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July 2, 2021

TikTok made me buy it: Viral, organic content served hot and fresh, daily

Annie Pape

There is a creator on TikTok who often starts her videos excitedly with “Another day, another Starbies!”  She shows herself pulling up to a Starbucks drive-thru window or walking in, and making unique requests like “Could you make me a drink that resembles sunshine?” or “Could you make me a drink that you think I would enjoy based off what my voice sounds like?” She’ll also try out suggestions from comments, like a “dragon drink, but substitute heavy cream with three scoops of vanilla bean and double blended.”

Anna Sitar regularly gets hundreds of thousands of views on her “Starbies” videos. She is one example of many creators who regularly post their Starbucks orders, which leads to specific drink orders becoming extremely popular. Starbucks baristas have posted viral videos, explaining how difficult it is to create these “TikTok” famous drinks with minimal direction or 15 extra ingredients. Some Starbucks are even experiencing shortages of ingredients that are popular in these drinks, like sweet cream, cold foam or strawberry acai. 

The algorithm advantage

It’s not just Starbucks that’s feeling the influence of the popular app. A recent trend: “TikTok made me buy it.” In these videos, people showcase an item (or several!) that they were influenced to buy.  Many different products have found fame on TikTok, from Cerave skincare products to roller skates, mini waffle makers to LED lights. This has led to certain products being sold out for weeks or even months on end, citing these viral videos as the cause. 

We’ve gotten used to being served Facebook and Instagram ads, or being told by an influencer or celebrity to buy a certain product. But what is it about TikTok that has so much power, and allows people to almost randomly go viral with their product recommendations? The answer? The algorithm. 

On Instagram, the content we scroll through is created by people we know and follow, andover on the “Explore” page, we’re served specially curated content from users recommended by  Instagram.However, on TikTok, the process is almost backwards.We’re served our main content through the “For You Page” (FYP) which is based on user activity: likes, comments and profile settings.   From there, users have the option to follow those creators. When a user posts a video, it shows up in other users’ FYP, sometimes leading to a snowball effect of likes, comments and shares.. This makes it easier for “normal” people to create viral content, rather than other platforms where the number of followers you have determines how many people view your posts. 

How can brands utilize TikTok?

TikTok has a variety of advertisements, such as in-feed video ads or ads that are served when a user opens the app. However, the most successful branded TikToks come from brands who create accounts and utilize organic content to reach their customers. 

A brand that’s doing it right is Chipotle.

They’ve found huge success and have collected over 1.6 million followers. Their content takes a variety of forms, from putting a spin on current TikTok trends, showcasing menu items, and reposting videos from their customers. Most of their content is intended to entertain while promoting their brand, rather than being exclusively promotional. 

The influence of TikTok is undeniable and unlike any other platform. The creative, organic content made by users has the power to be far-reaching and create huge buzz.  If you’re looking to engage with new consumers while promoting your brand in an original way, TikTok is the place for you.