Best Brands on TikTok: 12 Examples To Inspire Your 2021 Strategy

best brands on tiktok

TikTok has been downloaded over 2 billion times, and the app has proven to be hard to put down. On average, users open the app 8 times per day. The app is so huge that the top 50 TikTok influencers there have more followers than 16% of the world’s population. With those stats in mind, the race is officially on for brands on TikTok. TikTok has already launched their own Creator Marketplace just for marketers and influencers to connect.

For many brands, paid TikTok ads are highly effective and worth the investment. While millennial consumers have already shown a preference for authentic influencers versus traditional ads, Gen Z is even more focused on authenticity.

For brands on TikTok, reading the room is key. The most successful brands have an approach that combines real people and almost always a dose of humor. To inspire your TikTok influencer strategy, these twelve brands are just a few of the companies who are playing the TikTok game right.

The tactics and results of these major, household name brands should serve as inspiration to brands of all sizes who hope to breathe new life into their TikTok marketing strategies. Jump to our TikTok Influencer Marketing Guide for additional ways that brands can make the most of marketing on TikTok.

12 Of The Best Brands On TikTok Right Now

1. Flighthouse Is A Content Powerhouse

best brands on tiktok

Flighthouse is the most followed brand account on TikTok with nearly 30 million followers. Flighthouse is a large media company that specializes in producing viral social media content, particularly on TikTok. Their account speaks for itself. The brand’s videos have more likes than any other branded account and is the 4th most liked account on TikTok overall.

For comparison, Flighthouse has a startling one billion more likes than Michael Le, a TikTok star with 50M followers. Flighthouse has produced 4,300 TikToks so far, which is a greater volume of content than any other brand on the app.

2. Netflix Wins With User-Generated Content

best brands on tiktok

Netflix comes in second as the most followed brand on TikTok behind Flighthouse. It doesn’t hurt that Netflix already has a massive pool of original sounds and video content to draw from. Many of their videos are clips from their latest shows, interviews with actors and humorous skits. Netflix posts about three TikTok videos a day and gains an average of one million followers each month.

Netflix is the leading advertiser on TikTok, on average producing one large-scale campaign every month. User-generated content has worked well for them thus far; over 112,000 people used their #WhatsYourPower AR branded effect, which is likely the largest amount of UGC for any brand on TikTok so far.

3. Dunkin’ Warms Up To Gen Z With Charli D’Amelio

best brands on tiktok dunkin

One of the best food brands on TikTok is, without a doubt, Dunkin’. They have three million followers and 21 million likes, and the amount of hilarious UGC on their channel is impressive. Much of Dunkin’s popularity with Gen Z on TikTok comes from their strategic endorsement of the #1 most followed TikTok star Charli D’Amelio.

In a smart move, Dunkin’ solidified a long-term sponsorship with Charli, who was already a proud Dunkin’ patron before she had even heard of TikTok. In fact, Dunkin’ beverages have appeared in over 120 of her TikToks—the majority as unsponsored product placements.

So far Dunkin’ has two drinks after the 16-year-old. The first beverage release,‘The Charli’, led to a 57% rise in daily app downloads on launch day and a 45% rise in cold brew sales the day after launch. Dunkin’ is an excellent example of how to capitalize on trends and choose social media influencers that can authentically support brand growth.

4. E.l.f Cosmetics Sets Trends With TikTok LIVE

brands on TikTok

In the best beauty brands on TikTok category, e.l.f. Is a frontrunner. Cosmetics brand e.l.f was one of the first beauty brands to form a TikTok strategy. This move comes as no surprise as e.l.f.’s marketing strategy thrives on out-of-the-box, pop-culture themed innovations. The beauty brand recently created an NFT collection promoting cryptocurrency, a gaming-themed collection to launch their Twitch channel, and no one can forget their extra guac-inspired collection with Chipotle.

For one of e.l.f’s first TikTok campaigns, they commissioned a song called “Eyes Lips Face,” which is believed to be the first original song specially produced for a TikTok campaign. Starting with just a few influencers to get the ball rolling, the #eyeslipsface hashtag turned into a mind-blowing success. The current hashtag video count is over 3.8 billion.

While the makeup brand actively partners with influencers to grow hype on TikTok for their product drops, the most unique element of e.l.f.’s TikTok strategy is that they host TikTok LIVEs on a regular basis. The number of people using TikTok’s LIVE feature has doubled in the past year, and e.l.f. got in on the trend early, having started livestreaming over a year ago. They livestream beauty tutorials, giveaways, Q&A sessions and new product announcements with astounding results.

5. P&G Has The Highest Viewed Sponsored TikTok…Without A TikTok

brands doing well on tiktok

One wouldn’t expect Procter and Gamble to have much of a TikTok presence, and they don’t. They don’t produce their own content on the app, but they’re still proof of what type of brands do well on TikTok and how. Instead of producing their own content, they turn to top creators to make some waves.

