DGOlympics Postmortem

Our social media service provided some interesting data.

XXII Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia

The XXII Winter Olympic Games (a.k.a., Sochi 2014) took place in Sochi, Russia on February 6-23, 2014.  Digital Gamecraft started covering the event via a special @DGOlympics Twitter account, and a new DGOlympics Facebook page, January 24.

Prior to the actual competition, we reported all manner of information about the upcoming events, schedules, venues, and athletes, and once events got started, we reported news and results for all 98 athletic events, in 15 disciplines within 7 primary sports.  We provided a totally free real-time service, on two platforms, with no advertising.

Twitter Service

On Twitter, we posted (necessarily) short factoids and results, including podium finishers for every single event, as well as qualifiers and/or standings (as appropriate) from earlier segments of the competition.  At the start of each competitive day, we posted a list of the medal events that day and highlighted other interesting events.  At the conclusion of competition each day, we posted medal rankings and counts for the top countries.

The format of the result posts was a sport/discipline tag (e.g., #bobsleigh) followed by the event within that discipline, including ‘Men’ or ‘Women’ as appropriate, and then the actual results or interesting facts.  We originally began using #men and #women hashtags, but clicking on either brought up a whole lot of irrelevant and inappropriate garbage, so we dropped that practice quickly.  We made a point of always mentioning the results for American athletes, usually tagged with #TeamUSA.

Shortly after we started posting results, we began to also send out congratulatory tweets to those athletes who earned medals and also had a Twitter account.

By the end of Sochi 2014, we had made almost 1500 tweets (since London 2012).

Facebook service

On Facebook, we posted essentially the same information as Twitter, but without the size constraints, we often included information from several related tweets in a single Facebook update.  For example, all of the upcoming events and highlights for a day were included in one update.  Also, some updates (including medal ranks/counts) provided a little more information (e.g., top 10 instead of top 5) than the similar tweets.

The format of the result posts was similar to Twitter as well, except that sport/discipline tags were included at the end of each post, rather than within a sentence, where the name was spelled out normally.  Results for a single event (or segment thereof) were often combined into a single update, but results from different events were always separate.

We posted hundreds of updates by the end of Sochi 2014.


Beginning with just a few (<10) Twitter followers left over from London 2012, we simply worked on providing a quality service, without external marketing.  Throughout the course of the Winter Games, our following grew gradually and organically to nearly 40 (paltry).  The Facebook page was brand new, and with a single request to all of my friends, the number of ‘likes’ jumped to just short of 30 overnight, but it took the duration for it to grow to almost exactly the same number as Twitter followers.

As Sochi 2014 got started, our Facebook page passed 30 ‘likes’, which is a significant milestone, because at that level one gains access to Insights, which provides information about how many people see each post, the number of people “engaged”, and the total “reach” of your page.  This is where things started getting interesting.

Despite the measly ‘like’ (and ‘followers’) counts, posts were clearly being seen and read far more widely.  Our total engagement numbers were higher than the total number of ‘likes’ on the page, and our reach was in the thousands each week.  Individual posts varied widely, but some got hundreds of views each (without being ostensibly shared), far beyond expectations with fewer than 40 ‘likes’.  On the Twitter side, with no similar analytics, we could still see similar behaviors, when results were often retweeted within minutes of posting, and almost always by somebody who did not follow us.

Though our hopes were to gain more Twitter followers, our tweets congratulating athletes did get some responses, in the form of favorites and retweets, as well as at least one non-athlete Twit who wanted to argue the validity of an official result.  Here is our shout out to the athletes who took the time to acknowledge our tweets:

The sheer number of hours (more than 200) spent compiling information, monitoring the events, and reporting results was astounding, and completely exhausting.  When the Closing Ceremony began, we were more than ready to post the final tallies and be done with the Olympics for 2 more years (at least 🙂 ).


First, the number of ‘likes’ on Facebook and the number of followers on Twitter do not tell the entire story.  We were clearly reaching many times that number of people.

Second, providing a purely informational resource, free of charge, is not enough to fully engage an audience.  We probably needed more cats and misspelled “meme” images.

