TikTok isn’t just for lip-syncing teens anymore. Even before the recent shutdown, TikTok has been the fastest growing app in America, and brands are starting to take notice. We previously did a deep dive into high-level TikTok marketing strategy. Now let’s take a look at what brands are utilizing the platform to its fullest potential and launching the most popular viral campaigns.
The popular Mexican chain has amassed over 350K followers, and also has one of the best bios on TikTok – “Less Tok, More Guac.” Chipotle first found success using encouraging users to partake in the #ChipotleLidFlip Challenge, seemingly originated by a Chipotle employee, and later imitated by over 100K trying to replicate the stunt.
The brand has shown they weren’t a one-hit-wonder either. In July, they started the #GuacDance challenge, resulting in over 250K video submissions, and 430M video starts in just six days. The stunt didn’t just live on the internet either, as Chipotle reported over 800K sales of guac on National Guacamole Day. Chipotle followed up this effort in Halloween 2019 with the #Boorito campaign, offering a $4 burrito to anyone that came to Chipotle in a costume on 10/31, levering influencers @zachking and @dreaknowsbest (among others).
@zachkingMoonwalking with my $4 @chipotle ##Boorito on Halloween. Did I do it right? Comment below ##ad♬ Strange Affair – Ronald Stein
While it takes some brands a bit of time and practice to figure out how to best create content and drive engagement in a new platform, Guess nailed it from the start. Their first post promoted their #InMyDenim campaign, where creators quickly changed from old, ratty clothes into stylish Guess outfits. Boosted by influencers such as @ourfire and @madison_willow, videos using the hashtag have been viewed over 42 million times.
The later followed up with #LoveGUESS to drive another 5.4 million views. Guess seems to be as good as any brand on TikTok at finding the right influencers for their campaigns. Their #LoveGUESS post on their own channel featured popular influencers @brentrivera and @mylifeaseva. That video alone was viewed over 1 million times, with hundreds of comments about how much their viewers liked the influencers.
@ourfireDon’t you wish getting ready was this easy? 😂❤️🔥 ##inmydenim ##sponsored @guess♬ #inmydenim I’m a Mess – Bebe Rexha
The NBA is already a massively popular brand across social media, with over 117 million followers across their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages, so it should come as no surprise that they’re among the most popular brand account on TikTok as well. They currently have over 10.6 million followers, which is among, if not the largest branded account on TikTok at the time of this article.
The brilliance of the NBA’s social media strategy is the way they specialize content for each platform. If you want NBA news and updates, follow them on Twitter. If you want game highlights, follow them on Instagram. For TikTok however, they know people are looking for short-form content that engages them quickly, so the NBA mostly uses the platform for comedy and memes.
@nba@itsmatisse is ##keepingbusy the best way he knows how! 😂🏀 ##hoopsathome♬ original sound – nba
4. The Washington Post
The Washington Post is another example of a brand having a good understanding of the TikTok platform, and catering their content specifically to the TikTok audience. While you might expect they’d use it for short-form news videos, the channel is filled with funny, engaging videos, often “behind the scenes” type skits to let viewers get a feel for the personalities behind the articles.
This strategy has resulted in over 445K followers and has undoubtedly bought WP some goodwill and credibility among TikTok’s younger demographic.
@washingtonpostPresidential candidate Amy Klobuchar has receipts ##newspaper ##gotreceipts♬ original sound – washingtonpost
Gymshark is another example of a brand who fully understands TikTok, built a content strategy around it, and are seeing the results to the tune of 1.7 million followers on their account – one of the highest we’ve seen that didn’t previously have the backing of a large media company.
They understand the value of consistent updates and are sure to post something at least once a day. Their content is engaging, but also motivational at the same time. And they do a great job at seeing what’s popular on the platform and adapting it to their brand, partaking in many of the popular hashtags and challenges.
@gymshark@morganrmoroney has taken the ##handstandchallenge into her own hands!🤸♀️ ##gymshark ##gymnast♬ Hips Dont Lie by Shakira – goalsounds
6. San Diego Zoo
If there is a cheat code to making engaging social content, it’s cute animal videos. The San Diego Zoo takes full advantage of this, creating short videos that people can’t help but like and share, resulting in over 1.2 million followers.
