TikTok is one of the most widely talked about social platforms today. Since its launch in 2017, the app has experienced an explosion of worldwide growth, now offered in 75 languages across 150 countries. As of 2019, it is the fourth most downloaded app, with an estimated 800 million users, trailing behind Instagram at one billion users.
As we have seen over the past year, the short-form mobile video platform continues to grow, not only in the number of users but also in its offerings for businesses. These offerings empower businesses to grow and profit from the app.
“Our user interface is optimised for discovery and prioritises good content over all else” - TikTok
In this article we will look at:
- What TikTok Can Offer Your Business
- How to Plan an Effective Strategy
- Success Stories
- Things To Consider
Did you know?
Between May 2018 and April 2019, there was a 500% increase in in-app spending, reaching $7.4 billion!
1. What TikTok Can Offer Your Business
The engagement rate on TikTok averages 52.1%. For any company, this is clearly an opportunity for ample brand awareness campaigns and further business marketing. In September 2020, TikTok released a dedicated Business Marketing Partner Program, which any business can use – big or small.
The solutions that TikTok has to offer include:
If you’re looking for a seamless integration of your brand into your users’ TikTok “For You” feeds, in-feed ads are perfect. Optimized for conversion, these 5 - 60 second ads allow any business to get started marketing quickly. In fact, TikTok’s robust Ads Manager Platform allows businesses to coordinate their ads, monitor traffic, and understand conversion analytics.
TopView & TopView Lite
For TopView and TopView Lite campaigns, the user interface is designed for full-screen take-over. These are great for getting your target audience to focus on your brand. This option allows a 24-hour takeover as well: your ad will be the first video users see when they open TikTok. Additionally, these campaigns support internal and external links to facilitate landing page conversion.
Branded Hashtag Challenge
Branded Hashtag Challenges offer an interactive approach for increasing your company’s brand engagement over a six-day marketing campaign. After sponsoring a hashtag challenge, your content will be displayed on the Discover Page to be seen by millions of users.
Users can click on your customized banner to see video demonstrations of your challenge, which they can recreate using your hashtag, and further promote your brand through user-generated content (UGC).
Branded Hashtag Challenge Plus
Similar to the Branded Hashtag Challenge, the Plus option enables you to make sales from the campaign through the Explore tab linked to your hashtag landing page.
TikTok also allows companies to create branded 2D, 3D, and AR effects that can be triggered by unique gestures. Once the campaign is activated, your filter will be included in the Top 10 Trending list, and users can apply these effects and filters to their own videos, creating more brand awareness through UGC.
In addition to these in-app solutions, TikTok provides further business support to improve your marketing strategy through partnerships and funding. It is now possible to work with marketing partners that focus on four categories: Campaign Management, Measurement, Creative, and Effects.
The partners have industry expertise in these areas and work with TikTok’s Marketing API to achieve the best success rate for your campaign.
Furthermore, creator collaborations can help you produce creative video content with maximum engagement. Businesses can browse the Creator Marketplace to find a creator or influencer best suited to your brand and campaign strategy.
When searching for a brand influencer, it’s important to take into consideration their demographics and reach, as well as ensuring their values are aligned with your brand.
With their launch of the Creator Fund in August 2020, TikTok has been actively encouraging uplifting and creatively entertaining content. The program offers tangible earnings that creators can withdraw at the end of each month. Calculation of the funds is based on factors such as authenticity, engagement, and number of views.
2. How To Plan An Effective Strategy
Unlike other social media channels, TikTok is a platform for authentic and entertaining engagements. Even if your business appears serious and professional, TikTok empowers brands to show a more human, playful, and creative side to their business.
As you start incorporating TikTok into your brand strategy, you must research whether or not your intended demographic is already on TikTok. If they are not, who do you want to expand your audience to, and how can you introduce them to your brand? The most popular videos on the platform feature humor, animals, and young people. If you want to appeal to more TikTok audiences, create videos around these themes.
As mentioned previously, hashtag challenges can be a fruitful content strategy for any business. With hashtag challenges, you can create your own challenges and respond to others’. Doing so initiates conversation and engagement between users and your brand.
Trending content is always changing, so it is advised to monitor and mimic trending content in order to connect with what your audience wants.
TikTok users scroll through an open “For You” feed based on their interests, unlike other social platforms where users mostly scroll through people they follow. As a business user, this is one of the main advantages of TikTok. You can reach a wider audience of people that may not follow you, but have interests similar to what your brand stands for.
