadn’t even implemented them, or they were fairly new. My favorite part about Instagram is the hashtag use now. For example, in 2016 I attempted a New Game a Day for the entire year. I failed, but my wife and I had fun trying AND I had designated #YearOfGames as the hashtag for every post, so, I can now easily go back and see/review/revisit what I did with that project. And you can look it up in a browser on desktop, which is nice! Like this: https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/yearofgames/

    Thanks again Jamey. And I just got your Crowdfunding book on Audible. I recently took over as Director of Marketing for CrowdOx, and my main task is helping the board game world (my personal passion) become more aware of their services.

    I look forward to learning more from your journeys! And I plan to do my own Instagram blog post now to expand on what you’ve made me think about.

    Thanks!

    1. Vaughn: I learn more about Instagram with each of these comments! That’s really cool to hear about how your hashtag helped you find older posts.

      Thanks for checking out the book, and congrats on the new CrowdOx gig!

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