Thought TikTok was just for fun? Think again. In fact, it’s a marketing goldmine with endless potential. Here’s why you should be taking the platform seriously from a business perspective…
1. TikTok influencers
Influencer marketing has been around for a while now, yet if you're unfamiliar with the setup, it essentially entails paying a small or large (usually Instagram) influencer to promote your products to their followers.
With audience trust already established, the winning formula unfolds via product recommendations. Almost like a friend sharing a must-have item or service they’ve discovered, which in turn, increases purchase potential. Then, just when everyone had grasped it, TikTok influencers arrive on the scene, taking it to a whole new level. Let’s unpack it.
While Instagram marketing is still holding its title as the number one influencer powerhouse, it’s certainly up for debate as to whether that’s now dominated by businesses trying to profit.
Unlike Instagram, TikTok is still a relatively young platform with a minimal sales pitch. This is mainly because large corporations are yet to harness its potential, meaning it still has the personal feel that Instagram held in the early days.
Who’s scrolling? TikTok is the perfect platform to engage with the younger generation with the biggest group of TikTok users aged 18 to 24 (40%).
Perhaps the most challenging element when getting started with TikTok influencer marketing will be sourcing the perfect people for your brand. The key here is to choose your niche to ensure you’ve selected well from the off. For example, you may not want to market a female focussed fitness programme with a male fitness influencer, just because they have a larger reach. Make it relatable.
2. TikTok ads
TikTok advertisements have only been around for a short time. However, they’re already a direct competitor to Snapchat and Instagram. Generally, TikTok ads are very similar to other paid social media ads, but there are a few key distinctions that marketers should be aware of.
There are five types of advertisements:
Branded hashtag challenges
Before we get into the specifics of each variation, it's worth noting that TikTok-sponsored commercials are more expensive than ads on other social media sites. While you can start a Facebook or Instagram ad campaign for as little as $20, running an ad campaign on TikTok for business requires a £415 minimum commitment.
As a result, many small businesses have stayed away. However, if you have a larger marketing budget, they can be a highly effective supplement to your strategy.
3. Advertisements in-feed
Because TikTok's in-feed ads are remarkably similar to those that show up between Instagram Stories, you can compare them easily. In-feed adverts have the advantage of appearing almost identical to the regular information that other users see. You can also include a lot of CTAs and submit clips with more intricate motion graphics if your strategy calls for it. Plus, they allow you to get super-creative.
4. Brand takeovers
When consumers open the TikTok app, brand takeover ads show up right away. As you might expect, these commercials are incredibly expensive, but they may immediately reach a big portion of TikTok's user base.
Interestingly, TikTok users only see one brand takeover ad per day, meaning it's an amazing approach to increase brand recognition, whilst removing competitors for a limited time. However, for many businesses, the hefty cost is a major turn-off.
5. Top views
Top views are a unique form of in-feed ads because they’re always the first ad viewers see (for at least three seconds) when coming back to the app. They appear at the top of the ‘For You’ page and can play up to 60-second, full-screen videos.
6. Branded hashtag challenges
Branded hashtag challenges are beneficial since they create a lot of user-generated content (UGC). These challenges can be found on TikTok's ‘Discover’ page. When people click on one of the hashtags, they're taken to a branded landing page with information about the challenge, a link to the brand's website and UGC from TikTokers who’ve already done the challenge.
Branded hashtag challenges are especially effective because they're so entertaining. Unlike in-feed ads or brand takeovers, users can be creative and express themselves, forming a significant bond between businesses and audiences. Sadly, these advertisements are also quite costly. A six-day challenge costs $150,000.
7. Branded effects
TikTok's branded effects follow Snapchat's lead and allow advertisers to develop AR overlays for TikTokers to utilise in their videos. The pull stimulates audience participation, similar to sponsored hashtag challenges. They are also rather pricey, with each effect costing $100,000.
8. Content variety
TikTok is undoubtedly a fresh medium for online expression, not just a new social network. Bringing bite-size media to the forefront, creators must learn the ins and outs of this new genre. Forget copy and pasting your Facebook and Instagram posts into TikTok, you'll have to double down on your social media efforts with innovative concepts.
Equally, don’t let the power of sound pass you by, as TikTok is all about the dream combination of music and video. Without some unique tunes, it's tricky to create a showstopping TikTok post.
Let’s talk categories. The majority of TikTok posts fall into two categories - music or comedy. While there are serious posts on TikTok, most users scroll to watch short, loopable comedic clips or videos (especially dance routines) matched to popular melodies.
The best part? TikTok is a very casual platform, so coming across as overly professional or salesy will be a big turn-off for your audience. So, even if you keep a highly professional appearance on Instagram, you'll probably want to tone it down a bit for TikTok and get in the mood for some fun.
Don’t be scared to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Create customer-engaging branded and unbranded (free/organic) content, such as hashtag challenges, amusing videos and short dance routines.
It’s also savvy to keep up with the current TikTok trends if you want your content to really stick. This will give you a strong indication of what songs and effects are currently popular, allowing you to create content that follows the trend.
9. Going viral
In a truly unique way, TikTok democratises content. Unlike most platforms, which prioritise content depending on the popularity of the person who’s posting, TikTok has confirmed that follower counts have no bearing on what content appears in the feed.
In essence, after just one video, you may become an overnight success. With follower numbers removed, the new kid on the block has just as much of a shot as the major pop artist to go viral. What are the chances? A lot of it boils down to jumping on a trend that's already popular.
You'll notice that many videos employ the same tunes and hashtags, after only a short time on the internet. Consider whether your company can join the trend when you see it. You can also initiate new trends by creating your own hashtags.
The first hack is also the three-second rule. When you publish a video to TikTok, the algorithm promotes it for a limited time on the 'For You' page. The algorithm can then determine how relevant the content is to the audience and whether people would watch and share it.
The essential metrics for the algorithm are the watch time and completion rate. The algorithm will categorise your 30-second video as uninteresting if the majority of your audience only views a few seconds and not until the end. Since the TikTok algorithm prioritises videos with longer view times and completion rates, your video will be forgotten if you don’t grab viewer attention from the very start.
It's a good rule to know that you only have three seconds to make an impact. If the entirety of your video is being seen and the completion rate is high, you're onto a winner. The algorithm will continue to promote your post, it will snowball with more viewers, propelling you to viral fame - the ultimate goal.
10. TikTok isn't oversaturated
Initially launched in 2016, its parent company opted to merge it with the now-defunct Musical.ly in 2018. TikTok for Business then launched in July 2020, making it appealing for brands, especially with soaring numbers throughout the pandemic.
Today, many well-known brands have failed to switch to TikTok, despite having a big presence on Instagram and Facebook, yet its presence is becoming increasingly apparent to remain relevant to younger audiences.
From a marketing and business standpoint, TikTok is still in the early stages of development. You certainly have less competition as a rookie to the platform and there are minimal big players vying for the same target consumers.
Now you’re fully versed on the TikTok lowdown, our parting advice is to get on the platform, start viewing videos for inspiration, and of course - have fun. There are currently minimal restrictions, so be fearless with new ideas and see where they may lead.