In March 2020, Charli D’Amelio posted a #DistanceDance challenge sponsored by P&G to encourage people to stay home and help stop the spread of COVID-19. For each of the first three million videos posted in response, P&G offered to donate to Feeding America & Matthew 25: Ministries to help families impacted by the pandemic. The charitable tactic was a hit.

Charli’s sponsored video has 6.8M likes and 196.6M views, making it the most viewed sponsored TikTok to date. The #DistanceDance challenge is one of their highest reaching sponsored challenges with 17.8 billion views. The CPG giant continues to see sizable reach through sponsored challenges. Two recent campaigns supporting environmental and social causes, #ItsOurHome and #WidenTheScreen, surpassed 11.3 billion views and 10.3 billion views respectively.

6. Amazon Tracks Sales Through TikTok Ambassadors

best fashion brands on tiktok

It goes without saying that Amazon knows a thing or two about marketing, and their TikTok influencer strategy is a prime example. Amazon has five official TikTok accounts: @amazonprimevideo, @amazonfashion, @amazonmusic, @primestudent, and @amazon; amongst which Amazon Prime Video is the most popular with 6.7M followers.

Amazon has the means to launch massive, traditional ad campaigns, and they have. They’re responsible for the third most Branded Hashtag Challenges on TikTok, just behind Netflix and Kraft Foods. Amazon also recognizes the potential of influencers. In a single campaign for Amazon Fashion, they partnered with 40+ micro and mega influencers to carry their #PajamaJam challenge to new heights.

Influencers and ambassadors are key to Amazon Fashion’s TikTok strategy—the #amazonpartner hashtag has over 72M views. Content on the Amazon Fashion account, consists of ambassador content and reposts of organically created TikTok trends like #amazonfinds which has over 11.3B views. Amazon may not have needed TikTok’s help, but it’s obvious why it is on our list of TikTok’s top brands in 2021.

7. Red Bull Bolsters Brand Awareness With Suspenseful Footage

best brand content on tiktok

What brands do well on TikTok? Any brand that can provide entertainment value. One of TikTok’s largest branded content producers is Red Bull. They’ve posted more than 2,660 videos so far, which is more than both Addison Rae and Charli D’Amelio, two of TikTok’s most noteworthy influencers.

Red Bull posts an average of two videos a day and have receives an average of 1.2 million likes each month. Much of Red Bull’s content is death-defying, jaw-dropping stunts, but they also incorporate humor into their strategy. For every eye-popping trick, they share a hilarious flop. The variety has thus far been effective at holding their audience’s attention.

8. Gymshark Sets The Bar For Fitness On TikTok As An Early Adopter

top brands of tiktok

Gymshark is a great example of how jumping on trends early pays off. They joined TikTok right out the gate with their first post published in April 2018. Their content isn’t revolutionary, but what they lack in innovation they make up for with consistency.

Gymshark posts consistently, their videos are high-quality and they understand their audience. Their account shares a solid mix of memes, workout videos, and motivational content, which has earned them 3.3M fans. Check out some of their best work in our case study here.

9. Blue Diamond Almonds Shows Brands It’s Not Too Late To Try TikTok

top brand strategy tiktok

Blue Diamond Almonds may be new to TikTok, but they clearly did their homework. The privately held cooperative had no TikTok presence prior to June 2021 when they launched an incticing food challenge highlighting their new line of spicy almonds.

The brand partnered with three food influencers to promote the #28XTREMES challenge that has so far received over 11.6B views. One of their sponsored videos with food creator @colincreates received 10.1M views and 322K likes becoming his most viewed video ever. What’s great about Blue Diamond’s success is that it’s evidence that it’s not too late for brands of all sizes to find success on TikTok with the right strategy.

10. Marc Jacobs Perfects TikTok Duets

best brands advertising on tiktok

How did a company that doesn’t have a substantial TikTok presence end up on the list of best brands on TikTok? Marc Jacobs has mastered the art of TikTok duets. The company advertises on TikTok by launching Branded Hashtag Challenges, each time utilizing the TikTok duet feature. Their #PerfectAsIAm campaign in summer 2020 ended with 10.4B views and included duets with Rickey Thompson and three other influencers.

Marc Jacobs followed up with a second #PerfectAsWeAre campaign in June 2021, celebrating Pride and encouraging self-love and individuality. They featured three massive TikTok influencers, Rickey Thompson, Jojo Siwa, and Bretman Rock. Their campaign has now accumulated 13.7B views and more than 2,000K UGC.

11. DICK’s Sporting Goods Makes A Gametime Decision With TikTok Ad Features

best brands of tiktok

With 42.1K followers, DICK’s Sporting Goods doesn’t have the largest TikTok presence in comparison to some of the other brands on this list. Nevertheless, their efforts to experiment with TikTok’s latest ad features have paid off. Their first Branded Hashtag Challenge, #NewFitFeelin, involved six influencers and inspired 1,136 pieces of UGC without using any Branded Effects whatsoever.

