As all the 2019 trends articles and 2020 social media strategy predictions stories start to come out en masse around this time, it’ll be no surprise to see TikTok on the tip of the tongue of anyone penning such pieces. It’s hard to ignore over 1.5 billion downloads, a young and growing US audience, and a platform in which users are engaging hours each day consuming an enormous volume of short-form content. More brands, individuals, and organizations are jumping on the social network, experimenting, innovating, and chasing the good old vanity metrics like views, likes, and followers, as they seek to amass an audience and figure out what’s next.
The sports world is often among the early movers when it comes to new social media platforms or features, and while many brands and individuals are finding success on TikTok, there’s plenty to learn from some of the emerging stars from the sports world. In fact, it’s not a Neymar (yet) and not even necessarily just the biggest teams (though the Golden State Warriors boast over 1M followers)—many mascots are their team’s TikTok MVP. Through the lens of some of the most popular mascot accounts one can glean some great insights and ideas about tactics to try and what can cut through on this most democratic of all the platforms.
One of the central tenets - that works on TikTok and really on most of the social networks - is to find the intersection of pop culture and your team. Ultimately, TikTok is about entertainment, particularly around music, but other pop culture themes work as well. The trick is finding fun (but not forced) and relevant ways to make that mix.
Check out a couple good examples below, first with Brutus the Buckeye (Ohio State’s mascot) repurposing some of the team’s content around Super Smash Bros [a popular game, and a “Choose Your Character” meme that was going around] and Viktor the Viking (Minnesota Vikings mascot), who does a great job exploiting pop culture and the various challenges and trends that permeate the platform.
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TikTok Marketing Lesson 1
Pay attention to what’s popular, what songs are blowing up on Spotify and TikTok, and which challenges, memes, and trends could be creatively executed by your staff, talent, team, or, yes, mascot.
Another tried and true method for harnessing TikTok is teaming up with influencers for some good old-fashioned fun and letting them help guide the way, as well. These folks understand the platform better than anyone and the two brands can benefit from working with each other on something feels organic and that’s engaging. Benny The Bull (Chicago Bulls mascot) has become the most-followed mascot on TikTok for many reasons [more on that later], but his work with influencers has given him a nice assist along the way and has resulted in some fun content, too. It can mean partnering up, too, as the NFL’s most popular mascot on TikTok—Blue of the Indianapolis Colts—has collaborated with Benny The Bull, as well as the aforementioned Viktor The Viking.
TikTok Marketing Lesson 2
Who can your brand partner with to create some fun content on TikTok? One can start by crowdsourcing from customers or fans -- even doing a sweepstakes around a challenge relevant to your team or brand -- or by searching hashtags that could relate to the brand or still by teaming up with a similar figure in your space much like Blue did with Viktor and Benny in the examples above. TikTok loves a good duet and content with two parties interacting with each other can be magic.
Even if you’re a relative noob when it comes to TikTok, it quickly becomes clear that music is central to the platform and when content is synced to music—even better if it’s in both harmony and theme—that’s an ingredient for TikTok success. Major bonus points if your TikTok star can dance, and oh boy, can some of these mascots dance. Check out BYU mascot Cosmo the Cougar bust moves as one of college athletics’s most followed mascots has grown to nearly 800,000 followers largely by repurposing dance routines in which he participates at BYU games. But the GOAT of the dancing and music aspects of TikTok among mascots is no doubt Benny The Bull. Check out his feed for a ton of great ideas and tactics, but also to marvel at his moves.
TikTok Marketing Lesson 3
Are there dancers among your staff or talent? Are there songs or even dance routines in pop culture (past or present) that relate your brand or team? Many of the challenges are also dances. Also, recall the last point and do a split screen duet with another individual, brand or even yourself! [Benny gets creative there, too]
Another element that tends to do well on TikTok is surprising viewers, making them jump or their jaw drop. Back to the Colts mascot Blue (who, incidentally, teams up with Benny quite a bit) who jumped out and scared people at a store, and delighted viewers on TikTok. Cosmo the Cougar also gives fans watching that feeling of surprise as he casually walks up to the dance team already in action, and sends a fun shock to fan as he smoothly joins right in and doesn’t miss a beat.
