Joe Caporoso of Whistle

  • As the short-form video app TikTok continues to grow in the US and other key markets, some media companies are focusing more attention on building audiences on the platform.
  • Brother, a Snapchat-focused lifestyle and entertainment brand with 24 million fans on its Snapchat Discover page, told Business Insider that "it's really important" to be on TikTok right now.
  • "I think you see more and more trends or pieces of [user-generated content] or pieces of music that originate on TikTok take off as much as they do on any other platform now," said Joe Caporoso, EVP of content & brand platforms at Team Whistle, the digital-entertainment startup that owns the Brother brand.
  • Like some other media companies that have ventured onto TikTok, Brother is focusing on making personality-driven content and tapping into the app's trends to build out its audience.
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The media brand Brother has built an audience of over 24 million subscribers on Snapchat in the four years since it launched as a lifestyle and entertainment channel in the app's Discover section.

Now its parent company, Team Whistle, hopes to replicate its success on the latest platform to capture young people's attention: TikTok.

"We're definitely excited about their potential on TikTok, and it's something that's grown really well for them over the past couple months since we started being active again with it," said Joe Caporoso, EVP of content & brand platforms at Whistle, which took over the Brother brand last year after buying its producer, the mobile-content studio Vertical Networks. 

Brother's TikTok account is a mix of reshared user-generated content and original videos with on-air personalities who do science experiments, dance the moonwalk, and stick their faces in bowls of cereal

As with other media companies like The Washington Post and The Infatuation that have ventured onto TikTok, the team at Brother is focusing on personality-driven content and tapping into the app's trends to build out its audience (which currently stands at about 460,000 fans).

"I think you want to be able to participate in trends as they're taking off," Caporoso said. "To properly manage any account day-to-day, whether it's TikTok or any other platforms, a big part of the community management is just kind of having your head in the app every single day to see what's taking off."

"With Brother, it feels a little less like an actual media-publisher brand," he added. "We try to drive it more with the personalities and the people who are actually on camera."

Following a format popularized by the TikTok account Flighthouse (another short-form video company with in-studio capabilities), Brother has invited trendy TikTok creators to appear in its mini shows as it taps into what's being shared on TikTok. The company recently filmed a video with the TikTok music artist Nodis, whose song "All About Cake (feat. KyleYouMadeThat)," has appeared in over 8 million videos on the app. 

Forming a content partnership with TikTok

As it looks to build an audience on TikTok, Whistle is also working directly with TikTok to grow its Brother brand.

The company is one of a few hundred publishers and creators that received grants from the social platform as part of a $50 million "creative learning" fund that TikTok announced in May to encourage content creators to produce more DIY and educational content. 

While Brother first opened its TikTok account in January 2019 (before Whistle bought its content studio), the company has recently refocused its TikTok efforts after integrating Brother's creators into the Team Whistle content and analytics team, the company said. 

"From everything we've seen and heard from TikTok, they really want to lean into being a DIY and an educational platform," Caporoso said. "I think as a platform they're trying to emphasize more original content and content that is more educational and DIY content over maybe some of the dancing or music videos that have been really popular."

Caporoso declined to share how much Whistle had received from TikTok as part of its creative learning initiative, but said it wasn't anything "massive or gamechanging."

"It was definitely a nice shot in the arm for a brand that had really been siloed to generating week-to-week revenue only through one social platform in Snapchat," Caporoso said of the TikTok funding. "A big thing that we always try to emphasize is we want to be a distributed media company. We want to diversify our revenue streams as much as possible. So to add TikTok on top of Snapchat along with some of these other platforms was an exciting thing to happen pretty quickly."

Brother's decision to accept a grant from TikTok offers a glimpse into the brand's longer-term strategy of building relationships with the social platforms it creates content on. Vertical Networks, the studio that first created Brother, received an investment from Snap Inc. when it first launched on Snapchat, according to Recode.

Brother isn't going to neglect its bread-and-butter platform, Snapchat

While Brother has its sights on TikTok for an expansion, Caporoso said it's definitely not going to slow down on Snapchat, where the vast majority of its audience lives. Brother had 13 million monthly active users on Snapchat last month, which the company said is up 18% from its monthly average on the app in the first quarter of 2020. Whistle said it's on track to pass $100 million in revenue this year across its full suite of sports and entertainment-focused businesses.

"We don't want to take our foot off the gas on Snapchat at all because that's such a big dynamic audience that they've built," he said. "We feel strongly that there is a young Gen Z audience on TikTok, so it's really important for us to be there. I think you see more and more trends or pieces of [user-generated content] or pieces of music that originate on TikTok take off as much as they do on any other platform now."

For more stories on how media companies, advertisers, and marketers are engaging with TikTok, check out these other Business Insider posts:

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