In our second installment of Click State, Crowd DNA New York turns to TikTok to uncover learnings from a platform full of politics, creativity and a lot of personality...

This post is part of our Click State series, analyzing conversation online (using our Culture At Scale method) in the lead up to the US election and turning emergent trends into valuable learnings. You can read our first post here.  

To uncover the full force behind TikTok, we have to debunk misconceptions – it’s not all lighthearted, silly content, and it’s not just a playspace for Gen Z. Instead, TikTok’s short form layout lends well to disseminating punchy information. If Twitter and Instagram forged the way for concise content, TikTok enables creators to add drama and flair to that same message. The platform’s democratic nature also provides everyone with the ability to post to the homepage. And it’s that accessibility that makes TikTok a level playing field when it comes to mobilizing around the election.

When browsing other social platforms, we see similar memes, clips, headlines and infographics. Yet the content on TikTok is always something new. By conducting social media analysis we can examine those differences further and start to uncover emerging, TikTok based themes around the upcoming election.

Democratizing Knowledge On #TikTokTaughtMe

From iPhone usability hacks to science explained, #TikTokTaughtMe enables users to share and expand their knowledge. This hashtag, paired with others like #Election2020, has given TikTokers a way to quickly educate themselves and others. From how to debate someone with opposing views to what certain laws mean, the hashtag creates a safe space for learning and sharing knowledge. This type of openhearted content highlights TikTok’s ‘come as you are’ ethos. It sets the platform up to welcome a diversity of opinion, while always striving to be better and learn more.

TikTokers utilize #TikTokTaughtMe to share and build knowledge
TikTokers utilize #TikTokTaughtMe to share and build knowledge

Making The World Smaller

Actor and rapper, Daveed Diggs, released a song denouncing Trump supporters as white supremacists. Users then merged it with the national anthem, which liberal TikTokers from conservative families are now using to confront relatives and catch their reactions on film. This is TikTok making the world feel smaller. Rather than being isolated in a town of people with opposing views, TikTokers are able to take to the platform to feel camaraderie. Such content empowers users to start difficult conversations, knowing they have the support of an online community behind them.

Challenges can provide TikTokers with a common space to relate to one another
Challenges can provide TikTokers with a common space to relate to one another

Being Your Authentic Self

TikTok Trump supporters are using #MAGAchallenge to show their love. The videos are varied, but all express proud support regardless of the opinions of others. Many use the song ‘I Like Trump,’ which voices similar sentiment and unifies the posts. In every election, some Americans shy away from voicing support for ‘unpopular’ candidates. But, with TikTok’s vast niches, there’s a place for everyone to express their true selves and feel heard. And when TikTokers feel supported, they feel empowered and free to speak their mind.

TikTok makes space for its users to be themselves and find others like them - near and far
TikTok makes space for its users to be themselves and find others like them - near and far

By analyzing these themes coming from conversations on TikTok, we can see the ability that social media has to create safe learning environments, build support systems and empower its users. But it is also clear that content can no longer be recycled across all social media outlets.

For brands to cater to their audience in authentic and impactful ways, it’s important to realize each platform’s use cases. Authenticity, empathy and camaraderie are built into all of TikTok’s features. So in a year where there’s a new breaking headline everyday, learning how to wield these features (as well as TikTok’s creativity) will help brand communications cut through.

Bursting The Beauty Bubble

We've gathered excerpts from Crowd DNA NYC’s recent webinar and KIN panel discussion exploring the cultural hotspots of the beauty category...

It’s been a busy couple of months for Crowd DNA webinars. We’ve covered topics ranging from hope and scenario planning, to TikTok and, in the case of our most recent event: beauty. 

The beauty category is already a hotspot for cultural change. But with the rise of challenger brands, the demand for greater diversity and an ambition to redefine what beauty even looks like, things are moving fast. To dive deeper into these themes, we combined trends and culture at scale analysis with a panel discussion made up of contributors from our KIN network (shout outs and thanks to: Louisa Kinoshi, Niki Igbaroola and Cassandra Harner). 

Download the report below for highlights from our conversations covering four key topics:

1. The Current Culture Of Beauty

2. Cultural Appropriation

3. Cancel Culture

4. Cultural Representation

Bursting The Beauty Bubble: Excerpts from our recent webinar

Thanks to all that joined us. Please get in touch with any questions, or if you would like to hear more about our thinking surrounding the beauty category. And watch this space for more Crowd DNA webinars coming soon.

