Office Hours: I grew Duolingo’s TikTok audience to over 4 million followers. I’m Zaria Parvez. AMA!Featured

Hi Elphas!

I’m Zaria Parvez and I’m the Global Social Media Manager at Duolingo, or – as some of you may know me– the green owl on TikTok.

I believe strategy is about walking in someone else’s shoes. Understanding different world views and finding the insight that connects us - regardless of the shoes we wear - is crucial.

Ask me anything about media planning, brand strategy, what I’m currently curious about, building community, or anything else!

Thanks so much for joining us @zariaparvez!Elphas – please ask @zariaparvez your questions before Friday, June 3rd. @zariaparvez may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
How much of your work is data driven, vs fun and creative? I own a TikTok analytics company ( that helps you measure trends, and I wonder about whether the mega-successful accounts really need strategy.
Hi @ChelsieHall - thanks for the question! It's a mix of both. Our strategy is driven by the insight that learning a language is hard, so we make it fun. By having that as our anchor point, we're able to create content that resonates and can be exactly that - fun and creative! Our app itself also has quirky funny sentences, so we aren't really steering too far away from our brand ethos. That being said after pushing content, our tactical learnings are always been centered around test, learn and iterate. So while the content may have the fun persona, we optimize each video given data we got from prior videos. Our OKRs for social center around share-ability and virality so we try to see what makes a video viral.
Hi Zaria! One more question if you don’t mind :) we understand that for brand ads on TikTok, UGC feeling content performs best. But for an end page with either a tag line or a call to action, do you recommend a more produced end page or still make something that feels native-UGC? Thank you!
Hi @zariaparvez, thank you for your generousity in taking the time to respond to us. I appreciate it. We are a direct to consumer brand focused on making it easy to be with our range of everyday home essentials that comes in recyclable packaging, use sustainable resources without single-use plastic As a new direct o consumer brand launching on Tik Tok, how do we approach our Tik Tok strategy. I note most of your contents hits millions of views, how did you discover what worked and allowed your content to be shown to a wider audience. How can a brand starting out, implement your strategies? Is there a step by step process that you created over time that you are able to share? Also d do we incorporate founder's story, behind the scenes etc? Is there any way of identifying/testing metrics that we can use to test our content so we can improve it each time? How long did it take you to get to 4 million? Was it a gradual process, or was it you kept posting consistently and after a while it exploded. Any feedback from you is much appreciated.Thanks.Shamanth
Thanks for your time and expertise Zaria! I'm just getting started on TikTok. And I'd love some advice on how to get going and how to build a following. I'm a finance expert, and I will never stop trying to make money easier to understand and more affordable to get help with for women. I am building a community for women who want to learn about money. I'm 44 and many of my friends are in bad financial positions, and I want women to be better informed about that reality, and how to avoid it. I come from a privileged upper-middle-class background, I went to some great universities, so I know I come from a privileged position. However, I think many people would be surprised to hear that my friends who are struggling come from a similar background as me. Money, unfortunately, isn't something that just 'works out', it needs to be managed the entire way along. TikTok, and potentially being the face of a brand, isn't something I understand, and I don't know if my message will resonate with the women I'm trying to help.
Hi! What a cool POV you have! I think the main thing is to keep posting content and recognize that TIkTok is an entertainment first app. The content you make has to play the game of the algorithm: trending audio, hashtags, and just consistency! I would like to note that entertainment first doesn't just mean it has to be funny, it can also be informational and engaging. Good vulnerable stories are always awesome to see. Good luck with your account and I'm rooting for you!
What do you do when you hit a creative block, especially when our goal as marketers is to keep creating content? How do you keep it fresh and new while not being repetitive in terms of the material you create?
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions! I love that you write "I believe strategy is about walking in someone else’s shoes. Understanding different world views and finding the insight that connects us - regardless of the shoes we wear - is crucial." Is there an exercise you do to put yourself in your users' shoes? How does it influence your social strategy?
