If you’re like us, you probably started quarantine vowing to avoid the TikTok craze and now somehow know every move to the “I’m a Savage” dance. We are among the 315 million people (and brands) who downloaded the app in Q1 2020, marking the most downloads for any app ever in a single quarter and surpassing 800M worldwide users to-date. While the short-form video app has been around since before 2020, the worldwide pandemic propelled the platform into exponential growth and allowed it to live up to its mission of inspiring creativity and bringing joy.

In the wake of COVID-19, a top priority of our Gatesman team was to identify opportunities to appropriately position clients’ brands in ways that still resonated with audiences. With social media consumption at an all-time high, keeping clients up-to-date on new platform and content trends was more important than ever. As stay-at-home orders grew longer, quarantined individuals looked to TikTok as a source of entertainment and creative expression. This viral response to create content immediately took the social media world by storm and was something Gatesman knew could not be ignored, even if a client didn’t necessarily belong on the TikTok platform long-term. With that, our team thoughtfully analyzed the trends and conversations coming from popular content on the app to cultivate ideas that would align with our clients’ current content strategies and platforms, enabling us to remain on-trend, while reaching audiences through our current channels with fresh and engaging content.

Center for Organ Recovery & Education

The Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE), one of the top organ procurement organizations in the country, works with Gatesman to support its mission of Saving and Healing lives through organ donation. In the beginning stages of quarantine, COVID-19 made it feel like the world had stopped. But, the urgent need for organs certainly did not, with over 110,000 people still waiting for a life-saving transplant. Because of this, continuing to amplify CORE’s mission and message was of utmost importance, especially at a time when saving lives was top-of-mind.

Gatesman recognized this unique moment-in-time as an opportunity to communicate that on top of saving lives by staying home, people had the opportunity to save even more lives by simply registering to be an organ donor. To bring this to life, the team built a social media series (for Facebook and Instagram) that leveraged TikTok trends showcasing the entertaining ways individuals and families were passing time amid the stay-at-home orders (ranging from the toilet paper wall dog challenge to the at-home rollercoaster). The video series was built in a way that felt familiar to CORE’s target audience but also stood out with a simple, yet important call-to-action: While you are at home saving lives, save more lives by registering to be an organ donor. To build these videos, Gatesman and CORE prioritized authenticity and efficiency by calling on its own employees to submit their own videos which were edited for social. As a result, the videos, which were leveraged through both organic and paid tactics, garnered 166K impressions and drove over 8K clicks to the campaign page.

National Vision

This year’s optometry graduates are entering the profession at an unusual time. What is usually a celebratory gathering of family, friends and fellow grads is now a virtual ceremony amid social distancing. Gatesman and client National Vision recognized that this year’s grads may be feeling disconnected and a bit down, when they should be filled with a sense of pride, excitement and satisfaction. As one of the largest and fastest growing optical retailers in the United States, who better than National Vision to celebrate and lift the spirits of the next generation of optometrists? Gatesman knew the right tactic for recognizing this class would have to be genuine, on-trend and able to stand out amongst a sea of disconcerting social media posts. And with that, Gatesman looked to TikTok.

In the weeks leading up to optometry school graduations, a trend had emerged on TikTok in which participants “passed off” objects. The women of Bachelor Nation handed off a makeup brush as they got ready together, and some of TikTok’s favorite healthcare professionals passed around a stethoscope in an attempt to recruit a fellow wellness influencer to the platform. Gatesman saw an opportunity to get in on the trend by having National Vision’s optometrists welcome the graduating class by passing them the symbol of entering the OD ranks: a white coat. A video was storyboarded and six of National Vision’s finest doctors were recruited to participate – remotely, of course. This particular trend was rooted in each individual being located in a different location, making it easy to execute under COVID-19 restrictions. While National Vision didn’t have a TikTok account itself, Gatesman knew that the Millennials on the receiving end would recognize the trend instantly, translating to increased engagement and exposure. Beyond being a social success, these numbers reflect the fostering of positive engagement with a core audience for the brand as it looks to recruit more optometrists every year.

What Other Brands Can Learn From TikTok’s Top Trends

In just a few short months of heightened popularity, TikTok has changed the social media game. It has put users in the driver’s seat more than any platform before it, and it has given brands a new license – or rather, responsibility – to get creative (really creative). That doesn’t mean brands have to expand their budgets right away to build a TikTok presence, nor do they have to start advertising on the platform immediately. In fact, the app holds higher risks for paid placements, given ads are displayed among other content on a user’s For You Page, suggested based on personal viewing habits. That makes it hard to control the content an ad will appear alongside. If the reward for a brand doesn’t outweigh that risk, putting dollars here might not be the right move. However, the app’s popularity does mean brands need to pay attention and take note for both organic and paid content. In the TikTok era, it is critical to be willing to adapt and evolve current strategies to remain relevant.

About Gatesman

With offices in Pittsburgh and Chicago, Gatesman offers expertise in strategy/branding, advertising, public relations, social media, digital and analytics. Gatesman is a partner in AMIN Worldwide, an alliance of over 50 independent marketing agencies, and IPREX, a global communications network. Gatesman acquired Quest Fore in 2014 and Noble Communications in 2017.