Deconstructing Among Us’ TikTok Strategy 🎵
Breaking down over 15 million likes, 2 million followers, and what worked (…or didn’t!)
I’m Victoria Tran, the Community Director at Innersloth, creators of Among Us and The Henry Stickmin Collection. I like to share my experiences with game communities, marketing, social, and so on — this one will be about TikTok! You can see everything I’ve done here or follow me on Twitter.
Before I dive into my TikTok analysis for Among Us, here’s some background information on the team and account so you understand where we’re coming from, our biases, etc.
- The Among Us TikTok account launched with its first post on Dec 10 2020 — gained 1 million followers within 19 days of launching, and 2 million after 6 months of launching.
- Among Us had no official presence on the app before, and joined a bit late to when the content was the most popular on TikTok.
- Core Innersloth team consists of 9 people including me, and we get a TON of outside help for player support, merch, business development, etc. Community touches upon on all of these things to varying degrees and it absolutely makes my job easier and contributes to growth.
- I’m currently the sole person handling the social media accounts for Among Us, with help from mods for Discord. However my job is MORE than just social media —community design, partner work, branding, strategies, campaigns, marketing, PR, etc. There’s a lot to get done so keep in mind I am unable to put as much time as I would like into content creation sometimes.
This will not be a post on how to use TikTok — I’m writing this assuming you know the basics of how to make one and are relatively familiar with how it works. What the For You Page is, hashtag strategies, etc. (If you’re looking for a primer on TikTok for games, check out Thomas Reisenegger’s fantastic post.) Instead, it’ll be a look on what specifically I’ve done, what I’ve learned, and my strategy.
- My experience with Among Us is unreliable data. Take everything I say with giant fistfuls of salt! I’m privileged to be working with a popular game with a large playerbase, so plenty of my advice may be survivorship bias.
- I can’t say TikTok actually does anything in terms of sales for Among Us. When we go viral on TikTok, there isn’t a clean “this is how many more game sales we got” or “we got X number of people joining our Discord because of this” like a number of other indie games. Among Us’ visibility is too large to notice a sizeable dent from a viral TikTok (very privileged position!! We are grateful.) I certainly check backend stats to see if any changes in player count, but those often fluctuate on their own for an endless amount of reasons. So the goal for us isn’t visibility on TikTok — it’s maintenance, engagement, and sustainability. Keep in mind this affects the kinds of content I post and my posting strategy.
✨ 1. Content Types ✨
There are 5 main buckets I’d pool my game development TikToks down to, which are:
- Game Updates: Ongoing updates about the game, whether it’s bug fixes or huge announcements.
- Personality: Videos hopping on trends or having fun with the community.
- Behind-The-Scenes: Showing off more developer focused looks at the game and what goes into making it.
- Gameplay: Videos that focus on game content that is already out.
- Misc: Anything else — reactions, showing off Among Us merchandise, etc.
And from there, I try to nail down brand identifiers. That is, how you’ll be distinctly recognized on the platform. This bleeds into general social media strategy, but there are unique considerations I put into TikTok’s structure:
- Style & Tone. How do you want to sound on TikTok? Quirky? Wholesome? Relatable? Calming? Competitive? I go for 3 big adjectives that will describe the overall content. Everything trickles down from here — what lighting will you use? How polished will things look? What kind of content will you create? How do you want the audience to understand you?
- Consistency. Shot in the dark, but I think it’s beneficial for a TikTok account to have 1 person (or character) continually and distinctly appear videos. Scrolling through videos is quick and not everyone checks the username/profile pic, so a distinct face someone immediately associates with your TikTok account helps people identify your content easily. Most accounts on the platform, after all, are centered around 1–2 people making content, and is the one platform where it’s not weird to continually show your face everytime you post. (Imagine if we tweeted selfies everytime we had a game update lol.) If you don’t want to show your face, use consistent elements — certain lighting, a distinctive mark, an object, etc.
