Internet, do your thing. Let’s make my Cash App handle go viral! OK, that’s not the way things work. But going viral has been putting a lot of money in people’s pockets. Since the dawn of the Internet, we’ve taken part in making things go viral: “Chocolate Rain,” “Charlie Bit My Finger” and “David After Dentist” are only a few that are stamped in our memory. The most recent cases of going viral are on TikTok, and they’ve gone past likes and views: They’re influencing people to go out and buy things, making big bucks for lucky brands and influencers. And it’s not all up to chance; the marketing tactic of this era is coordinated virality.
The power of Beauty TikTok
Beauty, or Skin Care, TikTok is one of the most popular communities on the app. If your product gets sucked in to the trending stream, you’re set. One example comes from user @kaelynwhitee who posted a video of her skin before and after using The Ordinary’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution. In only two weeks, The Ordinary sold over 50,000 bottles of this product.
In 2020, the skincare brand CeraVe started popping up everywhere, and then stores were selling out. Even now, it’s not easy to find all CeraVe products in stores.
Then, the TikTok leggings exploded. These #1 bestseller Amazon leggings became the must-have item of clothing when users claimed it had magical butt-lifting powers. Just type in #amazonleggings, and you’ll find over 200 million videos with the hashtag.
Another community that uses TikTok as a marketing tactic is the Amazon influencers. They make videos showing cool finds in the popular online shopping store. Kenji ROI interviewed Scott Needham, a manufacturer who has sold more than $350 million on Amazon. A TikTok by rachel_meaders with his product reached over 2 million views, and Needham sold 10,000 in one day.
The FYP algorithm: Is it all chance?
TikTok has been the origin of a lot of virality. How does anything get views on the app? “Algorithm” is the magic word. Apparently, every TikTok goes on other users’ “For You Page” (FYP). If a video does well, it keeps getting placed on more people’s FYP, depending on who may or may not like it.
People claim to have figured out the science of virality, but how could they really know? According to a 2018 study by Forbes and Stanford University, less than 1% of content goes viral, and you have a one in a million chance of your Tweet going viral. Of course, TikTok wasn’t meteoric in 2018 like it is now, so there haven’t been extensive studies on the current impact. But is virality still happenstance? Or have platforms and brands figured out how to be more strategic?
A Savage marketing tactic
Remember Megan Thee Stallion’s mega-hit that defined Summer 2020? The one that led to a Beyoncé collab and three Grammys? “Savage” exploded on TikTok, and the choreographed dance spurned countless videos and millions of overall views.
But according to Bloomberg Businessweek, this popularity wasn’t an accident. It was a coordinated marketing campaign where TikTok “analyzed data and advised [Megan’s] label on how to promote her.” The influencer campaign birthed the #SavageChallenge, and the rest is history.
How much else is coordinated along with TikTok leadership? Gabby Murray, a 19-year-old a paid TikTok creator with 8.5 million followers, told Bloomberg that top users get weekly emails with instructions on the type of videos that will do well. Has the platform figured out how to work the trend system?
TikTok is changing e-commerce and marketing.
A spokesperson of the app told Bloomberg that organic trends still happen. But when coordinated virality is an option, why would brands try any other avenue? TikTok is making many changes to the way our society operates, and e-commerce and marketing are only the tip of the iceberg. Whoever harnesses the power of virality influences the culture!