How the “Sing 2” TikTok campaign went viral
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TikTok has more than a billion active monthly users, and 90% of them log in multiple times a day. Moreover, TikTok users self-report that they visit the platform for inspiration and entertainment.
Active and engaged users spend considerable time on TikTok, making it a powerful tool for brand awareness. And marketers have quickly caught on, launching creative, fun, and viral campaigns that generate impressive results.
QYOU, for example, launched a viral multi-phased campaign for “Sing 2.” It was a smashing success. The campaign drove 26.4 million views, 2.2 million engagements, and a 9% engagement rate on posts featuring key characters, music, and messaging.
Brands that want to try their hands at TikTok marketing may be wondering what goes into creating one of these viral campaigns, and how they can produce similar results.
1. Set TikTok campaign goals
Like the Cheshire Cat says, “every adventure requires a first step.” In creating a viral marketing campaign, your first step should always be setting goals.
The reason? Let’s let the cat continue explaining: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road can take you there.”
In other words, when you know what you want to achieve, the road you take (steps) will become apparent.
If you don’t know what you want to accomplish, you’ll flounder around, wasting your marketing budget, without ever finding your target audience.
Joe Putnam, founder of Conversion Engine, puts it like this:
“Setting goals should always be step one of a marketing campaign; otherwise, you have no idea what target you're shooting at. When it comes to a viral TikTok campaign, you need to know what your goals are so that you know if you're making progress towards that goal. Let's say your goal is 100k followers on TikTok. By measuring for that goal, you know which videos get you closer and which ones don't so that you know what type of videos you should be making more of and less of. If you don't have a goal, then you don't have anything you can use to measure progress.”
The “Sing 2” campaign team understands this idea. They started their campaign on the right foot by setting four explicit and specific goals:
- Drive mass awareness, excitement, and engagement for the “Sing 2” theatrical release on TikTok
- Deliver three Creative Executions amplifying key film characters, themes, and messaging
- Activate a minimum of 17 brand aligned Influencers
- Guarantee delivery of 3.9 million video views (organic and in-feed media)
Now that we know what goals the team set, let’s look at execution.
2. Partner with creators
While Illumination Entertainment is a huge production studio and its films have mass appeal, it doesn’t have a large TikTok presence. In fact, their official profile has 66 followers.
But that’s okay. You don’t have to have a huge TikTok following to launch a viral campaign. However, you do have to partner with creators with large fandoms.
For this campaign, the goal was to work with at least 17 influencers. The team ended up partnering with 19 influencers, including the likes of:
- Lauren Godwin
- Montana Tucker
- Nicole Laeno
- Brooklyn Queen
- Piper Rockelle
- Martina Lynn
- Jenna Davis
- Darci Lynn
- Lauren Spencer
It’s worth mentioning that the team worked specifically with macro-influencers who had 500K to 1 million followers, and mega-influencers who had more than 1 million followers for this campaign.
While influencers with smaller audiences are perfect partners for reaching highly engaged, niche communities, mega-influencers have larger audiences and can raise mass awareness in a way smaller influencers can’t.
Across 19 total influencer posts, these influencers’ audiences reached approximately 77 million subscribers and followers. In other words, the “Sing 2” campaign team borrowed the reach of the influencers it worked with.
When building your own TikTok campaign, remember that simple principle. A low follower count for your brand should not be a measurement of your campaign’s potential. If you want to aim big, mega-influencers can help fuel your success.
3. Build momentum with phases
Want to create an avalanche? You can start with a snowball—as long as you have enough time to watch that snowball roll downhill.
That’s what the “Sing 2” TikTok campaign did. Rather than drop the trailer and every promotion at once, there was a three-phrase approach to build momentum. Those phases included:
Phase 1: Drop the “Sing 2” trailer on June 26. This phase included the trailer, of course, but it also enlisted influencers to engage with the trailer with TikTok Duets. @Lev_Cameron, for example, framed himself as “auditioning” for “Sing 2” alongside clips from the trailer.
The result: Five total influencer posts reached a potential subscriber count of some 37 million, along with an organic engagement rate of 19%.
Phase 2: Launch the “Suéltate” dance challenge on November 10. This challenge was designed with the TikTok audience in mind, with the hope that the dance challenge would go viral and draw more attention to “Sing 2’s” upcoming release.
One key song from the film, “Suéltate,” was the star here. The advertising team enlisted creators to perform the dance themselves, often via TikTok duets, as the “Suéltate” played along.
This phase of the campaign had the obvious appeal of a fun challenge. But it also incorporated an underrated element to going viral on TikTok: creating original songs and soundbites that can pick up a life of their own. This time, the team enlisted even more influencers, building on the momentum of their previous campaign.
The results? Not exactly what you might call immediate. The engagement rate was surprisingly lower in the early goings, with an organic engagement rate of 5%. Still—Phase 2 was just a piece of the puzzle.
Phase 3: Build the #Sing2Gether competition by having TikTok influencers perform songs from “Sing 2.” This phase also included a contest where winners could attend the premiere and even win a record deal.
Again, the campaign worked through TikTok influencers to earn the attention it needed. That meant working with seven influencer posts, offering a 19 million total subscriber reach. Also important here was the #Sing2Gether hashtag.
The overall video views started with a few million for the trailer. Even a modest start for the “Suéltate” challenge eventually eclipsed the trailer views, with the final #Sing2Gether challenge capitalizing on the momentum of the first two.
What results is a J-curve: compounding returns over time as increasing amounts of fans became aware of the coming release date.
