BYU athletics TikTok ranks first in followers
BYU’s official athletics TikTok account has gained the most followers among all collegiate athletics programs, according to a Tuesday report from SkullSparks.
BYU’s account currently holds 1.4 million followers, while accumulating 18.8 million likes and more than 90 million views since its creation in November 2019. Its most viewed TikTok scored 33.3 million views, with 19 total videos cracking the million view mark.
The account — @cosmo_cougar — is branded after Cosmo the Cougar but serves as BYU’s official athletics TikTok, as many other schools also use their mascots as the official athletics account. Other mascot-driven accounts include the University of Oregon and Ohio State, who ranked in second and third place behind BYU by a wide margin.
BYU branched out into the TikTok world just as the app was starting to build momentum, hoping that Cosmo’s past viral dancing success would translate to find an audience on a new platform.
“We were lucky to get in early on TikTok so that Cosmo’s following exploded, and then the rest of the athletics world caught up to the idea that TikTok could be a major space on social media,” said Stuart Call, BYU’s executive director of creative strategy and video. “People love the content, so when you combine that with a space where things naturally go viral, it’s a perfect blend.”
TikTok proved to be a perfect fit for Cosmo’s brand of content, as the app had initially gained popularity due to its videos of dance trends.
“I think we knew we had something with Cosmo just because of the clout he brought from the viral Twitter videos, so we knew we had a good thing going for us if we could just translate it over to a new space,” Call said. “TikTok became a perfect home for his content because it started as the dance platform, and we know that Cosmo pops off with his dances.”
While other accounts have branched out and tried new ideas with their content, Call credited much of BYU’s TikTok success to sticking with a proven formula, as TikTok’s various algorithms reward consistency.
“Cosmo’s brand is dances and crazy stunts, and we’ve got to stick to that brand,” Call said. “That’s how TikTok is built, you find your lane and stick in it … as the rankings show, Cosmo is dominating everybody.”
Other than Cosmo’s account, most of the individual teams at BYU have their own TikTok profiles, with BYU football ranking No. 19 in the country with just under 50,000 followers and baseball, women’s basketball and volleyball achieving viral status on occasion as well.
Across all its accounts, BYU has made an effort to stay up to date and capitalize on recent trends, although having to avoid some popular songs or dances for being overly explicit or sexual. “You’ve got to find dances and trends that avoid those problem areas for BYU but can thrive within that target zone of where we want to be,” Call said.
TikTok is here to stay, as its 656 million downloads in 2021 can attest. BYU’s content creation team will continue to look for the most relevant and exciting ways to market BYU’s athletes and build a brand that can attract recruits.
“For recruiting, we need to go where the recruits are, and that’s TikTok,” Call said. “People spend most of their time on TikTok, so we need to do a better job of putting our brand, our athletes and Cosmo in that space.”