Deconstructing Among Us’ Twitter Strategy 🐦
A deep dive into the thoughts behind a community director’s social media work.
I’m Victoria, the Community Director at Innersloth, creators of Among Us and The Henry Stickmin Collection. I try to write a lot about my experiences with game communities, marketing, social, and so on, in an attempt to share as much of my own knowledge as possible. For some context on my experience, I used to be the Communications Director at Kitfox Games, where I worked on projects like Boyfriend Dungeon, Dwarf Fortress, and more! You can see everything I’ve done here or follow me on Twitter.
It’s been awhile since I’ve hunkered down and written something, so let’s do an in-depth rundown of Among Us’ Twitter account strategy. I plan to do more breakdowns for more social accounts in the future — I wanted to get in the nitty gritty because I feel I haven’t seen many focused posts about individual game accounts.
Here’s some background information on the team and Twitter account so you know where I’m coming from:
- Among Us account officially launched with its first post on Nov 18 2020 (was private beforehand) — gained 1 million followers within 1 month of launch.
- Innersloth Twitter account was originally the main one and had ~340k followers before the launch of the Among Us account.
- Core Innersloth team consists of 4 people (including me), but with a TON of outside help for player support, porting, merch, business development, etc. Community touches upon on all of these things to varying degrees and it’d be wrong to not acknowledge these resources we’ve been lucky to have, and how that absolutely makes my job easier and contributes to growth.
- I’m currently the sole person handling the social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok) for both Innersloth and Among Us. That being said, I don’t want to create unrealistic expectations — Facebook and Instagram are semi-neglected (if you know me you know how I feel about Facebook), and the team and mods help run the Discord. Furthermore, my job is MORE than just social media — biz dev, strategies, campaigns, semi-marketing, semi-PR, etc. There’s a lot to get done!
- I currently use no social media management tools like Sprout or Hootsuite (other Social Media Managers please don’t yell at meeeee I’m working on it………….?)
This is NOT a post about how I grew the Twitter account; a lot of the hard work was done from the game being a hit before I came to work at Innersloth, and their work managing a community before me! HOWEVER, I think this post will be helpful if:
- You’re interested in the strategies, problems, and thoughts behind handling a enormous community — while still being a tiny indie team
- Hearing all the weird things I’ve learned from suddenly inheriting a community of half a billion players lol
Cool? Cool! Let’s start.
PART 1: RESEARCH
I’m coming at this assuming you are at least a little bit familiar with Twitter social media management or have an account. (If you aren’t, here’s a great primer!)
One of the things when I’m “inheriting” a community — whether that was when I was helping to publish games over at Kitfox or joining the Innersloth team — I research by reading. If you’re working on something brand new, you get to set the voice! Lucky you. But I recommend you still read how other Twitter accounts sound so you can define what you like and what you don’t when it comes to voice.
Here are 3 questions (and three potential follow-ups) you might ask yourself when you’re inheriting a community:
1. Does the brand have a significant community following? If so, how do the devs talk on their personal accounts?
This doesn’t necessarily affect your community voice, but I find it useful to read how the devs talk on their personal pages to get a sense of how deep the developer-community interaction is and what the community considers “normal”.
For instance, I went through this with Dwarf Fortress while working for Kitfox. Dwarf Fortress has close ties with Tarn Adams, the creator. Would it have made sense to completely change the way the game is talked about and eliminate Tarn’s voice from the communications completely and all at once? No! (Maybe it would have if his voice wasn’t already working fine)
It’s a mix of wanting to respect the vision and tone the devs have for the game, and not trying to twist the community focus so it becomes all about “me”. Yes, I will ultimately set the tone, but just like how game design can be helped by drawing inspiration from other roles on the team, community can also be influenced by the core values of the team.
2. Did the account exist before you started working? If so, what did it sound like before you joined?
It’s possible your voice versus the previous studio’s voice is drastically different. (This is assuming you want to change the studio voice.) Having knowledge of how it was before helps you slowly ease into your own style without making it a jarring experience for the players.
3. Is the game announced/released already? If so, how does the community talk about the game?
Every game forms its own quirks and language around it! You obviously need to understand what the existing community is talking about, but the jargon, topics, and pain points are important because it gives you credibility and trust that you are listening and not just some random person behind the account.
PART 2: SET THE GOAL
There are numerous goals for the Twitter account, but the top one isn’t growth. In terms of where the community is at, what matters the most now is solidifying the community and ensuring it’s a welcoming place.
It’s important to know the distinctive goals of your game based on where it’s at in its life. Boyfriend Dungeon, which was a new IP? Growth. Dwarf Fortress, a legacy game? Reigniting and capturing excitement. Among Us, which is at its highest period of hype and growth yet? Sustainability. Not only that, Innersloth had a unique problem of being a hit game very suddenly and unexpectedly, with a tiny team and a large (mostly young) following being thrown at their personal accounts.
So most of all, I wanted the community that rallied behind Among Us to be kind, respectful, and welcoming to each other. Encouraging these values, above all else, is my current focus rather than a numerical goal.
