Recognizing the explosive growth of TikTok and seeing that our fans and shoppers are actively using the platform, we built the H-E-B TikTok to meet our customers where they are, creating content that inspires and entertains. Our strategy is founded in joining our shoppers, staying true to the platform by leaning into TikTok trends, like trending audio, recipes or hashtags. We create TikTok content for TikTok, aiming to inspire through discovery, inviting fans along with us as we find new and try new trending products, approachable recipes, tutorials, and whatever else tops the TikTok charts at any given moment. Our number one priority is to create TikToks, not Ads - through this, we continue to create brand advocates and loyalists.
We started H-E-B’s TikTok in March of 2020, after user growth exploded during the pandemic and we noticed our fans and shoppers were active on the platform, already creating content around and about H-E-B. We studied the platform for several months to understand how to approach TikTok correctly, the content that our fans would want to see and/or would add value, and how to do it the right way that’s native to the platform. After posting organically for 2 months with positive engagement and continuous follower growth, we launched our first paid advertising campaigns by October 2020 around our Beauty 25% off event and Carolina Reaper chip campaign. The beauty campaign was the most successful campaign to date in terms of driving sales; our new Carolina Reaper chip sold out twice. TikTok proved successful for us early on, so we leaned in heavily at a time when there were fewer advertisers on the platform.
We continued to refine our strategy by testing a variety of content, our main focus on staying true to the platform. With continued success, we were able to bring on dedicated resources who make TikToks for H-E-B - existing H-E-B Partners who understand our brand.
Our strategy includes utilizing TikTok trends, audio trends, hashtags and creating our own contests, content series and content unique to TikTok. We have a weekly brainstorming meeting, and use a centralized communication channel to constantly share ideas. While we go into the week with a content plan, we adapt daily and reprioritize depending on what’s trending, micro trends we’re monitoring, and food trends - as well as considering creative ways for H-E-B to join the conversation. While Gen Z is the main demographic using the platform, our feed is for every Texan. You can find anything from beauty tutorials to Thanksgiving dinner recipes to the latest TikTok trends. Thanks to TikTok’s advanced algorithm, we’ve been able to serve the right content to the right audiences.
We face many challenges with TikTok being such a new platform, and often face the question, “What’s working on TikTok?”. While we have a directional idea of what types of content tend to perform well, the internet is unpredictable - you never know who they’re going to love today - which is why we created an adaptable “machine” that allows us to react to what the platform is telling us. Instead of saying “I want to push chips today,” we look to the platform to tell us what content is resonating, and create content that makes sense for TikTok.
If a dancing green bear is trending, he’s going to be at H-E-B picking up his favorite cookies. “Have you ever been in love” audio trending? We sure have, and it's the H-E-B cheese department - let us show you. Not many companies take their calls from a platform based on quirky, snackable entertainment - but there aren’t many companies like H-E-B. The result is a regional grocer, only in one state, with more TikTok likes than our global competitors (including Amazon), not to mention multiple viral TikTok sensations.
We have several ways of measuring success for H-E-B’s TikTok. I look at follower growth over time and since we started posting in August of 2020 with 0 followers and now have more than 480k followers today, we are gaining a little less than 1000 followers a day, meaning we are continuing to reach new people and gain new fans. We also have 5.6M likes on our videos, meaning not only are we putting out content, but we are putting out content people like.
We also monitor the success of individual videos and campaigns. We post organically to our channel and we monitor views, percentage of people who watched the video 100% of the way through and engagements. For organic content, if the content stayed true to TikTok, if the post gained over 10k views organically or if over 30% of people are watching the TikTok the entire way through, I consider that a success.
TikTok is a huge part of our media strategy so we additionally run paid advertising campaigns around various H-E-B business priorities and campaigns which range from Valentine’s Day to Crawfish season to promoting individual products. With the addition of paid promotion, there are more metrics we can look at like reach & followers gained. We’ll compare different pieces of content to identify the best performing, we’ll look at engagement rates and compare those to other campaigns.
Lastly, since we leaned in early to TikTok advertising, we have worked closely with our TikTok account managers, volunteering ourselves for alpha and beta tests, sharing results with them and have built a great relationship. We often get asked to participate in these types of tests so we’ve had the opportunity to be the only brand in the US or in Texas to test their new products like DMA level targeting and statewide Hashtag Challenges. Continuing to be invited to test products and campaigns means we have built a good relationship and I consider that a success for H-E-B TikTok as well.
Texans Helping Texans hashtag challenge
Statewide hashtag challenge - alpha -
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