If I was to say to you Ryanair a couple of years ago, what would come to mind? The budget airline, cheap flights is an obvious one. There would probably be something about legroom in there? Maybe something about baggage allowance.
If you have been a user of TikTok as of the past year or so, and I was to mention Ryanair now, chances are you are going to tell me about their TikToks. They saw an opportunity and pounced on it, creating something entertaining as well as garnering a huge following in the process.
Ryanair posted its first video in May of 2020, and now almost two years later they have amassed a following of over 1.6 million people and 9.4 million likes across 70 videos. Also, the Ryanair hashtag has over 630 million views! The account is a great example of how brands creatively and organically build new audiences that might not have interacted with them a great deal in the past.
The account began gaining traction in the middle of a pandemic, people hadn’t been booking flights like they would pre-pandemic due to uncertainties around travel restrictions. Airlines needed to find a way to reconnect and inspire a new generation of consumers. That is exactly what Ryanair did, which in turn kept them at the forefront of customers' minds when it came to being able to book travel again with a little more confidence.
The message they want to convey is clear “we are Europe's biggest airline and we also have the lowest prices”. Their TikTok content is aimed at a younger audience, an audience that generally speaking would not have the budget of their older clientele for going on holiday. For these consumers, it’s not about the quality of the flight, it’s about where you are going. You might be sacrificing on legroom and that’s okay because the less money you spend on the flights, the more fun you can have at your destination.
Let’s take a look at how they targeted this demographic through the use of TikTok. Here are 5 key takeaways that made them a success on TikTok.
Their method is simple. The most successful videos on the account use static images of Ryanair jets and overlay their face onto the plane (along with some other methods that we’ll go into later). Although super simple, it’s also super effective. Instead of customers just seeing a brand, a faceless entity with no real voice, they now see a person - of sorts.
Brand personification is full of positives in regards to customer experience and brand perception. When you personify your brand, it allows you to start a conversation and engage with the audience. You can now be part of a community that revolves around your brand. Consumers are attracted to brands that they can see themselves in. Now obviously, we’re not talking about consumers being able to see themselves physically in a plane, but instead, resonate with the personality that the plane takes on. Brand personification and talking to your audience like humans can lead to greater customer engagement, loyalty, and retention.
Tone of voice and self-deprecation
In a world where people are becoming less trusting of ads, you need to work out how to communicate with people without people just feeling like they are just being advertised at. Self-depreciation makes audiences more open to receiving your messaging. This wouldn’t work for every brand, but it’s a method described by Michael Corcoran, the head of marketing at Ryanair, that has worked incredibly well for them (It’s worth noting that this tone of voice is only used on TikTok, rather than using it on all of their marketing channels. It’s likely this tone of voice or style of video wouldn’t work or resonate with customers on other platforms).
Like with all communication it’s important that you choose the right tone of voice for the audience you are aiming for while also making sure you are staying on brand. Brands often fall victim to using a tone of voice that is so far removed from their target audience that their communication becomes uninteresting, unengaging, and in some cases irritating.
Here are a couple of other brands that aren’t afraid to poke a little fun at themselves. Carlsberg used this technique when promoting a new brew. Amazon also used this technique to promote Alexa during the 2019 Super Bowl.
The self-deprecating tone of voice radiates honesty and authenticity. They are taking aspects of their brand that people don’t like, or tend to make fun of, and turning it on its head. They acknowledge the points being made and then use them to make fun of them themselves. The fact that the audience can see that they don’t take themselves too seriously makes them much more comfortable being able to talk to them. This brings me on to the next point.
Replying to comments
Ryanair uses the actual creative to drive engagement but they also keep on top of the comments using a consistent tone of voice, the same as on the plane in their TikToks. It’s important that brands are reactive to the comment sections of their videos. Driving engagement makes their videos more favourable to the algorithm (which you can read more about here). The comment section also allows them to pick up on new content angles to use. If there is a comment with a lot of engagement, it makes sense to make some content around the comment as it’s clear it’s a topic people are interested in or resonate with.
The actual imagery used in their content is relatively obscure as well as the content style. If it hasn’t been done, or other brands aren’t doing it, why not give it a go? This is the thought process used by Ryanair with this style of content and it paid off. It provided a consistent content angle that they have been able to use for the past couple of years and now all they have to do is adjust it to the current trends. Wow, look at that, another great segue.
They keep on top of the trends at the time (which also suit the needs of the video). The voice of the person behind the account has never actually been heard, they just use trending sounds. This actually led to people theorising about who may be behind the account and gained attention of some tabloid newspapers, which then leads to more traffic to the account.
Jumping on a trend means that the algorithm will favour your video, this will lead to your video being exposed to more people. More people = more engagement.
Staying on trend keeps the brand relevant while constantly driving engagement and exposure.
Ryanair is a great example of a brand that uses all of the resources that TikTok offers effectively and creatively to form something that is entertaining and engaging. Anyone looking to grow their brand on TikTok should take a leaf out of Ryanair’s book and take inspiration from what they have been able to create.