Ryanair’s TikTok social strategy - A masterclass in viral video marketing

Reading Time: 5 mins

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 use TikTok and I was to mention Ryanair now, chances are you are going to tell me about their TikTok. They saw an opportunity and pounced on it, creating something entertaining and garnering a huge following in the process. 

Ryanair posted its first video in May of 2020, over 3 years later they have amassed a following of over 2 million people and 21 million likes. Not bad for a budget airline. Also, the Ryanair hashtag has over 2.6 billion views! The account is a great example of how brands can organically build new audiences using creative and engaging content (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. 

Ryanair TikTok plane

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 the destination.

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 where you're going. 

Let’s take a look at how they targeted this demographic through the use of TikTok.

Here are 5 key points that made Ryanair a HUGE success on TikTok. 

Brand Personification

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 your 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. 

A few examples of other brands that have personified their brand and found success on TikTok are Duolingo and Scrub Daddy. These accounts are well worth a look if you need some inspiration. 

Scrub Daddy and Dualingo in warm embrace


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 them just feeling like they are just being advertised at or sold to.

Self-depreciation makes audiences more open to receiving your messaging. Now, this wont 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).

As 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. 

Getting involved in the comments and comment reply videos

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 as driving engagement makes videos more favourable to the algorithm.

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. 

Here's a little engagement hack for your while you're here... when you post a video, reply to it with your personal account. No one wants to be the first one to reply to a video so if you get in there first and people can see another reply already there they'd be more likely to leave a comment themselves.

Leaning into obscurity

The 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 as well as a brand character they've been able to personify and use for the past few years and now all they have to do is adjust it to the current trends.

Wow, look at that, another great segue.

Hopping on trends

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. 

Trend discovery page

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.

Thanks for reading - if you have an ecommerce brand and you're looking for help with your TikTok marketing strategy, book a call to talk with us today! Here's a link to JoeDom, or Freddie's calendar to book a discovery call.

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