The second time around during their #WelcomeBack campaign, they did utilize TikTok’s Branded Effect option. The campaign only launched at the beginning of August, 2021, and it has already accumulated 7,020 UGC. The Branded Effect usage equated to an impressive 500%+ rise in UGC. Because of the brand’s success at making the most of TikTok’s features, we’d consider Dick’s Sporting Goods to be one of the best brands on TikTok in 2021.

12. Chipotle Doubles Up On Influencer Marketing With Exclusive Content

tiktok best brands

A good burrito speaks for itself, but Chipotle essentially turned TikTok into a loudspeaker. Their profile starts out on the right foot with a winning bio: “Less Tok, More Guac.” From there, it only gets better. They share content consistently, and their influencer strategy has layers of success.

While Chipotle continues to work with influencers in traditional influencer marketing campaigns on TikTok, the burrito brand seems to also be taking advantage of ‘content-only’ campaigns. In these influencer partnerships, influencers create branded content, but instead of posting it to their channel, the videos are exclusively posted on Chipotle’s account. This special ingredient of dedicated content allows Chipotle to integrate the benefits of traditional influencer marketing and the benefits of creator produced content.

The burrito-bowl chain also reposts popular content featuring their food, and stays on top of seasonal trends. In our recent study, we found the food/beverage industry accounts for 20% of all Branded Hashtag Challenges. While Chipotle certainly faces competition, Chipotle has one of the best strategies for growth on TikTok.

100+ Branded Hashtag Challenges: Best Examples, Tips & Trends for Marketers On TikTok

branded hashtag challenge

100+ Branded Hashtag Challenges on TikTok: Campaign Tips & Analysis

As the leading short-form video platform, TikTok is singular from other platforms in its power to encourage user-generated content (UGC), generate communities, and create viral trends that go far beyond the app. Hashtags play an integral role in building these communities by grouping similar content together and allowing for new trends to emerge.

In a TikTok hashtag challenge, a user records themselves doing a specific action or ‘challenge’, inspiring the audience to complete the challenge or reinvent their own version. In this way, hashtag challenges have the ability to tap into the wildfire effect, reaching audiences far beyond the initial following of the first creator’s post.

TikTok estimates over 35% of its user base participate in hashtag challenges, which is why so many companies are sponsoring their own hashtag challenge on TikTok, (called Branded Hashtag Challenges) to build brand recognition and awareness.

branded hashtag challenge

Branded Hashtag Challenges are one of the five different TikTok ad formats (listed below) marketers can choose or combine depending on their budget & campaign objectives:

  1. In-feed Ads
  2. TopView Ads
  3. Brand Takeover Ads
  4. Branded Effects
  5. Branded Hashtag Challenge

What is a Branded Hashtag Challenge?

The Branded Hashtag Challenge is the largest-scale ad format on TikTok and offers the most touchpoints for users to drive mass awareness. The two main components of a Branded Hashtag Challenge are 1) a sponsored banner on TikTok’s Discover page and 2) a sponsored challenge page. It is important to note companies can optimize their reach through additional TikTok ad offerings in combination with the Branded Hashtag Challenge (e.g. TopView ads, In-feed Ads, or a shoppable in-app experience via TikTok’s Hashtag Challenge Plus feature).

Discovery Page Banner

branded hashtag challenge

This placement of the sponsored banner is considered prime real-estate on the app— requiring a minimum of $150,000, which is why Branded Hashtag Challenges are typically utilized by large, recognizable brands.

Sponsored Hashtag Challenge Page

hashtag challenge

When a user clicks on the sponsored hashtag, it leads to the hashtag challenge page which features the brand logo, challenge description, a sponsorship disclaimer, and the ability to link to the company’s website/or a shoppable landing page.

Most companies opt to partner with popular TikTok creators to create “Official videos” that inspire UGC and drive authentic engagement. Leveraging TikTok influencers to create content for your brand’s hashtag challenge not only sets the tone for the challenge but leverages their expertise as a popular creator to drive collaboration and engagement through their loyal audience.

Keep reading to see top Branded Hashtag Challenge Examples or click below to skip to our comprehensive study:

100+ Branded Hashtag Challenges: Analysis, Findings & Campaign Results

3 Examples of Branded Hashtag Challenges on TikTok

Branded Hashtag Challenge #1: Laura Mercier ‘Sets’ a Transition Trend With #ReadySETGo

brands on tiktok hashtag challenge

Laura Mercier promotes their loose setting powder by creating a ‘makeover’ challenge where users showcase the product result before & after using the product itself as a video transition effect. The cosmetics brand enlisted five beauty influencers with a combined reach of 19.6 million to launch their branded hashtag challenge. #ReadySETgo has received over 8.1 billion impressions and 2,500 pieces of UGC.

Campaign Takeaways:

  • Laura Mercier integrated their product authentically with front-of-mind placement
  • Establishing a challenge centered around community values (beauty) increased appeal to the target audience
  • The makeup brand included a product giveaway contest as part of the challenge to promote user incentive and engagement

Branded Hashtag Challenge #2: Netflix’s #What’sYourPower Envisions UGC Success

Brands on TikTok Netflix

Netflix is the most frequent advertiser of Branded Hashtag Challenges on TikTok, averaging about one campaign each month. In their #WhatsYourPower campaign, Netflix animated their challenge with an interactive Branded Effect that determined users’ superpowers. The challenge produced over 100,000 user-generated videos and included 6 influencer-created sponsored posts.