Bursting The Beauty Bubble: Excerpts from our recent webinar

In the run up to the US Election, Crowd DNA New York will track the conversation online, turning emergent trends into valuable learnings. First up in the Click State series, a fresh look at localization...

Elections have been playing out digitally for years, but 2020’s presidential race – with its virtual conventions, TikTok meddling, basement broadcasts, corporate activism and Twitter declarations – is like no other. As we hit the final stretch, Crowd DNA New York’s Click State series will track the conversation online, using our Culture At Scale social media data method to identify emergent trends.

Our first post is below. By analyzing conversations coming out of swing states, we can see how a polarizing election is fast accelerating the shift from a collective American identity to a more local one.

Challenging the idea of a blanket ‘American identity’

In a year where governor mandates took precedence over presidential guidance on the pandemic, we’ve seen an accelerated shift from nationalism to a locally focused mindset. The events of 2020 have fuelled a drive away from a collective American character. Now, pride and trust in states and counties, even individual cities, resonates more strongly with American’s sense of self than the country as a whole. This, crossed with the nation’s individualistic nature, has been challenging the idea of a blanket ‘American identity.’

Then came the election. With polls neck and neck, especially in swing states, causes that hold local significance have come to the fore. We’re witnessing demand for attention to local issues and representatives who support each state’s unique needs. Candidates always pander to swing states, but this year, with a reinvigorated sense of local self, these states are armed with demands for their locales. By analyzing online conversations in three swing states, we can see how disparate voices are replacing one American narrative. Listening (socially) to these divided voices helps us learn how to speak to a fragmented, local leaning country.


With Covid-19 already making voting in the US precarious, Wisconsin reduced polling stations from 182 to five, disproportionately impacting low-income Black and brown communities. After months of Black Lives Matter protests and strong demonstrations in Kenosha, Wisconsinites feel empowered, rallying behind these communities. Rather than sitting out the election, they’re activating and driving change online, teaching us the value demonstrations can have on a location’s spirit.


Climate change is a very real threat in states like Florida, which have been ripped apart by coastal flooding. Cross this with Gen Z, a generation of first time voters who have continually ranked climate change as a top issue. As climate change continues to harm Florida, the state’s voters seek candidates who prioritize the cause. Using social, Florida politicians rally the state by speaking to local climate initiatives. By referencing impacted locations and drawing from local experiences, politicians can relate to voters as fellow Floridians.


If Arizona’s votes go to Biden, as polling suggests, it would be the first time the state favored a Democrat in 24 years. This shift is thanks to the state’s growing Latinx population. And as more US-born Latinx Arizonans turn voting age, they will add up to a significant voting bloc. Social outcries appeal directly to these voters through the use of language and cultural references. In speaking to Latinx Americans, authentically addressing the cultural nuances in their culture is crucial.

Looking at these states, and understanding their fragmented identities, presents implications for speaking to American consumers. Messaging will feel more relatable if brands consider local identities first.

The sentiment ‘we’re all in this together’ is tone deaf to America’s transitioning sense of self. Americans don’t feel a sense of camaraderie with states whose needs differ from their own. They want brands to speak to an identity that exists beyond the singular American character.

Source: Brandwatch, tracking data from Jul 1, 2020-Sept 28, 2020

Wisconsin: Jul 1, 2020-Sept 28, 2020, Wisconsin, United States: ((election OR election2020 OR “election 2020” OR presidentialelection OR “presidential election” OR 2020election OR “2020 election”) AND (votersuppression OR “voter suppression”) AND (wisconsin))

Florida: Jul 1, 2020-Sept 28, 2020, Florida, United States: ((election OR election2020 OR “election 2020” OR presidentialelection OR “presidential election” OR 2020election OR “2020 election”) AND (“climate change” OR climatechange) AND (florida))

Arizona: Jul 1, 2020-Sept 28, 2020, Arizona, United States: ((election OR election2020 OR “election 2020” OR presidentialelection OR “presidential election” OR 2020election OR “2020 election”) AND (latin*) AND (arizona))

Join Crowd DNA NYC director Hollie Jones and Dr Bridget Dalton from our Crowd Signs team for a session exploring the future of the beauty category - and how we research it - including a panel discussion with KIN contributors...

September 30, 9am PDT, 12pm EDT, 17pm GMT– sign up

(Access via Demio; 45 mins including Q&A)

Beauty has historically been dominated by prestige players defining standards for the masses. But, just as disruption has impacted on many other categories, it is now coming to beauty – with the rise of challenger brands, the need for greater diversity and a heartfelt ambition to culturally redefine the very idea of what beauty even is.

