Case Study

I’m with the brand– Duolingo’s rise to TikTok fame

Blog Author
Vanessa Wang
September 14, 2023
1:40 pm

In a digital world of seemingly endless content, capturing your audience’s attention must be unique and strategic. How do brands do it? Duolingo, the language learning app, is a great success story– we break down the brand and its path to TikTok success in this case study.

What is Duolingo?

If you’ve ever done some traveling to a new country or struggled in a foreign language class, you’ve likely heard of Duolingo. The education company’s main mobile app offers 100+ courses of varying difficulty in over 40 different languages, providing interactive ways to learn new languages for a multitude of reasons– whether people are looking to expand their education or career, connect with others, or simply just for fun.

Given Duolingo’s language reach across the globe (they even have constructed languages like Klingon from Star Trek), it comes as no surprise that the app is popular across many audiences– Duolingo has 49 million monthly active users! Yet, the folks at Duolingo have gone one step further, taking their success out of their own app and into another one, TikTok.

Duolingo on TikTok

Duolingo’s TikTok account (@duolingo) has become quite the Internet sensation– starring their mascot, an owl named Duo, the account posts everything from lighthearted videos about its educational platform like this one to whimsical clips that show a little (a lot?) of personality. Using Trendpop’s historical data analysis tools, we can see that Duolingo amassed its huge following of over 5 million followers in just a few months, a relatively short time period.

In addition to its massive (and still growing) follower base, Duolingo ensures its fans are actively engaging with its content. With over 200 videos on its account, Duolingo sees millions of views and thousands of likes, shares, and comments with strong engagement rates of 15%+ across the board. We’ve included a snippet of these stats for one of Duolingo’s top performing videos below.

Duolingo’s strategy

Duolingo is clearly getting something right here. So how did this education app design its strategy to become so wildly successful on TikTok? We break their strategy down into some key components that you can replicate within your own brand or page.

Going international

As a global app, Duolingo’s mission aligns well with its popularity across a large range of audiences. Using Trendpop’s audience demographics feature, we can see exactly what this breakdown looks like across filters such as gender, age group, language, and country.

The demographics feature reveals that Duolingo does a great job of reaching its primary audience of young adults and teens. The age of their audience tends to fall within Gen Z and Y; thus, Duolingo’s content targets these attributes through their humor and relatability.

Duolingo’s account content reflects their diversity in viewership– while most of its videos are in English, the Duolingo account’s videos cater to all audiences and thus have a universal sense of humor. The recent addition of Duolingo Math, a versatile add-on that goes beyond language learning, further reflects the global approach Duolingo is taking to put their customers first!

User engagement

As previously mentioned, Duolingo’s videos star its furry mascot, Duo the Owl. For an education company, this is an unexpected yet pleasantly amusing move. By personifying its business through a character its fans can follow, Duolingo makes its content more reliable to its audience– particularly given its younger majority of fans as shown above. Not only does Duolingo know its audience, it also understands exactly what makes them laugh, cry, and everything in between.

Duolingo takes its user engagement one step further by actively engaging with its audience through the platform. A quick scroll through the comments on any video on the Duolingo account reveals consistent and quick-witted replies to real user feedback, which prove key to captivating the attention of fans. Talk about good customer service!

Existing trends

Duolingo’s sitcom-style account incorporates existing trends and sounds into its content by referencing current events as well as other viral videos. They’re also not afraid to lean into the more chaotic side of TikTok (re: the more scandalous videos on their account), casting aside brand safety to incorporate the drama TikTok users love to follow. While risky, this strategy pays off for Duolingo– by identifying what their viewers want to see and piggybacking off of what users already find interesting and/or engaging, Duolingo creates content that they know will be popular and resonate with large audiences. The account also takes the extra step to reach these audiences by incorporating the relevant hashtags to these sounds (#dualipa who?)


Trendpop’s platform analysis of profiles, sounds, hashtags and other content related to Duolingo’s account reflects these connections. Duolingo does a great job of incorporating popular figures and audios into its videos, and has gained quite a cult following for its whimsical takes on these trends (as the extremely popular hashtag #duolingomemes suggests!)


Knowing your audience, engaging with them meaningfully, and spotting the latest trends as quickly as Duolingo does can be difficult on a large platform like TikTok. Luckily, Trendpop provides not only the analysis but also the tools for you to do just that!

With a range of plans to suit your business or page needs, Trendpop’s data-driven approach to trend analysis and planning can help you find exactly what trends you can make work for you– just like Duo does!

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