If you’ve spent any time on social media in the last year or so, you’ve almost certainly heard of TikTok. TikTok is a popular social media app that allows users to combine visual and audio elements in short-form videos.
The app (previously Bytedance) has grown steadily after acquiring its U.S.-based rival Musical.ly in November 2017. According to the U.S.- based app analytics firm Sensor Tower, there were over 315 million installs in the first quarter of 2020, generating the highest number of downloads for an app ever in any quarter.
Undoubtedly, the coronavirus pandemic has only accelerated this platform’s growth as people increasingly turn to social media as a way to stay connected and entertained during a time of social distancing and isolation. Subsequently, brands and influencers alike have become more active on the platform, resulting in higher frequencies of cross-platform syndication.
As the number of active TikTok users continues to rise, digital marketers should consider how this platform might be the answer to solving some of a brand’s biggest social media marketing challenges – growth, new audiences and engaging content.
TikTok democratizes content more than any other social platform since brands don’t have to establish significant followings in order to land on the For You Page (FYP), TikTok’s equivalent to Instagram’s Explore Page. Never before have brands been able to create virality on such a massive scale.
Top-performing challenges inspire hundreds of thousands (and sometimes even millions) of TikTokers to make videos about a brand. Content creators can use popular sounds and hashtags to join in on these TikTok challenges or trends, further increasing a brand’s likelihood of landing on the FYP and extending potential reach and virality of videos.
Recently, popular makeup brand NYX launched it’s #ButterGlossPop campaign asking TikToker’s one question: How do you Pop Your Gloss? Users were challenged to show NYX how they apply the cult-favorite Butter Gloss. This viral challenge garnered over 10 billion video views.
TikTok’s integration of sound is part of its unique ability to spread influence farther and faster than any other social platform. Every video published publicly becomes a searchable, usable sound. When users find a song or soundbite that they enjoy, they can select that sound and view all content created with that sound. As such, sound is a crucial part of any brand’s TikTok social media strategy as people from different communities all over the world converge to discover videos through this feature.
While one viral video won’t necessarily result in massive growth on TikTok or other brand channels, it will generate brand awareness and likely drive traffic to owned channels. As such, brands should ensure that their Instagram profiles are linked to their TikTok for cross-platform discoverability.
As brands look to grow their audience and expand their reach, TikTok offers the unique opportunity to connect in an interactive way with Millennials and Gen Z users – some of the most notoriously sought-after and demanding audiences. These young consumers are future decision-makers and spenders, making it imperative that brands develop relationships with these users to build a community of future brand loyal advocates.
In addition to sharing owned, thumb-stopping content, brands should collaborate with TikTok influencers to develop engaging videos to support brand campaigns and initiatives. Unlike YouTube and Instagram, TikTok is not yet dominated by micro-celebrities, though they do exist. Instead, the main feed often features everyday users doing something cute, relatable, funny or clever. In keeping with this trend, digital marketers should ensure that brand campaigns allow for creative content as viral videos are typically not overly branded and based on unique concepts. Ultimately, marketers should be less precious about branding and encourage influencers to exercise and execute unique concepts.
Trends are the currency of the Internet and TikTok is the breeding ground of today’s most permeating trends, memes and challenge videos. TikTok thrives on viral videos, with users taking on hashtag challenges and spending considerable time and effort to develop creative concepts. Oftentimes, top-performing content pieces are creative, quirky videos that don’t take themselves or the brand too seriously.
At this point, the TikTok platform is a valuable way for brands to generate awareness and develop interactive content that can be syndicated elsewhere. As a first step, it’s important to consider what your TikTok personality will be and how this persona will come to life on the platform. One suggested approach is to humanize the brand by collaborating with employees or ambassadors to develop videos showing behind-the-scenes glimpses of the daily activities occurring at headquarters, company events or store locations.
Alternatively, brands like Chipotle have built a presence on that platform by creating challenges to support specific campaigns. For example, Chipotle recently launched its Chips and Dip campaign in collaboration with key TikTok content creators. The brand coordinated at-home Chipotle lunch deliveries to popular influencers who created content utilizing the #chipsanddip hashtag, tagged the brand within their captions and used the same music soundbite. The initial launch of this campaign sparked a slew of user generated videos that have gained over 1 million views to date.
While there are many approaches that brands can take on TikTok, it’s important to always keep in mind a few things. Firstly, who is your target consumer and what is the best way to connect with them on this platform? Secondly, consider building a large bank of content before launching a TikTok channel to ensure that once users navigate to your page, they are inclined to watch and hopefully follow the account upon discovery.
Many companies have successfully engaged younger audiences by showing off a lighter side of themselves through funny videos, challenges and other strategies specific to the TikTok platform. Since TikTok is so quirky by nature, brands need to be creative to truly gain attention from their audience. A simple ad or sponsored influencer endorsement might not gain the necessary traction on this fast-paced app.
As with every new platform, it’s important to beware of potential safety or regulation pitfalls when targeting younger users. Advertising on the TikTok platform is still a newer feature, so its metrics are still fairly basic requiring marketers to carefully consider how to measure and communicate success on this platform.