By December 22, 2021—when the movie premiered—the excitement was at its fever pitch.
4. Capitalize on trends (including dance and competition)
There was some excitement for the “Sing 2” trailer when it first hit TikTok. But approximately six months out from the movie’s premiere, there were only so many views this trailer could earn before interest started to wane again.
That’s where Phases 2 and 3 of the campaign stepped in. The “Suéltate” challenge, for example, launched only about a month and a half before the premiere, and garnered nearly half a million engagements from users.
These challenges also had the added benefit of user-generated content (UGC). Phase 2 brought 802 user videos while the #Sing2Gether competition—along with its contest incentives—more than doubled that with over 1,800 user videos.
These numbers highlight a better approach to creating a TikTok campaign by tailoring the content to TikTok’s unique advantages.
Duets, challenges, and songs each cater to TikTok’s unique blend of social media viral growth. True, a straightforward trailer is an essential building block for any movie release. But if “Sing 2” had only dropped clips and trailers, it wouldn’t have found the engagement it did with its TikTok campaign.
Instead, the team embraced the “when in Rome” mentality. Each phase of the campaign was increasingly TikTok-friendly, and this played out in the engagement results. By the time the December 22nd premiere date rolled around, most of the engagement was coming from their singing contest, not the movie trailer.
“Sing 2” isn’t necessarily a dance movie, but the “Sing 2” advertising team quickly realized that if it wanted to capitalize on two of the top TikTok trends in existence, it could find a way.
The “Suéltate” challenge, dropping the month before the movie’s premiere, helped warm up audiences to the idea that “Sing 2” was coming out. With #entertainment as TikTok’s #1 most popular hashtag, and #dance with over 181 billion, it wasn’t a major stretch to imagine how a movie like “Sing 2” might relate.
5. Capture UGC to use on other platforms
The beauty of TikTok campaigns is that when they’re successful, they won’t feel like you’re using a bullhorn. You’re not shouting at the masses. The medium invites users to participate, engage, and even go viral themselves.
Even better, when users generate their own content, it tends to perform better for awareness than branded content. One study found that user-generated content on Tiktok tends to outperform branded content in quality scores by 8%. Quality scores for TikTok user-generated content outperformed conventional ads by 68%.
In other words, if you can get people to participate, your TikTok campaign will be all the more potent.
The campaign found increasing success with user-generated content as it built towards its third phase. By the end, thousands of users were uploading content.
Most engaging, the team created a contest that incentivized users to create their own videos. By placing this phase closest to the premiere date of “Sing 2”, they were able to time peak interest on TikTok with the release of the movie, helping it perform second only to the blockbuster “Spiderman: No Way Home.”
Reviewing the campaign’s goals (and performance)
Given all the things that went right, how did the campaign end up faring on its goals?
Their first goal was simple: drive mass awareness, excitement, and engagement for the “Sing 2” theatrical release.
- 26 million views
- 2.2 million engagements
- 9% engagement rate
The team also met other goals, including activating a minimum of 17 brand-aligned influencers. The campaign’s specific goal of amplifying key characters and theme from the movie was a little harder to define, but it did include one tangible element: three “Creative Executions.”
The campaign did exactly that when it created its “Suéltate” challenge, a key song from the soundtrack. Creators amplified a specific element from the film, highlighting what was about to be released in theaters.
The overall goal of 3.9 million video views was nothing compared to the end-result of 26 million. And it helped launch the “Sing 2” premiere to a successful holiday season run, only losing out on the number-one spot thanks to the juggernaut of “Spiderman: No Way Home.”
Takeaways for viral TikTok campaigns
What did “Sing 2” do that worked so well? It might be just as accurate to wonder what they didn’t do.
For starters, they didn’t focus on micro-influencers to build awareness. They knew from the outset that a movie as big as “Sing 2” was going to need a lot of eyeballs if it was going to generate traction on TikTok. They also knew, through research, that entertainment and dancing are by far the two most popular trends on the platform, and adjusted course.
They knew what they were working with, who their audience was, and set their sites appropriately.
They also didn’t waste all of their efforts in one go. They divided their campaign up into three distinct phases, with each phase representing a new strategy.
The first strategy was simply to release the trailer, cultivating relationships with large-following influencers along the way. But it wasn’t until five months later that the team released the second phase and began the “Suéltate” challenge.
The three-phrase approach meant “Sing 2” could build up momentum and generate peak excitement at the exact date of the premiere.
Finally, the team didn’t stray from its initial goals. They set clear parameters for the engagement they wanted and worked backward, tailoring their strategies to fit the premiere date and the intended “Sing 2” audience.
To replicate these results, anyone looking to go viral on TikTok can put these takeaways into action:
- Tailor the campaign’s style to the audience. Not every campaign will focus on dancing and mega-influencers like “Sing 2’s” did, and that’s okay. What’s important is to match the viral promotion with what the audience already loves.
- Work on a timeline. They had a specific date by which it wanted to achieve maximum excitement. It did so because of three distinct phases, proving that a single timeline isn’t necessary when you know your end date.
- Incentivize engagement whenever possible. In the third phase, the team ramped up its incentives by creating a contest that included a trip to the premiere. The audience rewarded this incentive by more than doubling its UGC to date.
TikTok’s outstanding engagement scores make it a prime target for any campaign that wants to borrow the massive following of its mega-influencers. But just as important is pairing with the right influencers and custom-tailoring a campaign for an audience that can’t wait to engage with what you have to sell.