TikTok should be a centerpiece of the marketing strategy of all food brands. According to a recent study, 36% of TikTok users said that they have ordered from a restaurant after first discovering it on the app.
When a food recipe or a product goes viral on TikTok, that translates into purchases, too.
A report from Instacart found that, when a TikTok recipe for baked feta pasta was peaking early last year, sales of the top ingredients from the pasta recipe were up 106% versus the week before.
An entire ecosystem of content creators—chefs and home cooks who post tutorials on how to make beautiful and tasty recipes in quick-cut cooking videos—have popped up on the app, and some are getting mainstream attention.
These foodies share a wide variety of yummy breakfast, lunch, or dinner recipes ranging from tacos, ramen, to even traditional Korean cuisine. For instance, after first getting her start on TikTok, the vegan chef Tabitha Brown now has her own seasoning line with McCormick.
Here’s how brands' food content can capture some of that viral energy and gain traction on TikTok's For You Page (FYP):
One of the viral food companies on TikTok is Crumbl Cookies, a cookie brand that also operates numerous retail storefronts across the U.S. It has caught fire on TikTok not just because its cookies are so aesthetically pleasing.
It has also incorporated the product drop model into its social media presence. Every Sunday, the company introduces four new flavors for the week, and it unveils them all on TikTok, turning its social media presence into an event all of its own.
The company has 3.6 million followers on the app, and its “flavor reveal” videos are among its most popular content. A flavor reveal from the end of January garnered more than 1m views, for instance.
People on social media frequently gather to review current Crumbl Cookies flavors and to guess at which ones might be coming next. The fleeting nature of a Crumbl Cookie drop is part of the appeal.
No matter what, those flavors are gone at the end of the week, so customers are eager to stay in the know.
Among snack and candy companies, making your product into a recurring character in your TikTok videos is a sure-fire way to get attention.
Just as the Duolingo owl has become a popular TikTok personality, recording short videos from the point of view of your food product shows you are in on the joke.
Sour Patch Kids, for instance, posts videos in which its gummy character screens calls in order to focus on plotting world domination or discusses the toxic traits of rival desserts.
Nutter Butter, meanwhile, has made its own cookie product a main character of its TikTok videos. Across various posts, the Nutter Butter cookie describes its difficult childhood as an outsider from other candies or duets a video that ranked the top 5 store-bought cookies.
Brands that are marketing a specific product on TikTok can take the lessons of marketers on other platforms. To increase conversions, attach a delivery option to your products.
The hard seltzer brand White Claw, for instance, ran a campaign on Twitch in which it advertised its drinks to audiences in the middle of the night, knowing that many gamers who were up late would end up seeing it.
To drive the sales, White Claw partnered with the late-night delivery service GoPuff, so that viewers who saw the White Claw ad on Twitch could have the drink ready at their door within the hour. A similar approach could work well on TikTok.
Videos exposing DIY menu hacks at top food chains—like McDonald's, Starbucks, and In N Out—regularly go viral on the app. TikTokers love to feel like they’re being let in on a secret, or they know about a product that no one else does.
Some major chains have noticed this pattern, and they’ve introduced menu items that are specific to food TikTok jokes. Arby’s, for instance, has its “$5 Missing Menu Meal,” a riff on a viral TikTok video about the chain.
Even at a lower level, brands should be thinking about how to use TikTok to drive a sense of exclusivity around their company. Maybe they can introduce a product or a discount that only attentive followers on the app will know how to find.
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