So with that in mind, here were the main goals for Among Us I set when I got started:
- Redirect attention. As a developer, getting continual questions can be tiring, and it’s worse when they’re towards your personal account. So I wanted to be able to steer as much attention as possible towards an account I could handle to alleviate the stress of possible complaints or anger hurled at them directly.
- Community-focused. Among Us’ Twitter account should put the community at center stage, and the content we put out should be entertaining or valuable to them in some way, or focused on amazing fan works.
- Retention over growth. Not all social media focus needs to be on “going viral” or gaining as much reach as possible. Games will naturally drop off in players overtime, and the ones that stay are incredibly important. Among Us is already gaining mass traction all by itself, so what I wanted to find was their core community.
- Create a welcoming environment. I do my best work when I genuinely enjoy and love the space I’m in, and to do that, I need to make sure the community is one that nurtures and cares for each other. As much as the game is about accusing one another, at its core it’s about giving people a space to chat and connect with each other.
Social media work can only do so much for the environment of the game.As a team we are 100% working on better design and systems within the game itself to keep building positive community. And it’s worth remembering that more hardcore players will quote the developers on what they do and say, so that’s still important to keep in mind..
But this post is all about social media!
PART 3: THE STRATEGY
Alright we have the goals in mind — now what?
Confession: I never make a social media strategy/plan (when it’s just for me).
I don’t find a fully formed, written strategy useful when I don’t need to report anything to anyone, nor do I have people to direct. (This is also a privilege of working where people trust me and my work.)
Anywho, that being said, what I ALWAYS write out is a specific, custom set of social values. This, more than anything, defines my strategy.
My main values for the Among Us Twitter are:
- Respect — I admire the abilities, qualities, and achievements of the community. I never want to talk down to them or ignore their concerns, and will remain as transparent as possible.
- Integrity — I do not sacrifice Innersloth’s morals for clout. I focus on community sentiment, and prioritize actions over words.
- Joy — I want to create moments and experiences that delight those that interact with us. Being able to connect with us is NOT the same as actually feeling a sense of connection. Find the humor and joy in the community to form bonds.
- Share — Innersloth came from tiny indie studio beginnings, and Among Us’ success does not make us above anyone else. Encourage, promote, and help other small creators or indie studios whom we respect and admire, when and where we can.
I’m still working out the kinks (it’s only been a month!), but combined with my goals, this naturally created Among Us’ Twitter strategy. Summed up in two points, it’s:
- Be a role model. How you talk and interact will inevitably attract similar behaviour. Modeling the behaviour you want is critical. (Mine: kind, encouraging, self-aware, correcting behaviour, playfully jabbing fun at things that don’t matter, etc.) Keep in mind that who you respond to also matters. If people continually see you only responding to negative comments or troll-like behaviour, some may lean towards doing that to get reactions or your attention. Responding to criticism is good, but there’s a difference between polite criticism and rude insults.
- Respond often, post infrequently. So fair warning: this goes against most of the advice I’ve seen about using Twitter, which is that you should be posting content on your account very frequently since Twitter moves so fast. Also, this strategy might not work on smaller accounts with less engagement. However, I’m currently the only one managing any of the public-facing channels PLUS I have other tasks in the team, so I’m very low on time and resources. Instead of putting time into tons of content creation, I decided to instead invest time on getting 1 good tweet out, and supplement by responding to comments on it. It leaves me more time to get other work done, while also helping me connect with the community and encouraging engagement!
Every single game/studio’s goals should be unique. When I worked at Kitfox, my strategies and voice were different! And even my strategies for Among Us may shift as our community changes over time. Don’t just copy something just because it’s successful, without knowing your own why and how, or it’ll come off disingenuous or lead to mistakes.
PART 3.5: THE EXECUTION
As a quick explanation of “respond often, post infrequently”, I want to dive into the exact tone I aim for, because some people have questions about ~finding your social media voice~.
Whether you’re working in a studio with a small following or a huge one, keep this in mind when you’re creating a social media voice:
- Being earnest > sounding trendy. You really do not need to use the hip lingo if it’s not something you would normally say. Seriously. It’s fine. Don’t force yourself: not only will it be tiresome and make you feel weirdly uncomfortable, but people can probably tell you’re faking it.
- You will always be someone’s most hated Twitter account. Basically, there’s no one size fits all tone. Are you wholesome? Some people will hate how fake and sugary sweet you are! Are you edgy and hip? Pfft, silence brand. Do you just post normally with no voice? Well, then you’re just boring, ew, so corporate!! It’s going to happen, people will have opinions, and if you try too hard to please hundreds and thousands of mass internet strangers, you’re going to burn out real quickly.
- Set boundaries. While I do try to respond to as many tweets as I can, I don’t want people to think I CAN actually respond to everything, especially not on the weekends or when I’m not working. So even just setting my Twitter name to a “weekend” status helps a lot in defining that.
The positive and negative to Among Us’ sizeable audience is that a number of people WILL see my replies to tweets pop up in their feeds. This means that posts can get signal boosted to other people by virtue of just speaking to them. And it’s important! People get excited when their favorite account replies to them (I mean, I’m exactly the same haha.) So what and how you reply shows the community what merits a response or not (remember that “role model” talk from a few paragraphs ago?).
