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Communication Guide Rails

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Estimated reading time: 12 min

The framework below is the basic breakdown of how to construct an outgoing message to your recipient. Keep it short. Think about your audience and what matters to them. 

Email Basics

Paragraph #1: Say hello to the person you’re sending an email to. If you can include something you’ve found about them on their channel, social media, LinkedIn, recent news, do that here. 

Keep your hello short and sweet. At MCS we tend to favor “Hey” or “Hi” versus Hello

Paragraph #2: The pitch. Use 3-4 sentences to explain what you’re looking to get from them. If it takes you more than 3-4 sentences, your message needs to be tightened up

Paragraph #3: The value for the recipient. Use this last paragraph to explain why you think it’s a good opportunity for them or what benefits participating can provide them. This should be personalized for them and should be 2-3 sentences.

Last sentence: Thank them for their time and offer to jump on a call to further discuss this email if they’re interested. Make sure to sign your name! 

  • Verify you have the correct name and email address, triple-check that you have the names correct spelling.
  • Make sure that it has proper spelling and grammar
  • Send a test email when using email templates
  • When using YAMM make sure that you have the appropriate tags so that the add on works properly

Catty Tips: 

  • Create a draft of your email in Google Docs first and have it approved by a Team Lead before sending
  • When copying over, make sure to paste without formatting (alt+shift+v) and verify that the text is properly displaying ( Gmail will often nest copied text and change the text color to purple, this looks unprofessional when sending and some may not be aware they need to press the “…” that appears to reveal the text
  • Add your body text FIRST before entering the email address
  • Gmail allows you to enable “Undo Send”: Go into your general setting and adjust the time period ( between 10 to 30 seconds) and save changes. ENABLE THIS, your future self will thank you.

When writing an email keep this question in mind: 

1. Why should they open this?

Your subject line acts as a caller id and will determine whether or not it will be opened. It should be snappy and draw interest while still relating to the topic of your email.

Each email type will require its own type of subject line for example:

TikTok:    [Influencer Name] x Mega Cat Studios: TikTok Collaboration

Presskit:  Zombie Meat is Delicious!
Sponsorship Request : BAWLS: The Thirst-Quenching Video Game

2. Who are you?

When writing to someone for this first, it’s important to establish rapport quickly but sincerely. Use your research to find common ground between you and the recipient or the topic at hand. When being referred to a contact, always reference the person who referred you.

Streamer Cold Email: “ Hey Prayerbeads, I caught your latest charity stream for Make-A-Wish! Mega Cat Studios is launching a charity campaign this Thanksgiving in partnership with Feeding and I’d love to invite you to join in the fun.”

Referral: “ Hey Prayerbeads, you came highly recommended by Sir Meowface and he gave me your contact details. I’d love to invite you to join our charity campaign this holiday season.” 

3. Does this provide a value for value trade?

Not every email represents a paid opportunity but it is still important that the recipient feel like they will get something out of their interaction with you. Have you described the potential benefits?  Some ways we provide value for value trades:

  • Cross-promotion
  • Logo creation if they do not have one
  • Interviews and Features
  • Visual Assets

Do not overpromise and make sure that what is being offered actually is a fit for your recipient.

4. Am I sticking to one topic? 

Emails should be direct and clear. If you muddle in too many topics or calls to action, you’ll confuse and lose your reader. Stick to one topic.

