From feta pasta recipes to #SilhouetteChallenge videos, TikTok has introduced plenty of trends into the world. It’s become a place for people to share content and join communities, where it’s easy to bond over topics as silly as buffering videos or as serious as mental health.
Naturally, the rise of TikTok has brands wondering if they should join the platform. Or, if they’re already on there, how to better maximize their impact.
Brands must use TikTok a bit differently to connect with fans than they would other platforms—or even individual accounts—and when done well, there’s enormous potential within the app.
Let’s break down why TikTok is such an important platform for brands.
TikTok has staying power
Whenever a new social media platform enters the foray users either immediately flock to it in droves, or it quickly falls flat.
In some cases, a platform starts off strong, only to lose steam over time. Vine offered quick-hitting, six-second videos to viewers, but shut down after being acquired by Twitter. At the start of the pandemic, Clubhouse was the hottest hobby, besides baking homemade bread. The exclusive, “velvet rope” philosophy for joining generated quite a bit of buzz, though active users have tumbled significantly over the past year.
Meanwhile, TikTok has maintained steady growth throughout the pandemic. It’s surpassed one billion monthly users, with 80 million active users in the United States. It’s not only Gen Z using the platform, either. Per Comscore, 29.5 percent of 20-29-year-olds, 16.4 percent of 30-39-year-olds, and 13.9 percent of 40-49-year-olds have all become active TikTok users.
TikTok builds connections
TikTok also builds connections more meaningfully than other platforms. People explore topics like mental health and grief, offering unique looks into their lives. In a world of filters and fake posts, that type of honesty is refreshing.
Gen Z users, in particular, trend toward having fun and fostering genuine connections. They hope for more advocacy and resources around psychological safety. Having a safe space, away from bullies, harassment, and other unappealing behaviors is a key ingredient for a social platform. TikTok provides that sanctuary.
TikTok users lean in
TikTok users are more deliberate with their media usage; 46 percent of users say their time is more focused on the app, while 35 percent of users have spent less time watching TV and other video content since joining TikTok.
As a result, 94 percent of TikTokers perform some kind of action or engagement on posts, with one in four buying a product they’ve seen advertised. Compare that to Instagram users; only 62.4 percent of people say they’re more likely to interact with a brand on Instagram instead of on other social media channels.
Despite these benefits, you can’t just slap a video together and expect to reap rewards. Posting to TikTok requires a thoughtful strategy. Otherwise, you may as well dance like nobody’s watching because…well, nobody is.
Checklist for using TikTok effectively
Planning a TikTok marketing strategy can seem like a massive undertaking. Marketing on TikTok is unlike marketing on other channels. Brands must capitalize on existing trends while keeping content casual and entertaining (not to mention relevant).
Before planning anything, though, you need to figure out these things:
- Who are you trying to reach? Are you using TikTok to tap into a new market? Or do you simply want to connect with current fans? Aim to understand your audience across other social channels and use that to inform your TikTok content.
- What are you trying to say? Are you trying to increase brand awareness or sell more products? Are you willing to go get creative and deviate from your usual brand voice? Determining those goals will help you determine the tone and messages in this channel.
- Can you post consistently? Trends on TikTok tend to quickly come and go. If your team can’t commit to posting at least once a week and be ready to capitalize on those trending moments, it’s worth waiting until you can invest more time.
Elevating your TikTok presence
Embrace hashtag challenges
Hashtag challenges are a great way to bring people together under shared interests. For example, Ruffles and the NBA partnered to create the #RufflesOwnYourRidges challenge. Fans shared what made them unique to win a chance to attend the 2022 NBA All-Star Game. This campaign was easy for anyone to enter and gave them creative freedom to celebrate individuality, resulting in an enormous 2.5 billion views of videos using the hashtag.
TikTok creators can also amplify brand messages. While influencers tend to peddle products simply because they get paid, creators go deeper, developing inspiring and innovative content to promote brands they truly enjoy. Even smaller creators can generate significant reach if their values align with your brand. The TikTok Creator Marketplace lets brands and creators find the perfect fit; just make sure any collaborations make sense for both sides.
Explore paid options
TikTok offers paid advertising opportunities as well, which can help targeted campaigns break through the noise. In-feed ads appear in between TikTok videos in the feed, while Branded Effects give users the chance to showcase brand filters. TopView and Brand Takeover ads catch users at peak attention, appearing immediately upon opening the app and before any user-generated content appears, respectively.
Keep it light
Finally, remember not to take your brand too seriously. It can be difficult to tactfully weave in brand messages while still entertaining users, and sometimes the best strategy is to poke a little fun at yourself. For example, Duolingo leveraged a popular meme of its owl mascot, Duo, to create irreverent videos of Duo living up to its reputation. The company has grown from 50,000 followers in Fall 2021 to over 4.1 million today. Similarly, Chipotle embraces the creativity of building your own burrito and bowl and invites fans to join in on the fun—its #GuacDance challenge encouraged user-generated content celebrating guacamole while #ChipotleSponsorMe offered people a chance to win Chipotle for a whole year. Both hashtags were silly, engaging, and inspired creative thinking.
TikTok isn’t going away anytime soon. The brands that can capitalize on the platform’s power while entertaining and educating users will find new levels of success.
Want to learn more? Visit the Khoros TikTok guide for brands.