Micah Influencer Marketing example

Campaign Takeaways:

  • The challenge inspired creativity by providing users with themed choices
  • Netflix partnered with influencers across different categories (special effects, beauty, comedy, etc.) to reach different targeted audiences and maximize engagement across TikTok’s different communities
  • The challenge brought personality and life to their brand through special effects and allowed users to incorporate real-life scenarios

Branded Hashtag Challenge #3: #ASOSFashunWeek Goes Virtual

Branded Hashtag Challenge

11 fashion/lifestyle influencers created catwalk looks for the campaign and provided coupon codes within their captions. As a part of the Branded Hashtag Challenge, ASOS implemented the Hashtag Challenge Plus feature—allowing users to easily browse products directly within the app via a shoppable Explore tab. The results? Over 10,000 users posted a video using either their campaign sound or Branded Effect. Utilizing influencers, Branded Effects, coupon codes, and TikTok’s built-in shopping experience, ASOS provided multiple opportunities for audience interaction in their #ASOSFashunWeek campaign.

Branded Hashtag Challenge Example

Campaign Takeaways:

  • By optimizing partnerships with top influencers and TikTok’s ad solutions, ASOS created a ‘virtual runway’ where users could explore & purchase products without leaving the social media app.
  • Utilizing a ‘meme’ aspect in their branded sound increased popularity
  • ASOS chose mega-influencers on TikTok with different age/gender demographics to broaden their target audience

Campaign Results & Metrics From Analyzing Over 100 Branded Hashtag Challenges on TikTok

From July 2020 to March 2021, over 105 Branded Hashtag Challenges launched on TikTok. Analysis of these campaigns reveals average campaign metrics, influencer trends, and insights on TikTok advertiser behavior. See our findings here:

The top three most popular types of TikTok Branded Hashtag Challenges are 1) sponsored challenge, 2) contest, 3) Hashtag Challenge Plus. The average duration of a sponsored banner on TikTok’s Discovery page is 3-4 days. An average of 14 brands advertise on TikTok via a Branded Hashtag Challenge every month.

The average Branded Hashtag Challenge generates 6.1 billion views. Samsung’s #VideoSnapChallenge is the highest viewed branded hashtag challenge with over 27 billion views during the studied period.

Top 5 Highest Viewed TikTok Hashtag Challenges:

  1. Samsung: #VideoSnapChallenge, 27 billion views
  2. L’Oréal Paris, Carol’s Daughter, Urban Decay, NYX Cosmetics, and Maybelline: #LetsFaceIt, 16.9 billion views
  3. Bose: #CancelTheNoise, 13.6 billion views
  4. Cheetos: #ItWasntMe, 12.1 billion views
  5. Beats Electronics: #BeatsDaisyChallenge, 10.6 billion views

Brands Advertising On TikTok: Branded Hashtag Challenges

84% of large brands advertising on TikTok through Branded Hashtag Challenges have posted less than 100 videos on their brand’s TikTok account. This finding shows that while brands of nearly every industry are jumping to advertise on TikTok, most brands are still hesitant to commit to TikTok as an active brand channel.

In fact, 11% of brands advertising on TikTok through Branded Hashtag Challenges do not have an official user account on TikTok. Some brands include KOHLER, Marc Jacobs, Midea, Hormel Foods, and Burt’s Bees.

While most brands do not actively post a high volume of TikTok videos to their user account, two top brands Amazon Prime Video and RedBull have established branded channels on the platform. Amazon Prime Video has created over 1,800 TikTok videos, more videos than Addison Rae. RedBull is also one of the largest content-producing brands on TikTok, with over 2,540 TikTok videos.

Brand analysis finds food and beverage companies to be the most frequent industry to advertise on TikTok through Branded Hashtag Challenges. 1) Food/Bev, 2) Entertainment, 3) Beauty, 4) Fashion, and 5) Tech/CPG represent the top five brand advertiser categories.

500+ TikTok Influencer Partnerships Through Branded Hashtag Challenges

Brands typically partner with anywhere from 1-25 influencers per Branded Hashtag Challenge. The chart below shows an upward trend of companies partnering with more TikTok influencers per campaign than they were previously in 2020.

TikTok influencer Michael Le is the most common influencer brands partner with for Branded Hashtag Challenges. In the nine-month period Le created content for seven sponsored challenges:

  • Crocs: #StrapBack
  • Moncler: #MONCLERBUBBLEUP
  • Amazon: #PajamaJam
  • Apple: #AirPodsJUMP
  • American Eagle :#InMyAEJeans
  • Got Milk?: #GotMilkChallenge
  • Bliss: #ThisIsBliss

Avani and The Wilking Sisters were also high on the list as the most sought after influencers for Branded Hashtag Challenges. Each influencer participated in five campaigns from July 2020 – March 2021:

  • Avani: Marc Jacobs: #PerfectAsIAm, Amazon Prime Video: #ChemicalHearts, PacSun: #DoPacSun, Essie: #exprESSIEyourself, Fila: #UptheBeat
  • The Wilking Sisters: Marc Anthony Hair Care’s #StrictlyCurls, Amazon’s #PajamaJam, McDonald’s #HereforRMHC, #BoseAllOut for Bose, MAC Cosmetics: #MoodFlip.

