Messiah University student goes viral learning first hand the value of his marketing classes

Messiah University student goes viral learning first hand the value of his marketing classes

By Thomas Murray '23

The shadow of a hand holding an iPhone opened to Tik Tok.


I was sitting in my Economics class when my phone went off and, like any nineteen-year-old, my attention quickly shifted from the supply and demand graphs we were discussing to an Instagram notification. I was shocked to see a message request from Bleacher Report. The popular sports site was asking to repost a video I shared a day earlier on TikTok of me throwing a football over my house and running around to the other side and catching it. The original video was up to about 60K views at the time, which I considered excellent, but that was only the beginning.

Bleacher Report ended up responding to the video on their Twitter account. Shortly after their post went live Sportscenter asked on ESPN’s behalf to use the video. Sportscenter posted the video on their Instagram and Twitter accounts and ESPN posted the video on Facebook. Champs Sports and Eastbay contacted me as well and included the video in their Never Not An Athlete joint campaign. Instagram was the main platform the video went viral on as popular accounts such The Score, Athlete, and Sports all reposted it.

Being the first viral video I created, I wanted to dig a little deeper to understand “why” and “how” the video became just a success. Using what I have learned from Messiah in my marketing classes helped me break the video down and answer those questions. Looking at the video’s analytics led me to discover I posted at an optimal time. I posted the video at 6 P.M. knowing a majority of my followers were active at this time using a feature TikTok has that shows active followers. This helped the video get off the ground and played right into the algorithm.

The approach I took with promoting the video played a large part in the video’s success. My use of content related hashtags pushed the video out to specific people, and I engaged with those people in the comments. This resulted in the popular account House Of Highlights, a Bleacher Report run account, leaving a comment and passing the video along to their social media team. The use of hashtags and the concept of engaging with people was something I took directly from the classroom at Messiah.

Having answered the question of how the video went viral, now the question of why still loomed. That answer simply lies in what was going on in the world at the time. The video was posted in late March during the early stages of the pandemic and every major sports league had postponed their seasons. Given the lack of major sports news, companies such as Bleacher Report and ESPN were searching for content exactly like my video.

I continue to use the platform I have built on TikTok to create content. While not experiencing anything close to getting on Sportscenter, I have still found success. Using the strategies I have learned in the classroom, I’ve totaled 8.1 million views and 975 thousand likes. As I continue to further my education at Messiah, I can only expect to learn more valuable tactics as I continue to build my platform.

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