20 February 2023 |

Last of Us viral social media formula


3 simple social strategies for you to steal this week

I want to make something clear as we get started on this case study.

This isn’t an explainer on how to promote a hit TV show on social. I have zero experience in that. And one of my core values as a content creator is to never advise on something I haven’t done.

This piece is all about taking principles the social team for The Last of Us used, and applying it to whatever brand you are working on. For me, that’s a B2B SaaS. For you, it could be entertainment, sports, government agencies, etc.

The best social media managers are able to take concepts and strategies from any industry and creatively apply them to their own (this is how I helped Triple Whale blow up on social).

Make sense?

Cool. Now let’s get into the 3 strategies that I took away from the Last of Us social strategy.

1) Keep. It. Simple. Stupid. 💯

Too many brands try to get too fancy with it on social media.

Yes. Innovation is important. Creativity matters. But not at the expense of the effectiveness of a campaign.

The Last of Us social team gets this. Just look at their short-form video strategy. Several of their videos have popped 1M+ views — and they’re all clips from the show.

No trending sounds. No crazy concepts. Just curation of the best parts of the actual product.

Of course, they make the clips native to the platform. They’re not posting horizontal clips on IG Reels or TikTok… lol. But they’re also not getting too fancy with it.

The product (the show) is so good that it doesn’t need an overly complex content strategy.

Your cheat-sheet:

If you run social for a content-based business, like a podcast or YouTube channel, the prescription here is simple.

Don’t get too fancy with it. Just look for the best moments in your long-form content and curate it to social in a way that’s native to the platform.

If you’re running a product or service-based business — you might not have the luxury of having a ton of content to pull from.

If you do have a podcast, newsletter, blog, or some sort of long-form content… pull from that.

If you don’t… well, you should get on that.

But even then, there’s still something you can do. Focus on highlighting the best of the product itself.

Notion’s social team does this to perfection. They’re always dropping announcements and explainers related to relevant product features, in an engaging, social-native way (aka in a way that’s not boring).

The main lesson here is to take the best of what ALREADY exists, and find ways to leverage the shit out of it on social — whether it be existing content or product announcements.

2) Amplify your talent 🗣

People engage with people on social — no matter how cool or relevant your brand is.

Let’s do a simple comparison.

Here is the best tweet from The Last of Us Twitter account:

📊 By the numbers:

  • 722 replies

And here is the most popular show-related tweet from The Last of Us co-star, Bella Ramsey:

📊 By the numbers:

  • 827 replies

The Last of Us social team does a great job of amplifying the actors’ content on the brand pages.

Your cheat-sheet:

Remember: people want to engage with people on social media. It doesn’t matter if you’re promoting a hit TV show or a B2B SaaS product. The truth remains.

Find ways to:

  1. Amplify the people in your company that are publishing they’re own content
  2. Encourage (not require) employees to build their own personal brands

This is a major priority for me at Triple Whale — and one of the reasons why we have such a strong social media presence for a software company.

My CMO and other team members are super active on Twitter and LinkedIn, generating way more engagement than the brand accounts on those platforms.

No matter how good I am at content from the brand account… this will hold true.

Oh, and one more note. If you’re an employee of a company — build your personal brand. It is one of the most powerful assets you’ll ever “own.”

3) Encourage and amplify UGC 🎨

UGC. User-generated content. It’s one of your most powerful assets as a social media manager.


As if you haven’t heard me say this enough… but… people engage with people.

The best social media managers reward UGC creation. You want to make it attractive for people to create content about your brand. You want to incentivize good behaviors.


The Last of Us social team makes it simple.

  1. They retweet and share examples of fan art and fan reactions from the show (as seen below)
  1. They prompt their audience directly to share UGC

Here’s an example:

Your cheat sheet: Again. This comes back to rewarding the desired behavior.

I forgot who on Marketing Twitter said this, but someone had shared an observation that too many brands only reply to trolls to address negative concerns — and fail to respond to positively engaging community members.

Over a long enough time, the positive people are going to stop replying. Why reply or engage if you’re not going to get the time of day from this company?

As a brand, if you are lucky enough to have people engaging with your brand account, don’t fumble the bag.

Spend time daily replying to comments, DM-ing community members, amplifying UGC.

If you’re a small brand on social media, there is no excuse to not reply to every comment or tag you get.

As you grow, you’ll need to prioritize and set boundaries, but community engagement and rewarding positive behavior from your audience will never not be important.

A note on ‘curation’

Looking at these strategies, a theme stands out to me:


The best social media managers must develop good taste and an eye for what their audience will enjoy, even if it isn’t content they’ve created themselves.

The Last of Us social team needs to be able to curate the most engaging moments of the show, the best fan art + UGC, the most relevant content posted by the actors.

Curation is a skill. And you can develop it, mostly by spending degenerate amounts of time on social media platforms and observing what the audiences on each platform resonate with.

Final reminder

One more reminder. And I cannot stress this enough. No social strategy will overcome a shitty product.

The job of your social media team is to amplify the dope shit that is already going on. Clearly, The Last of Us is a stellar show. So generating hype on social is straightforward. It’s not magic.

So yes — all of these strategies work and should be applied — but only once you’re certain you have a product worth amplifying.

That’s all I’ve got today.