WHAT BRANDS CAN LEARN FROM LIZZO’S #ABOUTDAMNTIME TIKTOK CHALLENGE
Lizzo released her latest track, About Damn Time, on April 14. A week later, TikTok creator Jaeden Gomez filmed a dance to the song in her kitchen, tagging Lizzo in the post.
Shockingly – because the internet is vast and we assume pop stars are busy – Lizzo replied in the comments that she was going to learn the dance, which she did, capturing it poolside at Coachella, and shortly after at the MET Gala.
The rest is internet history; the dance went viral, the lyrics are probably stuck in your head and, boosted by TikTok, the song reached the top 10 in music charts across Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.
You could chalk it up to serendipity, but there’s a lot more at play here than just good timing and luck. Here are some key moments that marketers can learn from.
1. REALLY LISTEN TO YOUR AUDIENCE
When we talk about social listening, we’re often talking about automation and dashboards. Big brands get a lot of mentions and often those mentions morph into insights as we interpret the data from a distance.
At the opposite end of social listening, there’s opportunity for impactful content that shows your awareness of what’s happening in the world around your brand. Being tuned into your audience allows you to react, engage and generate goodwill by being truly present and authentic.
2. Make your audience feel seen
Once the challenge took off, Lizzo shared many of the videos to her own profile – duetting reactions and creating compilations. By doing so, she communicated to her fans that she was watching, that she valued their efforts, and that she was willing to offer a signal boost for hot content.
It’s an attractive incentive for a content creator or mega fan, and it’s a simple enough move for brands to follow—if they’re willing to think of their feeds as a place to build community, rather than a polished broadcast channel. Success on TikTok requires marketers to reframe, and consider how our content can drive participation, rather than just impressions and likes.
3. Find new ways for your audience to participate
Fast forward to mid-May and the video is doing great. If you’re the sort of person who films dance content for TikTok, you’ve probably done the dance. At this point, Lizzo shared a comedic tutorial for the dance delivered as an angry rant. Your dancing is sloppy and she’s sick of your sh*t.
The effect of this piece of content was to open the #AboutDamnTime hashtag up to people who’d never film a dance video – inviting them to make a comedy piece using the song. Creators could riff on the character of aggressive dance tutor or apologetic bad dancer – whichever best suited their persona.
The learning for marketers is once again that TikTok is a place where the things we know for sure about content marketing can be turned upside down to great effect. Where traditionally we’d make and sequentially release a hero piece of content with various off-shoots, the thinking here is creator-first rather than content-first. A new idea can be injected into a campaign that’s already live, and unlock it for a whole new audience.
4. Trust creators with your brand story
Today, there are 1.8 million videos on TikTok which use the #AboutDamnTime track. If you have a good idea, and you let creators flex their expertise and create stellar content – especially when you combine quality with scale – it’s a fairly well-proven strategy for spreading an idea.
I hope by now you have About Damn Time stuck as firmly in your head as I have for weeks now. It’s a blessing and a curse. Here are the things I hope you take away from this musing on the greatest flautist of our generations:
- ‘Virality’ isn’t usually a coincidence
- Lizzo has driven commercial success by being a generous, respectful, playful creative collaborator with her TikTok fan community
- And you can do that too, if you really get under the hood of your audience and approach content on TikTok as a collaborative ecosystem rather than a broadcast platform then you might just have your viral moment. It’s about damn time!
Keen to learn more about TikTok? Check out some case studies of our client work:
Zoh Dowling is an Associate Editorial Director at We Are Social. She is the friend who constantly hurls TikToks into your DMs, and she’s not ashamed to be that guy.