Instagram Viral Success

Our video game Gate Zero went viral on Instagram in October! We’ve gained 94,000 new followers on Instagram since then, plus 9000 new Steam wishlists.

As an indie game development studio, we’ve benefitted so much from others sharing their knowledge about video game marketing (shoutout to Chris from How to Market a Game). We wanted to write this blog post to share our learnings on how to go viral on Instagram, in case it helps someone😊

First, here are some stats:

  • Our Instagram grew from 26k to 119k followers in 1.5 months
  • 7.7M unique accounts reached & 1M engaged in 30 days
  • We first went viral on TikTok and grew there (143k followers) but never thought Instagram would grow faster (and with a way longer tail!)
  • Our viral Instagram post from October is still reaching 80k per day

Going viral on social media is exciting and gives a big boost in visibility for our indie game, but more than chasing views & likes, we believe in creating a strong product that resonates with the audience, and a consistent video game marketing strategy for long-term growth. We’re working hard on this every day!

Quick facts

  • We have one full-time video game marketer who also helps with other tasks
  • All our posts right now are organic
  • We established our presence in 2021 with a website/SEO, social media and mailing list
  • In Apr 2023 we launched our Steam page & started marketing our video game more consistently

We wanted to share the process behind our social media marketing in case it helps someone. We’re not experts, just learning everyday as we go!

3 things that characterize our studio:

  • Dare to try new things
  • A “just do it” mentality
  • Test, fail fast, test again

We apply this to our video game marketing as well.

Here are some steps behind the thought process of our social media marketing:

1. Define what’s unique about your video game and vision

The obvious one for us was that Gate Zero is a game that allows you to “play” the Bible – something that hasn’t been seen quite to this scale in video games.

2. Understand the NEED of your audience and connect your video game’s unique features to this need

Some marketing narratives we crafted:

  • How I read the Bible in 2023
  • Make a Bible video game so more people can discover the gospel
  • Me wishing I could be there in Jesus’ time

3. Test out your marketing narratives on your social posts until one hits home with your audience

The first narrative we tested gained traction on TikTok, becoming our first viral video ever (4.7M). Our game didn’t even have a name yet at this point.

@biblexgame I like to “play the Bible” 😏 New Bible-based video game coming soon! Check out biblex.io and our profile 👀 #biblex #biblexgame #smartwaystolive #fyp #gamingontiktok #christiantiktok #bibletok #biblestudy #christiangamer #biblegame

4. Keep testing and iterating until you find the magic

We started seeing a pattern in our viral posts:

  • Catchy headline
  • Unique Selling Point in the headline (ours was simply “Bible video game”)
  • Surprise element (make your game the surprise)
  • Trending sounds when possible

Following our success in going viral on TikTok, we reposted the same videos on Instagram until this one took off, becoming our most-viewed video yet (15.8M). It did even better than on TikTok, and we suspect it’s due to the challenge of getting people to share it (189k shares).

What’s cool about going viral on Instagram compared to TikTok is that Instagram brings in views for a way longer time after.

Also, new posts on TikTok get “tested” among a small group so followers might never see your content, while on Instagram, new followers get bombarded with more of your posts.

We realize that our game has a niche audience, but so do probably lots of indie games! Finding the link between your audience’s need and your game’s unique selling point is the biggest takeaway we can offer.

And that’s it for now! Thank you for sticking around this long! Right now we’re working on improving gameplay and mechanics on Gate Zero so that we can bring even more unique and exciting things to our growing fanbase. Thanks for you guys’ support, we love you all! 🤩

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