How to Get a Viral Tweet.
Many people think going viral is a random bolt of lightning that strikes some lucky private. It is the lottery. Information technology is magic. It is random!
But in today’s blog I will walk you lot through the methodical campaign that Joe Henson used on twitter to make a ii-yr-old game “go viral.”
Joe’s campaign was so amazing that Kotaku ran an article about it.
Despite the dogged reporting by Kotaku, they couldn’t crack the case. They just said “It’s unclear simply how much the studio anticipated the recent fizz. Representatives for Digital Cybercherries did not reply to a request for comment in time for publication.”
Well guess what? I institute a Digital Cybercherries representative and got an interview with the immensely talented marketing manager Joe Henson and it turns out Digital Cybercherries did anticipate the buzz and I know how they did it. It is an amazing tale and I am going to become deep into the nitty gritty of how this happened and how yous can apply the Twitter algorithm to endeavor to do the aforementioned.
- 1 TL;DR
- 2 But first some background
- 3 Wait! I thought Twitter sucked?
- 4 Going super-mega-hyper viral
- 5 How to replicate this:
- 6 Summary
- 7 How to Get a Viral Tweet
Going viral is non entirely luck. To actually cause it to happen and convert that attention into sales it takes a proactive and concerted and strategic effort. It is definitely not simply luck.
The secret to success on twitter is to advisedly monitor the day’s trending topics. If a topic goes huge and is in some way related to your game, build a tweet around it. So if information technology starts to take off, use the viral tweet as evidence that your game has buzz and pitch journalists to write nearly your game. Simultaneously get for visibility on Steam such as discounts, daily deals, or other promotions. Your goal is to get on the “top sellers” list to boost sales.
But first some background
Hypercharge: Unboxed is a “wave-based first/tertiary-person shooter with a small twist: you’re an action figure! Explore. Defend. Survive.” Information technology released in 2020 for Steam and Nintendo Switch. It did not launch on any other consoles (more on that in a 2d.)
The game is adult by the v-person independent-game-studio named Digital Cybercherries. Hypercharge was in early access starting in 2017. The total 1.0 launch was in 2020 and the initial post-EA sales were strong. If you look at the following graph of reviews over time, the showtime big fasten was the 1.0 launch. Sales continued on for a lilliputian while as they did typical post launch marketing. They ran a Daily Bargain etc…
However you outset to meet a consistent uptick in sales in April (sales and reviews correspond strongly in the following graph).
That uptick in sales corresponds to Joe’s experimentation and success with the Twitter algorithm. He actually figured something out.
This blog post is the story of Hypercharge, a handful of gifs, and Joe Henson, one of the nearly brilliant Twitter marketers that you take never heard almost.
Wait! I thought Twitter sucked?
It did. Well, the way we video game developers accept been using information technology has sucked. Here is what Joe figured out … you know how everyone complains nigh how Twitter keeps showing tweets from people you don’t follow. Here is one typical Twitter complainer:
Well, that is the secret. To get new people to hear near your game, you demand to appear on the feed of people who don’t follow you.
Joe hacked this system by inserting himself and his game into any trending topic that is even slightly related. Information technology sounds so stupidly simple, but it is very effective.
Beginning, Joe never schedules his tweets! Who knows what is going to be trending? Instead, every morn he gets upwardly really early, looks at what is trending and tries to call up of ways that he can mention his game and the trending topic in the same tweet.
The “What’s happening” section that is on the correct side of the desktop version of Twitter is where y’all can run across the trending topics. Then if anyone clicks one of the “What’southward happening” links they will run into all the tweets related to that topic. If you get but enough extra engagement you volition appear at the top of the list of trending tweets. Y’all don’t even demand to apply a hashtag. The Twitter algorithm just looks for the phrase when considering whether you tweet is part of the trending topic.
One day he saw that the phrase “Twitch Streamers” was trending and so he equanimous the following tweet.
By using the exact phrase that was trending, his tweet was caught upward in the algorithm and Twitter started showing information technology to strangers.
In September last year, Instagram crashed and the hashtag #instagramdown was trending. And so Joe came up with this tweet
Toys R The states was trending and Joe’due south game is all almost toys fighting in a toy shop. So he wrote a tweet addressing this topic.
