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Brands on TikTok: Everything Marketers Need to Know

Brands on TikTok: Everything Marketers Need to Know

TikTok is the new short-form video app quickly becoming the most popular social media channel amongst Generation Z (people born between 1995 - 2010). In fact, 66% of TikTok users are younger than 30. Marketers looking to stay on top of the latest social media trends have an unavoidable task of understanding what TikTok is, how people use it, and how to integrate it into their social strategy.

Source: Social Media Today

Unsure about where TikTok fits in with your brand’s social strategy? You’re not alone. Keep reading to uncover everything you need to know before establishing a presence on the rising social media platform that is, supposedly, “rewriting the world.”

Getting started

It’s so important to do your research before diving into a new social platform, especially one that’s being dominated by a generation who grew up using social networking from day one. Digital marketers need to approach new channels like these from a user’s perspective, not a brand’s.

To understand what content you should post on the platform, you have to be an active user who follows the trends. These trends typically dictate what content shows up on the app’s For You Page (think TikTok’s version of the Explore page on Instagram).

Download the app (available on Android and IOS) and see what it’s all about. You don’t have to post a video of yourself dancing to Old Town Road like these guys did, you simply need to start using it regularly and pay close attention to what videos become popular. Additionally, choose a few brands that already have a presence on the app and follow them. I personally follow The Washington Post and Vineyard Vines.

It’s time to tackle video

If you’ve been toying with the idea of making video a part of your digital strategy, there’s no better time to start. TikTok’s content consists 100% of short-form video.

Video is still considered a daunting task for many brands. When it comes to TikTok, forget about investing big money into professional video equipment or video editing software. All you need is a smartphone and participation from some team members to start making videos. If you’re looking to take your efforts a step further, purchase a lavalier microphone to keep your audio clear.

It appears to be best practice on TikTok to have a dedicated content creator. Treat this creator as the “representative” of your brand on the app. This person could be virtually anyone on your team; you, the intern, or even the office dog. Keep in mind that whoever is creating these videos has to have a personality, a sense of humor, and a true understanding of how the platform works.

Delight & entertain

One of the main reasons TikTok has become so successful is because of its perceived authenticity. Stefan Heinrich, TikTok’s Director of U.S. Marketing says “People have been in a perfect, manufactured world for a while, where they have to live up to expectations and ideals. Now it’s about real life. Real people. It’s getting a window into someone else’s life, with surprise and delight.”

There’s nothing wrong with using social media as a way to promote your product or service. However, TikTok and overtly promotional content simply will not work. When creating videos for your account, make sure to follow at least one of the rules below.

  1. Be entertaining
  2. Be engaging
  3. Be funny
  4. Be relatable
  5. Be authentic

Although many popular videos on the app seem to follow trends, copying them won’t get your brand noticed. Take advantage of the trends as inspiration for your video, but put your own creative spin on it (while following the rules above). Here’s an example of The Washington Post using a trending sound to create an entertaining and authentic video featuring some of their team.

Don’t forget about your strategy

Not every brand is destined for TikTok and that’s OK. Like any good social strategy, you’re going to select channels that align with your brand’s identity and marketing objectives. TikTok may be the latest and greatest social media app in 2019, but if it doesn’t make sense for your business to be on it now, don’t force it. Your efforts are better spent elsewhere. 

Here are some questions to ask yourself before creating a brand account:

  • Does my target audience use the app?
  • Do I have a team that can create video content?
  • Will TikTok help support my overall social strategy? (If so, how?)

If you answered those questions with a confident “yes” then you’re ready to get started. The next step you should take is setting up a brainstorming session with your marketing team. Take some time to use the app together, create a plan of action, and get everyone familiar with how you’re going to use it to grow your brand/business.

Final thoughts

With TikTok’s huge monthly active user base (500 million as of June 2018), it’s certainly not a platform marketers should ignore. Other social channels such as Facebook and Instagram have made great strides to place a bigger emphasis on video, but fail in comparison to TikTok.

As new and different as the app is, there are a few familiar features that can be found on other social channels. For example, you’ll find a comments section, use of hashtags, and the ability to like other users’ comments on every video within the app, similar to Instagram. Users can even livestream to further connect with fans.

Wondering about ads? They’ve got those too. Ads are still a bit sparse on the app, but we can only assume that will change as more advertisers become interested in the platform. According to Digiday, brands such as Grubhub and Poshmark have run ads and seen success.

A major part of social media marketing is testing different tactics to see which ones provide the best results. Like any social channel, if you’ve been publishing content for a while and see that you’re not receiving any form of ROI, you’ll need to readjust. Simply step back, assess what seems to be working and what could use improvement, and make changes from there.

What do you think? Is TikTok a platform your brand could use to enhance its social strategy? Send me a message on Twitter or LinkedIn to discuss — I’d love to hear your thoughts.