Launched in September 2016, TikTok has truly soared in popularity — scoring more than 1.5 billion worldwide downloads as of Q4 2019. Despite some concerns over privacy that emerged in 2020, the platform continued to thrive with upwards of 50 million daily users in the United States alone. It’s no wonder why brands have started to shift focus from other social media platforms and implement TikTok marketing, including video game developers and esports organizations.
The short-form video format has proven to be a viable means of marketing upcoming projects — but how can you make the app work for you? Below, we’ll take a deep dive into
- Why TikTok rose to the forefront of esports and video game PR
- How to understand TikTok’s algorithm
- Creating gaming content with viral potential for TikTok
- How to best utilize TikTok for your esports and video game marketing
How short form video attracted esports marketing and video game PR
When new platforms grow in popularity, it doesn’t take long for industries to jump on board and take advantage of the virality. It wasn’t an instant shift as millions of users poured onto the short-form video platform, but gaming and esports eventually found itself a new home on TikTok.
For TikTok marketing to work for the entertainment industries, the platform has to be interesting to the right audience. As it turns out, the platform became top of mind for almost every kind of audience while we were quarantined in 2020, so it was only a matter of time before the gaming industry latched on.
TikTok’s basic user demographics
According to Statista’s 2020 data, more than 30% of TikTok users are 10 to 19-years-old. Just under 30% fall within 20 to 29-years-old. It’s a relatively young audience, especially when you consider that Twitter’s users are primarily 25 to 49-years-old and Instagram attracts a larger crowd of 18 to 34-year-olds.
However, the youthful demographic works in TikTok’s favor as 50% of video game players in the United States are 34-years-old or younger.
How esports and gaming devs are using TikTok
Once esports and gaming brands found their way onto TikTok, it became a game of determining the best ways to utilize the platform. By engaging the core audience, both industries can take advantage of TikTok marketing.
In 2020, TikTok worked with the Collegiate StarLeague North American StarCraft esports league to create the platform’s first online tournament. Though known for its 60-second time limit on videos, TikTok broadcast games like Fortnite and League of Legends for the tournament. Additionally, at the tail end of 2020, TikTok partnered with the Fifa 21-focused Tundra esports team.
Shortly before TikTok esports started to take shape, video game developers were creeping onto the networking platform to use it as a viable means of video marketing. Kitfox Games, known for Boyfriend Dungeon and Dwarf Fortress, started a TikTok account in July 2020 because YouTube videos were too time-consuming compared to the short-form video platform. TikTok also worked with Epic Games to create an emote specifically for Fortnite. Additionally, ReKTGlobal, an esports company, joined forces with TalentX Entertainment, a talent development company, to create TalentX Gaming and build upon the platform’s gaming content.
TikTok marketing for gamers is a budding concept that shows the promise of continued growth.
How the TikTok algorithm works
Succeeding on a social media platform requires some understanding of what works and what doesn’t. On TikTok’s back end, an algorithm is busy crunching numbers and filtering posts to ensure that viewers will almost exclusively discover content that viewers are likely to engage with.
The algorithm looks at what people are watching, if they’re watching the full video, and whether they’re responding or reacting to the video. Having interesting content is vitally important, however, as the algorithm weighs video completion rate as one of the highest categories.
Anatomy of a viral short-form video for TikTok
A TikTok video is a simple 15- to 60-second video that should tell a story, provide advice, show off something new, or include a clear call-to-action. Using a bevy of different tools, users can edit videos to include unique filters, feature stagnant stickers, include music, and be accompanied by a voiceover.
The best esports and gaming hashtags for TikTok video marketing
Using the proper hashtag for a video is one of the most effective ways to ensure that the video is seen. TikTok marketing requires relevant tags that directly pertain to the contents of the video.
For gaming brands and TikTok esports, some of the best hashtags you can use include:
It’s also a good idea to be mindful of hashtag challenges, which gaming brands and esports teams can use to create a viral post, and create your own relevant hashtags to increase brand awareness.