TikTok Marketing Lesson 4
Any brand can create a fun element of surprise. It could be hiding behind a corner and scaring coworkers or players, unboxing something surprising, doing some jaw-dropping activity or trick shot or move that can surprise and delight, or creating a feel-good surprise that can inspire emotion. TikTok is all about a series of quick upticks in dopamine for viewers - find a way to inspire that.
Finally, just like on any social platform, don’t be afraid to tell stories, miniature stories. These need not be novel-ian or masterpieces, but something like a scene or slice of life that can be funny or entertaining can go a long way. Many of the mascots have done a good job using this tactic, whether repurposing content or creating something original. Brutus the Buckeye is masterful at finding content that feels like a funny or climactic scene from a story that fits perfectly on TikTok, whether that is a Gatorade shower for the football coach after a win in The Game against rival Michigan or a hilarious halftime contest from men’s basketball. Benny The Bull also has fun with little vignettes, especially involving making a mess with popcorn, which can even play out across multiple posts.
TikTok Marketing Lesson 5
Build mini narratives that are simple, but fun. Any remotely casual sports fan can recall the long-running This Is SportsCenter commercials that ESPN has produced for years. Those kinds of mini stories can find a good home on TikTok. It also means repurposing some of the best content from a brand’s story - winning a big game like the Buckeyes or a grand opening and celebration, a feel-good moment, or any slice of life that’ll inspire amusement or emotion can all be part of a balanced TikTok strategy.
TikTok is the flavor of the moment, and unlike many other passing fads that have come and gone in the last decade of social media, this one looks like it’s here to stay. There is plenty to learn just from scrolling through TikTok for a few minutes or a few hours, and, as seen in the examples above, the ability to be shameless, vulnerable, genuine, and to have unabashed fun is one reason why masked mascots have cultivated success on the platform. There is plenty to learn from these furry influencers, and any brand can adopt their tactics and try out TikTok for themselves.
How Technology Can Help You on TikTok
Greenfly’s content collaboration and distribution solution can help you bring Tik Tok content to social in all these ways and then some. Let’s take a look:
1) Find the intersection of pop culture and your team
How Greenfly can help: You discovered that challenge on TikTok that is perfect for your brand or team. Or there’s a story out there you know is in that sweet spot junction of pop culture and your brand. If only there were a way to request talented individuals from your fan base, staff or customers. There is! That’s one of the many great features of Greenfly— to request and receive content from others.
2) Teaming up with influencers
How Greenfly can help: We have many clients that utilize Greenfly to collect content from their biggest influencers, whether that’s on-screen talent, players on the team oreven micro-influencers like the ice crew orspirit squad for a NHL team. Every brand has their own influencers, and Greenfly can unlock the potential of collaborating with them on content!
3) Content synced to music and dancing [and TikTok ‘challenges’]
How Greenfly can help: With a lot of TikTok centered around participating in easily imitable moves, memes, and dances, it can be easy to collaborate with your community to create such fun content! If there’s a fun TikTok challenge going around, put out a request! Work for a sports team or program that has dances playing out every game and every night? Sync up with the game entertainment crew to traffic that content straight to your mobile device to post up on TikTok! It’s so easy with Greenfly and why we’re trusted by some of the biggest brands in the world.
4) Surprise viewers
How Greenfly can help: The beauty of this type of raw, not overly-produced shock and awe content is that it’s not too tough to create. Rather than using the resources of a video production team or even a social media manager’s time, mobilize the mascot, staff, intern or grassroots marketing team to create something fun and surprising to send back to the social team to touch up and post on TikTok. It doesn’t have to be hard.
5) Tell miniature stories
How Greenfly can help: Your customers, staffand fans are living out relevant mini-stories every day. Often, they’re left on the camera roll or exposed only to an individual’s own social network when the masses that follow your brand or team would enjoy it even more. Mobilize, aggregate and make the most of that content across platforms, including TikTok! This plays out every day among Greenfly customers who collect authentic stories, videos, and experiences from their fans.
We’ve just scratched the surface of Greenfly’s powerful content collaboration and distribution engine.
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