If y’all just browse the Hypercharge twitter account‘s Tweets & Replies you will run across information technology is an endless barrage of Joe jumping on ane random gaming tendency or another. They don’t ever catch fire but it doesn’t affair, he keeps at it. As y’all can see from this exchange other Twitter users are catching on that Joe is everywhere:
In many of the tweets I am going to link to, yous will discover the same GIFs are used over and over once again. Nobody complains considering he is targeting people checking the trends who have never heard of his game before. Joe has tested lots of gifs and he only uses the gifs that have been proven to appoint with people.
Also notice he doesn’t utilise that typical as well-absurd-for-school twitter sarcasm, he doesn’t use memes, he doesn’t even bother with #screenshotsaturday and #wishlistwednesday (they never trend). He is but… everywhere… mentioning today’s tendency and reminding y’all to check out Hypercharge.
So that is core to this strategy. Yous are basically crashing whatever Twitter’south biggest cocktail party is at the moment and chop-chop turning the chat into something all nearly you in the nicest, friendliest way possible.
Practise this plenty and a quantum could eventually happen. This try is what led to the moment, where Joe’s hard work paid off.
Stride 1: Pre-hype
As I mentioned, Hypercharge was released on Switch and PC, but Joe had a hunch it would exercise well on XBOX likewise. So in Apr 2022, he saw Xbox Serial Southward was trending. So he jumped on it and ship this twitter
Notice how he explicitly uses the word “Xbox Series Southward?” It seems weird in a tweet to be hyper focused on the console model, but that is how he got hooked into the trending topic.
The Kotaku article even chosen out this strange beliefs:
“… Regardless of the chronological order of posts—refers solely to the “Xbox Series South.””
Ari Notis – Kotaku
This tweet did well but non super viral. Instead, he simply gained a ton of followers who were super into Xbox Serial Southward. If you go back through Joe’s April tweets y’all will run into they are slowly getting meliorate and better traction. He was building his following amongst the Xbox crowd. This was priming him for the adjacent phase….
On July tertiary Joe woke up and saw the word “Xbox” was trending. Then he picked out a super-potent GIF that had washed well on TikTok earlier and tweet this:
This tweet gained traction immediately and just kept going upwards and up in the listing of trending tweets.
Then past pure dumb luck, eSports influencer Jake Lucky with 279.5K followers saw the tweet and wrote his own tweet about it.
Step three: The secondary response
After the Jake Lucky tweet, their visibility reached an all new tier. Gaming royalty such equally Cory Barlog and Tom Warren retweeted it. In 1 day Joe ended up gaining over 10 one thousand thousand views and over 400k likes. This attention caused other people on other social media sites to repost his tweet to their post-obit. Every single one of the Hypercharge social media accounts doubled in followers that calendar week.
Stride four: Parlay this excitement to the next level
At this signal Joe has a lot of attention and famous people sharing his bulletin on Twitter. Then he started using this publicity to reach out to the press. He pitched sites like IGN and popular United kingdom of great britain and northern ireland gaming blog GamingBible. Many of the sites had given some coverage to Hypercharge in the past. So it wasn’t a cold audience. He only kept in contact with his biggest supporters on the press side. Here is the exact pitch which Joe sent to GamingBible
I promise yous are well!
I’thousand not sure if you lot have seen, but Hypercharge within the past day has gone insanely viral.
This particular prune gained over 300,000 likes on twitter, and millions of views.
You’ve been bully to united states of america in the by and I was wondering if yous would similar to post the footage on GamingBible? The main reason for going viral is that we announced the game is coming to Xbox, which seems to exist our now biggest fan base.
[Links to all the viral tweets and attention he got, I excluded for brevity]
Joe Henson‘s pitch to GamingBible
This is a very of import step. The lifeblood of any news site is traffic and clicks. Writers usually but comprehend games that can earn their site traffic. Basically they only cover the stuff that has already proven to be pop. Information technology sounds similar a chicken-and-egg problem. But, Joe’due south viral tweet and the celebrity clan were proof that Hypercharge was worth writing about.
And so GamingBible reposted their trailer and wrote a blog post. Y’all tin can see it here:
Reposting their trailer got another 10 million views, 250k Likes, 40k comments.
This was as well when Kotaku saw the game going viral and covered it.
Then on Instagram an incredibly popular popular-civilization aggregator business relationship called Firm Of Highlights (35.3M followers) created a post with the trailer prune and Joe’s tweet.
That mail solitary got 716,000 likes on Instagram.
This “Parlay” step is very of import. If any social media of yours ever goes viral (on any site such as reddit or youtube or Twitter), employ this as proof that your game is interesting and offset reaching out to any and all printing outlets. Send them a link to all the positive attention your game is earning. Pitch a story virtually how you are “awe shucks only a teeny tiny dev from a teeny tiny boondocks working out of a van who doesn’t know anything and you are downward on your luck, and near quit just you just won the visibility lottery and your dreams are coming true.”
