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How developers use TikTok to boost their games

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Since TikTok’s introduction to the social media marketplace back in September 2016, the video-centric app has taken over the way that people — especially young people — consume new media.

This has had a dramatic knock-on effect in all creative industries. The music industry, as is often the way, was the first to recognise TikTok’s marketing powers. The fast-format module set up by Bytedance lends itself perfectly to musicians looking to share catchy hooks or impressive melismas over originals and covers. TikTok’s creative capabilities have helped launch the careers of Lil Nas X, Ashnikko and even got us all singing 17th Century Sea Shanties in early 2021 (more on that later) and is starting to dramatically affect the types of music being produced.

This meteoric shift in marketing strategy and content creation is now starting to find its way into the video games market as well. What TikTok has provided, especially for smaller developers, is a level playing field. It doesn’t matter if you are just one person with a nugget of an idea or one of the biggest multi corporations on the planet. The TikTok content cycle rewards originality, and can propel you to great heights — if you know how to play the game right.

Bianca

Bianca Sarafian, Mediatonic

“TikTok is unique because, unlike other platforms, it’s not so much a broadcasting tool as it is a genuine way to create content and connect with people,” says Bianca Sarafian, community manager at Mediatonic. “Although other platforms like Instagram and Twitter can do that and can transcend outside of just being used for broadcasting from a marketing perspective, TikTok is only acceptable if you are trying to make content and connect with an audience.”

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TikTok, as Sarafian explains it, is a platform that craves unique content, unlike Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, where similar types of content can perform with near identical results. For example, on April 11, 2021, Mediatonic put out indistinguishable posts about a new in-game emote from Fall Guys on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. On TikTok, however, there was no mention of this new piece of content. Instead, the very next day, the team posted an in-game video highlighting a core gameplay experience from the game, rather than an advert for a new cosmetic. It’s the focus on in-game action that Sarafian has found most effective on the platform.

“We are very lucky that Fall Guys lends itself super well to those organic, attention-grabbing moments. I had, for example, a really simple video of me going through one of our levels called “ski-fall”, flipping and then coming back through it. 160,000 views. Has no trending music or any TikTok trends. You only need ten seconds to show that moment and you don’t even need to know the game to watch it and get a bit excited.”

This desire for in-game, original content isn’t exclusive to the high tempo moments of a Fall Guys either. TikTok can be a vital platform for smaller, more serene titles to gain traction, such as Noio’s gorgeous post-apocalyptic landscaping sandbox Cloud Gardens. The game doesn’t lend itself to the high intensity, ‘OMG’ moments Fall Guys does, but lead developer Thomas van den Berg still found a significant uptake in player interest in Cloud Gardens after a TikTok post.

“TikTok is unique because, unlike other platforms, it’s not so much a broadcasting tool as it is a genuine way to create content and connect with people”

Bianca Sarafian, Mediatonic

“In the three days following ‘Introducing Cloud Gardens,’ we sold about 450 copies. At the previous ‘steady’ rate that would have expected about 100 — without any other kinds of marketing or sales — [in that time]. The TikTok traffic contributed to about 4,000 wishlist additions. Even active players saw the same kind of influx, sitting at about three times the normal level before dropping off again in a period of about two weeks.”

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Cloud Gardens has found success with TikTok, but with all creative ventures it is not a stroll in the park. Van den Berg notes that Cloud Gardens is “still seeing some increased traffic afterwards,” but warns the drop off is steep and activity was “back to normal” within a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, his co-developer Eli Cauley has found the platform’s demand for original content quite taxing in comparison to other social media platforms.

“On Twitter I could reasonably expect a simple gameplay GIF or aesthetic image accompanied by minimal text to do reasonably well,” he says. “However, TikTok seems to demand more formal, narrative-driven content.”

He continues: “Additionally, I find I spend a lot more time making TikToks because I have to think about taking gameplay footage, editing it, placing explanatory text over it, and then frequently doing a voiceover to accompany it. While a successful tweet might take me 15 minutes to take the image and write the text, my most successful TikToks have taken me a minimum of one to two [hours] to edit together, and that’s assuming I already have a decent amount of the gameplay recorded.”

