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My Dogs Went Viral
And what that has to do with brand social strategy.
Hi everyone! How are we doing? I personally am feeling that beginning-of-the-year crunch. To counteract it, I have been trying to do more things that make me happy and relaxed—like trying new restaurants on weekends (finally went to Lasita and had a 10/10 dinner) and working out (including a “butt workout class” lol). Hope you are all hanging in there!
Today’s newsletter is a round up of things I’ve been thinking about this week. Like how my dogs going viral relates back to brand social strategy and what makes the M3GAN social strategy so good. It’s a fun one!
My Dogs Went Viral—What Can We Learn?
Last week something very weird happened. I posted a video of my two dogs on my TikTok account and it blew up. It currently has 11M views and has been reposted on Complex’s Instagram (with a totally ridiculous headline), written about in Newsweek, and shared on more dog accounts than I can count. I’ve gained over 10,000 followers on TikTok and over 600 on Instagram.
The point of all this isn’t to brag about how cute my dogs are (look at them though!) but to pull out a learning that applies to any brand or organization wanting to grow your TikTok account: if you have an interesting story to tell, try telling it LOTS of different ways.
Let’s break this down.
I already know the story about my dogs is somewhat interesting. We went to adopt one, were told they were bonded sisters, adopted them both, and then found out they were actually mother and daughter via DNA test six months later. What’s important to note is that I’ve basically told a version of this story before—here when I thought they were just sisters and here when I talked about adopting them both. Posts with the two of them have always “overperformed”. (I know it’s icky to talk about personal content like this but it’s for the sake of analysis, I swear.) So, on their two year adoptaversary, I threw together some old clips to a trending song and framed their story as thinking they were sisters and then finding out they were mother and daughter. This simple re-frame paired with a trending song worked and the video took off.
When I think about brands and the stories they want to tell, this method also applies—especially on TikTok. Find a story or content bucket your audience likes to hear about, and post about it often, in slightly different ways.
An example that immediately comes to mind is the prebiotic soda company Poppi. Sharing their founder’s story is a big part of educating consumers about the “why” of the product. After a very quick scroll I can count at least 5-10 videos that are some version of the “Poppi Story” all told in slightly different ways. Some perform in line with their normal content, other versions overperform by A LOT. Just because they’ve told their story once doesn’t mean they shouldn’t tell it again.
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When I created the video of my dogs, I used clips I already had in my phone. I didn’t film anything new or create content that was specific to the video concept. We see brands on TikTok use this method of recut, reuse, recycle all the time. For example, Williams-Sonoma posted a cherry pitter on TikTok and just a month later posted a similar but more in-depth video of the same cherry pitter and received double the engagement. This strategy can be a low lift way to create new TikTok content for your brand.
Here’s a quick formula for trying this out:
Find a video that has overperformed for your brand in the past
Look up what sounds and formats are trending right now
Ask yourself “how would I tell this story but tweaked for this new format, song, or trend?”
Recut the video for the new trending sound
Obviously this can’t be your entire platform strategy! But if there was a story or moment that either did well or you think should have done well—don’t be afraid to switch it up and post it again. You might just end up with an overdramatized headline on Complex!
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3 Brand Posts I Am Into and Why
1. Pella’s Eye-Catching Campaign
Something I’ve been thinking a lot about is how to bring humor and delight to more splashy studio-shot campaign moments. In a time where online audiences favor lo-fi, personality-driven content, how does a brand make something that feels BIG but remains internetty? To me, this campaign for pella, shot by Kyle Berger, nails that. It’s clever, eye-catching, and just so fun. More images can be found in this carousel.
2. M3GAN’s Photo Dump
The social media strategy for the movie M3GAN has been soooo good. From the above photo dump (complete with a “John Cena followed you” screenshot) to creating Twitter beef with Chucky—it’s been captivating to watch how the social team has used M3GAN as a real online character to promote the movie. It reminds me of how the Gossip Girl reboot characters all got their own Instagram accounts. So smart.
3. Chipotle’s Collab
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If 2022 was the year of using influencers to talk about your products on their channels, then 2023 is the year of collaborating with influencers on your owned channels. And this Chipotle post is a great example of that. Instead of just bringing the viral “Chipotle quesadilla hack” to their app, they worked with Keith Lee and Alexis Frost, the two food creators who popularized the order, to announce it. Not only do I feel like this is a great strategy from an awareness perspective, but it also helps give credit (and cash) to the people who actually popularized the trend in the first place. Into it.
As mentioned above, slideshows are overperforming on TikTok right now. You can see brands trying it out here, here, and here. It’s a low-lift type of post that is worth testing out ASAP. The best ones use text, tell a story, and have some sort of interesting hook to get you to keep swiping. To take a page from my dog anecdote above, you could always convert an overperforming video into this style of storytelling and see how it compares.