Whether it's the dancing teens or the hilarious memes, you've probably encountered some facet of TikTok lately. But regardless if you're honing your own dance routine to post (we don't judge) or want to figure out how you can start advertising on TikTok, there's a LOT to learn about the hottest social platform. So let's get started.
TikTok is a social media channel created in 2016 which allowed users to watch, create, and share 15-second videos. Since then, it's become a worldwide phenomenon with a meteoric rise. Currently, it allows longer videos, up to 10 minutes.
For fans of the platform, it’s a fun way to connect with their friends, and for influencers and businesses to gain new followers. For marketers, it's become an increasingly popular way to share information about their goods and services to new audiences around the globe.
We’re about to dive deep into TikTok. We’ll not only discuss what it is and how it's currently being used, but also how some brands make the most of it for marketing. Then, we’ll end with some best practices to help you figure out if TikTok is right for you and your business.
And don’t worry–the dancing is optional.
What is TikTok, and How It Got So Popular
Who is TikTok’s Audience?
What is TikTok Marketing?
Types of TikTok Ads
How Brands Use TikTok Today
TikTok Marketing Best Practices
Final Thoughts on TikTok Marketing
Superside Can Help
TikTok is a video social network. They are typically short videos, though the allowed length has been increased to ten minutes as of March 2022. If you're brand new to TikTok, you'll see trending videos that usually involve dances to a song, and other viral faves like magic tricks and jokes. As you feed the algorithm by liking videos and favouriting profiles, TikTok will adjust to your preferences.
TikTok was originally released in the Chinese market in September 2016, under Douyin–which is still the name of the Chinese version of the platform. It became available everywhere else in 2017. In October of 2020, TikTok surpassed over 2 billion downloads worldwide. And in September of 2021, it reported reaching 1 billion users.
In 2018, TikTok merged with the app musical.ly, which was a lip-syncing platform, to leverage their young audience base. This led to the app being dominated by music, singing, and dancing, especially during the early days.
These short clips are easy to consume, and the algorithm within the app, like the "For You" page (#fyp), shares content quickly and continues sharing it as it gains popularity and engagement.
Popular content gains momentum like a snowball rolling downhill and spreads significantly across a billion of users, a number that grows every day.
This type of “viral” spreading rarely happens for brands on other social media apps, like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, unless the brand gets lucky or pays for it. For now, TikTok is wide open and if you make quality content, it’s almost guaranteed to be seen.
TikTok has a younger audience than other social platforms. It is estimated that there are roughly 80 million monthly active users in the US. 60% of them are female, 40% are male. About 60% are between the ages of 16-and 24, and 26% are between 25-and 44.
If your targeted audience falls within those ages, it might be time to level-up your TikTok game and get some genuine and quality content out there.
Not all marketing on TikTok is done through memes or singing along to popular songs. Brands of all kinds make TikTok work for them, and usually, all it takes is some creativity, openness, and plenty of trial and error.
Brands use TikTok in many different ways, but the most successful ones are those that stay authentic to themselves and focus on connection instead of selling.
Brands interested in advertising on TikTok have several options available. To help you get started, the platform offers the ability to create custom audiences, lookalike audiences, and target audiences according to age, gender, location, interests, and more. Basically, if there’s a specific demographic or psychographic you’re looking to connect with, TikTok advertising makes it easy for you.
Currently, there are five types of TikTok ads available to brands:
A Brand Takeover ad is an ad that plays as soon as you open the app. It presents a full-screen video to your chosen target audience and plays until it’s over or if the user moves on from it. They can also appear on the “For You” page and as hashtag challenges.
In-Feed Ads are videos that appear between user-created videos as you scroll through the “For You” page. This is similar to Facebook and Instagram, where an ad or branded post will appear and look as though it belongs within your feed.
These advertisements use specific hashtags to help brands create (or be a part of) trends and challenges specific to TikTok. These ads are displayed on the Discovery page and offer brands an opportunity to get in on TikTok’s community and culture more seamlessly than trying to create something entirely by themselves.
Stickers, AR filters, and lenses offer brands an opportunity to create something that TikTok users can interact with. These are uniquely designed and run for about ten days.
Like a Brand Takeover, these ads are played after opening the app. However, they are the first in-feed videos after about 3 seconds instead of delivering the ad immediately. These videos show up at the top of the “For You” page, which is considered prime real estate in the TikTok world.
It's not too late to seize the massive opportunity TikTok has for showcasing your brand, delighting your customers and boosting your business. We can show you how.
As with any social media site, brands that adopt strategies which work well within the app typically do the best on that site. TikTok’s audience expect entertaining or informational videos that are easy to consume and get to the point quickly. Brands that use how-to videos, product usage videos, and deliver on exciting moments can do quite well on the platform.
Here are some examples of brands doing a great job of marketing their products and services on TikTok:
Chipotle has been consistent in posting food cooking videos, sharing tidbits about their company and capitalizing on holidays (see #boorito campaign). They don’t focus on “selling” their product but instead showcase it in interesting and exciting ways. They also feature a lot of user-generated content throughout their posting, where videos their fans made are being shared on the company’s feed.
As early adopters, the NBA saw growth causing the NFL to get to work, eventually signing a multi multi-year partnership. Now, the NBA has 5.5 million fans (the most by any sports brand).
Instead of just focusing on game highlights, they share comedy, memes, and motivation with their audience.
It’s not just professional athletes who do well on the app – gym and workout videos are a hit too. Gymshark has amassed 1.2 million fans as they post memes, workout videos, and inspirational content to their page.
