You’ve probably seen Cult of the Lamb on Twitter. Since I joined the team, our community has grown from 13k to 180k followers organically with zero ad spend! As it gets uncertain, I’ve been reflecting on takeaways for other platforms.
Here are 5 considerations when marketing a game on socials.
Before we start, there's many reasons why Cult of the Lamb did so well. Massive Monster considered marketability when they first started production and many elements of the game translate directly to viral content marketing.
-Blending 2 popular genres
-Eye-catching visual style
-Robust Twitch integration
-Iconic mascot character
-Strong publisher support
With that momentum, Cult of the Lamb's socials have surpassed many other game accounts with more players and more history. I joined just 5 weeks before launch and few accounts have blown up so quickly.
1. understand the storY
By playing the game, over a few calls, and a survey I send to any dev team I start working with, I try to answer:
How does the team want to be portrayed?
What is the development backstory?
What makes this game unique?
How can I convey these messages as quickly as possible?
2. cONTENT that evokes emotion
Cult of the Lamb evokes surprise. It matches cute cartoon characters with gruesome atrocities. This works perfectly on social media because humour can arise when expectations are subverted in clever ways. Memes and trends are funny because they start with something the viewer expects but connect it to something unexpected.
The difficulty for small brands is that if someone isn’t already familiar with both elements, they can’t understand why the two don’t belong together.
A meme of your game’s character in a silly situation is funny to you because you know that they aren’t supposed to be there. A casual observer doesn’t have that context. With Card Shark, I rely on the concept of cheating which is universal and doesn't need context.
3. Be the biggest fans of your biggest fans
Our fans are unbelievable. We're floored seeing what they create and it's easy to show love back to them, using our growing platform to amplify their work.
We also try to make it easy to join the creativity. Many folks didn’t react positively to this anatomically correct crow character at first. We flipped that on its head by sharing transparent assets for fans to create their own versions.
If you’re making games, you’re probably a fan of games! That means you're also your own target demographic. I comment on things that I’m a fan of and it spreads our brand to new people while also being relatable to our existing followers.
4. Anticipate Trends
Did you know that you can actually predict trends before they happen? Big news drops and releases are announced in advance! With the Mario movie trailer coming up, we planned to post something “movie” related that same day.
When game devs were sharing early footage of their games after GTA VI leaked, we hopped on. It became one of the most liked versions of the trend and landed in several press articles.
5. Asset efficiency
The hardest part of social media is the content grind. Repurposing content keeps things fresh without making something entirely new. That prototype footage was originally used in this post from before I worked on Cult. To improve that post, I knew I had to quicken the pace. The video couldn’t just TELL the viewer the point, it had to SHOW it. To show and not tell, I edited a split-screen version that cut between iterations much faster.
Remember that Lamb Movie poster? The art was commissioned for the soundtrack vinyl cover. And if you’ve already worked so hard to make your game and merch, why not use a few more units in a giveaway? This giveaway post got us 10k followers in a few days.
Here's an edit with Chris Pratt lines from the Mario movie trailer overlayed with the Cult of the Lamb reveal trailer from 2021. I’ve also used this animated footage in reaction GIFs, news posts, and most recently, a video that includes all of the animated sections of the past trailers for easy viewing.
Be sure to mix up the calendar with different kinds of posts (informative, entertaining, CTAs) and different kinds of assets (gameplay, cutscenes, memes, screenshots). This will help get the most leverage out of each asset.
The execution will differ on each platform, but these concepts can apply to any form of content marketing. I'm lucky that I could work on a game that lends itself so well to social media. If you represent a brand people have preconceived expectations about, it's much easier to subvert those expectations and surprise the audience.
Social media works best with games that include humourous surprises at their core: Playing the trombone, Dark Souls as a crab, Squirrel with a gun and many more.
BUT this is just one channel to get your game seen. Many other games do fantastically well without hitting it big on socials. At Devolver, we believe in getting our games in front of people as much as possible. As an old-school marketing rule of thumb, it takes an average of 8 touchpoints for a potential customer to make a buying decision. A viral social media post on its own might not convince someone, but each time they see your game, they're one step closer.
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