As Van den Berg and Cauley point out, creating a successful TikTok post can be time consuming. But for smaller developers like Noio it can bring much needed attention to a new IP. This attention can expand further, however. If a consistent and well organised campaign can be made, TikTok can become the perfect platform to speak to a community and in doing so grow it. This is what happened with Shotgun Farmers, a delightfully silly arena shooter by Wase Qazi, which took to TikTok like a duck to water.

Developers like Mediatonic continue to experiment with content on TikTok and, while results may vary, they are reaching a large audience

Developers like Mediatonic continue to experiment with content on TikTok and, while results may vary, they are reaching a large audience

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“Developing my game in front of the community has kind of been how I always did it since the Twitch days — Shotgun Farmers started life as a prototype as part of a game jam on Twitch,” explains Qazi. “I had always done Instagram and Twitter too, but not so well. When TikTok started to become a popular platform, I realised there weren’t many people talking about making video games on there, similar to how when I started Twitch streaming there was just a small community of us doing gamedev on there. So I started posting almost micro-devlogs to see how it would go. I definitely became addicted to TikTok — I still am — like I’m sure most people are these days.”

Wase

Wase Qazi, Shotgun Farmers developer

What Qazi wasn’t prepared for was the influx of followers these micro-devlogs would bring to his page. Compared to his Twitter profile, which boasts a respectable 4,400 followers, his 1.4 million TikTok followers and over 40 million video likes shows just how different the TikTok ecosystem is compared to other social media platforms.

But it wasn’t until Shotgun Farmers released on the Microsoft Store in September 2020 that the scope of this following become fully apparent. For the three days following the game’s platform debut, it polled at number one on the Xbox marketplace charts, outselling juggernauts like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, NBA 2K21 and Madden 21. For Qazi, even with his colossal TikTok following, this level of success was unexpected.

“I had no idea the Xbox launch would go the way it did,” he says. “I knew a lot of people were waiting for a console version, and I was very fortunate to have reached over one million followers on TikTok by that time, so we were preparing for more players then before, but did not expect the launch to go as well as it did. I’m pretty sure our servers were hardly playable for the first few days. It definitely set in stone that I’d be working on Shotgun Farmers for a long time to come.”

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Qazi, much like Van den Berg, Cauley and Sarafian, found success on TikTok without having to chase the trends. Each of them mentioned in one way or another that chasing trends can be, in fact, counter-productive.

“TikTok was a platform we were always aware of, but very wary of ‘getting wrong’”

James Bowden, Rare

“A lot of people in community management talk about the burn out of staying relevant,” says Sarafian. “If you are struggling to think about trends that apply to your brand, you have to take a step back and think ‘Do I actually have to?’ Or ‘Does my brand, in its own right, have its own value that it can be giving to people?’ That is what I have been doing for the past month, maybe bar one or two trends if that, and all of my posts have been outperforming the trend driven posts.”

But sometimes, in those rarest of moments, the trend finds your product. This is where the most startling effects of TikTok on the video games landscape can be found. Where a creative zeitgeist captures an audience so hard that it starts to influence the very games they want to play. This is precisely what Rare’s head of community Christina McGrath and social media manager James Bowden discovered when ‘sea shanty tok’ took over our collective consciousness.

“TikTok was a platform we were always aware of, but very wary of ‘getting wrong,’ says Bowden. “Conversations about a full launch on the platform were already in motion before January 2021, though the events of that month certainly accelerated our appetite to leap onto the platform.” This refers to the start of this year when, either through 17th Century whimsy or the collective madness of the COVID-induced lockdown, the internet became obsessed with sea shanties.

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‘Sea shanty tok’ became one of those rare trends to transcend outside of the TikTok microclimate into becoming a cultural phenomenon, taking over the music scene and becoming the punchline to many a late-night talk show host — the telltale sign of a trend about to die. For Sea Of Thieves, it became a catalyst for players to seek out their game. In January 2021, the apex of the trend, the average player concurrent on Steam alone was around 22,000, representing a gain percentage of +63% over the previous month and a peak player concurrent of over 55,000 — the highest since the game’s launch on Steam. Across all available platforms, the month of January saw nearly 20 million salty sea dogs logging in, with a peak player concurrent of nearly two million pirates while at the same time marking a 12% overall player gain.

