Company puts interns in charge on TikTok as students become the teacher

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Thursday, May 18, 2023
Company puts interns in charge on TikTok to reach peers
Claire's uses college interns to reach their peers on TikTok and other forms of social media marketing.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- TikTok revenue was just shy of $10 billion last year, and that total is expected to surpass $14 billion this year thanks in large measure to the number of blue-chip advertisers who have embraced the app as a way to reach young people.

This is a story about how one company uses college interns to reach their peers on TikTok.

Executives at Claire's, a chain of boutiques, learn a lot from their interns. Traditionally it's supposed to be the other way around but the fact is young people know a whole lot more about social media than adults do.

In the topsy-turvy world of selling stuff on TikTok, the student becomes the teacher.

"It is definitely a space for people and brands to kind of let their guard down," said college intern Mary Clare Lacke. "It is a very unique form of social media. It's kind of like if you get it, you get it."

And, truth be told, most adults don't get it.

"For example, I would show my parents a TikTok video, I feel like 'this is so funny!' And, they won't understand," Lacke said. "It's a very unique sense of humor on the app."

Lacke is in tune with what her peers want to hear.

"People want to be entertained by their advertising, they want to feel like it's just another piece of content they're consuming, they don't want to be sold to anymore," she said.

That's how Lacke came to be paid to post on TikTok by Claire's as part of its effort to reach young consumers.

"It's all about authenticity and shooting in the moment," said Chief Marketing Officer Kristin Patrick. "And, that's something new that many brands and companies are having to learn."

Patrick likes learning from kids even younger than Lacke.

Taylan Biggs, 9, was welcomed to Claire's headquarters to be CEO for a day. She's part of what's come to be called Generation Alpha.

The college interns are part of Generation Z. It is folks the age of Mary Clare Lacke who are driving the huge success of TikTok.

"I use it on my own, I use it for fun," she said. "But now through this experience, I've been able to see how it can fit into a business setting, and how, you know, creativity and fun is allowed in a business setting."

"Claire's is a platform for people to express themselves," Patrick said. "And this internship program is just another way for us to relate to our consumer and allow them to express themselves. So, it's been a wonderful opportunity for us to learn from the college students and for them to hopefully learn from us as well."