Former Vine star helps Moe’s cook up TikTok success

Robby Ayala, content marketing manager for the chain, shares TikTok tips.

ATLANTA: Brands that are successful on TikTok don’t use it as a sales tool, according to former Vine star Robby Ayala

Ayala, now content marketing manager for Moe’s Southwest Grill, launched the @Moes_hq  TikTok account at the end of January, saying he thought he’d “take a swing at it” as a marketing tool. 

In its first three days on TikTok, Moe’s attracted 16,000 followers, 358,000 likes, and 3 million views on just one video.

That video was inspired by singer Justin Bieber, who teamed up with TikTok personalities in early February to create content for Moe’s rival Chipotle to jump off his recent single “Yummy.” 

“’Yummy’ content was trending on the platform, so we sat down and [planned out how] to make something people would want to watch over again and also incorporate the trending Bieber song,” said Ayala. 

Moe’s team came up with the following post, which has garnered 4.5 million views.


QUESO ##fyp ##foryourpage ##food ##queso ##yummy ##yummychallenge

? Yummy - Justin Bieber

“It’s a really cool video. That’s why people want to watch it over again,” he said. “A lot of TikTok content is posted straight from a user’s phone and you don’t necessarily watch it a bunch of times. With this video, it’s a really interactive piece. You want to turn your phone. You want to watch it a bunch of times and have fun with it.” 

Ayala works closely with content creator David Taylor to develop Moe’s social content.

“[Taylor] and I will see a trend kick off,” said Ayala. “We will sit down, concept it, go over strategy, go over how we are going to execute the video and then we go down to our studio in our building and get it live relatively fast.”

He added that TikTok is a trend-focused platform, so it’s important to get content out quickly. The internal creative team can create content and post within an hour of a trend kicking off, he said.

TikTok’s success has led to an increase in brand awareness for Moe’s other social channels. 

“Our Instagram followers have grown by 1,200 through our TikTok account within the last month of launching, which is good for us,” said Ayala. 

He added that the brand’s core base on social media is millennials, but TikTok is getting the brand in front of Gen Zers.

“It’s a good way to connect to a younger audience and another group of potential customers who are growing up,” Ayala said.

Moe’s also has been successful on TikTok because it’s not focused on selling products on the platform, said Ayala.

“We are creating cool, captivating content that fans want to check out to build loyalty,” he said. “That way, when we do sell products, we will have a really engaged fan base that will be active in buying our products and going in-store and buying our food.”

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