- Hook. The first 1–3 seconds of a video is extremely important, so you want to front load your video with the most interesting thing possible. That doesn’t even have to be visual! It could be a question — “how did I make feet move in my game?”, “hidden details in Among Us”, “everyone hates this task”, “what to expect in the next Among Us update”, “times I used the Among Us account for my own personal gain”. Basically, pose an idea and use the rest of the video to expand on it.
- Trends. The beauty of using a viral trend on TikTok is that that is your hook — will the beginning not seem interesting at all? That’s fine! People know something is coming due to the sound or content of it and will tend to stick around. Examples include the Adult Swim trend.
Now you may be thinking — does creating a brand voice actually matter? According to the Sprout Social Index, some of the reasons why brands stood out more than others according to consumers was: memorable content (40%), distinct personality (33%), and compelling storytelling (32%). Sometimes with social, we’re not gunning for a one-viral-hit thing — we’re aiming for sustainable, practical community engagement. We can create content that is memorable and keeps us at the top of their mind.
✨ 2. Content Case Breakdown ✨
Now that we have an understanding of the content types and our brand voice, let’s look at some numbers.
Here’s what our TikTok audience demographics currently are:
We unsurprisingly cater to an English speaking audience, mainly in the US, so our content aligns with that. But let’s take a deeper dive and grab some specific videos, the numbers, what I consider successes, and mini post-mortem thoughts.
Game updates, by far, get the highest engagement and share rate for Among Us. Not a shock, but the difficulty here is how to make a game update interesting — especially when you don’t have much to show for it or you need it to be keep people informed about bug fixes.
For these video types, I try to keep them as short as possible, under the 15 second TikTok limit. Below are some case studies on some of the videos I’ve done.
Benchmark: I consider anything under 1 million views after the first 1–2 days to be a low performer in this category.
Goal: Let players know a small bug update was coming out soon.
- Originally posted on: June 30, 2021, 2:10pm PT
- 8.8 million views
- 1.4 million likes
- 49.2k comments
- 23.1k shares
- Centered the entire update around the vent task, which is a running joke excuse in the community when an Impostor jumps out of a vent. This made it more interesting than just a casual bug update full of fixes.
Goal: Explain we were aware of the enormous game breaking bugs that occured after an update, and that it as being fixed but people needed to keep their game updated.
- Originally posted on: March 10, 2021, 6:05pm PT
- 1.9 million views
- 367.1k likes
- 6.8k comments
- 2.1k shares
- Hooked onto a trending meme at the time, which was Hayloft (great song) and the gesture.
- Made fun of the fact we completely broke the game, which people took well to.
- Successfully conveyed information about keeping the game updated and that were were aware with the problems with a meme.
- Got a lot of software developers relating to the video too haha.
Goal: Tease the upcoming colours coming to Among Us.
- Originally posted on: June 3, 2021, 1:06pm PT
- 886k views
- 163.7k likes
- 6812 comments
- 2891 shares
- While it didn’t do terribly, a more interactive TikTok probably would’ve gone over better — some sort of voting system, maybe?
- Pretty standstill, no real hook or personality to it other than waiting for colours to come out.
These TikToks are more wildly varied in terms of virality. That’s okay though — the point of these TikToks isn’t necessarily to get big numbers (though it’s always nice), but to solidify our tone with the community and create that connection as an indie studio. That’s a huge advantage of Among Us being a surprise hit with a tiny team — it really is just a tiny group of us trying our best. These mainly feature me, but I’m working on getting the team on it too if they’re down (e.g. this old clip)! It’s just difficult when we are all so busy.
These videos are often longer, and if I can fit a trend into it cool, but I’m more aiming for anything more personality driven. For me, that usually means a bit tongue-in-cheek, and self-awareness is key — I’m not trying to be cool. I’m just sharing exactly how it feels.
Benchmark: A good video will get around 500k views within a week, and the best ones hit over a million views.
Goal: Acknowledge that at the time, the only question I was ever seeing was when the new map was going to come out, and I was getting anxious.
- Originally posted on: Feb 24 2021, 11:16am PT
- 1.4 million views
- 269.2k likes
- 5.7k comments
- 523 shares
- Hopped onto the trend while it was still timely
- The self-awareness went over well, and people were very nice about it haha.
