Playing hard: how we drove Team Vitality’s esports audiences on TikTok
Last year, WePlay was appointed to grow esports organisation Team Vitality’s audience on social media.
They had brought new stars into their League of Legends and CS:GO rosters, which were immediately considered ‘super teams’ due to the calibre of those players.
We are passionate about what we do at WePlay and, for me, this was an amazing opportunity. When I was asked if we wanted to respond to this brief, I said yes without hesitation. The entire team was excited to build on our experience working with Guild eSports.
The brief came in late on a Friday and I began to brainstorm ideas immediately. Before I knew it, the sun was rising.
As an avid esports fan, I could not wait to get started. A similar thing happened when we were preparing for our first workshop with Team Vitality last summer. I took a late-night flight from London to Vilnius and as soon as the plane took off, so did my imagination. All I could think about was Team Vitality and the preparation for the workshop was completed during that flight.
It was clear that the team was excited to use our personal passions to dive back into the world of esports. We also understand what it takes to build an engaged audience through organic and paid media. This was the perfect opportunity to put that expertise into practice.
Knowing your audience
The esports audience is unique. When you are in esports mode, it feels like you’re in a fantasy world: you could be a superhero or a character with magical powers and abilities. The esports community is also not afraid to have a laugh at its own expense. When they get a chance, they will fire shots at their competitors.
Our audience development plan began with a focus on two channels: Instagram and TikTok. Upon launch, we noted that major esports organisations were losing followers on Instagram at a rapid pace. This was because the esports industry had experienced significant growth in recent years, leading to a diluted audience. To counteract this, we focused on maintaining followers on Team Vitality’s Instagram account.
On the other hand, TikTok was thriving. The platform, which is all about entertainment, was ideal for esports, and we worked closely with Team Vitality to produce fun and captivating TikTok content with the potential to go viral.
Curating, testing and adapting
Content selection played a huge role in our campaign. We tried everything from memes to trophy-lifting moments, but we also had to make sure that the content was being served directly to the right audiences.
We broke down Team Vitality’s potential fanbase by their favourite game disciplines – primarily League of Legends, CS:GO and Rocket League – and made sure that the content being pushed out matched up to those audience segments.
For example, we found that CS:GO content was the most engaging at the beginning but we exhausted that audience quite quickly. On the other hand, we soon noticed that we were able to grab new followers through other games like Rocket League.
We also developed a three-step process which allowed us to find the content with the most potential. For every post, we asked these questions:
- How much time has elapsed since the content was posted?
- Are the engagement levels in line with our benchmarks?
- Does the number of video views align with our benchmarks (excluding other engagement metrics)?
If a piece passed all three steps with a positive response, we would then take that content and amplify it.
Choosing locations was also extremely important. We had to think about where Team Vitality’s players are from, where they used to play, and where their core audience is based. Throughout the campaign we tested more than 20 locations, learning about each one individually and adapting to its needs.
Content with personality
The most important lesson was that TikTok content is driven by personality.
For instance, we had high hopes for League of Legends content, but we soon noticed that straightforward gameplay footage was not performing that well: it generated views but not follower growth. Yet when we got the team to post content fronted by League of Legends players, that’s where we saw the difference.
Audiences like to interact with people. Just like with NBA or any other sports association: people love the sport and follow the league, but they really want to connect with the players.
It also helps to consider what is inspiring that connection from the audience’s perspective. Esports events take place everywhere, so our content was served around the world but when we tied our personalities to our core markets in Europe – like targeting fans in Croatia with content featuring a Croatian League of Legends player – we received high engagement levels.
Above all, you must give audiences something to invest in. Whether it’s Team Vitality, Fnatic or FaZe Clan, whenever you see esports content performing well and attracting followers on TikTok, it is bringing people along for the ride. They all have storylines, and they always like talking about the crew – they create a narrative that people buy into and that they want to keep on following.
We were thrilled to over-deliver on our goals for Team Vitality, exceeding our social follower target by 40%.
But just as importantly, we showed Team Vitality how passionate we are about esports and how they could create additional value by having WePlay as a partner.
And we are just getting started: on the back of that success, we went ahead and extended our partnership for the entire 2023 season.
Want to know more? Check out our Team Vitality and other case studies here.