5. Have I included all the pertinent information?

There is a sweet spot between too short and too long of an email. Too short and it doesn’t provide enough information to your recipient to warrant a reply, too long and they will get tired of reading it. Make sure that you are succinct but include the necessary information such as: 

  • Links
  • Images (if necessary)
  • Supporting information ( if you are inviting them to join a campaign, what are the requirements for joining

Instagram 

  • Instagram caption character limit: 2,200 characters. 
  • Instagram hashtag limit: 30 hashtags
  • The suggested amount of hashtags: 5 – 10 ( include some hashtags within the text itself utilizing words that are part of your caption, you can place extra hashtags below the caption or in a comment immediately after posting)
  • Use only high-resolution photos that either MCS owns, has created, or has been granted permission to use.
  • Spellcheck your captions
  • Use a URL shortener when posting links
  • Tag the appropriate parties (and triple check you are tagging the correct person, many people have varying usernames for different accounts and a small misspelling can lead to the wrong person)

Tips: 

  • Exercise caution when using trending hashtags, while they can provide a great way to get more eyes on a post and encourage people to follow our account, 
  • Have fun but do not make fun (of anyone) 
  • Make sure that your image and caption are appropriate for a wide audience
  • Avoid copyrighted materials not owned by MCS 

Questions to ask yourself when posting to Instagram

1. Does this make sense for our audience?

This should always be the first thing on your mind when you post something to our social media. You’ll never reach the audience you want to if your content isn’t consistently geared towards them.

Use our analytics tools to find out what’s keeping our followers engaged and focus on those types of posts. On the flip side, keep an eye on what isn’t working – it only takes a few unwelcome posts to push a user to unfollow us, so adjust your strategy accordingly.

2. Does this make sense with our brand?

Each piece of content we create needs to relate and fit into our brand experience. While there are many topics to explore and post, make sure that it ties back to what our company is about. Take for instance our recent post about the Finnish Prime Minister, while we don’t have much to do with politics, recent memes likening her to a cat gave us a prime opportunity to comment and provide our support.

On brand messaging is:

  •  Fun, Friendly, Factual
  • Cats
  • Indie Video Games
  • Game Development
  • Community
  • Uplifting
  • Informative

3. Is this offensive or can it be misinterpreted?

This one is obvious but it is so, so important. Our number one rule is – always think before you post. You might upload something with good intentions, but remember that anything you put out is prone to misinterpretation. Think not only of our current audience and partners but future collaborators, streamers, buyers, etc. Once you click post, it’s out there for everyone to see – in many cases even after you’ve deleted it. Spare yourself  (and us) the PR disaster and look at your content from every angle before you pull the trigger

4. Does this content look good?

Instagram is all about the visual, so low-quality images have no place there ( or on any of our other social channels). Make sure to edit and resize images while retaining the best resolution. Stuck? Ask the Art Team or Janley for help.

5. Have I written a good description?

A picture is worth a thousand words, but you’ll need some actual words too! Every Instagram post should have a caption of some kind. Use the opportunity to say a bit more about the content. Try asking a question to drum up some engagement. You can also put a call-to-action here, but remember that links in Instagram descriptions aren’t clickable.

In addition, make sure you’ve added any relevant hashtags so people can find your post. The more specific you are, the better. Using popular hashtags is fine too, but bear in mind that your post will be pushed down the hashtag’s feed very quickly.Be careful not to overuse hashtags or you may come off as desperate.

Twitter 

  • Twitter’s character limit: 280
  • Retweet when appropriate
  • Always use high-resolution images
  • Triple check you are on the appropriate Twitter account, accidentally posting as MCS with personal or inflammatory content can be a fireable offense
  • Monitor the inbox (don’t forget to check message requests) and reply promptly to questions, escalating to the appropriate person when necessary
  • Make a point to like posts where we are mentioned (if they are positive) or to address negative feedback with tact
  • Use social monitoring to find new fans, streamers, brand partners and customers
  • Always tag appropriately! You may need to manually edit your tags, especially when scheduling off Fanbooster. Make sure you are tagging the correct person.
  • Like Instagram, hashtags can be helpful when posting. Unlike IG, use them sparingly and strategically. 
  • Vary your posts by using gifs, static images, blog posts etc
  • When linking, shorten the URL and add an image if the link preview isn’t eye-catching
  • Using emoji’s is ok within reason, do not overload a tweet or response

Questions to ask yourself when tweeting: 

1. Does this tweet add value?

2. What is my goal for this tweet?

Every post we make on social media is to help our business. On Twitter, your goal could be:

