Did Duolingo Change the Marketing Game?

by | Jul, 2022

If you’re anything like me and scrolling through TikTok, I can almost guarantee you that you have seen an oversized green bird mascot jumping in on the hottest and latest TikTok trends. 

Duolingo, the American language-learning app, but more specifically their mascot, has reached a sense of virality on the short-form video app. Duo, the mascot, posts TikToks every day doing the latest dance, berating its users for not hitting their daily ‘practice streak’, or exposing the heartbreak they feel that their celebrity crush, Dua Lipa, hasn’t responded to any of their messages yet. These videos don’t, however, contain any information on what the app is for or why you should download it. 

Reaching 4.5 million followers and 85.4 million likes over the course of its TikTok career, this app’s marketing team managed to turn them into a sensation. However, does getting views and likes mean your marketing is effective? Maybe!

Duolingo’s TikTok presence became relevant in late 2020 and has continued to grow ever since. In 2020 the app had 42 million monthly active users. However, this number dropped to an average of 37 million monthly active users in 2021. While this may be explained by people returning to in-person events and workplaces after the quarantine of 2020 if the marketing of this app was as successful as the views and likes might suggest they wouldn’t have seen a decline of 5 million monthly users. However, if you look at their revenue as opposed to their monthly users, we see a different kind of success. 

In the fourth quarter of their economic year in 2020, they had a revenue of $48 million which steadily grew to $73 million in revenue in quarter four of the 2021 economic year. This increase has continued through the first quarter of 2022. 

While I don’t think we can directly attribute this financial success to the virality of the company on the TikTok app, it is something to consider. Their marketing team has a way to get their name out there. They get their names on your screen on a weekly if not daily basis. Even though they had a drop in monthly users, their quarterly revenue continues to grow. So maybe TikTok is the way to go. Maybe in your next marketing meeting, the discussion should center around dances and trends instead of SEO and branding deals.


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