Of the 530+ influencers who participated across 105 TikTok campaigns, 68% were mega-influencers, influencers with over one million followers. Mid-tier influencers (50,000 – 500,000 followers) are slightly more preferable to be chosen for partnerships in Branded Hashtag Challenges than macro-influencers (500,000 – 1,000,000 followers), with mid-tier influencers representing 16% of influencers used in Branded Hashtag Campaigns.

Triller Influencer Marketing Case Study: Pepsi's Social Media Music Competition

Triller Influencer Marketing Case Study Pepsi

How Pepsi Does Triller Marketing With Influencers

Pepsi is hosting a competition for budding musicians to get discovered using the hashtag #YourWildestDreams on Triller, a TikTok rival. As a brand deeply rooted in the music industry, they are perhaps the perfect candidate to reap the benefits of a music-friendly platform.

Over a six-week period, participants are chosen by a panel of judges and given the opportunity to perform at the Triller house in downtown Atlanta. As icing on the cake, the winner also receives mentorship from some of the top artists in the industry and a placement in the Wild Cherry Pepsi commercial.

This virtual competition may remind you of similar major music competitions such as American Idol and America’s got Talent centered around the idea that anyone can start from nothing and make it to fame. Pepsi leverages this as part of their campaign strategy and to also stay at the forefront of music, pop culture and social media.

See how Pepsi partners with influencers in our Triller marketing case study here:

triller marketing ad

Pepsi’s Influencer Marketing Campaign Drives Engagement With Triller Competition

Goals:

  • Awareness: A combined effort from over 20 hip-hop influencers ranging from nano to macro influencer tiers.
  • Engagement: Influencers promoted and prompted participants to make their own music for the opportunity to meet industry celebrities, win a livestream performance on Triller, and be featured in a Pepsi Wild Cherry commercial.

Approach

  • Channel: Triller
  • Influencers: Broad range of nano influencers and mid-tier influencers on Triller — many of which are well-known on other social media platforms.

 

The campaigns varied widely with some influencers focusing on information, while others are seen lip-syncing and dancing. Hip-hop plays the largest role in the campaign and is the main thread tying all of them together.

Each influencer is using the hashtags #PepsiWildCherry and #YourWildestDreams, prompting the audience to join the competition and become the next music star.

Music Artist Jufu Brings Upbeat Energy with His Trending Song ‘Who R U’

The tune is not only catchy, but highly shareable as it has garnered nearly 500,000 posts using the sound on TikTok. Pepsi is leveraging shareable content, which is critical in the effort to organically reach new audiences. On Triller, users have the ability to view the sponsored post but also interact with the selected music for their own creative purpose. For every piece of user-generated content, Pepsi is essentially receiving free advertising.

Montana Tucker Dances Across Hollywood Boulevard to ‘Body’ by Megan Thee Stallion

triller influencer marketing example 2

Appearing in national commercials since the age of 8, Montana Tucker is an experienced pro at designing the perfect sponsored post. She uses a wildly popular song, ‘Body’ by Megan Thee Stallion, as she dances across Hollywood Boulevard with a shining stack of Pepsi in her arms. A strategic move by Pepsi, incorporating influencers that have followings across multiple channels in order to bring attention to the budding app Triller. In addition to Montana’s efforts on Triller, she posted an Instagram Reel which garnered 42,000 likes from her 2.4 million following.

Pepsi’s Triller Case Study Results & Takeaways 

Combined Social Reach:

  • Total number of sponsored posts: 56
  • Triller followers targeted: 1,464,206

Engagement:

  • Likes: 20,636
  • Comments: 1,012
  • Engagement rate (overall average): 0.13%
  • Views: 16,720,400
  • Total Hashtag Views: 74.4 million
  • Hashtags used: #YourWildestDreams #PepsiWildCherry

WAS IT A SUCCESS?

While the hashtag #YourWildestDreams generated a substantial amount of views with 74.4 million, further analysis shares some of the successes and shortcomings of the campaign.

Engagement rates vary widely across the broad range of influencers used in the campaign suggesting the posts were either a hit or miss. In an effort to fight against this, influencers posted multiple times increasing their odds of success.

Out of many top trending posts under the hashtag #YourWildestDreams were some of the participants’ posts — suggesting a very real impact on the ground level. On such a new app such as Triller, smaller artists are able to rise to the top of the hashtag if they produce compelling content. If, for example, the same competition was done on a platform such as Instagram smaller artists may have been lost in the cracks on such a saturated platform.