Those are mammoth numbers, though McGrath stresses that Sea of Thieves “had incredible momentum” following a busy December and the launch of Season One launch in January. “So while ShantyTok happening was a nice fun thing with some correlation to our success, it wasn’t necessarily the cause,” she says.

Though the trend can’t take full responsibility for the game’s recent uptake in players, the sea shanty influence can be very much felt within its live sandbox, as Bowden explains: “In terms of what we’d noticed [in-game], our core community certainly started demanding that we add more shanties to the game. It does feel like people that have played Sea of Thieves in the past had their interest reignited through Season One, and knowing they could rouse the crew into a shanty just made that desire to set sail once again all the stronger.”

shanty

Rare tapped into the ‘ShantyTok’ moment to raise moeny for charity

This sentiment was echoed by McGrath, who added: “With our active players, we’ve been watching them really lean into the musical side of the sandbox — the shanty side — a lot more, which has been a lot of fun. It’s been brilliant to see the joy of shanties being enjoyed by so many people, and it’s awesome that Sea of Thieves has been part of that conversation.”

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TikTok’s world-shaping, trend-setting platform has started breaking down the barriers between the content and the content creators. It has become the social media platform where said content creators can really understand what their audience wants. The formal wall that other social media platforms allow just doesn’t wash here. TikTok is a manifestation of Generation Z’s general distrust of the inauthentic, bogus, cringy corporate shill. This has allowed TikTok to become a place for smaller developers to shine and for the biggest of corporations to understand how to market themselves to a new generation.

“We made a huge effort to prioritize the community and their POV when we launched the [Xbox Social Team TikTok] channel,” says Devin Moore, Xbox’s social marketing manager. “It’s not about what we want to tell people – it’s about what they want to hear and how they want to hear it. Trends are simply a culmination of that. We want to be able to hear them and participate in the trends we know our fans are excited about — in an authentic and non-cringey way. Of course, this isn’t only type of content we’re pursuing but it’s definitely a cornerstone of our channel strategy.”

Moore continues: “Another high-level effect TikTok has had on our content strategy is to encourage us to be more openly self-aware and poke fun at ourselves more. We launched our channel with a TikTok that acknowledged and ‘celebrated’ the leak of the Xbox Series S and the community memes we’d seen pop up around it, which felt risky at the time but got a great response. This really helps to show a more human, less formal side.”

TikTok, whether intentional or by happenstance, is now a serious part of the creative and marketing process of video game creation. It’s a platform that has to be respected, not dismissed as a fad for the youth. All the people featured in this piece have found success on the platform by engaging with it each in unique and innovative ways. Each person questioned here, when asked what advice you would give when using TikTok, had different thoughts and opinions on what makes a successful post. It was Qazi, the most miraculous of TikTok success stories, that summed it up the nicest.

“I think like any other social media, be attentive and listen to your followers, engage them, don’t market to them, and genuinely try to have fun making unique content that works on TikTok,” he concludes. “New types of content are winning every day too, so don’t be afraid to be unique and put your own creative spin on things.”

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For more advice on how to effictively market your games via TikTok, check out our recently published top tips here.

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TIKTOK

TikTok Expands Creator Tipping and Video Gifts, Providing More Monetization and Marketing Options

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TikTok continues to expand its creator monetization tools with the addition of video tipping and virtual gifts for regular uploads, in addition to live-streams in the app.

To be clear, live tipping and digital gifts have been available for selected live-stream creators via its Creator Next program since last year. This new expansion brings the same functionality to regular TikTok videos, which will add another way for users to generate direct income from their TikTok videos.

TikTok Creator Next

As you can see in these screenshots, shared by social media expert Matt Navarra (via Dan Schenker), to be eligible for the new Creator Next program, users will need to have at least 1,000 followers, and will need to have generated more than 1,000 video views in the previous 30 days.

Though TikTok does note that these requirements vary by region – TechCrunch has reported that creators need to have at least 100k followers to qualify in some cases.

As explained by TikTok:

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The new Tips feature allows people to directly show gratitude to creators for their content, much like recognizing exceptional service or giving a standing ovation. As is standard for tipping in person, with Tips creators will receive 100% of the tip value.”