Such an interesting question! Thanks for asking! My best approach is by taking culture as a whole, piece by piece. Being in advertising, many will say you always have to be at the speed of culture. Which can be intimidating with just how much information is available in the world. For me, at Duolingo, I focus on learning about cultures surrounding our target markets to just be a better marketer. Right now, I'm learning all about Korean culture - books about K-Pop, the prevalence of plastic surgery in Korea, etc. All of these things may seem random and not relevant to language learning, but diving in deep into all the factors that surround an audience determines how they think, act, and behave which, ultimately, can shape how they interact with your product.
I just want to say that as someone who’s worked on the marketing/creative side, I’m a huge fan of your work (and TikToks).Any advice on cultivating an online following, and/or roughly what the process looks like when planning content?
My biggest advice is just for it! A lot of people don't know this side of our story, but when we first launched our TikTok channel we weren't really doing all that great. We were using a traditional marketing mindset for a nontraditional space. Once we saw that we weren't really performing, we went right back to the drawing board. The new strategy is what you see today! There was about a 7 month strat process between these eras of Duolingo's TikTok. Now, when we plan content, we try to chase ideas not trends. What I mean by that is we have set ideas that we know are going to be taken really well by our audience, but we just wait for the trend to match it. With this approach, good high quality content is able to be turned our pretty fast because we did most of the legwork before the trend came!
*just go for it! Sorry for the typo!
Makes a lot of sense - to focus on the ideas first rather than letting trends lead the content. Thanks for the advice!
Zaria, thank you for doing this AMA. How do you see platforms like TikTok as community plays - are they community "enough" or will they lead to something more interactive, and personalized that people may want from a community? As you mentioned, it is the connections that are crucial, not just for us with our customers/end users but they with each other. And, what platforms or type of interactions are you watching next - beyond TikTok?
Cool question! I think TikTok is VERY community driven - in fact, when we didn't know what content we wanted to create, we found commenting on viral videos to be an effective way to engage with different communities that may have not originally used our app. I have my eye on Discord and Roblox! There's a lot of cool opportunity with virtual pop ups and engaging with the new very virtual first generation.
Hi Zaria, I'm working on a startup to empower therapists to run their own practice. I also have an online advertising background though not in tik tok.Where should I find conversion and other performance metrics on this platform? Are there metrics for different verticals?
I love your creativity! It’s been so fun to watch on TikTok. @zariaparvez Did you have test accounts and study what the successful people on there were doing and just go for it with trends? Was it hard getting the approval to get some of your TikTok’s launched? Would love to hear your story! Welcome to the community :)
Hi @zariaparvez, for brands ads, we understand that TikTok (and Reels) perform better with UGC-feeling content. But for the end page (with a call to action or a tagline), would you also do a UGC page or is it okay/better to insert a more polished/produced end-page? Thank you
Thanks for your time @zariaparvez. We are launching our TikTok campaign (together with Reels) approximately a week before we go live on the app store and my few questions for you are as follows. 1. Do you recommend posting 3-4 times a day for the first couple months to maximize the platform's algorithm? 2. Our goal is to get downloads vs just followers, do you recommend having a CTA on our organic content or just trust that users will be curious enough to check out the app. 3. Did you guys use any influencers to maximize your reach? 4. Did you invest in any paid campaigns on TikTok to boost your reach? Thank you so much for your time.
Hi! Thank you so much for donating your experience. I am Brazilian and I manage a civil construction services planning office. I would like to know what is the best brand strategy to connect and relate to unknown partners. I would like to grow my network and gain visibility. Thank you very much for your time!
Not a question but just a comment! I’m a huge fan of yours and happy to have you here on Elpha 🎉
Hello Zaria, Thanks so much for your time <3 As a small business owner. this question has always been in the back of my mind and this is finally the moment to make it: In your opinion: what are those *key* questions a business has to respond before making the decision of creating a tik-tok channel? Thanks!
@zariaparvez - I'm a longtime admirer of both Duolingo's bite-sized approach to learning and playful brand voice. Kudos to you on how far you've advanced its social media presence! I'm considering edtech product marketing as a potential career path, and I'm curious to hear from you: What advice/tips do you have for cultivating excitement around learning online? How does Duolingo leverage its social media community to support overall business strategy? Finally, what is the biggest risk you've taken in your current role? Excited to hear your thoughts! Thank you for your time.