It all started in 2014 with an app called musical.ly where users could record clips of them lip-syncing to music, usually running 15 seconds to one minute long. Within two years of launching, the company had over 90 million users, which was a massive spike from 10 million from the previous year. In late 2018, the app was acquired by ByteDance Ltd., a China-based internet technology company. They merged musical.ly with TikTok. The growth of the app’s user base is astonishing – it now has 800 million monthly active users across the world.
One thing that changed with the platform’s growth in popularity is that there is now more variety in the types of videos people share. They are no longer just music. Up and coming comedians performing stand-up routines, skateboarders showcasing their skills, pranksters, dancers, fashion buffs, budding beauticians, and craft fans, all take the chance to share videos demonstrating their talent. And now we are even seeing people sharing videos featuring them using their favourite products.
Of course, not all TikTok’s users have the confidence, bandwidth, or skills to create videos. Just as many of YouTube’s viewers are lurkers, merely looking for exciting content to consume, quite a few TikTokers also take a more passive attitude towards using the app. TikTokers don’t even need to follow anybody. They can simply open their app, go to their Discover page, and start playing videos that look like they’ll interest or entertaining. They can even search for videos on preferred topics by using relevant hashtags.
Over time, though, most TikTok users will come to like particular types of videos. They are likely to subscribe to channels that regularly share “their” types of video. Every TikToker has a profile page, and this highlights the videos they’ve uploaded.
How Can Brands Use TikTok?
There are three main ways that brands can market on TikTok.
1) Create Your Own Content
Brands and businesses can create their own channel and content. You can experiment with the hashtag challenges. Challenges are an essential feature of TikTok’s community. TikTok’s users love taking up a challenge and making and uploading videos accordingly. These challenges are usually given a #-tag name, to make them both memorable and easy-to-find.
Perhaps the best-known challenge was US TV personality, Jimmy Fallon’s #tumbleweedchallenge. He challenged users to upload videos showing themselves dropping to the ground and roll around like a tumbleweed, complete with a western music theme playing in the background. This led to over 8,000 submissions and more than 10.4 million engagements. Jimmy Fallon has continued to give TikTok challenges back since then.
Brands can also encourage hashtag challenges on TikTok. Unless your brand has managed to build up a popular TikTok channel of its own, you will probably do best to work with influencers to kickstart your #hashtag challenge. Once a #hashtag challenge is launched on TikTok, people can participate with just a few clicks.
Another type of content you can experiment with is user-generated content. User-generated content (UGC) has always been a huge asset to content marketers. And now it’s hotter than ever. In fact, 85% of consumers find UGC more influential than brand photos or videos. Again, this is a type of marketing that brands can either base from your own TikTok channel or alternatively, work with influencers to encourage their follows to create UGC supporting the brand in some way.
Generation Z loves the full immersive experience. That’s why they don’t sit at home watching traditional broadcast TV – it’s too much of a passive experience. Generation Z far prefers to be involved. If you can find a way to encourage your customers to share videos of themselves using or interacting with your products ins some way, you’re likely to get a high buy-in.
There are also other types of content you can create such as react videos and cringe-worthy content. We will get into that in next week’s post.
2) Work with Influencers
TikTok marketing is perfect for influencers and the platform already has quite a few popular users with a big audience. Before choosing the influencer you want to partner with, do your research:
- Is their content and interest in line with your brand?
- Do they have many fans?
- Are their fans your target audience?
Of course, all the influence marketing techniques you see on other video-based platforms, such as YouTube, work on TikTok too. If your product suits an influencer’s audience, your TikTok influencer campaign should succeed. In most cases, you should leave it to the influencers to create the content – they know what their followers like.
As always, the key to influencer marketing success is setting appropriate goals, targeting a specific part of the purchase funnel. The young broadcasters of TikTok need to remain authentic to their followers for influencer marketing to succeed. Often all a brand needs to do is to encourage influencers to make videos depicting them wearing or using the sponsor’s product. Again, this will only work if the influencer is the sort of person who would typically use the product. There is little value trying to encourage an influencer to promote an inappropriate product. You’re not going to sell retirement homes or hearing aids on TikTok successfully.
Another side effect of TikTok’s young clientele is that they are far less interested in flash camerawork and high video production values. You need to trust your influencers enough to produce their videos their way – even if they look amateurish to a marketer’s eye. TikTokers are interested in originality and fun, rather than the quality of your videos.
3) Advertise on TikTok
A brand takeover is usually one of the most expensive ad-purchasing options. It’s a full-screen ad that appears whenever a user opens TikTok for the first time. A brand takeover can either be a three-to-five second GIF or even a three-second image or video.
These ads can be used to link back to a brand’s profile or a hashtag challenge. Brand takeovers are exclusive to different categories each day, and TikTok allows only a single brand to take over a category each day. Food delivery service Grubhub tried this during TikTok’s testing phase to run a mobile app install ad.
In-feed Native Video
As the name suggests, appear in a user’s in-app feed. These ads have the following components: video, ad display image, brand/app name, and ad description. They’re 15-second video spots that organically appear while users explore posted content. These video ads are also displayed in full-screen mode; they can have a musical background and can be skipped. In-feed native advertising can be used to gain exposure and also call users to action. In fact, they allow for numerous CTA types like website clicks, app downloads and more. An in-feed ad costs $10 per impression and requires advertisers to pay for 600 impressions in advance.
Hashtags challenges are probably the most popular TikTok ad formats that exist today because it allows people to see beyond the brand organising the challenge. They also allow people to engage with brands actively and participate with them. Fortunately, any brand can create a hashtag challenge on TikTok. By creating a video, accompanying the video with a song and encouraging users to add their touch to the hashtag challenge. When creating the challenges, brands can also leverage influencers to help to generate buzz around the challenge.
Just like the AR effects offered by Instagram and Snapchat, TikTok’s branded lens is an ad format that brings 3D objects, face filters and more to users. The branded lens can also bring a profound level of user engagement. Given the number and type of users on TikTok, it could end up being a popular TikTok ad format for boosting brand awareness and messaging. Furthermore, a branded lens is always displayed in TikTok’s trending section, and users can interact with them while filming. By incorporating a branded lens into a hashtag challenge, a brand can create a stronger bond for the promotion of its products.
As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities that you can jump on in the world of TikTok. Determine if it’s worth your resources all comes down to if your audience is on the platform.
But you have to ask yourself this: If they’re not on today, will they be on tomorrow?
Given the rate of growth, TikTok is here to stay, and that could bring in a more diverse audience, including some who might be the age of the decision-makers you’re targeting in your industry.
Get started with TikTok marketing with our one-day online course titled, TikTok Marketing: The Next Biggest Social Media Platform For Advertising