Advertising is a hard topic for many server owners, business opportunists, and aspirational developers; something about the topic seems so stupefying to us because trying to bring in an audience is hard.

You probably had those moments where you bunched in your money and used it to gain advertising services or just overall worrying over how one could attract such an audience without much money in your budget. For a good majority, it also leads to crucial moments of disappointment: YouTubers attracted many new players but only a few were long-term, server lists gave you one month of exposure while sucking your wallet, and the story is the same on and on from there.

Sad Steve is sad when money goes to waste.

Then that begs the question: How can you bring these people in?

Is there a formula to this? A pattern? Manipulation? Black magic? A sacrifice?

You don’t really need voodoo or some type of witchcraft to pull in customers (even though it is possible in an alternate world), because there is a way to gain the attention of many even with a slim budget.

How can you get players on your Minecraft server?

My answer can be simplified into three topics:

  • Exposure
  • Timing
  • Consistency

Don’t get me wrong the answer isn’t simple — not by a long shot — but understanding the basic components of marketing is crucial to why I’m bringing this up; without it, it would take a pretty long time for one to gain traction on their server or business, and we want to maximize the results even if our budget consists of a few dollars and a wad of chewed gum.

Building a consistent player-base can take time and a lot of energy.

Let’s talk about EXPOSURE.

This can be clarified in a few ways: exposure can mean the number of platforms used for gaining viewership or the contacts one has made whilst on their journey for self-improvement of their business. Either way, they’re important to the growth of your service.

Why? Because connections are really important to the concept of spreading your name around. You can’t just sit on your chair and wait for some sort of Marketing Santa to grant you the gift of a million unique views in just a day — hard work needs to be put into action, and if it’s not, the results won’t appear.

The Marketing Santa may look cheery, but he’s not very generous. (Click for source)

With that said, we’ll go over platform exposure first.

Platform exposure is the hardest part of this process, not only because of the constant social media diving but the community managing you’ll need to do to keep yourself up to date with the world. Ever since the World Wide Web came into fruition, however, it’s easy to find social media websites that allow advertising of specific criteria, so you shouldn’t have much hassle with finding good sources of Minecraft players that are craving for a new experience.

If you do want a list of free sources to look through, here’s a shortlist:

For the last two, we need to delve into another important factor of exposure, which is the understanding of gaining exposure. With each social media platform you’re on you’ll need to have a good grasp of the algorithm and how it works; if you don’t harbor enough comprehension on the platform you’re posting on, then you won’t have much leeway with what you can or can not do.

Now let’s direct ourselves towards contacts. One of the crucial things people tell you about business — and the entertainment industry for that matter — is that having people to talk to later is imperative to growth. Not only because of connections but the number of opportunities for exposure; if they’re a bigger platform or have similar ambitions as you, then there is a chance for deals or partnerships to be made (and no one should ever ignore opportunities like this).

stifflered, owner of SnapshotMC, has an amazing video (Editor’s Note: I did not tell him to say this.) that covers the idea of contact management with previous or new figures in your business platform, and I’d recommend it to anyone wanting the basics to getting involved with this type of thing. It does involve more social initiative than other positions (unless we count community manager), so if you are comfortable with talking to people and keeping some connections on them, then this is where you can start.

If you’re wanting to delve deeper into contacts, then I would suggest keeping an eye on a few platforms of interest:

Twitter and Discord are the platforms where many official partners can be found, talked to, and communicated with without any hassle (we even have a list of Mojang employees). You can manage any discussions or exchanges in this way, and those networks are home to a lot of areas that have people looking for work or relations if you look in the right places.

Many YouTube accounts do have an info section that has an available business email if you’re wanting to talk about any deals or partnerships with said person and would be recommended if your server is looking for any YouTubers.

The last two — MineTube and Minecraft Market — are niche areas that could have varying amounts of success depending on who you are. Minecraft Market is for official exchanges and moderated trades with people who have different professions, while MineTube is a Discord server that gives you a direct line of communication to different streamers and YouTubers without any hassle of emails.

The last two require a great deal of money in your budget, so I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone going cheap or don’t have an established player base.

Why can’t we pay for services when our player base isn’t stable?

That’s a great question!

In fact, it officially leads us to the next factor of all this: TIMING.

Timing is crucial to the growth of your demographic; you need to know the periods in time when a platform’s audience grows to its maximum of that week and when you should do specific marketing campaigns.

Since it’s 2019, the popularity of Minecraft has been increasing greatly, so this could be easier on some websites than ever before and you should take this opportunity while you can.

Let’s start with the sites that have a clear ‘new’, ‘updated’, and ‘trending’ type of algorithm: Reddit, Minecraft Forums, and Planet Minecraft (PMC).

What they all have in common is an easier way for content to be viewed by other people no matter the circumstance; they have tabs that allow different forms of content to be viewed and different datings on the age of each post, which then gets filed respectively.