-To hype a blog post that’s coming up or that we have previously released

-To promote one of our games or stream team members

-To inform about the going on at our company or the gaming industry

– To interact with other industry movers

-Spread word about a campaign or gather donations

-Increase participation in our discord or Q&A 

-Drive traffic to our other social channels

Knowing your goal affects what links to include, where they go, and what material you quote. If you’re promoting a Q&A, you’ll be including the name and the qualifications of the subject. If it’s about an ebook, you’ll include a top tip from the book. For a blog, you might ask a question answered in the subject. For a charity campaign, you’d include information about the cause and a donation/registration link.

Remember that one of our pillars is to amplify the content we create Mix up your Tweets with variations of the same content. Here are three examples:

I. Make sure your questions are seen by getting them in early for our upcoming Q&A with SirMeowFace #IndieGameDev

II. Want to know the secret to start your own indie company? Find out Friday: bit.ly72k8 #IndieGameDev

III. White and high saturation backgrounds can skew color perception, work on a gray bg when making pixel art!  Learn more great tips in two days #IndieGameDev @SirMeowFace

3. Does this tweet have a clear call to action?

Checking for a clear CTA is the best way to make sure you’re getting something out of each Tweet posted. Twitter CTA’s include:

  • Getting people to Retweet, comment on, or Favorite your post
  • Getting people to click a link
  • Moving  Followers to another platform like Facebook, Pinterest, Discord, or the MCS website

4. Does my tweet include an influencer?

When including an influencer, make sure to tag them is a great way to engage with their audience and help grow our own. It also is one of our main components with cross-promotion.

  • Include them in our content
  • Ask their opinion about something
  • Start a reciprocal relationship by Retweeting
  • Comment/compliment if their content is relevant to your own

Retweeting should be considered as a complementary activity but remember it does not replace original content. When you Retweet, make sure it’s in line with our overall marketing strategies. Make sure the RTs reflect our brand and Tweeting habits.

5. Are my hashtags appropriate?

There is no optimal hashtag number, but using at least one doubles Retweets. Using too many can come off as spammy or unprofessional! 

  • Test them: Click on your hashtag and see where it leads you. Check what other type of content shows up. If the pool is specific and you see how searching for that particular hashtag would benefit your Followers then go with it. Otherwise, keep testing.
  • Check what’s trending in our industry: Check what your competitors or sources of information have been recently using. This will give you a sense of useful hashtags
  • Don’t (necessarily) use what’s trendingForcing a Tweet simply to tap into the popular trending wave will come across as desperate. Worst case scenario it can come off as tone-deaf or outright offensive.

Discord

In addition to the MCS server, you may find yourself visiting other servers to engage with potential streamers, brand partners or to post promotions to drive traffic back to our own channels. 

  • Engage daily with people on our server, and interact often with others on servers you are infiltrating.
  • Acknowledge message requests promptly, if you do not have the answers, escalate it to someone who may but let the person know that you are working on helping them.
  • You can DM people on discord if they have accepted your friend request or if you both are members of the same server
  • Introduction and Self-promotion channels are great places to discover potential streamers, freelancers, and partners
  • Always read and follow the rules of the server you are on
  • Check with mods or admins BEFORE posting promotional content, some servers may welcome it on appropriate channels, others may not allow it all all
  • Always keep in mind that you are representing MCS, it may be a smart idea to separate your personal discord account from your work one if you have any doubts
  • Make sure your discord name and profile photo are appropriate 
  • Do not troll, insult, use graphic language: even on our own server you may come across people or situations that try your patience. Take a breath, think about your response and always err on the side of caution choosing to be friendly and nice versus confrontational
  • Never invite people back to the MCS server directly on another server. You may do so in private conversation once you’ve established a rapport with the person you are speaking with.
  • Keep an eye out for great ideas to implement on our own server and add them to our discord content calendar

Questions to ask yourself when using Discord:

1. Am I coming in overtly or covertly?

There will be times when you will be joining a server covertly ( i.e not revealing you are a member of Mega Cat Studios) while other times you will be openly disclosing your association. Regardless of your method, always remember that you are representing MCS at the end of the day and act accordingly.

