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
- 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
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. This includes the development of two content series, Gen X ASMR and Craig Explains the 80s, which are fueled by requests crowdsourced from our comments section.
- 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.
- We bring new faces and fresh perspectives to our channel by partnering with other Gen X creators.
Our approach to community management on TikTok is unique among AARP’s social media channels, and the risks we’ve taken in developing the edgier, wittier voice that defines us on this platform 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
It is through our community engagement efforts that we see most clearly our success in building brand affinity among Gen Xers. The proof is in the comments and positive sentiment as users find joy in discovering an unexpected side of AARP:
- “I don’t care what anybody says … AARP … has become very cool”
- “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”
- “Okay, I don’t know who’s doing AARP’s social media, but they are worth their absolute weight in gold”
- “The fact that @aarp commented on this TikTok makes me less worried about being old enough for the AARP”