Goal: Show off our Twitter account and share our appreciation for other games. Also just show them that I was a human reading their comments.
- Originally posted on: June 8 2021, 4:06pm PT
- 532k views
- 99.8k likes
- 2023 comments
- 229 shares
- The video was quite long, only 15.4% of people actually finished it.
- I don’t think I was particularly eloquent in this video, probably could’ve actually scripted it out so that I’d have more snappy lines or clever quips.
- However, the comments were still really fun and engaging, so overall a win in terms of getting the community to know us a little bit better.
Goal: Show people that we weren’t prepared for the Among Us blow up at all either!
- Originally posted on: March 16 2021, 9:44am PT
- 1.9 million views
- 473.5k likes
- 5144 comments
- 1444 shares
- Thought this was interesting because it’s one of the few TikToks I’ve gotten that had Sound as a source of traffic.
- Hopped onto the trend while it was still relatively new.
- Generated quite a bit of discussion about how we actually blew up.
Videos in this category are the poorest performing ones. Is it because I’m not making these right? Possibly! Is it also because sometimes I’m simply answering questions with no other visual aids? Yep! Or is it because the majority of our community cares about *new* items, not old ones? Also that.
Videos here tend to be longer, and aren’t necessarily a target for the For You Page (FYP), but for those that are interested in the game’s development. Below you’llsee we get high traffic from people on our Personal Profile versus other traffic.
Benchmark: All of these videos tend to get around the 300k mark even after a week, so this has become my benchmark for our lowest performing numbers.
Goal: Answer questions from our TikToks for community knowledge and for them to see I pay attention to the comments.
- Originally posted on: June 28 2021, 3:14pm PT
- 361.2k views
- 50.4k likes
- 1.7k comments
- 58 shares
- It have been a better hook if I had shown gameplay while talking about this and not just my face, but alas, I remember it being quite busy and I just didn’t have the time to do more. That’s okay though! It just means this could be a future video with more effort put in later.
- I don’t know, maybe the answer was too long? I wasn’t feeling particularly clever with my response here.
Goal: Show a little of the behind-the-scenes work we’ve done.
- Originally posted on: May 4 2021, 9:51am PT
- 379.2k views
- 72.8k likes
- 1969 comments
- 232 shares
- Since all of the images were quite static, there wasn’t TOO much going on or eye catching. Also I don’t think my explanations were that amusing. Could’ve been better?
These are specific focuses on, uh, gameplay! It straight up takes content from the game and plops it into a fun little video.
These tend to do relatively well, but they vary due to the fact gameplay can cover anything from focusing on difficult tasks, gameplay styles, looks at game details, etc.
Benchmark: 500k views in the first few days is considered high.
Goal: Show off the tiny, charming details in Among Us that people may have missed.
- Originally posted on: Feb 19 2021, 9:58am PT
- 1.7 million views
- 284.8k likes
- 5385 comments
- 794 shares
- Lots of people referencing the forbidden soup, which was a joke I hid in there.
- A peek at the new map at the time!
Goal: Riff off the joke that our game makes some people super anxious.
- Originally posted on: May 4 2021, 9:51am PT
- 738.4k views
- 119.1k likes
- 2430 comments
- 1094 shares
- Didn’t do well on the FYP page, yet still hit decent numbers according to traffic sources of people going onto our profile and being interested by it. Hints to me that people will often click on the Among Us profile and scroll through our videos looking for interesting titles.
Among Us has plenty of other things to talk about — whether it’s dueting videos or showing off new merchanise. I don’t do this as much, but it’s proved to be more successful than I thought!
- Originally posted on: May 4 2021, 9:51am PT
- 2 million views
- 397.5k likes
- 22.8k comments
- 13.6k shares
- Honestly I think it’s just the merch speaking for itself — it’s really cute!
- … Okay some people also had dirty minds, which added to the view count and shares, probably lol.
- I didn’t make it a call to action or anything — I didn’t tell anyone to buy it, just wanted to show off the cute bottle we had.
