‘Sippy sippy’ [sic] writes the social media manager for Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline, in the comments on its latest TikTok (totalling 5.6 million views). Ryanair’s social media manager is replying to the social media manager for a leading coffee company, in a comments section dominated by social media managers for brands like Lionsgate, Microsoft, McDonalds and TikTok itself. Each of these comments has tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of likes. But instead of carefully crafted brand language, they contain poor grammar, rampant emoji usage and the kind of slang you might find in your friendship group’s WhatsApp chat (if you were fifteen).
The past two years have turned TikTok from ‘Why wouldn’t you just use Instagram?’ to an essential consideration for a brand’s social media strategy. TikTok’s slogan, ‘Don’t make ads. Make TikToks’, means that brands have to rely on the infamous algorithm to get shown to viewers, conditions which have forced them to become entertainers and made traditional brand language guidelines largely redundant.
So are we seeing a greater level of authenticity from these brands?
Or is this just another incarnation of carefully crafted brand strategy?
In a zeitgeist of consumer distrust of large corporations, the role of the social media manager offers an opportunity for brands to totally humanise and even anthropomorphise their most public facing presence.
Consumers don’t expect to genuinely connect with brands, so putting a disruptively funny and human tone of voice behind a blue tick account immediately sets a brand apart. And that's the reason that Ryanair has 1.2 million followers on TikTok, while Europe’s next biggest airline, Lufthansa, has just forty thousand (and we rounded that up).
Thanks to Rose on our writing team for research & point of view.