Using viral TikTok sounds can either make or break your brand's page.
When it comes to crafting TikTok content, there are a lot of tips and tricks floating around the marketing industry. You’ll find some general advice in various blogs and articles, such as: having a set schedule, basing content around analytics, and knowing your audience. Making something truly worth watching is one piece of advice that seems to miss these knowledge roundups. Make content that is excellent, relevant, and leaves a lasting impression. From a brand’s perspective, this is an immense challenge to tackle.
Yes, you’ll need to make dynamite content and still tie that content back to the brand in some manner. There are some exceptions to that rule; however, a growing trend within the brand TikTok space is to jump on viral trends as quickly as possible. It could be anything from using a specific video format or a viral song or even something as small as parroting quotes or turns of phrases originally said by small creators. Several brands pull this off with style and taste. Other brands struggle to execute this and, in rare cases, receive such severe backlash that their pages get effectively harassed into total shutdown.
Introducing the story of Tiktok user @SingerSewer, given name, Katie Cutler, and coffee creamer brand International Delight.
Cutler runs a relatively small page with roughly 80 thousand followers. Her page focuses on ADHD-themed content, comedic inner thoughts, and a widely celebrated series titled: Baby Runs For President. A brief summary of the series features a toolkit for navigating unwanted conversations with, in her words, “creepy” people. After millions of views and likes, it’s clear to see that she has developed a fan base.
Cutler posted this viral video in July of 2021
One of Cutler’s followers had seen a video posted by International delight and informed Cutler of the similar sound bite used in the video. Cutler claimed that International Delight copied her sound without asking her, using the same tactic many brands employ to circumvent TikTok’s copyright restrictions.
Khoros reached out to Katie Cutler for comment.
“When you don’t know how to use TT [TikTok], it’s extremely easy to spot. When International Delight Coffee Creamer had someone just "say" the words from my sound in order to sell their product, they were harassed to the point that they deleted it. It was their only video, and as of today, they still have nothing posted. Their attempt at relevance made it evident they didn’t understand or respect the power of the platform.”
To date, International Delight has not posted any more TikTok videos nor has responded to any of our requests for comment.
UPDATE: International delight's page was silent for roughly a year until June of 2022 they started posting videos again.
Another big name brand, Fashion Nova, has also allegedly used Cutler's sound without permission or payment. Cutler made a series of videos publicly asking Fashion Nova for reimbursement or for the video to be taken down. Cutler claims that Fashion Nova never responded to her requests.
In response, Cutler's fanbase flooded the video with comments calling out Fashion Nova for their alleged misappropriation of her IP. According to Cutler, someone had gone through the comment section of the TikTok and deleted any comment concerning Cutler. At the time of this writing, the video is still available on Fashion Nova's TikTok page.
Cutler posted this video to update her case against Fashion Nova in April of 2022.
Here's Cutler again,
"Someone went through and deleted all the comments in support of me, so I made a video saying how funny it was that they were deleting comments. I specifically said you don't need to comment again, you've all done so much already, and people STILL went back to their page and commented with a vengeance."
Fashion Nova has not released a statement or video confirming or denying Cutler's allegations nor responded to our requests for comment.
The lesson here is unmistakable. The times that brands spend resources to craft guerilla marketing style content generally receive praise from nearly every viewer and potential customer. The times that brands attempt to cut corners or allegedly “borrow” sounds and music from smaller creators can come off as unprofessional, unpolished, or, at worst, a misappropriation of IP.
A better tactic to employ would be something more like Redbull’s or Duolingo’s TikToks: take some aspect of your current business strategy or reputation and make entertaining, original content that fits your brand’s voice. Duolingo leveraged a Twitter joke about their owl mascot harassing people for not studying their chosen language. One video even features the owl kidnapping a user. That single video received over 3 million likes and 19 million views.
Redbull pulls on the reputation of their extreme sports and the only thing you’ll find on their page is various athletes snowboarding, mountain biking, rock climbing, and flying in homemade gliders. Zero “ads” for Redbull but unmistakably engaging.
The last and well-employed tactic could be something as simple as collaborating with viral creators. Funding or even simply licensing a sound from a creator can go a long way in boosting not only your customer sentiment but also your brand loyalty as customers will most likely see that you are reaching out and supporting the smaller creators they already know and love.
If you’d like a hand in building or refreshing your TikTok strategy, our Khoros Strategic Services team is here to help! Comment below or reach out to your CSM to connect with an expert.
Come further your knowledge with our TWO TikTok webinars and case-study at the links below:
Talk-walker and Khoros deep-dive
How Randstad USA used Khoros to grow their TikTok audience by 30%
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