So for the TikToks I discussed above, here are their stats in one table.
This is a very rough overview, but from this we can determine:
- Personality TikToks get the highest engagement compared to the other categories, particularly in the number of people commenting.
- However, Game Update Tiktoks get the most visibility overall.
- The most shareable content was the Water Bottle (Misc) video, which makes sense since people probably wanted people to see the merch and possibly buy it.
- The second most shareable content was anything involving Game Updates, likely because people would want to share it with friends and communities they are part of.
- Behind-the-scenes content should be the videos I produce the least of or change the way I handle those videos
- Gameplay is a solid middle-of-the-road content I can produce for when I am running low on video ideas and need filler content
- The FYP page is obviously the best place to be in for visibility, but once people are on your profile page, having content that interests them will help boost stats.
Game Updates are more popular for Among Us because we’re already out and continually updating, but for games that are still in development? It’s likely that showing more gameplay, how it works, and answering questions would be popular.
What are your goals with TikTok? Just views that hopefully convert to wishlists? Do you want engagement on the platform? Are you aiming for shares? Overall, pay attention to what’s happening with your content so you can better prepare for success on your platform!
One Bad TikTok
What would a case analysis look like without at least prodding one of my bad TikToks, right? Right!
So there’s a pretty aesthetically unpleasing TikTok I put out that has me running at 5 FPS for some reason. Like I’m stuttering. It’s weird. I don’t know what happened. And because I use an Android, the in-app camera for it isn’t crystal clear. I didn’t realize the stuttering happened until after I posted it since the playback was smooth, and I should’ve deleted it but… I didn’t. I don’t remember why. (If I’m honest I probably just didn’t want to do ANOTHER take of it and it was already up for a few minutes at the point.)
But rolling with it actually worked out super well. As more comments rolled in about how “Among Us lady” couldn’t afford a phone, I replied with “yeah please tell the team to buy me a new phone” and now it’s a bit of an inside joke with the community to get me a better phone.
Another TikTok I did had much better camera quality because I didn’t film it using the app, and I got comments like this:
There’s a lot to be said about creating a style that suits your studio, and considering Among Us’ cartoon vibes and chaotic gameplay, I think having a bit of grittiness to our page suits it.
TikTok is about sharing moments and trends with each other, and being used to that authenticity will take you far.
✨ 3. Comments ✨
Speaking of comments, I’m not going to lie — one of the hardest parts of running the TikTok account in the beginning was seeing all the “dead game” comments. While there is the ability to filter comments, it doesn’t necessarily work all the time nor is it desirable. And unlike Twitter, where I could selectively respond to comments and that would pop them up to the top, the first TikTok comments you see aren’t determined by if the creator responds, but by how many likes it gets (and probably other factors).
And man was it demoralizing to be in charge of the account and think I was letting the team down by creating content that a lot of people would only yell dead game to.
Anywho, after a particularly viral TikTok that should’ve made me happy but instead made me sad, I got tired of it! Fine! If they’re going to talk like that I’ll let them know I’m reading it!
So I decided to start responding, but either nicely or with a little bit of spice, with some rules:
- Never attack the person (who they are), but you can poke fun at their action (what they’re doing)
- Respond to way more positive comments than negative ones, and only respond to negative ones if they’re clearly not moving from the top
- If you can respond to negative comments nicely, do it
And… it worked! Sort of. It took a couple of videos of me dedicating a lot of time into just responding to comments, but now it’s a much more pleasant place to be. (Part of this could be because we’re updating more too, of course!)
There are obviously still people who respond with “dead game”, but it is SO much better there. I no longer dread reading the comments, and it’s actually a lot of fun seeing people react to the videos now.
The point is here is investing time and energy into thoughtfully shaping community interactions matters, and nothing is more motivating than seeing a developer actively participating in the space and listening.
✨ 4. Miscellaneous Tips ✨
Whew, almost at the end! Here are a few last tips I have that didn’t really fit anywhere else. Keep in mind a lot of my recommendations below are not actually confirmed by TikTok, but my best guesses.
