This is only based on my own experiences but there are a many people who are both skilled and experienced in Social Media and have their own channels and blogs, follow them and learn from their example.
Once your game is in a rough form, it’s good to start talking about it online. Having a Boardgame Geek, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook presence really helps to organically grow an audience for free, it just takes a little time. One of the main questions I hear on Facebook a lot is when to share a game and how to protect intellectual property. Now, though there have been some high-profile instances, people don’t steal boardgame ideas. Sharing your idea on social media will not only help you find your audience, but by opening yourself up to responses from creators and fans of potentially obscure other games you will be able to see if your game is truly unique, or at least where in the marketplace it sits. But also, far from endanger your IP it’ll protect it. Copyright comes in effect immediately, without needing to put a copyright mark on your work, which is just a marker to say that you will sue someone if they steal your idea. One of the ways the courts rule in copyright cases is by having a paper trail to prove that your idea is yours, and they accept internet presence as a paper trail. So, if it really comes down to it, showing that you’ve been openly working on an idea for years can only help you. The community are also pretty quick to notice, report and damn a game which has been stolen.
Boardgame Geek is a good place to start a design diary, which are very popular and will help get people interested in your game. BGG also has lots of design competitions, if you have the time and energy, enter some of these; they’ll help you hone your design skills and earn you a designer badge, which can only help once you’ve launched your Kickstarter. BGG is a little difficult to use and not great for marketing but if you’re willing to become part of the community through just being on there and having chats, it can really pay off. Also, once you have a physical game, getting your supporters to rate it on BGG can really help in the long term.
Instagram and Twitter seem to be good places to talk about boardgaming as a hobby. Take pictures of the games you’re playing, your game in prototype form, and artwork you get, particularly work in progress, as people like to see the development of your game. There are some very slick Instagram pages out there, but don’t worry if that doesn’t end up being your account, it can just be simple and personal.
Facebook, being built on groups, can require more interaction. There are a lot of boardgame groups, design groups, solo design groups, RPG design groups and Kickstarter design groups out there, join as many as you can and get chatting. Don’t jump in with sharing your game, but comment on some posts and ask questions. Become an active member of the community. Then create a page and group for your game which you can share from. At this point you shouldn’t be worried that there are just 4 people who liked your page, its more to have a free place for people to visit to find out more about you and your game.
It might seem annoying, and is certainly time consuming, to be on all of these platforms but it is important. There is cross over on social media and I have friends/followers who are on all of the platforms. However, there are lots of people who are only on one, so being on as many of them as possible will allow you to cast the widest possible net.
Just a quick note on e-mail lists. They are not as important as some people would have you believe and they are certainly not worth keeping your game on hold for years for, there is a point of diminishing return with them. By all means start collecting e-mails, it is important, however we launched our first Kickstarter with literally 3 e-mails. Lots of well-respected people said we would definitely fail because we didn’t have a list of 1000-2000, but we ended up over backing.
There are two main points to being on social media. Firstly, it gets your game out there, creating a presence. You’d be surprised how many people remember your game from conversations had on Facebook months before your launch. Secondly, when at conventions and in conversations it gives you a free landing page, now is not the time to be paying money, which you may never see again, paying for a website. There are some free website creators out there (Weebly for example) but you’ll have to drive traffic to it. The benefit of social media is that it has its own traffic going through it every day that your website can’t compete with. So, get out there, make friends and most importantly be positive and supportive.