Takeaways

  • Brands can creatively utilize competitions, giveaways, and/or sweepstakes to drive marketing objectives.
  • Triller can be leveraged advantageously as a smaller platform with less competition to generate meaningful engagement.
  • Using trending music within a sponsored post can be an effective way to reach new audiences on Triller.

Instagram Reels Case Study: Celebrities Join T.J.Maxx & Marshalls To #CarolForACause

instagram reels campaign

TJX’s Instagram Reels Case Study Three Month Holiday Results

Charitable and cause-focused marketing efforts traditionally increase during the holidays, and 2020 is no exception.

With many Americans still feeling the dismal financial effect of rising Covid-19 numbers, the merry and bright holiday shopping season is looking very different. A recent survey reveals 90% of consumers are spending more time online shopping for the holidays than the previous year.

TJX companies (T.J.Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods, Sierra, & Homesense) aims to end the year on a high note by partnering with celebrity songbirds to give back to communities and spread holiday cheer.

The home-fashion retailer is one of the leading companies to leverage Instagram’s Reels format for an influencer campaign. Instagram Reels made headlines with its August 2020 launch as marketers questioned if the new Instagram format would rival or supersede TikTok amid a pressing ban.

Nearly three months after the launch of Reels, TJX’s holiday campaign offers new insights into the user adoption of Reels. Keep reading to see the Instagram Reels case study results.

T.J.Maxx & Marshalls Rings In The Holidays With Instagram Reels #CarolForACause Campaign

Reels influencers
    Goals

  • Awareness: Spread positive messaging and holiday cheer through the combined reach of influencers
  • Positive Brand Sentiment: Spark holiday magic with songs and kick off a season of joy to end the difficult year
  • Engagement: Raise funding for Feeding America partnership through audience participation
  • Approach

  • Channel: Instagram Reels
  • Influencer Size: Seven pop star influencers, six mega-influencers and one mid-tier influencer (each influencer with an individual reach above 400,000 followers).
  • Influencers: Meghan Trainor, Pentatonix, Ally Brooke, Brandy, Andy Grammer, Sofia Reyes, and Brett Eldridge

Many campaigns choose a short-term takeover strategy where influencers post at the same or nearly the same time; however, to spread optimal holiday spirit, this campaign prompted influencers to spread posts throughout the entire six-week holiday season.

Each influencer’s caption included a call-to-action (CTA) with subtle modifications — each pop star prompted his/her audience to record a carol, post it using Instagram Reels with the #CarolForACause tag.

TJX companies then promised to donate $10 for each UGC carol posted to raise up to $1 million for Feeding America (with a 150,000 minimum donation).

Meghan Trainor’s Holiday Jingle Welcomes #CarolForACause Campaign

Reels influencer marketing

Meghan Trainor was the first celebrity star to introduce T.J.Maxx & Marshalls campaign to Instagram Reels on November 17th. Meghan was the largest mega-influencer in the campaign with over 11.6 million followers. Her family-led rendition of “Jingle Bells” also became the most watched Reel of the campaign at over 865,000 views.

Ally Brooke Wishes Followers A Merry Christmas With A Happy First Reel

Reels instagram marketing

Posting her first Instagram Reel, Former Fifth Harmony member Ally Brooke donned a festive Christmas sweater and sang “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” for the #CarolForACause sponsored post. The singer’s Reel received 60,000 likes and received the highest engagement rate for the campaign at almost 15%.

#CarolForACause Instagram Reels Case Study Results & Takeaways

Combined Social Reach:

  • Instagram followers targeted: 12,823,000

Engagement:

  • Views: 1,208,886
  • Likes: 118,373
  • Comments: 1,933
  • Engagement rate (overall average): 10.10%
  • Hashtag usage: 1,908 posts

Was It A Success? TJX Companies’ Holiday Instagram Reels Case Study Results

While the hashtag #CarolForACause generated 1,908 total posts during the six-week period, analysis of the campaign’s audience created content shows that only 24 – 40% of the user-generated posts were Reels, while over 60% of the UGC was Instagram video, IGTV or photo posts.

While the festive campaign was successful in stimulating interaction with Reels, the ratio of Reels to additional Instagram formats suggests the traction of Reels activity may not be on par with rival TikTok.

During the final week of the campaign, the Reels-focused campaign strategy briefly extended to TikTok through one sponsored influencer post. The single post prompted 490 users to create TikToks using the #CarolForACause hashtag.

The number of TikToks created using #CarolForACause is comparable and could in fact be higher than the overall number of Reels created for the campaign.

Since TJX Companies’ official rules included any post to Instagram or TikTok with the hashtag, the company was able to raise over $23,970 to Feeding America, resulting in about 240,000 meals (not including the $150K minimum donation).

Takeaways

  • Instagram comment sections of the chosen influencers expressed joy for the cheery carols and charitable cause.
  • The #CarolForACause initiative gave many users the confidence to share their voice on social media.
  • It is important to consider that TikTok caters only to a short-form video creator environment while Instagram offers multiple content formats (video, IGTV, Reels, photos); however, the presence of additional Instagram video formats in the Reels-specified campaign may suggest a slower adoption rate for Instagram Reels.

