Marketing Lessons From Billie Eilish’s ‘Secret’ TikTok
Established superstar and musical innovator Billie Eilish has a thing or two to teach us about marketing via TikTok, after taking the platform by storm with an authentic and understated debut.
Guest post by James Shotwell of Haulix
The biggest star on the planet is taking the fastest growing social media platform by storm in an unusual and undeniably authentic way.
Billie Eilish did two incredible things last week. First, she released her new single, “Therefore I Am,” and immediately topped every song chart she qualified for worldwide. The track and its accompanying video earned millions of streams and mentions online, all of which reaffirmed Eilish’s immense celebrity.
The second thing received far less press, at least at first. On the same day “Therefore I Am” dropped, Billie Eilish posted her first TikTok video. The clip arrived without a press release or the use of her music. The account didn’t feature her name, and it was not verified when the first videos went live. She didn’t even use hashtags to gain attention. It was just Billie being herself for anyone lucky enough to see it, but news of the account soon got out.
It didn’t take long for Billie’s account to amass millions of followers and millions of hearts (the TikTok equivalent to Facebook Likes). Eilish did not post about her account anywhere, but the clips were undeniably authentic. The account wasn’t a diehard fan re-sharing content from other channels, but Billie herself making silly clips specifically for TikTok. That kind of content win is the stuff that social media companies’ dreams are made of, and it seemingly happened without pressure from Eilish’s team or TikTok leadership.
But why was it such a success? Rumors abound that Eilish and her team worked with TikTok to ensure the clips reached more people than the typical anonymous new account, but those allegations cannot be substantiated. The more likely answer is a simple one: People like what Eilish is doing with her channel.
When you look at Billie’s TikTok account, which is found under the username CoochieDestroyer5, you directly access the music superstar without the fake glitz and glamour of the music business. Eilish is making content for her fans using her cellphone and her personality. There are no directors or editors, or costume designers. More than any other platform, TikTok gives Eilish’s fans direct access to their favorite artist in the most unfiltered way possible. It’s deepening the connection and relatability of someone who lives a life that is unlike anyone else. It’s humanizing but also fun and weird.
In case it’s not clear, the big lesson here is that marketing today is all about connection. Forget trying to sell your merch or getting people to click a link. Before those things can happen, artists must first forge a relationship with people online. They need to become someone or some group that people want to see in their timelines. They need to be viewed as friendly, relatable, and above all else, human. If musicians can accomplish that, then they’re miles ahead of everyone else.