Can TikTok help my indie game go viral?

Can TikTok help my indie game go viral?

There’s no denying that TikTok has become one of the biggest social media platforms currently available. With 1 billion monthly active users (MAU’s) in 2021, it’s actually the 7th most-used social media network and outranks Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest and Reddit. 

The large audience paired with the increased chance of sudden virality on TikTok makes it an incredible platform for discoverability and building awareness of your brand.

The benefit of creating content on TikTok is that unlike platforms, such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, you don’t actually need to have developed a huge following to see success. Every video you make has the chance to go viral, and nothing exemplifies this better than the large number of indie game developers whose first video on the platform has blown up and hit more than a million views! As long as you’re creating great content, then you have the chance to reach a large audience.

Additionally, when compared to YouTube, TikTok has relatively low production costs. While some users will create heavily-curated content for the platform, really all you need to make content is a phone. Finally, TikTok requires relatively low time investment per post, as each video only needs to be 15 seconds long.

When creating content, keep in mind that TikTok’s user base is typically younger with 48% falling between the age of 18-29.

What Content Should You be Creating for TikTok?  

TikTok’s bread and butter is short-form videos – often lasting no longer than a minute. Initially founded as Musical.ly, an app used mostly for the sharing of lip-syncing and comedy videos, TikTok still maintains a strong focus on sounds/music and personal content, so videos made and shared on the platform should include a focus on sound and try to solicit a personal connection with viewers.

Content for TikTok can be repurposed from other platforms like YouTube or Twitch (We recommend this site for Twitch!) or crafted specifically for TikTok. The latter option is generally better, as TikTok’s editing software allows you to create content in formats which are trending on the platform, and allows your posts to appear more “authentic” (remember, the personal connection is important). Similarly, content from TikTok can also be cross posted onto other platforms, such as Twitter, Instagram Reels and Youtube Shorts. 

We recommend that every post is created as a stand alone video and contains only one talking point. It should immediately begin with a key talking point to catch the audience’s attention and the video should end swiftly as soon as the point is made. We also recommend not adding intros and outros to a video as this can disengage the audience. The more “rewatches” a video has, the more likely it is that TikTok will push it to a wide audience, so ideally, you should create content that a viewer might want to watch again.

Another tip for indie game-specific content creation is to start a video by showing game play. A vast majority of the content on TikTok revolves around someone talking to the camera so, in order to cut through that noise, shaking it up with a gameplay video can often be enough to capture a viewer’s attention immediately.

Solo dev Inkyfox Studio saw great success on TikTok by sharing content featuring their game Omno

Because TikTok is as much a community as a sharing platform – with popular trends and in-jokes often being the best route to connecting with other users – the best marketing results come from users who regularly use and understand the app, as well as its strengths and limitations.

Creating videos in response to (or in the style of) current trends on TikTok is another great way to boost a video. Reactive marketing, therefore, is a great way to use this platform, but makes it more difficult to plan content in advance. 

Some other quick tips are to aim for about videos around 15 seconds in length, use vertical videos and avoid the hard sell – this can be very off-putting for viewers. But adding a call to action can encourage viewers to navigate to the profile link. By injecting some personality into a video can also make it more memorable and increase the watchability. 

Marketing Tips for going viral on TikTok

“Going viral” on any social media platform can be unpredictable and difficult to plan for, and TikTok is no different. In fact, it can seem more nebulous in a number of ways, thanks to the relative opacity of the platform’s algorithms.

However, with the correct approach, the chances of virality can be increased. While there are no real set of “rules” to follow in order to ensure your posts go viral, we have compiled the following suggestions based on our own experiences. 

Utilise Trending Sounds

Adding a trending sound to your video can actually be used to strategically grow your TikTok account. This is why you’ll likely hear the same sound over and over again when scrolling through the app, as TikTok will often give an organic boost to posts which appear to be using trending sounds. 

On the sound selection panel, TikTok has a section called TikTok Viral, which lists all the current viral sounds. Adding a trending sound from this section increases the chances of a video being boosted by TikTok and appearing on the For You Page. 

Top Tip: This sound doesn’t actually need to be audible. You can add the trending sound and turn it all the way down – TikTok will still usually give your post an organic boost to visibility.

Using hashtags

It’s recommended to use a maximum of 3 hashtags per TikTok post and these should be chosen carefully. The TikTok algorithm reviews who engages with a post and shares it with other people who have engaged with posts with the same/similar hashtag.

Therefore, using hashtags like #fyp and #foryoupage isn’t recommended as these hashtags will include a wide variety of content that won’t appeal to everyone. Instead choose relevant hashtags such as #gaming, #indiedev, #cozygamer, and #wholesomegames. 

Top Tip: Add your game/studio name as a hashtag to every post you make as the algorithm will then show any future posts to people who have liked your previous content

Developer Witch Beam’s game Unpacking became so popular on TikTok that it became a trending “topic”

More Posts ≠ virality

While creating more posts does not mean you will go viral, it can help. The more content you create, the more content there is that can potentially go viral. But this content should always be of a high quality; ten low-quality videos will perform worse than one high-quality video. Regularly updating isn’t instrumental for success but it does tell TikTok’s algorithm that you are a regular user, which increases the chances of organic boosts to visibility. 

Top Tip: Create a curated feed by liking the posts from other indie developers and see what content performs well for them. Use this to inspire your own content. 

Game Development TikToks you should follow

There have been a number of successful indie developers on TikTok, but below are a few that have used the platform particularly well and seen very positive results: 

If you are thinking of including TikTok in your social media marketing plans, please feel free to reach out to discuss our specific recommendations for your game.

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