PR lessons we can learn from TikTok stars 

Did you know TikTok is the fastest-growing social media platform we’ve seen thus far? In 2021 (only four years after its launch), the app reached a total of 1 billion users. For comparison, it took eight years for both Facebook and Instagram to hit that milestone. If TikTok isn’t the right platform for your business to post on – that’s OK! However, it is a platform you should pay attention to, as businesses can learn valuable trends and lessons from the app and its users. Below, we share a few viral moments from TikTok stars and takeaways your business can glean from these situations. 

Mikayla Nogueira’s L’Oréal partnership fail 

In January of 2023, beauty influencer Mikayla Nogueira posted a paid advertisement for LOréal Paris’ Telescopic Lift mascara to her personal TikTok with 14.4 million followers. In the video, Mikayla talks positively about the product and applies a few coats of the mascara on camera. The video then cuts to another shot of her lengthened lashes; however, the “after” shot was drastically different from the “before” shot, which caused an influx of accusatory comments that she used false eyelashes to promote the product. 

In this day and age, authenticity is key, so Mikayla’s audience started to turn on her when they realized she was falsely promoting the beauty product. Even more, the audience began to turn on L’Oréal – the majority of negative comments on the video showed that viewers had no interest in buying this product that was falsely advertised. 

Consumers trust the influencers they choose to follow – much more than the ads they see on TV. An inauthentic influencer ad can feel like a violation of that trust. To prevent these instances from happening to your company, make sure you’re vetting the right influencers who you can trust to do a good job promoting your product or service. Then, create an influencer partnership agreement, which lays out your expectations. Finally, if it’s a paid partnership, your company does have the right to approve the ad before it goes live. In this case, L’Oréal’s team clearly didn’t pay enough attention to the ad content before approving. 

Alix Earle’s loyal following 

Speaking of authenticity, let’s talk about TikTok’s beauty breakout star, Alix Earle. Toward the end of 2022, the University of Miami senior marketing major became an influencer sensation essentially overnight. The majority of her content consisted of skin care and makeup “get ready with me” videos, while she simply talked into the camera, sharing stories about her adventures and asking questions to her audience. Even though she posts similar content daily, the stories she tells continue to be unique, honest and extremely engaging. 

Now, we can’t all be Alix Earle, but companies can take a page from her book. Consumers crave honesty from the brands they engage with. This is how companies build trust with their audience, which then leads to more engagement and, hopefully, conversions. When you’re developing your social media strategy, think about how you can create genuine and relatable content that can lead to meaningful conversations with your audience. 

Bethenny Frankel’s tone-deaf makeup donation at TJ Maxx 

This September, reality star Bethenny Frankel took to her TikTok to post a video walking into a TJ Maxx and donating an entire bag of her barely used beauty products to the cashier. Once posted, instead of receiving high praise for her “selfless act,” she was met with backlash and threats of cancellation. When people began asking in the comments why she made this video, Bethenny commented back that the cashier couldn’t afford the makeup she uses because she’s a TJ Maxx cashier. Frankel’s response upset many fans who then called her out for her ignorant comment. 

The key takeaway? Even as a business, it’s important to think about the implications of your post before you make it live, especially if your content can be seen as slightly offensive or controversial. The public is quick to scrutinize corporate philanthropy, so before you post (or act), get feedback from your team and a few outsiders about the content. It’s always important to have at least one other set of eyes on the visual and the caption before hitting the post button. In addition, if you’re going to embark on a philanthropic activity for your company, make sure it’s a genuine act of kindness and accurately represents the values of your brand – consumers will see through your actions if they seem like they’re done for show. 

If your company is looking for further expert advice about establishing a strong reputation in the digital landscape, Obsidian is one phone call away!