We also recognize there is a role for a business like Crowd DNA in this drive for change; including thinking about our own methods and practices. We are committed to challenging bias in our work and believe that expanding reach beyond the typical consumer is not only socially responsible, but strongly tied to improving brand and product performance.

The focus of this webinar will be the beauty category – a hotspot of cultural change – but we will also be thinking about the purpose and potential of research more broadly.

Combining trends and culture at scale analysis with input from our KIN network of creators and connectors, we invite you to join us in a conversation on how we can do better. Themes to include:

– Who do we talk to and why; what type of experts should the beauty category be listening to?

– What can we learn by reaching beyond the imagined typical (cis, slim, white) consumer and which areas of culture do we dig into?

– How do we analyze trends and what do we do with that insight; how can we meet both ethical and commercial goals?

We recommend this session for those working in beauty and adjacent categories – but also those looking for ideas on how to use research more ethically in categories further afield.

We hope you can make it!

September 30, 9am PDT, 12pm EDT, 17pm GMT– sign up 

(Access via Demio; 45 mins including Q&A)

Confirmed KIN contributors:

Cassandra Harner (left): Cleveland-based artist and drag queen; offers a view on how body positivity is changing the beauty industry, including greater representation in all areas – CIS men, queer, trans and nonbinary people.

Louisa Kinoshi (center): New York-based digital growth marketer who’s worked with Estée Lauder, Clinique and Bobbi Brown; co-founder of Black Girl Profit, addressing the economic disparities faced by black and female-owned beauty businesses; featured in Forbes’ African Entrepreneurs To Watch Out For.

Niki Igbaroola (right): London-based content strategist and writer with experience working for startup and scale up brands – understanding, and speaking to, their audiences in empathetic ways; currently working with a natural skincare brand on their go-to-market strategy.




We have an associate director opening in Singapore and an entry level opportunity to join our team in Australia...

Two very exciting APAC roles at Crowd DNA, as we continue to grow our business in the region, and respond to client interest – in categories such as media, tech, alcohol, finance and fashion – in our culturally charged commercial advantage ethos.

Associate Director (Singapore)

We’re seeking an associate director to help us grow our business in Singapore. Collaborating alongside local team members, and reporting in to our APAC hub in Sydney, we’re looking for someone who sees the upside of working in a startup-style environment; with all of the diverse challenges and opportunities to take a pivotal role in amplifying our presence that come with it.

Here’s what we’re looking for:

Solid experience in an insight agency – or conducting insight work in a different type of agency/consultancy – with a track record in at least some of the following: ethnography, expert interviews, remote/mobile methods, semiotics, trends. If you can also call on experience in areas such as social media listening and working with quantitative data, better still.

Strong evidence of experience in fields such as brand positioning, proposition development, growth strategies, trends exploration and innovation/transformation projects.

The confidence and necessary experience to take the controls of large and sometimes complex projects; to be an informed, energised and trusted advisor to our clients.

Demonstrable passion for taking insights through to meaningful strategic conclusions for clients.

High level of cultural understanding, and particularly of trends in the APAC region.

Clear signs you have the appetite for operating in a startup business environment, including building relationships with new clients.

A good editorial sensibility, and comfortable working alongside creatives (videographers, designers, writers) as much as researchers.

Adept at collaborating remotely with team members – both with our team in the APAC region and in Crowd DNA’s offices elsewhere.

Strategic Insights Executive (Sydney)

We’re seeking a strategic insights executive for our fast growing Sydney business – situated in Chippendale. You’ll get to work on exciting projects (from collaborating on analysis to project management) at the intersection of culture, insight and strategy for some of the most forward-facing brands in the world. You’ll get to collaborate alongside the wider Crowd DNA team in our other global offices and play a role in helping our Sydney start-up to fly high.

Here’s what we’re looking for:

Ideally some previous experience in an insight agency, or potentially elsewhere in the marketing comms field. At the least, to be able to show relevant experience through an internship/placement or in your own personal endeavors.

Culturally aware and keen to learn how to apply that awareness to brand strategy.

Demonstrable organisation skills and the confidence to work with our partners and collaborators.

Proof of high quality written work and presentation capabilities.

Someone who’s positive, keen to develop, and who can operate with equal ease as part of a team or working autonomously.

