Musical brand

Lessons from the Kentucky Derby for the TikToks brand

When it comes to sporting events, some immediately come to mind, such as the Olympics, the Super Bowl, and the NCAA National Championships. Each event is often listed as a to-do list item so people can attend and be part of the experience.

Another sporting event that must be included in this group of premier sporting events is the Kentucky Derby, one of the biggest global horse racing events in the world. This year marked the 148e Kentucky Derby, and horse racing event was fully displayed online and offline. More often than not, the Kentucky Derby was able to use ICT Tac and other social media channels to tell their story in an entertaining, unique and fun way.

The Kentucky Derby is known for its history and tradition, but it should also be placed in the same conversation as other sporting events for innovation and creativity when it comes to their social media marketing strategy.

Some of the best practices and lessons learned from the Kentucky Derby, specifically for their social media strategy with TikTok and Instagram, include:

  • Have a good content strategy. The Kentucky Derby not only focused on trending music tracks, but also trending sounds that could be related to their content. It is essential to research the popular sounds on the social entertainment platform first and then create content that matches the brand and the event, as shown in this video featuring a sound clip of Mike Meyer’s famous character, Dr. Evil.
  • Capture events in real time. Ensuring you can capture wins, exciting games, and updates on competitions are considered fundamental sports and social media practices, but this can also be applied to TikTok. The Kentucky Derby made sure to capture the moments as soon as Rich Strike won the race, as well as the ceremony of the roses and trophy for the winning horse.
  • Content to educate others about the event. Did you know that Kentucky Derby title sponsor Woodford Reserve has a $1,000 mint julep? Now you know – and the Kentucky Derby show how we are created also on TikTok. Educating on topics like this through short-form videos can help build a stronger connection with an audience and even motivate others to put the Kentucky Derby on their calendars for the future.
  • Entertain by capturing fun content. Everyone wants to be entertained and laugh – which is one of the main reasons people turn to TikTok in the first place. There were several viral moments at the Kentucky Derby (besides the long-range victory!), including Jack Harlow. The Grammy-nominated rapper is from Kentucky and was the guest of honor to call the jockeys to the race. However, before he could do so, he was escorted across the track so his shoes wouldn’t get dirty. This video became the most watched Kentucky Derby video with over 10 million views.
  • Embrace new perspectives and team members. The Kentucky Derby has offered unique internships for students and young professionals to help the social media team, and it’s a great way for reverse mentoring to create a win-win situation. Students and young professionals are looking to be able to bring their ideas and perspectives to real-life situations and develop their expertise, while brands seek insights into platforms and communities to help their brand grow further. These opportunities are invaluable to both, and this can be demonstrated in this video with some of the interns working with the social media team for content.

If you’re looking for inspiration for event and social media marketing on TikTok, the Kentucky Derby is a sure bet for the platform’s success!

Karen Freberg, Ph.D., is a professor of strategic communication at the University of Louisville.