- The National Football League (NFL) is working with viral video app TikTok on several promotional efforts that are tied in with this year's draft of college players. The programming includes a hashtag challenge, a simulcast of the NFL's virtual fundraiser for COVID-19 relief and new in-app effects, per information the company shared with Mobile Marketer.
- The NFL's #GoingPro hashtag challenge urges TikTok users to create videos depicting their professional aspirations as teams pick amateur players to "go pro." The hashtag challenge had racked up more than 580 million views by Friday morning, with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell participating in a dance challenge. TikTok also added a visual effect that lets users create a virtual player card showing key stats.
- TikTok also is showing a livestreamed simulcast of the "Draft-A-Thon Live," the NFL's effort to help raise money for COVID-19 relief. The NFL's #GoingPro hashtag directs TikTok's users to the league's website to donate. The show has celebrity guests such as comedian Kevin Hart and chef Guy Fieri, and airs on the NFL's social channels including Facebook, Twitter, Twitch, and YouTube.
The NFL's promotional efforts on TikTok aim to engage football fans as the league gears up for the 2020-21 season with its three-day draft event. This year's draft is unusual in that the NFL isn't hosting a massive live event because the coronavirus pandemic has prevented large gatherings. Instead, the league is relying on digital channels like TikTok to connect with fans, while also broadcasting the proceedings on ABC, ESPN and the NFL Network. Draft Day has become a major promotional event for the league, with sponsors running social media campaigns or airing ads that benefit from the NFL's ability to generate extensive publicity.
By hosting a hashtag challenge, the NFL can extend the reach of its promotional efforts as TikTok users create videos and urge their friends and followers to participate. As the league seeks to cultivate the next generation of football fans, it has ramped up efforts to showcase its programming on TikTok in the past year. The NFL's #superbowlliv challenge that urged football fans to share their team spirit during Super Bowl weekend continues to rack up views months after its rollout. Hashtag challenges are a key feature of TikTok that brands such as Chipotle Mexican Grill, E.l.f. Cosmetics, Ralph Lauren and Walmart have adopted to engage consumers.
TikTok is especially popular with younger audiences, helping brands to connect with consumers that are difficult to reach through other media channels. TikTok this year will boost its U.S. user base by 22% to 45.4 million as its growth rate slows from the 98% jump of 2019, eMarketer forecast last month. The researcher estimated that TikTok will reach 60.3 million U.S. consumers, or about 27% of social network users, by 2024. TikTok's downloads almost doubled to 112.9 million in February from a year earlier, bringing the lifetime total to 1.9 billion, per app analytics firm Sensor Tower.