Love at first scroll

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Love at first scroll

By Alex Robinson, 14th February 2024

How do you reach beyond an audience of engaged environmentalists to find people who might not be looking to hear from you?

This has been one of our favourite challenges at Hubbub since day one.

It's what’s led us to our focus on positivity, on great design, on building campaigns focused on things most people care about, like the food we eat and clothes we wear. And, of course, it's also meant we put a lot of energy into social media. The target audience for much of our communications is Gen-Z and Millennials. And where do you find them?

In the last couple of years, TikTok has boomed – and it’s the dominant platform for young people. As of 2021, 40% of 18-24-year-olds were using the platform to create and consume video, and users have only grown since then. They’re not just on TikTok for the silly memes (though that’s a big part of it), they’re using TikTok to find information. Research published last Autumn indicates that TikTok has now surpassed Google as a search engine for key search terms. Fashion-related terms for example, saw 503% more searches on TikTok than Google. That means there’s a big opportunity for brands to educate and inform, as well as entertain.

Heather, our Creative Director, often reminds us that the best way to reach an audience is to "fish where the fish are". So, we packed up our bait and tackle and waded into TikTok to see what we could find.

We started posting regularly. And our posts bombed, again and again. Each tiny failure taught us something, and we started seeing how we could gain traction and build an audience. Luckily, this chimes with our culture at Hubbub, which values experimenting quickly in public, failing fast and adapting in response.

We tried some trends, and some tricks. One of our best-performing posts combined a provocative question about second-hand mobile phones with ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response). It's a subculture of content designed to induce a calm, tingling sensation. In our case: the sound of sorting out coloured beads into trays with some mistakes to prompt further response. The e-waste ASMR was a hit and helped us reach new people with over 50% of comments giving us honest insight into the audience’s behaviour.

Fortunately, a video of Hubbub's CEO embarrassing himself trying to speak Gen-Z slang didn't take off in the same way (thank you, algorithm!).

We haven't cracked it yet. But the act of learning by doing is as valuable as ever. And the alternative - watching, waiting, sticking to what we know - isn't for us.

Read on to find out what we learned from our 30 Days of TikTok challenge, as well as how we used the platform for our Time After Time electronic waste campaign. We hope it'll give others a few shortcuts to success.

And if you want to collaborate with us on TikTok or across socials, we’re here to chat.

Right, I'm off to practice my dance moves...

Speed dating TikTok

Alright, here’s a secret. We got to TikTok late. But with a quarter of its users being our core audience of 18-24 year olds, we decided to pull up our cowboy bootstraps (hear Gen-Z love them), jump both feet into TikTok this January and post every day for a month.

A month to try it all

Just like it takes a lot of dates to find the right person, it takes a lot of TikToks to find what works for us and our audience. Over the month we leant into the uncertainty by trying different formats, following trends, creating our own...

And here's what we learnt by speed dating TikTok. Spoiler: it's a lot like real-world dating.

  1. Be yourself. TikTok loves a strong personality and, unless you have a giant green mascot, a human face.
  2. Don't ghost. TikTok is an app that thrives off our attention, so the more time you spend engaging with others' content and fostering community under your own, the better. Don't post and ghost, engage on the app directly before and after posting.
  3. Don't be a catfish. Let TikTok know exactly what you're looking for by using the right key words, captions and hashtags. It helps you find your audience, and your audience to find you - especially when our campaigns cover so many different themes, from food and e-waste to fashion and connecting with nature.
  4. Don't try too hard. Our biggest surprise of TikTok month? When a quick video about bringing National Bean Day to the UK performed better than some of our carefully planned videos. TikTok prefers authenticity and creativity over imitation – works for us!

Want to see what TikTok month looked like?

Time's ticking for electronic waste

Our Time After Time campaign with Virgin Media O2 is creating a movement that works with young people for action on electronic waste (or e-waste), helping them connect with an issue that feels distant and difficult to relate to. And if we want to spread the word about electronic waste among Gen-Z, then we have to be on TikTok.

A recent study found one in three young people believe climate change reports are exaggerated due to growing climate-sceptical content on YouTube. So, we have to make sure we’re getting persuasive and simple solutions backed by clear facts seen by as many young people as possible.

The power of hashtags and sub-groups on TikTok let us use seemingly unrelated topics to link in e-waste: think soothing #ASMR while asking about binned phones, or styling charity shop mannequins to tie vintage fashion to refurbed phones!

What were your Ws (aka wins)?

Time After Time reached over 1.5 million people on TikTok and people who saw our messages were 81% more determined to act to prevent e-waste.

Want to know a secret? Half the people working on Time After Time still don’t have TikTok.

Any Ls (aka losses)?

We ran a design challenge at Plymouth University to storyboard TikToks on the issue of e-waste: international students from India reminded us TikTok is banned there 🫨 .

So, what should I do about electronic waste?

The best thing to cut e-waste is to reduce consumption of electricals in the first place. Try these tips to protect your phone so it can live its best life for longer and you don’t have to worry about replacements; no smashed screens, a healthy battery and dust-free speakers to blast your fave love songs.

Are you a business that wants to collaborate?

If you have a challenge to share, or want to get involved with our work, we'd love to hear from you.

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