Partnering up with a social media influencer can bring in hordes of new players. There are thousands of influencers out there who rack up billions of hours of consumers’ time (a recent YouGov survey showed us that Q3 2019, the number of hours of live gaming content watched has more than doubled, from 3.8 billion hours to 9.0 billion in Q2 2021). GWI’s latest report estimates that 84% of gamers use YouTube for gaming content and news.
And with new laws around privacy and advertising affecting UA campaigns, now might be a good time to look at alternative ways to get exposure for your titles and bring new players to your game. But which influencers should you work with? And how do you find them? Here’s what we know.
Figure out your objectives
Depending on your budget and preference, there are a few ways to find the right partner. The first is to buddy up with an agency that works with influencers. This can be a much easier and simpler process than doing it yourself, but it comes with setbacks. Or, you can go about it yourself. This can be a longer and more tedious process, but it can reap more results (and save a cent or two in finders fees).
Before we dive into the how, when, and why, you’ll need to get a few things in order:
Perfect your pitch: This should be short, simple, and sweet. You’ll want to include a catchy and descriptive title, a short description of your game, and any trailers and imagery. You don’t need to oversell here – let your work speak for itself. You can even use AI to lend a hand here. Just make sure to personalize it and use the suggestion as a guide (rather than just copy and paste).
Define your audience: There are thousands of influencers, all covering different genres and games. Define who your target audience is (age, gender, likes), and you’ll have an easier job of vetting who you should work with.
Figure out your budget: This’ll help you decide how many influencers you can work with, how long you want your campaigns to run, and whether or not you can afford to work with an agency.
Using an agency to find influencers
If you’re short on time, pairing up with an agency could be a good way to go. They can save you a lot of hassle and cut out a lot of the legwork.
Five agencies to consider:
Matchmade: They specialize in YouTube and Instagram, and cater for all gaming platforms.
Game Influencer: They can can help secure Let’s Play videos, integrated ads into their content, product placement, and pre-rolls.
Disobey: They have over 15K creators connected on their Twitter, and work with studios like SEGA, Raw Fury, and NVIDIA.
Pocket Whale: These guys specialize on YouTube, Twitch, Instagram and Snapchat.
The Handbook: This tool acts much more like a directory which you can sign up to. It costs around £70p/mo, and has a long list of influencers you can reach out to.
What can an agency help with?
Cut out a lot of the admin. If you’re doing it yourself, you need to be organized. So that’s research, spreadsheets, and time you could better spend on your game.
They’re the experts. They can help you find the right partner, perfect your pitch, even advise on when is best to reach out to an influencer (so you avoid conflicting with other game launches and events, to increase your chance of being accepted).
They have a foot in the door. It’s not a complete cold outreach. They work with these influencers every day and have built a relationship with them, so you’ll likely get much better and faster results than doing it yourself.
They can scale with your game and budget. These agencies can work with and scale with your success. They can tap into their network of influencers to create campaigns of different sizes and scopes, depending on your needs and budget, which they can adapt over time easily.
They can help optimize your ROI. Influencer agencies have tools and dashboard to track campaign performance, and can make adjustments to optimize your return on investment (ROI). A good agency should also be sharing insights and their recommendations to increase performance (from creatives, pitches, through to picking the right partner).
What are the drawbacks of using an agency?
They might not focus on your niche. There are plenty of genres and sub-genres (especially within mobile gaming). If you’re building a puzzle idle mobile game with a ‘dog plumbers in space’ theme, well that’s a very specific game you have there. And some of these agencies might not have contacts that specialize in that area.
They might not have the influencer you want. There are thousands of influencers out there. If you have a specific influencer in mind, they might not be connected with any agency – they could be handling their sponsorships and partnerships themselves. So you could lose out on the perfect match. Take The Frustrated Gamer for example. When looking on their YouTube channel, they direct any business enquiries to their personal email. And although they might also be working with some agencies, they could easily be a missed opportunity. Or the agency might be charging you for something you could find yourself.
It costs money. Depending on what the agency’s model is, it could cost you a pretty penny working with one. Some usually charge a flat rate for every video, where others can take a commission on top of your results.
No guarantee of getting sponsored. The influencer still needs to accept the job. And there’s no guarantee that they will. So you could be paying with no actual outcome (depending on their model).
Lack of control. When working with an agency, you might have less control over which influencers you end up picking, the creative direction of your campaign, and the timing and scheduling of content. You could also have to give up some control over your overall messaging, which might not be ideal.
Room for error. They say don’t shoot the messenger. But in this scenario, if your agency partner miscommunicates something about your game, gets the pitch wrong, or even isn’t as convincing as you would be when reaching out, well it can affect your campaigns, or even chances of getting picked.
How to search for influencers yourself
Finding influencers for your games isn’t necessarily rocket science. It just takes some time, patience, and a good pitch. When looking, you want to make sure you reach out to as many as possible, with different ranges of popularity and niches. The more popular they are, the harder they’ll be to convince (and the more they’ll probably cost). So have a large, focused list of who to target. Here are a few things you can do:
Cast a wide net
It’s tempting to go for the best influencers out there. Afterall, why wouldn’t you want PewDiePie raving about your game? But micro-influencers (smaller, and sometimes are more specialized) can be just as effective, and even have higher engagement rates. Take Retromation – he has around 200k subscribers and specializes in rogue-like games. But he regularly gets over 25% of his subscribers watching his videos. Meanwhile, a star like PewDiePie has over 100 million subs, but only around 5% watch regularly. (And most of his content isn’t actually gaming.)
Also, the more popular an influencer is, the more competition you’ll be fighting against to grab their attention. So reaching out to a range of influencers will give you the best chance of landing a few partners to work with.
Search for similar games
Use key terms like “gameplay”, “review”, “let’s play” or “guides” while searching for your competitor’s games on social channels. If you find any gamers making content around those similar titles, chances are they’ll like and cover yours, too.
Look at your direct competitors
You can see who your competitors or similar studios have partnered up with by heading to their social media accounts, saving you from starting your search from scratch.
Check that they’re the real deal
You want to make sure whoever you partner up with has real followers and high engagement rates. Influencer marketing tools like HypeAuditor and BuzzSumo can help you do a background check, and find out what their engagement is like.
Keep an organized list
Your outreach should reach triple digits. So you’ll need an organized excel spreadsheet (or any other organizational tool), to keep track of who you’ve contacted, what the status is, how large that influencer is, and what you’ve secured.
Plan ahead and give yourself time
Whatever route you go down, make sure you give yourself plenty of planning time. Ideally, you’ll want to reach out to agencies or influencers a few weeks before you launch your game. That way, you should have perfected your creatives and game, and give yourself enough time to reach out and schedule your game into a creator’s calendar.