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
As a brand most often associated with older adults appearing on a platform best known for its youthfulness, our goal was not only to reach and engage Gen X, but to do so in a new and creative way that would make the audience view AARP in a new light.
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. Putting aside what works for AARP on other social channels and 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.
Our voice on TikTok 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
We create content for Gen X, presented by Craig, our on-screen Gen Xer who:
- Doesn’t take life (or TikTok) too seriously. He knows that actively trying to be a trendsetter will only take all the fun out of it, for us and our followers. His energy is better spent bringing a unique perspective and much-needed levity to trends and conversations already circulating on the platform.
- Revels in that special brand of freedom and self-assurance that comes with getting older.
And more than on 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 invite the community to participate and use platform tools like video responses to show that we are listening and acting on what they want to see and hear.
- We are quick to engage, and speak the language of the platform and our audience. Responses are always genuine and responsive, and never canned.
- 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 and 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 efforts to create a unique and engaging voice for AARP on TikTok have paid off:
- We built an engaged community of 165,000 followers
- Posted 130 videos, including 9 viral videos (at least 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 are 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 and unexpected side of AARP:
- “I don’t care what anybody says … AARP … has become very cool”
- “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”
- “You know what, I’m bout sick and of yall knowing exactly what to say and do to get my attention
- “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”