How do you enhance perceptions of your brand and establish a connection with a generation that has often been overlooked?
Once dubbed “America’s neglected middle child,” Generation X has quietly aged into AARP’s 50-plus community. Our challenge: How do we capture the attention of Generation X and establish AARP as a destination for them? To meet that goal, we did something that might make you say, “wait, what?” We joined TikTok.
Our objectives were straightforward:
- Engage Gen X through entertaining, relatable content that resonates with their life experiences – yesterday, today and tomorrow
- Enhance perceptions of AARP and increase brand affinity among this younger demographic
While TikTok is often seen as an app for young people, we knew that there were more than 7 million users in the United States over the age of 45. Tapping into the opportunity of this new platform allowed us to reach and engage the Gen X community in new and creative ways. And as a brand most often associated with older adults appearing on a platform best known for its youthfulness, our presence genuinely surprises people.
AARP’s TikTok account is personality-driven, starring “AARP TikTok guy” Craig and tapping into relatable experiences of aging with a heavy dose of both humor and nostalgia. Leaning into what makes TikTok unique, we established a brand voice that is witty, a little irreverent, and genuinely Gen X – steeped in ’80s and ’90s culture. It is:
- Unexpected: Our voice and presence deliver surprise and delight
- Authentic: Cultivating a relatable persona, both in what we post and how we engage, has allowed us to build a community that genuinely enjoys connecting with AARP
- Connected: Engaging with – and befriending – established Gen X creators has helped us build credibility within a tight-knit Gen X community that thrives on shared memories and life experiences, and a mutual understanding of who Gen Xers are today
Putting aside what works for AARP on other social channels, we developed an entirely new approach to content creation and community management that fueled our success on TikTok.
- Our videos embrace the platform’s authentic style and often use trending audio to put our own spin on relevant trends.
- We create content specifically for Gen X, using humor, nostalgia and life experiences to connect with our fellow creators through the very things that make this generation unique.
- We develop serialized content to keep our audience engaged. Our two most successful series, Gen X ASMR and Craig Explains the 80s, are driven by requests crowdsourced from the comments.
- We bring new faces and fresh perspectives to our channel by partnering with other Gen X creators.
More than any other social platform, we know that a brand’s personality on TikTok plays a critical role in how they are perceived – and accepted – by the community. Active community management is key to creating authentic connections, growing our audience and building brand affinity.
- We are quick to engage and speak the language of the platform and our audience.
- We regularly comment on other creators’ content to reach new audiences and to take advantage of opportunities to be in on the inevitable jokes about aging AARP. These interactions not only lead to new followers, but creators often reply with videos highlighting our comments – and this is how we see perceptions changing in real time.
Our first year on TikTok has been a success:
- We built an engaged community of 165,000 followers
- Posted 130 videos, including 9 viral videos (1M+ views)
- Launched two highly successful nostalgia-based series, Gen X ASMR and Craig Explains the 80s, which together have earned more than 8M views and 1M engagements
- Overall, our content has generated:
- 30 million views
- 975,000 likes
- 40,500 comments
- 57,000 shares
We're also achieving our goal of enhancing perceptions and building brand affinity among Gen Xers. The proof is in the comments, which show an overwhelmingly positive sentiment as users discover a new, unexpected side of AARP:
- “I applaud the vision of AARP to do this instead of like talking abt coupons or whatever🏆”
- “Do you want me to follow the AARP at 44? Because this is how you make that happen”
- “If this isn’t a way to get me to follow a company on social media, I don’t know what is 😂”
- “Can we have a moment to pause and ponder the fact that freaking AARP is crushing it on TikTok 😂”
- “I would like you to tell your bosses that I signed up for AARP at 47yo solely because of this TikTok account”
- “I literally sat up and watched EVERY SINGLE VIDEO? YEP ….. Joining AARP today!”
- “Did not expect this to be my new fave TikTok account, but here we are”
- “If AARP is the only one who really sees Gen X … I’m here for it”
- “This isn’t our grandparents’ AARP”