Case Study: How Parade Underwear Celebrates Social Causes with Nano-Influencers

nanoinfluencer instagram case study

Gen Z-created underwear brand Parade is rooted in a purpose and a promise to impact the world with its cause-focused initiatives.

Less than two years old, the retail company has received over $8 million in funding and has claimed partnerships with a myriad of nonprofits centered around LBGTQ+, body positivity, racial injustice, and more.

Parade’s charitable marketing and Gen Z identity is quickly gaining recognition. See how Parade leverage specific influencer marketing tactics and strategies to disrupt a seemingly crowded space.

Parade Undertakes Sex Education, LGBTQ+ Rights, Body Positivity & More With Nano Influencers

Many brands have shared success in influencer marketing with nano-influencers, Dunkin’, Fabletics, and Playstation — to name a few. Brands hope to achieve credibility with this strategy by tapping into niche communities for a more ‘word-of-mouth’ effect than traditional influencer marketing.

In this case study we examine the results of Parade’s recent Cyber Monday campaign featuring 50+ nano-influencers, including “influencers” with under 1,000 followers (the smallest tier of influencers).

How Parade Leveraged Influencer Marketing For Its Biggest Sale of The Year

Goals

  • Awareness: Build and raise awareness of Parade’s promises to support sustainability, sex education, LGBTQ+ rights, body positivity, and more.
  • Engagement: Ignite social issue conversations within tight-knit Instagram communities while advertising the brand’s Cyber Monday sale.

Approach:

  • Channel: Instagram
  • Influencer Strategy: In most cases, the users promoting the brand were invited by email or reached out to via DM. The campaign was essentially run by gifting free products in exchange for an Instagram post. While Parade does offer a unique sharable discount code once a purchase is made, they currently do not have an affiliate program where users earn commission on sales.
  • Creative/Branding: We analyzed a sample of 50 influencers who recently promoted Parade’s Cyber Monday campaign. Each influencer appeared to be artistic, expressive, and belonging to the Gen Z – Millennial age range — three attributes notably upheld and reflected by the Parade brand.
  • Influencer Tier(s): Of the sample of 50 influencers, followings ranged from to 300 to 7K with the average following of 1,700 followers. 28% had followings over 2K, 20% had followings below 1K and the majority (52%) of influencers were in the 1K – 2K follower range.
  • ‘Influencers’ with less than 1,000 followers: this campaign is especially unique because of the substantial participation of users whose follower counts do not meet the criteria of the lowest-tier influencer (nano-influencers have upwards of 1,000 followers). While some users with below 1K followers appear to be building their “nano-influencer credibility”, many appear to be posting simply to support Parade — and to get free merchandise in return.
  • Sponsored Content: Each influencer referenced Parade’s Cyber Monday sale and tagged the brand’s Instagram account in the post. Many users mentioned product and company values in their caption, highlighting sustainability and philanthropy.

Parade’s Cyber Monday Sale Results, Content & Takeaways

Gen Z influencers case study
influencer marketing case study nano influencers
nanoinfluencer fashion campaign case study

Of the 50 sample posts collected, only 20% designated the product as ‘gifted’ by either thanking the brand in the post’s caption or using the hashtag #gifted. FTC guidelines suggest properly disclosing anytime a product was gifted in exchange for a post or endorsement.

Results
Combined Social Reach:

  • Instagram followers targeted: 87,000 collectively

Engagement:

  • Combined Likes: 7,193
  • Combined Comments: 772
  • Engagement rate (overall average): 10.4%

Takeaways

  • Advantages: By gifting merchandise to smaller influencers, Parade can keep influencer marketing costs relatively low. We estimate it cost them $12-$50 in product to send merchandise to 50 nano-influencers (resulting in the combined reach of a mid-tier influencer). This strategy allows for the brand to achieve the desired campaign metrics without having to pay additional influencer fees besides free product.
  • Disadvantages: Partnering with nano-influencers and loyal customers to amplify brand messaging has a lower reach and less control than partnering with traditional influencers.
  • By transforming “normal” satisfied customers into ‘influencers’ Parade achieves a more word-of-mouth form of advertising while concurrently reaping some benefits of influencer marketing.
  • When a brand’s values align seamlessly with an influencer’s personal values, it lessens the chance of brand messaging appearing irrelevant and results in positive sentiment from an influencer’s like-minded audience.
  • Brands and social media influencers can collaborate on campaigns that raise awareness and promote social good to achieve impactful results.

Black Friday Marketing: Influencers Boost Sales for Traditional Holiday Campaigns

influencer marketing black friday tiktok instagram

Black Friday Marketing Campaigns With Influencers

Black Friday is the pinnacle of consumerism, a day for brands to promote discounts and drive sales to kick off the vital holiday shopping period.

A study shows around 20% of annual retail revenue comes from holiday sales. With jewelry, department stores, and clothing representing the top three categories most reliant on the influx of holiday shoppers.