The San Diego Zoo has also done a phenomenal job of using their account to build partnerships with other animal-friendly brands and causes. Taking advantage of specific national animal days is an easy, low hanging fruit, but they’ve also done cross-promotions with the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
@sandiegozooTAG! You’re it! Tag your friends and say nothing! 🦏♬ original sound – bingbongshowtime
7. Red Bull
Red Bull has been a pioneer in creating viral digital content for years, so it should come as no surprise that they’re among the most popular and successful brands on TikTok as well. Their account has over 4.1 million followers, putting them among the highest branded accounts on the platform, and videos with the #givesyouwings hashtag have been viewed over 417 million times.
While they do an excellent job of participating in trending hashtags and challenges, a good amount of their content isn’t explicitly made for TikTok. While this is something that most brands should avoid, Red Bull succeeds by excelling at another critical aspect of TikTok – hook people quickly with engaging content. Whether it’s an extreme stunt or someone with next-level skills, Red Bull’s videos are undeniably thumb-stopping – something all brands should consider when planning their content.
@redbullThat time Stig Pryds held his breath in a 33m deep pool in a lotus position.🧘♂️ ##redbull ##relax ##focus♬ No Air – Jordin Sparks feat. Chris Brown
To those unfamiliar with the game, Spikeball describes itself on TikTok as “if volleyball and foursquare had a baby.” Their channel videos have generated over 3.4M likes, and the #spikeball videos have over 37M views.
The secret to their success starts from the fact that the game’s target audience skews younger, which aligns with the demographics of TikTok. But perhaps more importantly, a large part of TikTok’s appeal comes from people wanting to show off a bit (often ironically). Spikeball leans into this within TikTok by showcasing “highlights” of people playing the game and encouraging others to do the same.
@spikeballname a funner playing surface 💦☀️ ##spikeball ##foru ##krustykrab♬ bob – SPONGE TRAP
9. United Nations IFAD
When you think of viral TikTok brands, the International Fund for Agricultural Development might not be the first thing that comes to mind. Still, they’re a fascinating example of an organization finding success on the platform without using the traditional tactics. The goal of the IFAD is to fight world hunger by promoting rural agriculture. Since the topic doesn’t exactly lend itself well to humor and memes, the IFAD content is more centered around informative posts and motivational videos, often encourage viewers to change the world.
However, this isn’t to say they ignore the best practices of TikTok. Knowing how popular dance and music are on TikTok, they launched the #danceforchange challenge. Led by influencers @mreazi and @sherriesilver, the challenge went viral, with over 104 million views.
@ifad@sherriesilver Together we can feed the world 🌎 ❤️👊🏽 @mreazi let’s ##danceforchange♬ Freedom – Mr Eazi
With the TikTok audience skewing so much younger than most social networks, Nickelodeon’s programming is a natural fit on the platform. Their 7 million followers span both that more youthful audience, as well as the older, more adult audience that follows for the nostalgia.
While Nickelodeon has the advantage of an enormous content library and talent pool to pull from, they’re smart enough to not just repurpose existing content. Instead, they stay on top of current trending hashtags, overlay new music, and shoot special behind the scenes clips to keep content fresh and unique to the platform.
@nickelodeonThe greatest halftime moment of all time 🏈 ##Superbowlliv ##bestthingsince ##awkwardmoments ##likeachamp ##sweetvictory ##spongebob ##memes♬ Sweet Victory – David Eisley & Bob Kulick
While a brand doesn’t necessarily strive to be the butt of jokes and memes, Crocs deserve a lot of credit for using this to their advantage. Their account itself is mostly used to showcase products and announce new releases, but they’ve been smart about strategic partnerships.
The biggest of which by far was the #ThousandDollarCrocs challenge, where users were encouraged to “class up” their crocs as fancy as possible. In partnership with singer Post Malone, YouTuber Adam W, and others, the campaign generated over 2.9 billion video starts. With TikTok being such an outlet for fun and creativity, being a brand that doesn’t take itself so seriously can be a tremendous advantage.
