Sorority recruitment has transformed from a secretive process to big social media business.
In the fall of 2021, sorority rush at the University of Alabama took TikTok by storm, effectively becoming RushTok. During that recruitment season, sorority hopefuls posted daily TikTok vlogs sharing everything from their outfits of the day, to what they’re carrying in their bags, documenting the entire process until the sororities made their final selections.
Audiences worldwide quickly became captivated by the process, choosing their favorite recruits to follow and root for. To date, the hashtags #BamaRush and #RushTok have 4B and 2B views, respectively.
Potential new members (PNMs) curated their social media feeds months in advance, hoping to make a good impression. Some PNMs who documented the process via TikTok used the week of events to jumpstart careers as influencers, continuing to deliver (sometimes branded) content to the audiences amassed during recruitment.
It’s not just the potential recruits using social media to make an impression — the chapters also use social media as a recruitment tool. Plenty of RushTok videos also showcase highly choreographed dance routines and friendship-based content to woo potential new members.
How RushTok Became A Marketing Engine
What started as engaging content in 2021 has evolved into a powerful marketing engine that brands want in on. As potential new members shared their experiences and gained popularity, they also caught the attention of brands.
Scrolling through the comments of RushTok videos, the accounts of major brands are among those rooting for certain participants. It’s a simple social listening play to garner visibility in the comment section of popular posts during a key social media event.
Beyond social listening, major brands such as Rent the Runway and Amazon, along with local Alabama brands like the Pants Store took things a step further by working with RushTok creators on sponsored content deals.
Last year, cosmetics brand Tarte sent free products to 90 sororities and 100 sorority hopefuls who received high engagement while using the hashtag #RushTok. The move generated valuable social impressions for Tarte.
Though college students may not be every company’s target demographic, the RushTok audience spans wider. Users of various age groups and backgrounds have been locked into recruitment content for the past three years and are actively participating in the comments section of RushTok posts alongside various brands.
As RushTok continues to grow, marketers will find more creative ways to get in on the action, and the process will likely continue to introduce audiences to the next generation of creators.