Tip payments will be processed by Stripe, with creators required to sign up to manage their earnings in the app.

“With Video Gifts, also available today, creators can now collect Diamonds not only by going LIVE but also by posting videos. This also gives people an all-new way to interact and engage with content they love.”

TikTok live gifts

That will provide expanded capacity to generate real money from posting, without having to go live, which will open new doors to many TikTok creators.

See also  Panel recommends policy changes after Orange deputies suspended over TikTok videos

In addition to this, TikTok’s also lowering the threshold for those who can list their profiles in its Creator Marketplace brand collaboration platform, which enables businesses to find TikTok influencers to partner with on in-app campaigns.

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TikTok Creator marketplace

Up till now, creators have required 100k followers to qualify for these listings, but now, TikTok is reducing that number to 10k, which will further expand available opportunities for both users and brands.

That could make it much easier to find relevant creators to partner with, in a lot more niches, which will add more considerations into your TikTok posting and engagement process.

As noted, these are the latest in TikTok’s broader efforts to provide comparable monetization opportunities, in order to keep its top stars posting to the platform, as opposed to drifting off to YouTube or Instagram instead, which have more established monetization systems.

The advantage that other apps have in this respect is that longer videos can include pre-roll and mid-roll ads, facilitating direct monetization, which TikTok can’t utilize given the shorter nature of its clips. As such, it needs to look to alternate funding methods, which will also include eCommerce listings, with direct product displays now the primary source of income for the Chinese version of the app.

The platform’s continued growth facilitates even more opportunities in this respect, with more brands looking to tap into the various opportunities of the platform, and partner with creators to maximize their presence.

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How popular, and valuable, direct tipping and gifting can be is more variable, as some dedicated fan bases will pay, while others will see no reason to donate for what they can already access for free.

See also  Viral TikTok shows 'heartbreaking' aftermath of smash and grab in SF

But even so, it adds more opportunity, and the lower thresholds for monetization will see many more opportunities across the board in the app.

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Shorter Videos Are In Demand. Here’s How Different Social Media Platforms Are Reacting.

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

With TikTok and Instagram Reels slowly conquering social media marketing, there’s no mistake: Short videos are in demand.

The average length for most, if not all, business videos is only six minutes long. And that number is set to decrease as consumers look for shorter videos.

With that in mind, why are short videos in demand? What platforms are implementing short-form videos the best? And most importantly, how can they benefit your business?

TikTok – Changing consumerism, one video at a time

Where shorter videos are concerned, TikTok has always led the industry. What started as a merger with Musical.ly quickly became one of the world’s most powerful social media platforms. And what made it so famous? The same concept that made Vine viral short videos.

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TikTok has over 1 billion active users, twice as many as Snapchat and Pinterest. For reference, Twitter only has 397 million users. With such a massive user-base, the only thing keeping the platform alive are the 15-second-long videos.

But why are short videos so popular? Simple – people don’t have time on their hands. When they open apps like TikTok and Instagram, they’re more likely to spend time watching shorter videos.  And businesses are already catching up.

The impact of Instagram Reels

With the invention of Stories by Snapchat, other platforms like Instagram caught up on short videos. Instagram Reels presents adults and young users with a more straightforward way to tell others about their day. It employs quick photos and videos that are only available for 24 hours instead of being permanently posted. Now engagement is encouraged, especially after Instagram included the “Swipe” option. This has allowed e-commerce sites to both advertise their products and make instant messaging easier.

See also  Miranda Cooper TikTok: How Did He Get So Famous?

Youtube has joined the bandwagon

While YouTube is more or less a platform for long-form videos, its recent update offers shorter vertical videos. Known as YouTube Shorts, the feature allows creators to engage with their audience in under 60 seconds.

But YouTube has another trick up its sleeve, and this one is mainly towards advertisers. It is “YouTube TrueView” and is the primary advertising technology for YouTube. Through this, advertisers can promote long or short videos, with some being skippable after five seconds.

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However, since most people are unlikely to click on longer ads, YouTube now offers 6-second non-skippable ads. The clickthrough rate for shorter 15 and 30-second ads is around 70%, a whopping number for any business.