Third, a comprehensive information resource like the one we provided seems to lose interest over time.  Whether it was Olympic weariness or something more general, our “reach” numbers peaked after about a week and a half, and then slowly declined (although they remained in the low thousands).

Fourth, a concentrated social media resource requires a major commitment of time which, in this instance, is in no way justified by the results.  I, personally, am not sure that I am willing to commit to this again for Rio 2016.

Fifth, even after providing loads of information for weeks, people on social media are apparently still jaded against marketing messages.  Our penultimate Facebook update, which ended with “Please note that DGOlympics has been brought to you by Digital Gamecraft, developer of Demolish! Pairs, http://demolishpairs.com/“, got the fewest views of any post during the entirety of this experiment, by a factor of 2.


Please share your tricks (and failures) about dealing with social media in the comments.

Software Marketing 101

An outstanding resource to online marketing

logoI admit it: I am not the best at marketing.  This is why I am always looking for resources to help me learn more, get better, and ultimately sell more software.  On my system, I keep a large list of bookmarks to pages I need to read, and the ‘marketing’ folder includes, literally, scores of links to pages from DP Directory.

If you, like me, can use all of the marketing resources you can find, you will find their encyclopaedic Software Marketing Glossary very useful.  [In fact, I recently created a new ‘Resources’ category for it, on your right, beneath the blogroll.]  However, there are also more than one hundred articles about online marketing on the site as well.  Specifically for game publishers, they also provide a game press release writing and submission service (which has been used in the past for some of our games, and will be again).

DP Directory is a small company run by Al Harberg, who has decades of experience in the field and provides personal service to clients.  I first interacted with Al through the Association of Software Professionals, where he often dispenses advice (freely) to other members, and I first met him in person at SIC (now ISVCon) 2000 in Tampa.  Interestingly, I recently stumbled across a DP Directory mailing (to our company) from the late 80s, which shows that Al is not new to this game.  He actually offers a service whereby you can Rent Al’s Brain and tap (almost) directly into his many years of expertise.

This week, Digital Gamecraft has begun realigning some internal responsibilities [see opening sentence], and our prospective Director of Marketing/Business Development will be starting her transition by reading the DP Directory website, plus a couple of marketing books originally recommended by Al Harberg.  I am very hopeful…

Reminder: comp.sys.ibm.pc. games.announce

Some game marketing is still essentially free.

If you are interested in marketing games, you can post announcements to the Usenet newsgroup, comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.announce, a group for which I am the (sole) moderator.

To recycle the relevant portions of my original announcement here:

The beauty of using Usenet for marketing is that it is essentially free, making it one of those easy steps that an independent game publisher can take to get additional exposure for its titles. Google Groups carries comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.announce, so your announcement is searchable there and quickly incorporated into the Google index as well.

This is an announcement group, rather than a discussion group, so messages will stand on their own, though the (unmoderated) ‘comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.misc’ discussion group provides an outlet for conversations. For shareware authors, there are other software announcement groups on Usenet, but none that cater specifically to games, so this is an opportunity to be noticed.

Here is the official charter for csipga (as it is known for short):

This newsgroup is for announcements that are useful to the entire PC computer gaming population, including but not limited to new release announcements, software publisher news, bug information, and PC game reviews. Followups will be directed to comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.misc, or another appropriate subgroup at the moderator’s discretion.

In practical terms, I will likely approve almost any message as long as it relates to PC gaming (not in a cheap spam way) under Windows, DOS, Linux, or even Mac OS X if I am feeling generous. Press releases are encouraged, as well as product announcements that may not warrant a full press release. Note also that game reviews are allowed, so it is perfectly acceptable to have a satisfied customer post a glowing game review (though it should come directly from the author, not via the publisher).

[Back to new information…]
Since this is a low traffic group, announcements will stand out, so I encourage anybody interested to take advantage of this game marketing opportunity.

Note that, due to the way moderated newsgroups work, you do not even need to have Usenet access. Simply email your message (press release or whatever) to the submission address, csipga@sophsoft.com, and it will be queued. As long as the message is in plain text (HTML emails are automatically binned) and is on topic for the group, it will be posted. If you have any problems, you can reach me via comments here (or at my regular email address).

I look forward to some good submissions.