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5 brands that got it right on TikTok

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In the last year, TikTok topped the charts as people around the world embraced staying at home and making more digital connections. In fact, TikTok became the most downloaded app worldwide in 2020 and now has a whopping 1 billion monthly active users. The short-form video app’s personalized user feeds, coupled with its fast-moving trends, captured the attention of not only creators and consumers, but also of brands. 

Brands have jumped on TikTok to increase awareness among its users, promote its products, and build an engaged community — and they’ve been smart to do so. Due to the viral nature of TikTok videos, users voluntarily participate in trends and branded hashtag challenges. Sometimes, this type of virality even leads to products selling out both online and in stores (just take a look at Aerie’s crossover leggings or the Simple Modern tumbler). 

But how exactly do these brands build hype around their products? What is the secret sauce? Today, let’s dive deeper into how brands like Ocean Spray, Peace Out Skincare, and Bumble have achieved success on TikTok.

1. Ocean Spray

If we’re talking about viral TikTok campaigns, of course we have to talk about Ocean Spray’s fortuitous partnership with Nathan Apodaca, perhaps better recognized by his TikTok username @420doggface208

It all started when Apodaca filmed himself calmly cruising home on his longboard, lip-syncing to Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams, and drinking a large bottle of Ocean Spray Cran-Raspberry juice — despite the fact that his car battery had died. 

Since then, TikTok users around the world bought their own Ocean Spray juices and hit the road on their skateboards to recreate the viral video. In just a few days, the #oceanspray hashtag gained 27.5 million views (now up to 346.6 million). Even better for business, the virality on TikTok led to Ocean Spray’s stock doubling overnight

While the attention on Ocean Spray was sparked serendipitously by Apodaca’s video, the 91-year-old brand has seized the opportunity to keep the momentum going by building an ongoing relationship with the creator. 

Right off the bat, Ocean Spray gifted Apodaca a new truck filled with the iconic drink and even funded his honeymoon trip. Most recently, the brand partnered with him to launch a TikTok hashtag challenge called #DoggfaceDanceVibes, paired with an original song, around the Super Bowl. The campaign encourages viewers to try his choreographed dance, which involves catching an Ocean Spray Cran-Raspberry bottle and cheering on either of the NFL teams. 

Chris Ferzli, the brand’s Director of Global Corporate Affairs, says to “stay tuned” for more activations with Apodaca. 

2. Peace Out Skincare

By leveraging TikTok to drive site traffic and sales, Peace Out Skincare has seen a growth surge amid the pandemic, which has negatively affected retail sales for most other brands.

Starting in 2020, the brand started organically gifting and seeding TikTok influencers. In June, influencer Kaelyn White (380.4k followers) posted a before-and-after TikTok using the brand’s pore strips, which was viewed over 700,000 times. But the biggest game changer was when Hyram Yarbro (6.8 million followers), TikTok’s most popular “skinfluencer,” made a duet reacting extremely positively to White’s video. As someone who has lots of knowledge and expertise in the skincare industry, Hyram was able to create momentum and build credibility for Peace Out by approving of its products. 

Thanks to Kaelyn and Hyram, Peace Out Skincare’s pore-strip sales grew by 4x in 24 hours and the brand sold 15,000 units in one day on its website. According to Junior Pence, Peace Out’s Creative Director and CMO, the brand sold more in the month of June than it did in all of 2019 on its DTC site, with increases in young customers and bulk buying. 

3. Simmons

To refresh the look of its 150-year-old brand, mattress company Simmons launched a Branded Hashtag Challenge to promote its new, playful, colorful branding that appeals to the modern consumer. The #Snoozzzapalooza challenge — which kicked off in the midst of quarantine as events like Lollapalooza got canceled — encouraged TikTok’s community to stage dive into a bed and unlock an imaginative festival experience in the comfort of their own bedrooms. The challenge was also paired with an upbeat, original track. 

To promote the branded hashtag challenge, Simmons tapped into a diverse pool of creators made up of comedians, dancers, athletes, and celebrities to inspire a wide range of audiences to participate. Each brand partner got creative with the challenge, transforming their rooms into their own vision of the ideal at-home music festival. 

As a result, over 1.1 million TikTokers participated in the Branded Hashtag Challenge and created more than 2 million videos related to the challenge. Now, the #Snoozzzapalooza hashtag has a whopping 6.3 billion views! 

In terms of actual business impact, the six-day TikTok campaign boosted brand engagement through creative participation, raised brand awareness among Gen Z on the platform, and spurred a +107% increase in traffic to week over week.

4. Bumble

As an app made for new romances, friendships, and business connections, Bumble wanted to build more authentic connections with a new and diverse audience. So, it turned to TikTok. 

Bumble leaned into TikTok’s message, “Don’t Make Ads, Make TikToks.” by working with some notable creators on the app, including David Dobrik (25.5 million followers) and Brittany Broski (6 million followers), to generate native content that blends in seamlessly with users’ For You pages, yet catches the attention of the TikTok community.

In addition to optimizing the native In-Feed Ads, the company leveraged the offerings in the TikTok Ads Manager, which provides new tools to promote in-app events and automate bidding. With these activations, Bumble was able to increase its app install volume by 5x and achieved a 64% decrease in cost-per registration. 

5. Arby’s 

Similar to Ocean Spray, Arby’s pays close attention to what its community is saying about the brand — and more importantly, co-creates with them. 

For example, in October, TikTok user @h1t1 shared that he bought a $25 flat-screen TV that only displayed a special deal from an Arby’s menu. His video quickly gained over 16.2 million views, including from Arby’s. 

Since discovering the video, Arby’s not only created a duet with the creator, but also launched a special menu item called the “$5 Missing Menu Meal,” which customers can order by name or by saying, “I have your TV.” @h1t1’s TikTok was also displayed in the fast food chain’s menu screens.

The stunt continued days later, as Arby’s flew a plane with a "We want our TV back" banner over @h1t1’s hometown. 

From this campaign, Arby’s gained over 200,000 followers and the #Arbys hashtag gained more than 88 million views on TikTok. TikTok users left comments such as "It's official, Arby's has the best TikTok," and "Literally this makes me want to try Arby's." By co-creating content and even a special menu item with its fans, Arby’s was able to participate in social conversations, stay culturally relevant, and increase brand awareness among younger demographics.

Tap into your TikTok community

Whether someone has 20 million followers or just 1 does not matter anymore — especially on TikTok. The app’s unique algorithm allows for anyone and everyone to go viral. So, find your community on TikTok and take advantage of the opportunity to co-create with your biggest brand fans. These authentic connections will allow your brand to make a big splash on TikTok, just as Ocean Spray, Peace Out Skincare, and many more have. 

Interested in getting started on TikTok? Find out how Aspire can help.

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