It’s time to say goodbye to IGTV

With Instagram’s IGTV coming off as less captivating than its Reels and video posts, it has decided to remove IGTV. Instead, it has a separate section for videos. These videos will appear on a person’s profile and can be viewed from the Instagram app.

The change they made here is that videos posted to the Instagram feed can be up to 60 minutes long. The exact reason for doing this is not confirmed. But it seems like Instagram wants a seamless platform where short and long videos co-exist.

This makes long videos more accessible to users using the Instagram app. And it helps promote video tutorials that people typically do not consume on social media apps.

Another significant change is that Instagram videos that are longer can be monetized, a feature not available on Reels. This significantly shifts the focus towards creators who don’t sell a service and want to gain cash through Instagram.

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Does this mean long-form videos are out of the picture?

With short-form videos becoming more popular among consumers, will long-form videos die out? While it’s highly recommended for any business to create videos as short as possible, the answer isn’t that black and white.

See also  The Differences Between Instagram and TikTok for Creators

While short-form videos will drive traffic from new users, long-form videos are better for brand loyalty. Shorter videos will get more engagement and show up on new users’ feeds. But longer videos will be the backbone of your business.

Of course, that depends on what service you’re offering. Ecommerce companies will want to direct their attention towards short-form videos and ads. However, long-form videos are better suited for when you want to go in-depth about product details. That is, of course, only after you’ve grabbed the user’s attention with a short-form video.

Companies that offer webinars will benefit from longer videos. And so will companies that post interviews. However, promos and how-to videos should remain under a minute or two, depending on how long the tutorial needs to be.

Essentially, ask yourself two questions:

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  • First, can the video content be summarized in a short-form video?
  • Do you want to merely catch the attention of the consumer or develop brand loyalty?

The correct formula is neither short nor long, but a mix of both.

What this all means for an entrepreneur

Short-form videos hold substantial market value, especially for new businesses. Take the example of the Dollar Shave Club. What started as a viral video on YouTube grew to become a behemoth of a brand.

And that’s not where the examples end. There are countless success stories like this one that prove the value of short videos.

Short videos have a higher clickthrough rate, and for entrepreneurs, that’s all you need. Short videos are of particular interest to people with ecommerce businesses. For example, 84% of people say they are more compelled to buy a product by watching a video. And the statistics keep on showing a friendlier short-video market.

See also  Panel recommends policy changes after Orange deputies suspended over TikTok videos

There is no doubt that short-form videos are gradually creeping up the graph. And while long-form videos are great for information and brand loyalty, shorter videos are better for PR.

This begs one last question: Are videos beneficial for you? The answer is – yes!

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How to Make a TikTok Video: Beginners Start Here

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Let’s face it, TikTok is the moment.

And with 1 billion monthly active users, it’s time to join the action and get your brand out there to a wider audience!

Want to learn how to make a TikTok Video but don’t know where to start? Don’t sweat it! We broke down all the steps and tools you’ll need to make a viral-worthy first video and make sure your debut is anything but cringe.

Download the full Social Trends report to get an in-depth analysis of the data you need to prioritize and plan your social strategy in 2022.

How to create a TikTok account

First things first, you’ll need to create a TikTok account.

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There are different ways to sign up for one: you can use your phone number, email address or social media account. Here’s how to do it using your phone number.

1. Download TikTok from Google Play or the App Store.

2. Open the TikTok App on your iPhone or Android.

3. Click the “Me” or “Profile” icon at the bottom-right of your screen.

profile icon on TikTok

4. Choose a method to sign up (we’re choosing “use phone or email”)

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sign up for TikTok using phone or email

5. Enter your birth date and phone number (make sure this is accurate because it’s how you’ll retrieve passwords and confirm your account).

enter birthday when signing up on TikTok

6. Enter the 6-digit code sent to that phone number (see, told ya!)

7. You did it! Celebrate by scrolling TikTok for too many hours.

How to make a TikTok video

Here’s how to get started on your very first TikTok video. Luckily for you, it’s way easier than learning this TikTok Shuffle dance.

1. Hit the + sign at the bottom of your screen.

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2. You can upload photos and videos from your phone’s library or make a video directly using the TikTok camera.

