How Duolingo Created a System for Success on TikTok

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Duolingo’s TikTok has turn out to be a phenomenon. Only a couple months in the past they had been at 100,ooo followers…now they’ve 1.7 million. To not point out 7 million likes and a 19% engagement price.

Better of all, TikTok is having a tangible affect on their enterprise. Duolingo has skyrocketed to the #1 schooling app within the Apple App Retailer.

Screenshot of the top education apps in the Apple App Store, with Duolingo in the #1 spot.

Many could also be tempted to name Duolingo’s success a fluke. That they bought fortunate.

Nonetheless, in deconstructing how the account developed it turns into clear Duolingo’s success isn’t any accident. Their success is the byproduct of a coherent technique.

The corporate (together with their eerily threatening owl mascot) was methodical of their strategy. And, removed from an in a single day success, Duolingo has been relentless—chipping away at TikTok for almost a yr.

On this article, I’ll sum up the three key components of their success and what different manufacturers can study from it.

Flicker, Flash, Flare

TikTok advises entrepreneurs to make use of the Flicker, Flash, Flare content strategy to program their channels. Right here’s the way it works:

  • Flicker content material – reactive (i.e., participation in developments)
  • Flash content material – proactive (i.e., deliberate/episodic content material)
  • Flare content material – interactive (i.e., large-scale marketing campaign initiatives)
Graphic detailing the Flicker, Flash, Flair content strategy for TikTok

Duolingo utilized the mannequin rigorously. Initially, most of their TikToks had been tutorials (i.e., Flash content material). Easy “how-to” movies instructing phrases in varied languages.

Sprinkled all through their Flash content material, Duolingo participated in a number of developments (i.e., Flicker content material). They introduced these to life in quite a lot of methods—starting from utilizing employees to tapping Duo, the large inexperienced owl that serves because the model’s official mascot. For instance, they stitched Duo’s reaction to coming into the elevator with Jacob Rott and his boyband-esque pals.

The model was additionally fast to pounce on the NBA trade offer trend. Whereas the NBA draft jingle performs, members “supply a commerce,” sometimes two humorous or odd gadgets. In Duo’s case, he will get no cash, whereas, “you get Spanish classes, push notifications” and “an owl pal.”

Over time they discovered that that includes Duo was performing nicely. That’s when issues actually began to take off.

Optimization makes good

It’s uncommon to create a profitable content material format on the primary strive. Duolingo isn’t any exception. It wasn’t till their thirty ninth video that they’d a correct “hit.”

It’s essential to iterate and be open to suggestions out of your viewers. Duolingo did this nicely. They discovered that individuals had been responding positively to Duo and leaned into that.

That first breakout TikTok confirmed an worker sitting in a chair whereas the digicam pans over to Duo looming over the desk. In the meantime the favored “stay, giggle, love” audio development performs within the background.

The onscreen caption reads, “whenever you’re simply tryna do your work with out being terrorized by an owl.” It references the widespread joke depicting Duo as threatening college students who didn’t end their every day language studying periods.

The video has gotten over 3.3 million views and 700,000 likes.

Within the course of, Duolingo discovered the method that labored for them:

Duo + developments + humorous/menacing tone = success.

They elevated the frequency of this new format. On the identical time, they phased out their flash/tutorial movies. That optimization lent itself to hockey stick progress. Up and to the precise.

Graph plotting Duolingo's TikTok follower growth from April through November 2021, with a spike after their first viral video in late September.

Sweet with the medication

To achieve their present scale, Duolingo needed to attraction to the lots they usually needed to create content material native to TikTok.

By way of their iterative course of, they found that being entertaining first and highlighting their message second was key to their success. They leaned into leisure because the hook to steer shoppers to schooling.

It is sensible. We scroll by means of 500 ft of content material a day. To face out, manufacturers should attraction to the expectations of shoppers who’ve infinite content material at their fingertips.

Duolingo realized this nicely. In any case, who wouldn’t like to see Duo enjoying crimson mild/inexperienced mild whereas speaking smack to Google Translate?

Duolingo’s success is greater than a tactic. It’s of their model DNA.

Duolingo’s teaching methodology emphasizes standout content material, steady enchancment and some ways to study. Their social content material is a mirrored image of these values.

By being inventive, affected person and open to experimentation, they in the end uncovered what individuals love.

They’ve since doubled down on what works (that loopy owl) whereas ditching what doesn’t.

Most manufacturers fail to expertise this stage of success. However that doesn’t should be the case.

TikTok could appear daunting, however by analyzing Duolingo we’ve a playbook to depend on. Embrace the Flicker, Flash, and Flare framework, optimize for what works, and concentrate on leisure first.

Begin small, then capitalize on small wins. Success is sluggish at first. Compound curiosity does the remaining.

Whether or not or not your model is on TikTok, there’s no denying its affect. Be taught extra about how you need to use TikTok developments to tell your broader social technique.

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