With COVID-19 in full effect, retail marketers must consider new methods, channels and strategies in order to market solely through digital and social media channels, break through the competitive marketing noise, and reach holiday consumers effectively.

We examine two recurring Black Friday campaigns and reveal how they are heightening holiday campaign success through strategic influencer partnerships.

REI’s #OptOutside Black Friday Campaign Echoes with Outdoor Influencers

REI influencers black friday

REI’s #OptOutside is arguably the most notable Black Friday marketing campaign to date.

Since 2015, REI has been closing its doors (and website) on Black Friday to encourage its shoppers to spend time outdoors and focus on nature instead of consumerism.

By shifting away from typical Black Friday messaging, and seamlessly upholding its company values, REI’s #OptOutside campaign became an environmental movement with tremendous impact.

The original campaign broke ground utilizing the company’s 12,000 employees as brand ambassadors, outdoor advertising, paid and earned media. The traction gained from REI’s 2015 PR stunt has transformed into a recurring national campaign with over 200 different non-profit partners.

Goals:

  • To get American consumers outside to explore nature during the largest retail shopping day of the year.
  • Awareness: social media impressions & engagement
  • Increased UGC: In 2015, 1.4 million Instagram users posted content with the hashtag #OptOutside
  • REI opts to become a zero-waste company by the end of 2020

Approach:

  • Channel: The original campaign heavily utlizied both Twitter and Instagram, REI’s 2020 #OptOutside campaign is focused on branded IG LIVE + Stories takeovers led by popular outdoors influencers and non-profits.
  • Key Influencers: Once reliant on store employees as brand ambassadors, REI now looks towards environmentalist organizations, non-profits, travel + outdoors influencers to amplify their campaign messaging.
  • Small scale, big Impact: REI taps into niche communities by partnering with nano influencers, micro influencers, and smaller-scale organizations in order to generate sizable influence.
REI nano influencer

REI’s partnership with nano-influencer and yoga instructor Adina Crawford received praise and positivity from the brand’s Instagram audience. All of November REI has partnered with smaller influencers to create authentic branded channel content and help build exposure and support for tight-knit social organizations as a part of their environmentalist mission.

Takeaways

  • The chosen influencers authentically uphold the brand values of the campaign which leads to successful, impactful content.
  • Cognizant of COVID-19’s impact on social media, REI transformed their Instagram account to a video channel of informative content from outdoor influencers and adventure experts.
  • By broadening the messaging to include environmentalist objectives, REI expands the campaign involvement for environmentalist organizations and nonprofits.
  • The coined hashtag “#OptOutside” has become so popular with outdoor enthusiasts, there are already 16.4 million hashtag views for #OptOutside on TikTok (a channel REI has not yet developed brand presence on).

Walmart Unwraps Black Friday Deals on TikTok with the Biggest Creators

Walmart influencer campaign black friday

America’s largest retailer Walmart has become synonymous with Black Friday due to its low-cost positioning and its competition based “early bird gets the worm” shopping environment.

In 2019 Walmart became one of the first notable brands (amongst Kroger, Gymshark and other pioneering brands) to advertise on TikTok.

Walmart launched the #DealDropDance, a Hashtag Challenge Plus campaign that allowed users to shop products on Walmart within the TikTok app. Partnering with six top dance creators, the TikTok campaign hashtag generated over 3.6 billion views and collectively reached over 17 million TikTok users.

Building on the previous year’s TikTok success, Walmart launched its #UnwrapTheDeals Black Friday campaign with notable modifications to emphasize online shopping convenience amid COVID-19.

    Goals:

  • To engineer campaign and platform features in order to prioritize convenience for 2020 shoppers.
  • Engage with Gen Z and millennial shoppers to generate product awareness
    Approach:

  • Channel: TikTok
  • Key Influencers: Walmart partnered with six diverse comedy and entertainment influencers. Among the six chosen was powerhouse creator Zach King, bringing the potential audience reach to over 74 million users.
walmart black friday influencers

Walmart partnered with TikTok comedian @muslimthicc to showcase their AI filter Black Friday deals. The campaign also featured TikTok influencer family, The J Family. By broadening its campaign target demographics from its previous Gen Z-focused 2019 Black Friday Campaign, Walmart is able to extend its reach and diversify the potential consumer TikTok audience.

    Takeaways

  • Walmart’s 2020 #UnwrapTheDeals campaign generated more reach, comments and views than its 2019 Black Friday TikTok campaign.
  • Within the first two days of the campaign, the hashtag #UnWrapTheDeals hit over 4.4 billion views. The influencer-generated content had an average 10.3% engagement rate, roughly 2% higher than the previous year’s.
  • Expanding the influencer categories from dance to entertainment and comedy allows the retail chain to tap into different target audiences.
  • The brand-made AI filter showcases Wamart’s active Black Friday Deals in an interactive way that’s both convenient for the consumer and keeps the campaign centered around the featured products.
  • UGC: The AI filter was a hit with TikTokers as more than a thousand users posted their own videos with the interactive Walmart filter.