- Respond to comments on old videos. I have no idea if this is true or not, but I’ve heard that the TikTok algorithm appreciates it when you still engage with comments that appear in old videos, and keeps circulating it/thinks it’s relevant. Again, no idea if true, but I do still get people commenting on old videos and it’s nice to continue that kind of engagement.
- Talk and engage with others in your target demographic and/or relevant hashtags. You generally want to fall in the algorithmic pool of people who are interested in the type of content you post and will engage with it. Not only is engaging with content outside of yours beneficial and contributing to the community itself, but it’ll help adjust the kinds of videos you see on your FYP and hopefully get you in front of more relevant eyes. Plus it’s a lot of fun for people to see you, as a studio,engage with them!
- Try again. You never know what kind of content will land! Experiment! I can give you all the tips and best practices in the world and none of it is going to matter unless you try it out for yourself and see what works for you. For example I love how Jacob Janerka’s TikTok videos have absolutely exploded, and you can see the turning point in the view count when you scroll down. For good reason too — he’s hilarious. I die everytime. The fact he made Paradigm, is working on a new game, AND is amazing with social media is killing me. We’ve never talked and I don’t actually know anything about him but if anyone knows him, tell him I’m a big fan of the content. Okay this is turning into a weird section. Sorry. I digress.
- Best time to post? I’m generally less concerned about this, but I’ve found right around 12pm or later in the day (evening) works best. That being said, experimenting is recommended — TikTok will give you the times the people who follow you are most active in your analytics. However, I haven’t found this to necessaily be the make-or-break stat.
- TikTok for Business? There are 3 different TikTok accounts: Personal, Creator, and Business. Creator and Business is where most studios fall into. I think technically we’re all supposed to be Business accounts as studios, but that being said… there’s not too much of a difference between Creator or Business accounts so far, and I haven’t heard of anyone being banned for it? Among Us is a Business account because I don’t want to risk it though. One caveat to Business accounts — you don’t get to use a lot of the trending songs due to copyright reasons. Creator accounts do though. So what’s the benefit of Business? Other than the ability to add a link to your profile page and probably the ability to buy ads, I’m not sure honestly. My relationship with the Business account is helped by the fact we have a direct relationship with TikTok, but if you were just a casual studio with an account, I’m not sure how it’d help outright. I could be completely wrong and someone at TikTok is shaking their head in horror at me right now, in which case I’m sorry!!! I don’t know!!!
✨ 5. Ending Thoughts ✨
I don’t think I’m particularly good at TikTok, honestly. This isn’t me dissing myself— this is to say that I do my best when I fail and experiment. I don’t have some magical skill at being good at content creation. I only know basic video editing. But I try, and on most platforms, that’s going to take you far.
There are accounts that do wonderfully polished content, and I love it. (See: InkyFox.) There is also a ton of amusing content out there, from places like No More Robots? Or it’s a whole production with the team like Landfall? I enviously look on, wanting to be the kind of person who has the eye for that kind of stuff. But I don’t! And the beauty of TikTok is that it can work with almost any style, if you let it.
Perhaps a better way to put my style is the way Patrick Klepek did on his Waypoint article:
Among Us is one of the most popular games of the moment, and its TikTok videos are charmingly amateurish…. There’s nothing slick about them… But crucially, they feel down to Earth and instantly relatable, aka the heart of TikTok.
I love charmingly amateurish as a description. I think it fits what I’m trying to say well. And as much as I talked about the above indie games, don’t forget a lot of things will affect tone. The audience you target, the type of game, and your own unique strengths and weaknesses.
You don’t need to box yourself in either— completely unrelated to Innersloth/Among Us, I’ve been spearheading the zen Unpacking TikTok account as a side project. (Give it a follow if you want to see me experiment there? The first video did pretty well.) That game calls for more polished, calming content, which is something I’m not actually as acclimated to. But hey, challenge accepted.
All in all, TikTok is a fun platform to experiment with, and if it’s of interest to you, then I hope this post helped.