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As we already saw in our article on how to talk to the press, media coverage is one of the most effective ways to promote an indie game.
Reviews, gameplay videos, and social media posts don’t only bring some short-term attention to your project, but also help shape its online presence. And as more creators cover what you’re working on, their opinions will inevitably influence people’s perception of your game altogether.
As a result, it’s important for any indie developer to understand how to keep an eye on what the internet is saying about them. And for that reason, we’ve decided to dedicate today’s post – and newsletter – entirely to coverage tracking and reporting.
In the next few lines, we’ll go through the basics and give you everything you need to analyse your game’s online presence, as well as a couple of tips on what to do next! 👍
While it might sound complicated, coverage tracking essentially boils down to finding, reviewing, and indexing any piece of content about your game or studio.
Content is a bit of an umbrella term these days, so what you’re looking for specifically is anything that either mentions, refers to, or expresses an opinion about your game. As you keep collecting and indexing these pieces of content, you’ll slowly paint a picture of how your game is performing on key platforms, socials, and media outlets throughout its lifecycle.
Coverage tracking isn’t only sensible for monitoring, though. By sampling only coverage that was published between two dates you also get a pretty accurate account of how a specific media campaign or influencer partnership is going.
This is extremely useful if, for instance, you’re trying to gauge your marketing plan’s effectiveness or finalise your next PR activation!
(Launch is often just the beginning, remember!)
Although all coverage affects your game’s online presence in one way or the other, articles and media don’t always have the same impact on your visibility. In other words: the amount of interactions it generates, its source, author, and other aspects of it all contribute to the value of a piece of coverage more than its actual contents.
For that reason, it’s important you understand what to look for when collecting and analysing coverage.
While more complex campaigns might be based on bespoke KPIs, coverage tracking usually relies on a set of well-defined metrics and statistics.
Depending on the goal of your campaign, you’ll likely want to keep an eye on:
Fundamental when evaluating the power of an article or other publication, the number of unique visitors and its domain authority paint a pretty clear picture of how popular a website might be. Although most sites won’t disclose precise traffic data, services like SimilarWeb and ahrefs (which also power our IMPRESS suite!) can be used to best estimate these values instead.
A bit harder to measure than the previous two, these three depict the contents - more than the reach - of a piece of coverage. Interactions might give you a general idea of the popularity of your game, while the tone and words being used to talk about it will tell you a lot about critical reception. On top of that, analysing sentiment and tone will also alert you to any potentially disastrous problems people might be running into while playing your game.
One of the most important metrics when tracking coverage, backlinks are essentially citations referencing a specific piece of coverage in other websites, pages, or resources. Much like they would for an academic paper, these citations increase the prestige of that bit of coverage, both generating additional traffic to it as well as helping it rank higher in search engines’ results. And it’s even better when they link to you!
In most scenarios, coverage tracking is but the beginning of a more structured effort to understand, measure, and improve your game’s online presence.
This is why, for better results, tracking should be ongoing – rather than a one-off kind of thing – and should accompany each of your marketing plan’s main beats.
Once you have enough data, your next step should be to take a moment and create a coverage report.
In essence, these reports should contain all of the relevant coverage you collected and then be further fine-tuned to highlight specific metrics, goals, or milestones.
Coverage reports are a versatile way to present your PR achievements, and they’ll likely prove useful if you’re trying to tackle bad reviews, spot bugs, share information with your collaborators, or design the next phase of your data-driven marketing plans.
Finally, tracking coverage could also open up additional media outreach or promotional opportunities!
Every time you sample and add coverage to your reports, remember to also whitelist media outlets and reach out to them for further collaborations.
As your game gets closer to its release window, you’ll slowly build a list of trusted content creators that you can work with. In other words, you’ll have a solid network of contacts that you can leverage to really help your project shine bright — and hopefully reach the masses!
If you need an easy way to track coverage, create reports, and even be notified to join Twitch livestreams of your indie game in real-time, then… yes!