2. Have I introduced myself?

A server’s introduction channel is a great way to integrate yourself into the community as well as find others who may be great recruits or potential partners. Whether you are infiltrating a server overtly or covertly, make sure to have a great introduction that displays not only your own personality but fits in with the MCS persona as well.

3. Am I using mentions mindfully?

Discord will notify users every time they get mentioned. Don’t draw attention, just because you can. It’s irritating when you get a notification for not urgent matters or when you are not directly involved. Never @everyone, most discord servers have this permission disabled but it’s best not to find out.

When mentioning someone, make sure you want that person to act on something and make it clear what that is

4. Am I being spammy?

This is a pretty obvious one ( or at least should be).

Example:

-Hey (2 sec ago)

-Nice stream (2 sec ago)

-Have you ever done a charity stream? (2 sec ago)

Especially when sending a DM, the other user will receive notifications for every message. Remember, you don’t know the schedule of other people. They might be in the middle of something or need to focus, for whatever reason. Send one message instead, and give it time before you follow up. 

You can still use a similar approach without being spammy:

Example:

-Hey Prayersbeads, awesome stream tonight! Have you ever done any charity streams?

-I’m Mina from Mega Cat Studios, and we’re currently recruiting for a charity campaign this holiday season. I’d love to chat with you and see if you’d be interested in getting involved! Is there an email or discord account I can contact you at?

Twitch 

  • Twitch whispers are not an effective method for recruitment, and should be used as a last resort to retrieve email contact or discord information if its is a large or specific streamer we absolutely must have. The goal is to move the conversation off Twitch as soon as possible. It is advised to focus mainly on content creators who have their contact information readily available. Twitch Whisper *IS* a valid channel for direct engagement.
  • Spellcheck, spellcheck, spellcheck
  • Never EVER publicly recruit from a Twitch chat, VOD’s are permanent and communities hate spam.
  • Do not spend too much time watching streams, scrub through their VOD’s to see if they are a good fit, gather their metrics, and make contact. It can be beneficial to warm up to the streamer via chat but use discretion AND YOUR BEST JUDGEMENT. 
  • Be aware of what profile you are using, and remember whether you have identified yourself as an MCS member or not, your behavior reflects back on us as a company.
  • There is a daily messaging cap, and be aware that rapid-fire or repetitive messages to multiple people may trigger it
  • Individual streamers and Twitch themselves can ban you from a chat, neither of these outcomes is acceptable! Always be above board with your communications!!

Like Discord, it’s very easy to come across as spammy though Twitch Whisper

Example:

-Hey (2 sec ago)

-Nice stream (2 sec ago)

-Have you ever done a charity stream? (2 sec ago)

You can still use a similar approach without being spammy:

Example:

-Hey Prayersbeads, awesome stream tonight! Have you ever done any charity streams?

-I’m Mina from Mega Cat Studios, and we’re currently recruiting for a charity campaign this holiday season. I’d love to chat with you and see if you’d be interested in getting involved! Is there an email or discord account I can contact you at?

Questions to ask yourself when using Twitch Whisper:

1. Is this an appropriate time to message a streamer?

Whispering a streamer midstream is counter-intuitive. While you are guaranteed that they are currently online, at that moment they are currently focused on their game and audience. A better time to send a whisper would be at the very beginning of a stream before they start playing or towards the end so they can reply once their stream has ended.

2. How will this message be perceived?

Put yourself into the streamers’ shoes! How does your message come off? If you are going to whisper you need to  be actively thinking about how it could be perceived. Don’t be spammy. If you want to whisper, you would have to be doing it in some type of reasonable way that doesn’t leave a bad taste in someone’s mouth.

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