Both roles comes with a competitive salary, great benefits, the chance to work on some of the most stimulating and culturally-driven projects out there; and the opportunity to progress and make a real difference in an exciting and progressive business. To apply (attaching a CV and covering letter), please get in touch with Elyse Pigram.

We're seeking a financial controller to join our London team...

Working in a fast moving and stimulating environment, reporting in to our group and managing directors, we’re seeking a financial controller to join our London team. The role will involve:

– Overseeing the accounting function – including bringing in-house aspects previously implemented by external suppliers; and managing an assistant working in a combined office manager/accounting assistant role

– Responsible for day to day financial management, including accounts receivable/payable and payroll

– Month-end closure of accounts and posting accrual and prepayment journals; reconciling balance sheet, preparing P&L reports and administering intercompany accounts

– VAT accounting and returns; preparation of year end accounts

– Monitoring, improving and managing general financial processes (expenses and overheads, purchase and sales procedures, etc)

– Supporting the management team to achieve agreed financial targets through effective and timely financial reporting, analysis of project by project performance and improving measures of profitability

– Working on our London business will constitute the majority of the role to start with. However, we’re building teams in New York, Singapore, Amsterdam and Sydney, with local accountants appointed in each case. Thus experience of producing group accounts, working with local market suppliers and accounting in different markets an advantage


Salary: £50-65k pa / competitive annual leave allowance / Betterment scheme / 2 x company days out / Christmas close / Early summer finishing / Quarterly awards / Free lunches per month / Massages, fruit, drinks, other treats! / Scope for working from home and flexi hours / Paid sabbatical after five years

About You

We want someone – qualified/part qualified – who can point to solid accounting and finance experience, ideally in a small business environment and, better still, with experience in a company that offers ad hoc services on a project-by-project basis (therefore dealing with a range of clients and with bespoke costs per project).

If you can point to experience in a business with overseas clients and/or offices, that’s an advantage; as is experience using Quickbooks.

We are open to candidates looking for a four or five day per week role (or working hours the equivalent of).

To apply for this role, please get in touch with Andy Crysell, including a CV.

How To Speak TikTok

July 22 - more webinar action from Crowd DNA. This time, we're digging into the TikTok phenomenon, including the opportunities offered to brands...

  • Session 1: July 22, 08.30 (BST)/17.30 (AEST) – sign up here
  • Session 2: July 22, 16.00 (BST)/11.00 (EDT) – sign up here

(Access via Zoom; 45 mins including Q&A)

TikTok seemingly came out of nowhere in the West in 2018. Despite many dismissing it as unlikely to gain traction, an ever-growing audience have soundly disagreed, with the platform spawning an infinite array of trends and cultural crossovers – while rocketing to a reported 800 million monthly active users.

It’s now impossible for brands to ignore TikTok and its dancing, singing, laughing legions of users – and TikTok is actively courting brands, too (with Chipotle, NBA, Washington Post and Crocs among the many to jump on board).

In these two sessions, led by Crowd DNA senior consultant Chris Illsley, we’ll be exploring all you need to know about TikTok – from its origins in China, to how it carved out a space for itself in the West; why it has gained so much traction during Covid-19 and, importantly, how brands can successfully leverage TikTok for marketing strategy.

To help brands ‘TikTok’ to the best of their abilities, we’ll consider:

– Where has TikTok come from and what is really driving its popularity?

– How does the platform actually work and what makes it different from other social media competitors?

– What are the TikTok rules of engagement for brands?

– What should great branded TikTok content look like?

Late breaking news: If turning up wasn’t essential enough already, we’re excited to confirm that Sherice Banton will be with us to discuss life on the platform and where things go from here.

Sherice has over 1.6m followers (and counting) and is considered one of the most popular TikTok creators in the UK. She’s also worked with brands such as Adobe, Warner Brothers and Burger King.

We hope you can make it. Bring your best dance moves.

  • Session 1: July 22, 08.30 (BST)/17.30 (AEST) – sign up here
  • Session 2: July 22, 16.00 (BST)/11.00 (EDT) – sign up here

(Access via Zoom; 45 mins including Q&A)

Remote Film Formats

Six approaches for leveraging the best from UGC video content...

Working with user generated content has always been prominent among the method mix at Crowd DNA. Recent times, inevitably, have seen even more focus on remote film techniques, making sure we adapt and innovate to meet client objectives.

Here’s a run-through of six remote film methods that have been getting us up-close (from a distance) to needs and tensions recently, helping stakeholders to empathise with people and culture.

(With thanks to some of the Crowd team for featuring in these mockups!)