The Rise of Employer Brands on TikTok

Savvy employer brands have long been using social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to share compelling culture and recruitment messaging. But what about TikTok? 

What the Heck is TikTok?

If you’re new to TikTok, it’s actually one of the fastest growing social platforms out there and a hub for teens and Gen Z. In fact, Global Web Index reports that over 80% of consumers in the US and UK indicated they have consumed far more content since the COVID outbreak, with online videos (YouTube and TikTok) being the primary mediums across all generations and genders. 

Its videos are short loops, often no more than 15 seconds, and backed by music and other sound clips that get “endlessly reproduced and remixed among young users”.  The videos are fun and maybe even a little ‘out there’, depending on your age, taste, and knowledge of social media trends. Content aside, what’s unique about this platform is that the videos can be filmed, edited, and posted right in the app. This allows anyone with a smartphone to quickly and easily create content. The platform also heavily features ‘challenge-videos’ – where users encourage others to complete and film some sort of dance, singing, or other fun challenge. This ensures that TikTok content and trends can quickly take on a life of their own.

Why is TikTok Interesting for Employer Brands to Consider?

This style of video content is very different from the typical culture and ‘about us’ videos that many companies have. Those videos are typically big budget and highly planned and scripted. While we love those videos, it’s extremely effective when your content strategy is diverse and blends both curated and authentic content. Not only can that help you reach and engage with different audiences, it allows you to keep things fresh and interesting.

With  that said, TikTok is fairly new and doesn’t have as big of a user base as other social channels. So if you’re weary about playing in this particular sandbox, you’re not alone. However, TikTok is not completely untested when it comes to employer branding. 

Top 3 Employer Brands on TikTok:

1) Walmart Employer Brand Ambassador and Corporate Accounts

By far our favourite, Walmart has a corporate account but we first came across them because of a particular employer brand ambassador who jumped on TikTok dance trends, and posted videos on himself dancing in uniform at his local Walmart.

This employee’s handle is @cameronfromwalmart. While he utilizes hashtags like #dreamjob and #worklife and talks about how his job at Walmart allows him to earn money and pursue his passion for dance, what he does well is participating in TikTok dance challenges and using trending TikTok songs. In fact, this may be the first successful example of both employer branding and employer brand ambassadors on TikTok.

This particular video has 1.4M likes and is one of the most popular videos that Cameron has created. When we last checked, Cameron had an impressive 62.5M likes on all his videos and 3.3M follows. All by simply dancing  at his local Walmart.

Walmart ALSO has a corporate account and uses it to share corporate content in a fun way. This particular video features an employee named Dawaun who is dancing to a hip hop song about Walmart’s 2020 vision. While it only had 4004 views when we last checked, Walmart’s corporate account is fairly new and we give them credit for doing something fun, fresh, and different.

2) Google Employer Brand Ambassador Accounts

Google doesn’t seem to have a verified or active corporate or employer account but there are a whole host of employer brand TikToks about Google. The most popular video format is ‘day in the life of a Googler’, featuring current or former employees who give you a behind-the-scenes and fun look at what it’s like to work at Google. Common hashtags for this type of ‘Googler video’ are #worklife and #dreamjob. Those just happen to be two of the most common and popular employer brand hashtags on TikTok right now. 

This particular video has 1.8M likes and it’s not even from Google’s corporate account, which shows you the power of employer brand ambassadors. The starring employee, @kim_johns0n, has 107,000+  followers and upwards of 2.2 million likes on her videos. Although it’s unclear whether this video was sanctioned or endorsed by Google, it hasn’t yet been blocked or taken down, likely because it is going viral. 

3) The Washington Post Corporate Account

This account is a corporate one and has a mix of both corporate and employer brand content. In fact, that is one of the main reasons they’ve made our shortlist of employer brands on TikTok. Any time you can mix up your content and show alignment between your corporate and employer brand, you’re doing something right.

We first discovered them by checking out the #worklife hashtag on TikTok. This video is a fun parody of different writers arguing about who has the best writing job, pitting food critics against gaming reporters, etc. While the video is certainly scripted and planned, it’s still got a down-to-earth and approachable style. They utilize fun music, captions, and have managed to get 100,000+ likes on this video, despite being a newer channel and not utilizing trending songs in their video.

Who Else Is Out There?

There are a lot of great examples of smaller companies using their accounts to showcase their fun side as well. Cactus Club, a great restaurant in Toronto, Canada, has an account with fun videos that showcase ‘life at cactus’. The videos don’t have massive engagement and the account doesn’t have a lot of followers yet,  but you never know when one of their videos could go viral. They’re certainly doing all the right things and they’ll definitely be a company we keep an eye on.

There are also a lot of lessons you can learn from corporate brands that are dominating TikTok. Fenty Beauty is a great example. Not only are they active on TikTok, they created their own ‘house’ of social influencers, where popular TikTok and social media influencers live in or visit the Fenty Beauty House to experiment with makeup and create viral videos. This is a popular format that has long been used on Youtube, and even Instagram. However, Fenty Beauty is one of the first big, corporate brands to take the leap and launch their ‘Fenty House of Social Influencers’ on TikTok. Will we see employer brands use a similar format to enable employer brand ambassadors to share their stories? Only time will tell.

Closing Thoughts

While we love seeing employers embracing social media, especially emerging platforms, that doesn’t mean that you should jump when they jump. When building your employer brand and social media strategy, it’s important to think critically about who your audience is, where they spend their time, and what you want to say. It’s also important to think about the resources you have to invest in your social media strategy because, in the end, planning makes a big difference and quality is more important than quantity. 

So, whether you’re leveraging LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, or TikTok, and whether you’re creating curated or more approachable content, it’s the thoughtful and authentic content that typically resonates the most with employees. 

That being said, if you have the time, means, and your audience spends time on TikTok, don’t wait. Since not everyone is on TikTok yet, the sooner you start, the most likely you are to stand out.


Author: Nicole Fernandes, Sr. Employer Brand & Culture Consultant at Blu Ivy Group

Photo: Kon Karampelas 

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