@brittany_broskiy’all can stay mad. Me n Posty stay dressin 😎 ##ThousandDollarCrocs @crocs ##sponsored♬ original sound – brittany_broski
When you think of influencer led campaigns, pharmaceutical companies aren’t exactly the vertical that first comes to mind. FDA & FTC guidelines place strict requirements on them even in traditional media. However, that didn’t stop Mucinex from finding a fun way to launching its first TikTok campaign and finding major success.
A popular TikTok “theme” is a transformation, taking advantage of the transitions to make a person change with a quick edit of the video. Mucinex leaned into this trend with the #TooSickToBeSick challenge, where users went from “too sick” to “so sick” after taking their cough medicine. Partnering with influencers @Jaydencroes, @OurFire, @dreaknowsbest, and Nick Tangorra, the campaign went on to generate nearly 1 billion views!
@jaydencroesDon’t let a cold limit your fun this holiday! I am ##TooSickToBeSick 😎🔥 ##Mucinex ##Sponsored♬ #TooSickToBeSick – Join The Challenge
Kool-Aid is another brand that can take advantage of its popularity among younger audiences and combine it with the nostalgia of the older adult audience to create fun and engaging content.
For Christmas, they created the #OhYEAHchristmas contest, incentivizing users with a $10K prize. They partnered with rapper Lil Jon, creating a Christmas themed Kool-Aid jingle, and encouraged others to dance and show their holiday spirit. Led in large part by a number of influencer partnerships, the campaign generated over 1.9 billion views.
@koolaidmanofficialShow us your holiday spirit using ##OhYEAHchristmas & ##contest to enter for a chance to win $10K to get what you want on your Xmas list. ##ad♬ All I Really Want for Christmas (feat. Kool-Aid Man) – Lil Jon
14. e.l.f. Cosmetics
With the popularity of transformation-style videos on TikTok, cosmetics are a natural fit on the platform, so e.l.f. knew they had to go big in order to stand out. First, they commissioned a song called “Eyes Lips Face” (the brand name’s acronym). e.l.f. then enlisted a team of influencers, both men and women, to launch #EyesLipsFace, a viral dance challenge where creators would show their eyes, lips, and faces to the tune of the song.
From a branding standpoint, it was brilliant. The song is catchy enough to get stuck in your head, and the lyrics of it ensure that you know (and never forget) what the e.l.f. in their brand name stands for. The challenge itself was also fun, and because it didn’t require the use of cosmetics, it was more open for both men and women to participate. The result – 5 billion views and counting.
@beasteaterDid you know Elf stands for eyes lips face?!🤯 ##eyeslipsface (read bio) @elfcosmetics ##ad♬ Eyes. Lips. Face. – Ill Wayno & Holla FyeSixWun
Among the brands on this list, HP might be the least active, having a small following of 3,000 and only three videos posted. However, they make it to this list off the impact of one, perfectly executed campaign.
For Coachella 2019, they partnered with influencers @cloudtalk, @ourfire, and @jacibutler to promote the #HPCoachellaDreamland challenge. Dreamland was an experiential activation at Coachella, so these videos were used to promote the lounge, and it’s associated musical acts. Just off these three videos, the hashtag went viral, with over 181 million views. While one-off campaigns aren’t the norm for TikTok, HP has shown you can still see great success with the right creative, right partners, and the right contextual alignment.
@cloudtalkIdk how I got to Coachella but I don’t ask questions 😳🔮🧬 ##HPCoachellaDreamland ##ad♬ Underwater – RÜFÜS DU SOL
Honorable Mention: nogood.io
So maybe there’s a little bias on this one, but we’ve been inspired by the brands above and want to join the conversation. For marketing tips, tool suggestions, and occasional fun, give us a follow!
@nogood.ioThe ##best way to create a ##presentation that ##standsout! ##marketing ##studentlife ##finals ##graphicdesign ##designtips ##fyp♬ Death By Glamour – Toby Fox
As you can see from the vast array of brands, there are very few limits to what a brand can do on TikTok. Some brands rely heavily on humor and memes, others work to encourage and motivate views, and some just want to have fun and dance. Given how much TikTok encourages creativity, it’s up to the brands to be creative themselves and give consumers a good reason to engage with them.
These campaigns are some of our favorites, but we’re always looking for more inspiration. Let us know in the comments if there are any other campaigns that you think deserve a mention!