Subscription Case: Subscription & TikTok

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Subscription Case #7 

By Niels Vestergaard

During 2022, I’ve written a couple of Case articles and it occurred to me that I haven’t found the time to talk about something that every subscription brand will have to take advantage of in 2023: Naturally, I’m talking about TikTok.

When marketing a subscription product, you need to use every trick in the book. Recently, the story of the e-learning app Duolingo’s huge success on TikTok became a hot topic – and a really good case. There is much to learn from the way Duolingo has approached TikTok and how they, after a year of hard work, went from 100.000 to 1.7 million TikTok followers.

Use the Flicker, Flash, Flare strategy

TikTok recommends marketers to use the Flicker, Flash, Flare strategy which is a guide for starting out on the platform and engaging your audience. Duolingo was able to utilize this strategy to the fullest and it can very well be the key to their impressive success.

Here’s a walkthrough of the three stages:


Flicker content is reactive content. In other words, it’s content that follows the current trends and tendencies on the platform. This includes using the right music and the right video format with a personal twist. It’s also about tapping into the trends that TikTok users are most invested in right now.

Does this mean that, as an insurance company, should be dancing on TikTok to trending songs? Of course not. Just consider how current trends could be associated with your brand.


Afterwards, you can start to use proactive content where you can start informing about your product benefits and wrap it into an entertaining format. Duolingo did this by using well-known TikTok profiles, but also just using their own content recorded at the office.


When you’ve built an audience, and when you’ve reached success with a certain format (not before), you can start launching campaigns at a larger scale, which are engaging and interactive. This includes branded hashtags and should invite users to participate in a competition, a challenge, or some other interactive format, so the users can share your campaign and generate more engagement for your site. In this category, we’re talking about large campaigns running 1-3 times a year.

Find out what works and keep going

For Duolingo, it was video number 39 that finally went viral. The video shows their mascot, the green owl Duo, watching over an employee while she is working. This is reference to the well-known joke that users of Duolingo feel that Duo acts as a grumpy teacher, reminding you to do your homework.

The video went viral and reached 3.3 million views and 700.000 likes. Duolingo quickly found that users responded positively to using the mascot and decided to include it in the coming TikTok videos. A combination of the mascot, using TikTok trends like music or a certain format and funny premise was the key to success. After this, they kept making Flash content which combined these three things and this became the road to 1.7 million followers.

The most important lesson is this – on TikTok you must be entertaining first and informative second. You have to make a presence with entertaining content, before talking about your offer. This wat, TikTok is a little different from Instagram since you can only get digital real estate from entertaining content.

Success on TikTok is a strong driver for subscription growth

When running a relational business, which you do when running a subscription business, the potential of social media might be even larger than in other industries. A good example of this is Danish Undy that have enjoyed huge success by making packaging videos, using sounds and trends that are popular on TikTok. Undy gets up to 300.000 weekly views on TikTok, which greatly exceeds their views on Instagram and Facebook.

The point is the key to success on TikTok is to tap into existing trends first and then be informative about your products and services. If you manage to fully take advantage of this, it can make wonders for your marketing and potentially strengthen your acquisition of new subscribers.

Du kan få hjælp til TikTok annoncering og content strategi hos Subscrybe

If you need counseling or a content strategy for TikTok, you can get help from our Subscription Growth tream. We have a TikTok specialist who can help your with developing a strategy for your content. Also, we can help you develop professional content and videos that tap into the trends that are relevant on TikTok right now.

Contact Head of Digital Growth, Søren Bundgaard at to hear more about how we can help you with your TikTok strategy.