See also  The Differences Between Instagram and TikTok for Creators

3. If recording directly, hit the Record button at the bottom of the screen. Hit it again when you’re done recording. The default video mode is “Quick” which is for 15 second videos but you can switch it to “Camera” for more editing options and longer videos (15s, 60s and 3 mins), or “Templates” to create a specific style of video.

record button on the bottom of TikTok screen

4. Tap the check mark when you’re done shooting all your footage.

tap checkmark after shooting footage

5. Make any edits or changes on the post page. All your edits are on the right sidebar of the screen. Also, add music or sounds by hitting “Add sound” at the top of the screen.

add sound on TikTok

6. Post that video and share it everywhere! Make sure to include a description with some hashtags so it finds its way to your audience.

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post video on TikTok with description

How to make a TikTok with multiple videos

Instead of taking one long video, why not capture shorter videos and edit them together to make your TikTok video? Here’s how to do that (and you don’t need a film degree).

1. Hit that “+” sign to start your video

2. You can either shoot multiple videos directly by hitting that record button after each clip, building up your video with different shots. Or, you can hit the “Upload” button next to the record button and add multiple videos and photos you have stored on your phone.

3. Select all your media and tap Next.

4. You can now sync sound across your videos and make adjustments (or try “Auto sync” which will do the syncing up for you.)

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sync sound on TikTok

automatically sync clips

5. Hit Next when done. You’ll be brought to a preview screen where you can further add sounds, more effects, text, and stickers.

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hit next and add suggested sounds

6. Tap Next when you’re done editing your video and proceed to the Post screen.

7. Remember to throw in a description and some hashtags and bingo-bango-bongo you’re the Steven Spielberg of TikTok!

5 things to know before creating your first TikTok

TikTok style is less polished than other types of video

Don’t worry about being too precious with your videos. On TikTok, videos are meant to be candid, and natural—and they should show off your personality. Things like perfect edits, smooth transitions or flawless lighting shouldn’t get in the way of your idea and your own charisma.

Sure, there are lots of editing options, effects and filters to choose from (what the heck is the difference between B3 and G4 filters anyways?) but the real star is you —or, at least all 6 of these friends belting out Lady Gaga for the #caughtinabadromance challenge at this bachelorette. If that’s not candid, I don’t know what is.

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@ariellehartford

That finger stole the show! 😂😂😂 #bachelorettetrip #gatlinburg #caughtinabadromamce

♬ original sound – Arielle Hartford

You don’t have to dance

Good news! You don’t have to spend 2 hours trying to perfect the LaLisa dance tutorial to make sure your video stands out (unless you want to, then no judgment over here!).

There are so many different ways to engage your followers that don’t involve you popping and locking in your living room in front of a ring light (but again, no judgement if you do, except maybe from your pet and their adorable judging eyes).

You also don’t have to attempt whatever this is.

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@sdavidrodriguez

♬ Grab Da Wall & Rock Da Boat – 504 Boyz & Weebie

Hashtags can help more people see your post

It’s no secret a good hashtag can go a long way on TikTok. Strategic use of hashtags will help people find your videos who don’t already follow you, and maybe even see it on their For You Page (FYP).

Find the best hashtags to grow your views and help get your content recognized by the algorithm. You worked so hard on it, might as well show it off to as many people as possible.

The right song can go a long way

Attaching a trending song to your video or audio from a popular TikTok video can help it get seen by more people. This app has a big music following (lots of new songs are intentionally promoted through the app to help them climb the music charts) so lassoing your video to one of these shooting stars is only going to help you get on more FYP and in front of new audiences.

@suzyjonesmusic

♬ original sound – Suzy Jones

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Your greatest asset is you

Don’t overthink it, just come up with a simple idea and let your personality shine through. The sense of intimacy and community that TikTok brings is why people love this app—it feels personal.

Even if you’re doing a TikTok challenge or trend that’s popular, the thing that will make you stand out is your unique take on it. It’s not about gimmicks but about putting your best self out there. Nothing should feel too staged or self-aware (that’s cringe territory). Pretend your audience are your good friends and approach it with that energy!

@janikon_No, I can’t re-record this, I’m laughing too hard #fyp♬ original sound – Stu (he/him)

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