3. Successful Case Studies
As Nike is such a large, well-known brand, they have the advantage of being able to support a feed populated by UGC. With so many users on TikTok creating content using Nike products and the Nike hashtag, Nike receives free advertising. In addition to their wealth of UGC, branded hashtag challenges such as #TheReplay have been very popular with athletes and fitness, athleisure, and sports audiences.
If you want to follow in the footsteps of Nike and you have certain branded items, try getting your audience to post about them through incentives and influencer marketing.
While they are known for their news reporting on politics, business, and the world, the newspaper’s TikTok feed shows a very different side to the company.
Using their main spokesperson, Dave, Washington Post shares silly, down-to-earth videos that are somewhat related to current news but taking an incredibly humorous approach.
Some of the videos that gained a lot of views and engagement reference popular scenes from movies such as The Titanic and The Notebook, the latter of which was also participating in a hashtag challenge.
Often partnering with actors from shows on Netflix, these partnership videos are a mixture of everyday home videos, short Q&As, and challenge responses, opening a more personal conversation with their audiences.
Netflix also shares funny clips from programs and films on their platform, sometimes creating meme videos from these clips.
A solid example of how businesses are being creative and remaining representative of their brand is the online video game Fortnite, by Epic Games.
Featuring animated characters, their feed is populated with videos of trending dances and challenge responses. They have also created challenges like #emoteroyalecontest, with the winning user rewarded by having their dance moves featured in the actual game.
In addition to UGC, Chiptole creates their own videos of recipes, responses to other users’ comments, and reacting to what’s trending and popular.
In one particular campaign that succeeded in being the highest performing branded TikTok challenge in the US, they revived a video clip that went viral in 2010 and used it to create an interactive and entertaining hashtag challenge, #GuacDance.
Everything was timed impeccably, as the hashtag challenge was launched alongside the promotion offering customers free guacamole with their meal when they ordered from Chipotle on National Avocado Day 2019.
While gaming companies maintain presence on Twitch and YouTube, they also run campaigns on TikTok, as its young, tech-savvy audience makes the platform more suitable for influencer marketing.
As such, EA Sports uses TikTok influencers to promote their games. EA Sports is known for their battle-royale style game, Apex Legends.
The gaming titan recruited Brent Rivera to make a video of himself playing the game, which garnered 900,000 likes. During the promotion of FIFA 20, freestyle soccer player Indie Cowie made a TikTok video freestyling in public, and a shout-out to the game.
EA Sports demonstrates that using the right TikTok influencers in your niche can amass you hundreds of thousands of views and likes.
Ralph Lauren engaged actress Diana Silvers to boost their TikTok engagement. In addition, they timed their marketing to perfectly coincide with the US Open Tennis Championship. At the time, the US Open hashtag had received over 8 million views.
With this partnership, Ralph Lauren reached two audiences: followers of Diana Silvers and people searching for ‘US Open’.
Ralph Lauren even created their own custom hashtag to promote the co-branding marketing: #winningRL. By tying the hashtag to a challenge, 100,000 people liked the videos co-branding Ralph Lauren, Diana Silvers, and the US Open. The custom hashtag garnered over 600 million views.
However, you do not need to be a massive brand to benefit from these strategies on TikTok. By creating timely marketing, custom hashtags, and branded challenges, you too can capitalize on the popularity of this platform.
Walmart’s case study goes to show that TikTok can benefit all businesses, even those with primary markets in brick-and-mortar commerce.
Walmart devised a hashtag #DealDropDance to actively engage in TikTok influencer marketing. Six influencers collaborated with Walmart to encourage followers to show how good Black Friday savings made them feel.
These videos were extremely well-received, and led to higher engagement on their TikTok. The posts from just six influencers reached over 17 million people. Walmart also tied in a giveaway: rewarding shoppers with a $100 gift card for their best dance moves in a Walmart aisle.
There are many ways to think outside the box with TikTok, and a loyalty program for a brick-and-mortar store is just one way to use the platform to drive real ROI for your brand.
4. Things To Consider
As innovative and entertaining as TikTok is, there has been some controversy and concerns around the app’s security, privacy, and online safety in several countries across the world.
The app has already had temporary bans and restrictions put in place in India, Hong Kong, and Indonesia, and has come close to being banned in Japan, Pakistan, and the US. Currently owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, there have been concerns that they might be collecting personal data for uses outside the benefits of the app.
While Microsoft was looking to buy TikTok with plans to implement more stringent security measures, TikTok instead signed a partnership with the multinational tech corporation Oracle on 14th September 2020.
At this stage, it is difficult to tell how this will affect the operations of the app; however, it is good to be aware of the government stance on the app in the country your business is registered in and where your target audience is located while planning your campaign and strategy.