There are a few ways to review the viewership of your content, and it can be found on the activity of these different areas. For PMC you can notice the viewership on the right side of your screen, for MC Forums it’s the indication of the number of people viewing a certain subforum, and for Reddit it comes from their visible viewer quantities and a website called Later For Reddit — a great indication of the post intensity throughout the weeks recorded.

For websites like Twitter and Instagram, their algorithms are a bit different than the platforms listed above. Twitter uses hashtags, keywords, following of various accounts, and retweets to get the basic of tweets circulating throughout your community, so it’s advised to grow relationships with the people around you before you do anything drastic with that platform.

On Instagram, it’s similar to that function, except it does have more probability with your posts being found in the updated sections as long as you put in your tags. There are two articles that have more information on utilizing these types of pages, so feel free to check out Buffer and SproutSocial.

Timing is everything. On a bigger or smaller scale, you need to indicate when your money or resources need to be dispensed. You can’t advertise Halloween merchandise on a day in January or something similarly ridiculous — you need to time your services so that the right groups of people are noticing it. For Google Ads, which has similar importance on timing, you need to create keywords or possible advertising areas that line up with your business, or else the funneling of views and attention will stop right there.

For Minecraft servers, you need to pull in the attention by posting or updating your status on moments where viewership isn’t at its minimum but at its maximum, increasing the likelihood of your server being seen.

But what happens when you finally get a player? Do you just stop and pat yourself on the back? Heck no, this is where…

CONSISTENCY needs to thrive!

Consistency can be implemented into your advertisements — just continuous posts and updates — and that’s fine. It should be simple enough for you to follow through on regularly, but we’re going to be talking about player base consistency. It’s one of the hardest parts of managing a server: the ability to keep them without worrying that they’ll just leave and never come back. Worse-case scenario, they say they’ll come back — giving an excuse to why they’re leaving — and then drop off the face of the Earth forever.

Well, that does sound daunting, but the first thing we have to learn is that you can’t appease everyone.

Some people just want to watch the world explode.

People will come and go, talk crud or talk gold, and you’ll be the one who has to handle their presence on your game. Forming a community needs you involved in the mix, because you’re the server owner and if you can’t talk to your own players then what’s the point? Your potential players are the ones that’ll give the constructive criticism (unfortunately some forget the ‘constructive’ in that), giving you a source of feedback to how one can improve your community and the first impression of your server.

You need to be consistent with your interactions with them, abound that sense of trust between the staff and the community, and listen to the needs of the many in an objective way. If they want to see more server events or an improved portion of the game, encourage them to think of suggestions and try to plan something new for them to engage with. Keep it lively, but also keep it practical so that you don’t overrun yourself with the responsibility you can’t handle on your own — unless you have a team backing you up.

This is where we can finally say our last tip: encourage the word-of-mouth.

You have no idea how effective direct communication and referrals can be. In a previous survey I’ve done with my current server, I’ve noticed how major the presence of word-of-mouth is.

Out of 50 responses, we got 19 people telling us that they’ve been referred to the server by someone else.

This is a quick and easy method of advertising because as long as the new players are satisfied, they’ll want to bring friends or anyone associated with Minecraft to the game and your server. I would also support you, in particular, encouraging the word-of-mouth, especially if you’re attempting to take flight with your project; you need a beginning player base before anything else can be accomplished, hence why this is the most effective method. The more players online the more noticeably active the server is to outsiders, encouraging more involvement!

Let’s Be Real – This Can Be Hard

These are the basic components of what you need to advertise your server.

However, I need to be real with you; after being part of an advertising and marketing position for two years I can say that it’s not easy. You’ll have to endure moments of drama, down periods of inactivity, numerous mistakes and heavy decisions made by you and your team over the course of the period. Teams will fall and rise from mismanagement, a loud and toxic minority can corrupt a plentiful basket, and the list of what can happen can go on and on. Any factor can come into play, and it will kick you down or block you from a goal you had in mind.

And it’s frustrating, especially when you’ve worked hard only to see your money and effort doing nothing but wasting your time when the results aren’t satisfactory. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give up though. I have surveyed a lot of servers in the community, and there’s one thing that keeps a plentiful amount of them alive: mindset.

Each obstacle isn’t seen as a waste of time or development, but a moment to learn for the long-term. Instead of saying, “it didn’t work, we can’t do it now”, they say “this didn’t work but here’s what we’ve learned”.

They see failure as not a moment of grief but a moment of redirection — a change in their trajectory — to their goal as developers, and it goes the same for advertisers.

You learned something from that one money sinker. You learned what a toxic community can do to your environment. You learned what lack of communication can do to an entire body of players when they need transparency. You learned something and you want to improve — that should be the mindset you and your team should have in the long-term.

It may take time, and a lot of trial-and-error on your end, but these are what you should take into consideration if you’re needing help on spreading the word. Of course, marketing is different from other forms of mediums, such as businesses, organizations, and the like, but if you need more help on specific questions you have with the use of your money, certain advertising services, and when you feel a growth of bad community vibes on your hands, then comment down below.

We’ll try our best to handle each inquiry and/or refer to anyone else who might give you the stepping stones to your goal. Either way, let’s see the fruits of our labor grow!