That story is announcer catnip and they might merely do a mail service virtually you lot.
Step four: Steam response
Despite this being a tweet about Xbox, lots of people who read gaming news also game on Steam. Luckily Joe and his team had a Steam disbelieve available and they quickly discounted Hypercharge by 20% to trigger the 150K wishlists they had congenital up since their steam page went live in 2017..
The viral tweets + printing coverage + the “now on auction” email propelled the game to the Steam ‘Top Sellers” chart. Which gives it even more visibility and put Hypercharge on the main carousel for Steam. No ane from the team reached out to Valve to request this visibility, this all happened algorithmically from a overflowing of traffic.
Hither is a screenshot of Hypercharge appearing on the “Acme Sellers” tab.
After this cyclone campaign that involved jumping on a tendency, influencing the influencers, contacting the press, scheduling a steam disbelieve, Hypercharge ended upward with over thirty Million impressions and one.three one thousand thousand visits for the month of July.
Note that as exciting equally all that social media traffic is, most of the traffic to the Hypercharge Steam folio came from Steam itself.
The top traffic sources were:
#1 source was “Main Carousel ” (aka the front end page of Steam)
#ii source was “Acme Sellers list”
#3 source was “Specials tab” (so front page of Steam withal just under the specials department”
Last week I wrote nigh the middle domino theory. This is basically what happened here. Joe’s viral campaign helped trigger the first domino. The Steam discount helped propel that frontward. That triggered the Steam algorithm and the game was put on the forepart page where it REALLY started selling well.
Hither are the last stats for the viral tweet that kicked all this off: four,000,000 impressions, 25,000 link clicks,
According to Joe, the campaign doubled the amount of sales compared to them leaving their early access launch.
How to replicate this:
- Have a practiced game, that looks attractive, is in a genre that gamers similar to play, and has a expert hook that y’all can latch onto and attract people. A boring game with apprentice art volition not work here.
- Include your intended “telephone call to action” in your twitter proper noun and add the CTA to your bio. Here is what the twitter handle looks like for Hypercharge. In that location is no doubt what they desire you lot to exercise:
- Brainstorm every unmarried topic that might be related to your game. Call up of your game’southward setting, your art manner, the pop-culture that inspired your game or that it is based on. Remember how Joe jumped on the Toys ‘R Us topic considering his game is gear up in a toy shop? You need to do the same.
- In one case you have your associated topics, start following a bunch of those topics from inside Twitter so that you tin come across them when they start trending:.
- From the twitter desktop click the
tab, so click
Settings and Privacy > Privacy and Safety > Content you see.
- Starting time searching and adding topics related to your game. Filter out stuff that isn’t.
- Information technology takes a while, just curate a feed that volition show you trending topics that friction match with your game and y’all can jump on.
- From the twitter desktop click the
- Test out a ton of gifs of your game and have a collection that you know gets people interested. You tin can test these by running ads, testing on Reddit, or only looking back through your Twitter history and seeing which Tweets did the all-time.
- Every morning, look over at the “What’southward Happening” section and click the “Prove More” link. Expect at the “For Y’all” tab because that has the recommended trends based on the content yous told Twitter you were interested in. As well bank check the
tab. The more popular the trend, the better your chances at going viral.
- It will take time to practise, and go a large plenty following, and only dumb luck. Joe didn’t go super viral correct abroad it took him at least 3 months of concerted effort. If you get back through the Hypercharge history yous volition run into there are mixed results. It doesn’t work every time. You also need to learn what audition likes your game. Non every trending topic is appropriate for your game. You volition need to learn what overlaps. Don’t give up..
- If you do go viral think of ways that you can leverage that attention for even more. Reach out to printing, run across if whatsoever influencers engaged with the content and reach out to them to encounter if they want to play your demo.
- If y’all tin can, discount the game. The viral tweet is simply the initial spark the true visibility comes when y’all trigger the Steam algorithm.
So I hope you run across, “going viral” Isn’t something that merely happens to yous out of the blue like finding a $20 bill on the sidewalk. Information technology is a carefully choreographed trip the light fantastic that looks effortless but requires a lot of backside the scenes endeavor.
If you are curious how things go viral you should also watch this video nearly a YouTuber making a viral video
How to Get a Viral Tweet