Your Customers Are Your Best Growth Channel
We work in a reality where community is the most powerful marketing tool a brand can have. And the more brands elevate the presence of their users, the more opportunity it has to come off as authentic
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So a fun thing happened on the internet recently.
A girl named Bridget posted a TikTok video about her journey refilling a mini Tabasco jar with Frank's Red Hot Sauce. The video quickly went viral, gaining over 2.7M views since the beginning of August.
She also sparked one of the most interesting online brand rivalries I’ve seen in a while.
For those of you who haven't spent much time on TikTok, or have written it off entirely, today's issue is a case study in why the platform is a huge untapped opportunity for brands to connect with a marketer's favorite customers -- the ones who organically post to social media about your product.
What happens over the next month is that Tabasco and Frank's social teams start a tug-of-war for Bridget's affection. To summarize, for your convenience, here's the rough sequence of events:
TL;DR -- Two hot sauce brands respond to a viral video about a mini hot sauce bottle. They play up a "love triangle" between them and the creator. Millions of impressions are captured. If you prefer to watch recaps, here's Part 1 and Part 2.
August 8 - Bridget posts the viral mini Tabasco jar video.
August 16 - Tabasco slides into Bridget's DM's to send her a box of swag.
August 17 - Frank's replies to the original video, also sliding into her DM's and sending her another box of swag.
August 17 - Tabasco has been watching this go down and DM's Bridget again, this time with a screenshot of their Instagram and Twitter descriptions updated to "Bridget's favorite hot sauce."
August 18 - All of Tabasco's social content focuses on Bridget and the inside jokes coming out of her content on the rivalry. Also, Tabasco's swag kit arrives and Bridget posts an unboxing video.
August 19 - Frank's social team posts a video of them doing a photoshoot for one of the running inside jokes from this saga.
For the next few days, Bridget is posting content about a "love triangle" between her and the brands, as well as other videos featuring the brands, gaining millions of views over the series.
August 24 - The Frank's team met up with Bridget and gave her, among other things, a human-size bottle of hot sauce.
August 25 - Tabasco DM's Bridget and hints to one big last surprise for the coming weekend.
August 27 - Bridget receives another package from Tabasco, containing what Canadians would call a "Texas mickey" of hot sauce, with a hint to what she can expect to see that weekend.
September 1 - Bridget shows up and Tabasco throws a "hot sauce party" for her and her friends.
At each step of this series, Bridget is posting a new video updating her followers on the growing rivalry between the brands. And the brand's reciprocate by escalating the stakes, driving the vitality higher. As a marketer, there isn’t much more you could ask for.
This wholesome hot sauce content got me thinking about the power of promoting your users. We work in a reality where community is the most powerful marketing tool a brand can have. And the more brands elevate the presence of their users, the more opportunity it has to come off as authentic and engaging.
At the beginning we mention how big of an opportunity TikTok is for engaging with your customers. Here’s a few reasons why I’m so bullish on the app as a brand channel:
It’s a Mini YouTube -- people post short videos with their ideas, reviews, and experiences, which are easier to consume. It’s the infinite scroll on steroids. Authenticity is king.
It’s a Hybrid Platform -- the kinds of content people post on TikTok are a combination of things you’d see on other platforms, with its own twist. So far creators seem to be using it as a “top of funnel” channel to their other social channels, particularly YouTubers.
It’s the Algo -- unlike platforms like Twitter and Instagram, TikTok’s algorithm focuses on helping you discover new content from new creators, rather than just the people you already follow. This focus on discovery not only exposes the user to new content every day, but also more prominently promotes smaller creators.
A couple weeks ago I posted a Q&A with Dan Hennessy, the Creative Director at BlockFi. He says that the key to building a successful brand is making it feel like “a person you would enjoy getting stuck in an elevator with.”
I think as marketers work to grow their brand’s footprint through the use influencers and ambassadors, it’s important to make sure the voices they associate with through the same lens that Dan suggested.
And in the context of your audience, your users are going to be those people. They are an average person, moving through life, who just happens to be using your product. If they take the time out of their day to create content about you, that’s great. But if you can find a way to give them their own platform, like how Tabasco and Frank’s did with Bridget, you’ve got a huge opportunity to break through the noise.
Remember, your customers are your best marketing channel.