- Duolingo’s mascot, the giant green owl Duo, has been a hit on the TikTok video sharing platform.
- The company’s TikToks often use pop culture references and audio trends on the platform.
- Zaria Parvez, Duolingo’s social media coordinator, explains how she developed the company’s account.
The new TikTok celebrity isn’t a dancing teenager or a blogging songwriter. It’s a giant green owl: Duo.
Duo is the mascot of the language learning app Duolingo. Thanks to Duo (and the social media team behind the bird), Duolingo has racked up 1.5 million followers on the successful social networking app. Her most watched video has racked up over 10 million views.
Duolingo’s TikToks push the boundaries of what business accounts typically do or say on social media. The videos include self-deprecating jokes, responses to commentators with sassy applause, and even a thirst for Dua Lipa.
And while users joke that Duolingo’s social media coordinator is berated for the spicy content on the account, it’s all by design. This is the work of Zaria Parvez, social media coordinator for Duolingo, who is currently in her first job since graduating with a bachelor’s degree in advertising from the University of Oregon in 2020. She says she considers the post as a “blessing”.
“Having the support and confidence of senior colleagues, especially as a junior talent, being like here is the reins, go ahead, obviously within the limits, I think it’s so liberating and just talking about the culture of Duolingo, ”she said. noted.
Insider spoke to Parvez, the mind behind the company’s TikTok fame, to find out what working as a social media coordinator looks like and how it brought Duo to stardom.
“Interested” and not “interesting”
Duolingo has about 30 people on its global marketing team, but Parvez and its manager, Michaela Kron, US Marketing Manager, are the two-woman team responsible for the TikTok account “@duolingo”. The secret to the small team’s great success has been to stay “interested” rather than “interesting,” Parvez said.
“I think a lot of brands, and also just social managers in general, we’re kind of caught up in this idea that we have to constantly promote ‘interesting’ and unique content,” she said. “What is yes, so important, but I think the step to go is to take an interest in different things.”
Rather than trying to create new trends, Parvez focuses on understanding existing trends and finding ways to get Duolingo to join them. She starts her mornings by creating a trending report based on social media newsletters, trending Twitter hashtags, and trending TikTok audios.
As Parvez tries to absorb as much pop culture as possible, she also said that filtering out content and finding what is most relevant to the company’s brand is an important step in the process.
“This has been very important to us as we develop our TikTok so that we don’t necessarily jump on all the trends,” she said. “But when we’re on a trend, it’s very authentic to our brand.”
Define your ground rules
From an outside perspective, it may seem like Duolingo is taking risks with its content, but Parvez said the company has key ground rules that prevent the team from crossing certain lines; he does not demean people or threaten them with violence.
An example given by Parvez was the TikTok related to “Red (Taylor’s Version)” by Duolingo, which shows Duo preparing for the re-release of “All to Well (Taylor’s Version)”. The user’s comment pinned to the video read, “How do you say ‘where’s the scarf, Jake’ in Swiftie?” This is a reference to the fan theory that the song “All to Well” is about Taylor Swift’s relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal.
The Duolingo account’s response to this comment – “to-do list: blow up Jake’s phone with push notifications”. – builds on the pop culture benchmark and connections to the company’s brand, rather than making a real threat or explicitly agreeing with the comment, Parvez says.
“I think that’s part of the strategy,” she said. “Find smart and unique ways to allude to controversy, but never to say it explicitly. “
How Parvez responds and engages with other users on TikTok is based on the platform’s audience, she says. TikTok is Duolingo’s way of talking to his best friend; Instagram is the way he talks to his mother; and Facebook is the way he talks to his grandmother.
“I think social media is that bridge,” she said, “to bring what people actually do in the world and connect them to our app and the experience they have.”