#1 Put people at the forefront
84% of consumers are more likely to trust product recommendations from peers over brands – and that mindset reigns supreme on TikTok. Like most digital products, the bulk of the platform’s early pioneers consisted of younger generations, who have quickly become desensitised to polished branded content across Instagram and Facebook. TikTok is a personable platform where people are the true engagement drivers; the brands gaining the most traction all have influencers deep-rooted into their strategy. Forget the flawless content, we’re here for authenticity. By tapping into two unique audiences, both brands and influencers can increase their following from each other’s exposure.
Fitness apparel brand Gymshark is an example of a brand adapting to a TikTok influencer strategy. In early 2019, Gymshark created a “66 Days: Change Your Life Challenge”. Users were asked to outline a goal that they wanted to reach by March 8th, 66 days after campaign launch. Partnering with 6 major TikTok influencers who all plugged the hashtag #gymshark66, the sportswear brand quickly accumulated over 45 million hashtag impressions in less than three months.
#2 Go organic
Nothing can make or break you like an algorithm. For marketers, algorithm changes often result in periods of mixed results, and a whole lot of trial and testing. It’s no secret that Facebook and Instagram have limited the organic reach of brands on-platform, and despite many brands’ best efforts, it’s unavoidably a pay-to-play space. For those looking to make a smaller budget work harder, TikTok can help. The platform runs on a content graph rather than a social graph, meaning content is visible to users outside of your current following. In fact, TikTok averages 118% organic reach for brands vs 5.2% for Facebook, and 5% for Instagram Stories. This is primarily down to TikTok’s extremely popular ‘For You’ page, which consists of videos produced by creators that users don’t follow.
#3 Keep it snappy
There’s no doubt that social media platforms are intricately designed to maximise not only the number of eyes spent on-screen, but also the amount of time spent on platform. From the endless scrolling mechanism to the pull-to-refresh feature, many have flagged the unnerving similarities between social newsfeeds and slot machines found in casinos.
However, as users spend more time on social platforms, they spend less time with individual pieces of content. The average attention span has reduced by 25% since 2000, and it’s widely agreed that social media is the catalyst for this. On average people spend 1.7 seconds with a piece of content on a mobile, which is more than enough time for them to process, identify and develop an emotional reaction to it. This rings true on TikTok, where the most popular content engages users immediately, and runs between 5-16 seconds in length.
Sky Sports makes the most of this high user engagement. Cutting down key highlights from recent fixtures, races, and rounds, they produce excellent short-form content soundtracked with the platform’s trending songs and audio clips. Their feed serves the purpose of keeping avid sports fans in-the-know if they haven’t set aside the time to watch a full event and introducing new viewers to the highlights of the sporting world. On top of this, their channel features humorous cut-downs from the outlet’s favourite pundits, opening up the comment section for supporters to put forward their take on the big game.
#4 Target meticulously
An organic strategy can be extremely effective on TikTok, but to make your video content go even further, there are also plenty of paid advertising opportunities to try out. In June 2020, TikTok released their very own Ads Manager. Like Facebook Ads Manager, the platform allows you to outline campaign objectives from the outset, create custom and lookalike audiences to optimise targeting, and delivers in-depth post campaign analytics to monitor performance. Currently, there are five different types of ads available for business:
- In-Feed Ads – the video ads that appear between user videos.
- Brand Takeover – the ads that appear upon opening the app.
- TopView – the first-in-feed post that appears after 3 seconds.
- Branded Hashtag Challenges – where brands effectively ‘own’ a hashtag. When a user taps on the hashtag, they are taken to a new page featuring the brand logo, website URL, a short description of the challenge, and popular videos already uploaded with that hashtag.
- Branded Effects – custom-made shareable stickers, lenses and augmented reality filters are now available for up to 10 days at a time. Like Snapchat’s lenses, these filters serve as a strong incentive for TikTokers to interact with others through your brand.
While in-feed ads, brand takeovers and branded hashtags are already a familiar sight on TikTok, augmented reality filters are gaining some traction among more reactive brands. French beauty giants L’Oreal Paris are paving the way by incorporating AR into their advertising campaigns, like raising awareness for their new Colorista Permanent Gel hair colour. Users could interact with a custom effect to see their hair colour immediately change to a light rose gold. This subtle lift in tone translated to a massive uplift in engagement, with the #GoBoldColorista hashtag attaining over 2.8 billion views.
#5 Involve your community
For many brands, the focus has turned away from users passively viewing content, and towards community building, with brand advocacy and active brand ambassadors as an end goal for social. TikTok is the prime place for two-way communication between organisations and users, with an innovative feature on the platform giving creators the ability to respond to comments with video. Video responses help to provide clear information for potential or existing customers and give brands the opportunity to show off their personable side.
Language learning website and mobile app Duolingo has broken the mould with a focused TikTok strategy. The brand is known for its cartoon owl logo, which has been brought to life in a series of hilarious short videos. Not only are they posting recent trends through the lens of their newfound brand mascot, but their social team goes as far as trawling the comment section of every upload, responding to as many users as possible. Often, they will take the most interacted with comments, and respond – as Duo the owl – in an upload of its own. Prior to Duo gracing their feed, Duolingo were averaging circa 170k views per video, comparatively, TikToks featuring their fan-favourite owl now average 3.8m views. The figures speak for themselves, and they’re telling you to give some off-the-wall content a test run for your brand.
TikTok is a truly unique social space with huge prospects for brands looking to make a wave in 2022. Even with its massive uptake in global users, it is still very much a platform in its infancy with a high turnover of viral videos shaped by trending topics. To succeed here, brands must produce authentic, shareable, and creative content; grabbing users’ attention immediately, and creating more based on how they respond.