Choosing the right sound for your TikTok videos for gamers
While the overall visual quality of your TikTok is important, adding the right sound can be a game-changer. TikTok features a library of music and sounds that can punch up the content.
Choosing the right sound may mean scrolling through the current “trending sounds,” which are what users have been hearing and listening to most frequently. Having them in your video can appeal to the algorithm and improve your watch and completion rates.
Creating gaming content for TikTok
Knowing what goes into a gaming or esports TikTok video sets you on a path to create engaging and viral content. At the end of the day, it’s all about drawing in viewers, and as a gamer or sports team, there are several ways to do that.
Adding voiceover to your gameplay footage
Twitch and YouTube provided players with a platform to provide commentary on their gameplay. “Let’s Play” segments became a popular format that can easily be carried over to TikTok. The platform’s Voiceover feature allows users to record footage, then add a commentary afterward.
After recording gameplay, users can proceed to the “Editing” page, where a “Recording” option will allow for a voiceover commentary.
Sponsored content with gaming influencers
TikTok has become a haven for influencers and sponsored content. There are many opportunities for high-profile users to connect with sponsors to deliver branded content. The most common partnership between an influencer and a brand is a sponsored post, which the influencer adds to their channel to boost brand awareness.
Additionally, TikTok also allows influencers to “take over” a gaming or esports brand account to post authentic, unique content that draws their audience’s attention to the sponsor.
Gameplay highlight reels
Have a gameplay compilation or any esports event highlights you want to share? TikTok’s functionality makes it easy to create a highlight reel. Piece together moments from your upcoming release and add music for a memorable reel that’s sure to garner attention. It’s a straightforward process that allows you to spruce up the individual clips with filters and text.
Best practices for TikTok video game marketing
If you’re eyeing up TikTok for your gaming and esports marketing needs, there are some tricks of the trade to follow. As you navigate TikTok and get to know the ins-and-outs of the platform better, you’ll want to ensure you keep your focus on marketing.
We’ve laid out some of the best tactics when it comes to marketing your TikTok video. These methods and practices include:
Creating shorter TikToks for gamers
Since completion rate is a vitally important stat for TikTok’s algorithm, you’ll want your viewers to watch your videos in their entirety. This is more likely to happen when you create 15-second-long videos, more-so than the maximum minute you’re allotted. Keep your messages brief, and you’ll see your completion rate increase.
Engaging users right at the video’s start
Try not to make your audience wait for something to happen in your videos. Since TikTok videos are so brief, it’s important to make every second count. Come out of the gate strong and continue building. Any lull in your video can disengage viewers, which will lower your completion rate.
Writing an eye-catching caption
What are your viewers watching? What message are you trying to send? What would you like your viewers to gain from watching the video? A TikTok caption can help solidify the point of the video marketing, and one that’s engaging will help your post succeed. Asking a question gives your viewers a reason to interact, which plays into TikTok’s algorithm. The more your viewers engage a video, the more likely it is to go viral.
Have a call to action
What do you want your viewers to do once they’ve watched the video? As a game developer, you may encourage viewers to preorder a game or try a demo. For esports events, you could ask viewers to tune in to an upcoming tournament. You’re also on TikTok to build a following, so close with an enticing message, such as “follow us for more exclusive footage.”
Using the proper hashtags
Sometimes, virality can depend primarily on the hashtags you use. Always try to start your own hashtag, specifically one that links back to the brand or its message. The hashtags used should also be relevant to the topic. So, for TikTok esports videos, the tags should relate to esports, gaming, and a specific video game.
Succeeding as a gamer on TikTok
Gaming brands and esports organizers have many platforms to find exposure, but TikTok has rapidly become a viable option. Succeeding with TikTok marketing means understanding its algorithm, using the best hashtags, and creating engaging content.
At Loopr, we work with any budget to develop influencer marketing campaigns and social media strategies that best work for TikTok. Amplify your brand, promote your event, and utilize short-video marketing to build your core audience. Get in touch today.
Can’t get enough of this stuff? Check out our video game PR case studies to learn how we’ve helped indie game developers and esports brands just like you.