TikTok, like its predecessor Vine, is emerging as one of the most popular social media platforms among young millennials and Gen-Z. Its newfound popularity has lit a fire in the marketing world to quickly integrate the growing platform into their digital marketing strategy – often with no real roadmap to success.
This article breaks down the basics of TikTok marketing. You’ll learn how to approach the app from a branding standpoint, what kind of content works best, and who to target. We’ll also take a look at examples of brands already doing TikTok marketing right.
Beginning as a video-sharing app called Douyin in China, The company bought out the more well known Musical.ly in 2018, migrating all of its non-Chinese users into a combined TikTok app.
Like Vine and Musical.ly before it, the whole premise behind TikTok is the ability to create and share short videos. However, unlike Vine’s 6-second cap on content, each TikTok video can be up to 15 seconds long, or stitched together to create videos up to 60 seconds long. Additional features include a live streaming option, along with AR filters and lenses.
Although TikTok had humble beginnings as a glorified lip-synching and karaoke app, the platform experienced a massive explosion in popularity as soon as creative users began sharing different content. Music content is still popular, but comedy, makeup tutorials, dance videos and more have amassed dedicated audiences as well, bringing an even more diverse variety among the 500 million active users onto the platform.
Who Uses TikTok?
TikTok is increasingly popular with younger generations. According to the Global Web Index, 41 percent of users are between 16 and 24 years old. 60 percent of these users are female.
Geographically speaking, TikTok’s largest user base resides in China, although the app has surpassed 100 million downloads in the US. The app is also seeing rapid growth in India, Thailand, and Japan.
How Can Brands Use TikTok?
Even though the app is a social media newcomer, TikTok has made it relatively easy for marketers to begin advertising on the platform.
But before you start creating TikTok marketing strategies like a maniac, take a look at your brand and ask yourself (and your team) if it’s worth the investment.
Does TikTok Marketing Make Sense For Your Brand?
As previously mentioned, TikTok is dominated by younger users. Gen-Z makes up the largest proportion of active monthly users at just over 40%. If you run a business that targets older generations, you may find that a TikTok marketing strategy doesn’t quite make sense.
Additionally, if you know anything about millennials and Gen-Z, you likely know just how ad-adverse they are. This means you can’t expect to find success on TikTok through routine sales pitches. While the app is highly accessible since users only need a smartphone to upload content, if you want to make an impact you’ll have to get creative with your marketing tactics. For brands that traditionally run on more straight-laced marketing strategies, TikTok might be a challenge (but not impossible!) during the first few campaigns.
At the end of the day, the brands that connect with TikTok’s demographics in authentic and creative ways will be the ones that come out on top.
TikTok Marketing 101:
You’ve set up your company TikTok profile, drafted out a killer TikTok marketing strategy, and have your smartphone in hand. Now what?
Let’s start with the foundation of any marketing strategy, content.
TikTok marketing is all about tapping into the innovative and at times absurd aspects of the platform. The easiest way to join in the fun is as simple as uploading content.
Keep in mind though, TikTok users can smell inauthentic content a mile away, so it’s important to stay true to your brand’s visual and tone. If wild and wacky videos are not your brand’s style, then don’t feel pressured to create that kind of content.
A great example of a company that manages to be creative while remaining on-brand is the organic bath and skincare giant, Lush Cosmetics.
Along with comedic videos documenting employee antics, the account posts product demonstrations and visually pleasing content of their products in use.
If you’re stuck on what kind of content to post, start small and keep it simple. A lighthearted video of your employees showing off your product will come across better than your brand trying way too hard to make a viral moment and flopping. Remember, TikTok marketing is about authenticity and sharing real moments.
Another strategy to promote your brand is launching a TikTok hashtag challenge.
TikTok hashtag challenges follow a simple concept. A company or celebrity will create a branded hashtag, then invite users to upload content using the same hashtag.
Probably the best-known example of a brand pioneering success by co-opting the hashtag challenge was The Tonight Show. One of the earliest big brands to step into TikTok marketing, The Tonight Show’s #TumbleweedChallenge amassed over 8,000 submissions and over 10 million engagements within less than a week.
An example of a product-based brand finding success with a hashtag challenge is granola and snack brand, Kind. Their #KindSimpleCrunchContest worked with several TikTok influencers to build momentum, which then rippled out into the greater community.
Not only does a well-executed hashtag challenge help promote your brand, but it skyrockets your visibility, engagement, and consumer interaction.
Working With TikTok Influencers
While they may not have the sheer numbers and fan bases of Youtubers and Instagrammers, TikTok influencers are a powerful group in their own right.
If you’re looking to invest a little more time into your TikTok marketing strategy, working with TikTok influencers can be the perfect way to boost UGC and build visibility.
When you’re creating your influencer or micro-influencer strategy, keep a few things in mind:
- As with any marketing campaign, your team should set clear goals and target demographics for TikTok influencers.
- Unlike other social media platforms that have moved toward high quality, big production value content, effective TikTok marketing is often relatively amateur in quality. Let your influencers of choice have full freedom over what content they publish – they know what kind of content their audience wants to see.
- Match influencer talent with your brand. Take the time to study potential influencers to see if they (and their audience) would be a natural fit t for your brand.
- Consider offering incentives to attract micro-influencers to your brand. Freebies or discounts on your product and service can motivate people to spread the word about your brand organically. Plus, with smaller, local followings, micro-influencers are more genuine and authentic to your target audience.
To supplement your TikTok marketing strategy, you may want to invest in TikTok’s ad landscape. It’s important to note that the app’s ad process is still relatively new and will likely continue to expand as the platform matures.
Currently, there are three main ways brands can advertise on the platform.
Back in April of 2019, TikTok launched its first “managed service platform”, bringing the app into the biddable ad space. Currently, its only offering is native, in-feed video ads (think Snapchat and Instagram Story ads).
Within this option, there are three action models brands can take advantage of:
- CPV (6 seconds)
As far as targeting goes, TikTok currently offers age, gender, and geo-targeting by state. In the future, brands may also have access to interest and behavioral targeting too, as well as more accurate geo-targeting.
Brands looking to maximize their visibility can reach out to TikTok to create a brand takeover.
When users open the app, your message will automatically play. You can use this message to bring users towards an internal or external destination. During your brand takeover, you’ll also be able to create branded images, gifs, and more with embedded links to landing pages or hashtag challenges.
Branded AR Lenses
Much like Snapchat and Instagram’s lenses and AR features, TikTok provides users with a variety of facial filters and 3D objects to supplement their videos.
Consider MAC Cosmetic’s branded AR lens, which allows users to ‘try-on’ different shades of the famous brand’s lipsticks and other products.
Branded lenses are great tools for increasing your organic engagement, brand visibility, and can help you accrue a continuous stream of UGC.
If your brand caters to a younger crowd and already has a solid understanding of social media marketing best practices, it’s the perfect time to jump into TikTok marketing. Although the platform is in its early stages in many respects, TikTok hasn’t shown signs of slowing down any time soon. Many brands remain on the fence and unsure of what to do with TikTok marketing. But there seems to be a general consensus of digital marketing specialists that TikTok is an up and coming social platform to keep your eyes on in 2020.
In the world of social media marketing remember, it’s the early adopters who end up standing out the most.
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