TED is a global community aimed at welcoming people from every culture to a deeper understanding of the world. We believe passionately in spreading big ideas and forming communities of curiosity — both online and offline — around those ideas. Over the years, we’ve continuously innovated how we bring this community to more people — and we saw that opportunity in the form of the emerging platform of TikTok. In launching on TikTok, our 3 main goals were to:
Foremost in our mind, we wanted to make sure that our strategy equally embraced the dual nature of entertainment and authentic connection that the platform is known for — all while sharing educational content. We also wanted to explore how we could activate communities around the world to spark real world change on topics as diverse as climate change, the future of the web, mental health and more!
The TEDToks account uniquely sits at the intersection of entertainment and education. We sought to achieve our goals by finding ways to create accessible, fun, educational content, which started conversations to create cross-platform communities of ideas.
We did this by creating short-form content that spoke with our audience and not at them and by continuously opening up opportunities for conversations around big ideas with people across TikTok — both on our account and on others.
To help us achieve this goal, we chose to hire content creators as the full-time hosts of our channel.
Our hosts served as a conduit between the audience and TED, translating TED ideas into accessible and educational original content, curating TED Talks that spoke specifically to our audiences’ needs, and, most importantly, chatting with our audience.
We found success through equally embracing the irreverence and fun of TikTok (our username itself is a pun!) and the desire of audiences to learn and self-reflect. And that was reflected in the content we chose to post whether it was silly, TikTok-specific content such as trending sounds and challenges, or interacting with other brands or it was quick, snappy, and informative information covering topics such as science, personal development, and technology. Each of our most popular videos — that had millions of views — invited users to see themselves in the content, start conversations, and even have a bit of a laugh.
We also worked with 7+ creators, a whole climate-change-oriented content collective, and brands across the platform to help extend the reach of our content, elevate more voices who could start thoughtful conversations, and help inspire and empower different communities across TikTok to be part of the TED family.
And throughout it all, we talked to our audience. On our videos, on our creator partners’ videos, on others’ videos — whether or not we were tagged in them. Once we began doing this, users began seeking us out and sharing their big ideas with us — and letting us know that others had ideas worth spreading as well and we should check them out. TEDToks became synonymous with what it means to have an idea that might just change the world — and we have fully embraced that because it is part of our mission as an organization. And we see that as a huge success.
By enacting this community-focused strategy, we were able to grow our account to 1M followers in less than 7 months.
TED’s TikTok account has skyrocketed to one of our fastest-growing TED platforms — and we believe it is one that has met all of the objectives we set out to achieve. We reached 1 million followers in 7 months and kickstarted hundreds of conversations with people around the world on topics such as climate change, mental health, emerging technology, leadership, and more — and brought new audiences to TED through a platform that is entirely unique.
Here are some account highlights:
Outside of our quantifiable success, the general sentiment from followers across the app show signs of a truly engaged community. Users include TED in thoughtful conversations around important topics, share stories of personal triumph, and, of course, joke around with us.
TEDToks continues to be a reliable source of information for those who seek it out on TikTok, a fun place to have great conversations, an open community that acts as a catalyst for connection and action — whether users go on to take climate action in their communities, take action to improve their personal lives or learn a new language, or even continue the conversation offline through programs like TEDx or in their local communities.