Generally, this is what I try to reply to:
- Kind messages. Good mornings, asking how I’m doing, reminding me to hydrate, compliments, etc. Those are nice!! I appreciate it!! And it’s the least I could do to just reply back.
- Fan creations. These are just super cool and I love them and I want to respond.
- Valid criticisms. Criticism is good! It means people care enough about you to say something. We don’t need to JUST acknowledge the positives — in fact, I think the best community managers are ones that are deeply aware of the flaws of their game and studio. Responding to criticism? Good! Just remember there’s a line between valid, polite criticism and just pure vitriol and insults.
- Questions. I mean, people are going to have endless questions. If you can respond, great! If it’s the same question you’ve answered a million times, silly answers can work too.
- Fun comments. Having fun with the community is a perk of the job!
Here are comments I don’t respond to:
- Aggressive asks. I avoid comments that goad me into replying (such as “Day X of asking Among Us to respond”) or commands (“do this OR ELSE”). It’s disrespectful and encourages people to incessantly prod at me or do what they want without consideration.
- Troll replies. Anything involving spam (the mute button is your friend), troll behaviour (“dead game” comments), and hateful comments don’t warrant a reply. They’re looking for attention and the reaction — I don’t intend on contributing.
- Overly familiar comments. At the end of the day, the Among Us Twitter account is still just a brand account. Keeping that fine line between having fun with the community but not diving into a parasocial relationship is something I try to maintain.
PART 4: THE RESULT
It’s been a month, and the Among Us Twitter account is at 1 million followers. The number isn’t so much what impresses me though — it’s how supportive and engaging our community has been, which is always amazing to see.
I’ll plop down some social media backend stats for those who are interested:
The grey bars indicate how many tweets I’ve made and since I usually only tweet once a day from the main account, the grey bars are mainly indications of how many replies I’ve sent out.
The engagement rate (likes, retweets, replies) for this time period is about 5.5%, which is slightly above a “good” engagement rate! (Generally, 2–5% engagement is seen as good engagement for any social platform.)
As a comparison, my previous studio’s tweet engagement percentage for Sept 1–28, 2020 was 2.8%. A big part of this difference is definitely because Among Us is hyped up right now, but the continual replies seem to be working.
PART 5: OTHER HELPFUL FACTORS
There are a lot of things that contribute to my success, and it’s always worth it to point it out, because they do matter.
- I’ll stress this again: I came in at a point where Among Us is popular, so the volume of people paying attention is high, so a certain amount of engagement shows up no matter what I post! So lots of love to the team for putting in all the hard work before I got here.
- The team trusts me and gives me autonomy to do my work. Community sentiment is probably the most important thing for Among Us, so to hand over the voice of the game to me is a big honor. But even more than that, I appreciate the respect, trust, and letting me work without micromanaging or devaluing what I do. AND I gained this confidence from the fantastic working environment at my previous studio, Kitfox Games.
- I’m generally neurotypical and it’s possible my particular experience with my immigrant parents has given me greater interpersonal sensitivity. I wrote another article about what I learned about community from my immigrant parents here. (I hope you read it! It’s something that’s very personal and close to my heart.)
PART 6: RANDOM SHIT I’M TOO LAZY TO GROUP BECAUSE THIS POST IS LONGER THAN I EXPECTED IT TO BE
- Balancing “tweeting time” versus the other work I have to do can be hard! I create very defined “chunks” of time in which I reply to things. I’ll schedule tweeting chunks at strategic points during the day or between meetings. Since I can think of replies easily, I can get through a ton of tweets so people think I’m on all the time haha. (Don’t forget: community touches on many, MANY aspects of game development and business development that aren’t social media!)
- Even in small communities, people will ask the same question over and over again. This is not unique to community management but WOW the extreme volume to which people will do this is staggering compared to my previous job.
- Never assume English is someone’s first language when you see a particularly strange or harsh tweet.
- If someone can misunderstand your tweet, they will. Try to be as clear as possible!
- Remember there is a world outside Twitter. We tend to get caught up thinking that the majority opinion lies in whatever social media bubble we have created for ourselves… Or we can mistakenly weigh the needs of people in our bubbles higher than the others who are yelling from the rooftops.. Just not on Twitter. Honestly — remember a majority of people aren’t interacting on Twitter or even on social media at all!
I hoped this was helpful in some capacity. I don’t think I’m doing anything groundbreaking with Twitter, but I do hope I’m guiding our community towards a better place. And irrespective of that, I hope this information was interesting or useful to you in your game community journey.
Among Us’ situation is unique (as is any game’s success or failure) and there’s no cut-and-paste community strategy I can give you. Plus, we should always account for survivorship bias. But I hope this provides some context on how you can think about your own community interactions.
Sometimes I think I can get really stuck in thinking “oh social media is terrible, it’s so toxic, etc.” Which I mean… Yeah. But I also never want to become passive about it. If I have a problem with it, then what can I do about it? The change doesn’t have to be big! But I hope I can make the part of the internet that I touch even just a bit more hopeful. And that’d be enough.