San Diego Zoo takes advantage of our natural love for furry friends by posting videos of their animals playing, eating, or being rambunctious. If you’re a Zoo, aquarium, or pet rescue center—take note.
World Wrestling Entertainment joined TikTok in December 2019 and has over 1.3 million followers. They post short content of their superstars and big moments in matches to provide an insider look at their events and superstars. Through various social media platforms (including TikTok), the WWE recently shattered social media records with WrestleMania 38 coverage, surpassing even the Superbowl–which typically garners the most media attention annually with over 100 million viewers on average
Duolingo does TikTok right by jumping on trends, while incorporating their mascot in funny and engaging skits. They also manage to show off their office and make the behind-the-scenes feel natural and funny, while reminding people of their brand and to engage with the Duolingo product.
Of course, there are many more examples, and even more brands are deciding to get in on the action each day. Right now, the TikTok arena is open, and the brands who take advantage of it are sure to reap the most rewards later.
Not every brand is successful in trying to launch a TikTok channel. Younger people are increasingly aware of marketing, and without authenticity, the younger generation will swipe up past your content and your brand will fail on the platform.
Consider these best practices when developing or fine-tuning your TikTok marketing strategy.
If you’ve spent any time on the platform, you’ve likely noticed that many trends (dances, music, skits, etc.) are recycled, stitched, and used repeatedly by many users. These trends come and go over a few weeks or months, with the newest ones gaining attention on the “For You” page. Smart brands should hop on these trends and find ways to use them creatively to promote their product or service.
On TikTok and other visual platforms, if you’re not creating appealing and trending content, you will not gain views. But if you are, then it’s one of the few platforms left that will showcase it widely for you.
Spend time on the platform, see what others are doing, and learn what works.
It’s hard for brands not to promote themselves or “sell” their product to an audience. But,with a younger audience that has spent their entire lives being sold to on social media platforms, it’s tricky to find that perfect balance of selling and appealing. The greatest video in the world can easily be cast aside if by the end of it users feel like they are being sold to.
Instead, focus on entertaining or informing your audience through the use of your product or service. As users start to expect this type of content from your brand, they will embrace you more, which could eventually lead to selling products more directly to them.
Since the early days of social media marketing, brands have hired and partnered with influencers to help them connect with specific audiences. TikTok is no different. It’s important to find users who connect to your target audience and engage them with them in interesting ways. Perhaps this means having them showcase your product or creating a dance/trend for your brand. This could also mean featuring them on your page or having them visit your office.
Influencer marketing and partnerships hold a lot of sway among younger generations and can lead to more trust and connection to your brand.
You or your marketing team must understand the correct ratios and dimensions for TikTok video content. A poorly shot video, or content that looks over-produced could go unnoticed or be unwelcome on the platform. Instead, find the balance of “real” and “professional” to ensure your content is high quality and easy to consume.
To build high-volume, high-quality content and weave it into your current content marketing strategy, consider hiring a team experienced in social media and TikTok Marketing.
As with all social media sites, frequency is key when posting on TikTok. You should post regularly, but you should ensure consistency in the type of content you post. Audiences come to expect specific things from brands and other users, so if your audience encounters unexpected content, you could risk losing part of your current audience.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t ever try to test new ideas or iterate – as you explore TikTok and figure out what works for your brand, lean into the type of content that performs well.
To learn the tools, you’ll want to get on the app and experiment with posting content. If that’s too quick too soon, download TikTok and share your ideas internally with your team first. Get some feedback, and make sure to document the best ideas.
From filters and duets, to reaction videos and call-to-action buttons, the options are practically endless for you to find what works for your brand. One of the best places to start is to mimic what others are doing and see what sticks. You never know, your next video might be exactly what your audience wants to see and it could catapult you into carving out a new niche for your business. If you’re having trouble figuring out what works, find yourself a team that does.
Creating great content means nothing if that content is irrelevant or insensitive to what’s happening at that moment. Most content on TikTok isn’t evergreen and instead lives in a specific moment in time. Make sure you (and your team) are aware of holidays, trends, social movements, or anything relevant to the world that resonates with your company’s values at the time of your posting.
From its early days, TikTok was created to be a fun, entertaining social platform. It’s essential to find what’s exciting or fun about your brand, product, or service and lean into that as much as you can without compromising your brand’s integrity or voice. Brands who try to come onto the platform and share serious content or take themselves too seriously are less likely to find success.
Try to post lighthearted content that means well, or you risk being ignored on the platform.
Much like early Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter marketing, TikTok is currently a wide-open world of possibilities for brands and businesses. As the social platform grows, no one knows when that will change or if brands will someday be forced to expand their reach through paid advertising like it is now on those other social platforms.
If you’ve been considering putting your brand or business on TikTok, there is no better time than the present to give it a shot. Once you’ve got a logo designed and a content plan in place (we can help with that) you can get set up with a TikTok business account.
1. Download TikTok from the App store
2. Log in or sign up
3. Click on the Me tab
4. Go to Manage Account and switch to a Business Account
5. Follow the prompts
It’s that simple.
If the thought of dedicating resources and time to a tool or a platform you don’t know about scares you, then consider connecting with us. You’ll get original design concepts and creative collateral for your social media channels to energize your marketing efforts and grow your business.
We have subscription plans for all needs, and we’d love to book a demo to work with you and your team.
Cassandra King is Superside's Head of Content & Community. She’s a road trip aficionado, advocate for all things glitter, and can usually be found with a camera (or snacks) in hand. Find her on IG @casssandra.king.
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