Whether you love it or hate it, chances are you’ve at least heard of TikTok, the latest social media platform taking the world by storm. Available in over 150 countries (more than McDonald’s, even), and with over a billion daily users, TikTok became the newest marketplace, bursting with brands duking it out for attention. Don’t get left behind, formalize your brand’s TikTok marketing strategy to enhance your overall marketing efforts today!
A Brief History of TikTok
TikTok originally launched in 2016 by Chinese tech company ByteDance under the name “Douyin.” Intended to compete with other social network sites like Facebook and Instagram, users were encouraged to simply post short clips of their lives to share with friends. Then, in 2017, ByteDance acquired a (slightly different) competitor, Musical.ly.
A struggling social network on its own, Musical.ly users uploaded lip-sync style videos to popular songs. A good idea in theory, but you can see how something that niche can get a little old, especially with multiple apps flooding the market. ByteDance, noticing an opportunity to improve its products, took many of the features of Musical.ly and relaunched its app to a global market under the name TikTok in 2018.
The Original TikTok Marketing Strategy
Musical.ly struggled on its own early on. With competitors offering similar lip-sync and dance-oriented social apps, Musical.ly needed to adapt, and fast. So, they turned to their marketing team to pull themselves together. We might be a little biased as a marketing agency ourselves, but boy, did that pay off.
Noticing that their videos were being shared widely on other social media platforms, Musical.ly had to figure out a way to capitalize on those shares. Adding a simple watermark and links to their own platform each time a video was shared, Musical.ly quickly turned things around. Traffic to their own platform skyrocketed and registered users only continued to grow. In just 2 months, Musical.ly went from on the verge of failure, to #2 in the Apple App Store, allowing it to grow into the app we know today. Without this savvy marketing move, TikTok simply wouldn’t exist today.
What Sets TikTok Marketing Apart
Unlike any other social media platform, TikTok differentiates itself with 2 main features. Its algorithm and its collection of “sounds.”
Simply put, the TikTok algorithm suggests relevant videos users are likely interested in. These appear in a curated feed, aptly named the “For You Page” or “FYP.” While the concept of an algorithm itself is not new, nobody does it quite like TikTok.
Like most algorithms out there (looking at you, Google..), TikTok likes to keep its cards close to its chest. That is to say, nobody really knows 100% how it works. But, there are some general tips and best practices you can use to get the algorithm to work in your favor. Beware of any tricks floating around that you might see, if it seems like it’s a bit of a “hack” for the algorithm, it probably won’t work very well long-term. For example, recently, users claimed posting a 7-second video on its own would magically boost your engagement rate. Obviously, this isn’t a foolproof strategy.
No two TikTokers will see the same feed, and your own feed will change over time. Based on the types of videos or creators you interact with the most, your algorithm is constantly updating and refining itself based on what you like. Users oftentimes find themselves wondering just how TikTok suggested such a relevant video. (No wonder they call it the For You Page).
With this in mind, it’s easy to see the world of opportunities TikTok’s algorithm offers. Knowing that users see a personally curated set of videos that they’re almost guaranteed to be interested in, your brand can assume that those who do see your videos on TikTok are already highly engaged with your brand and its content. We’ll dive into how to get the most out of this engagement more below.
Collection of “Sounds”
TikTok’s second main differentiating feature is its vast collection of “sounds” users can add to their videos. With a search function that rivals Youtube’s, TikToker’s can search by a specific song or sound, or browse videos with popular sounds.
If you add a popular sound to your video, it’s likely that your video will become popular, due to the engagement from the sound. Think of this as using a hashtag, or link-building. You take the authority from one, high-preforming piece of content (a sound), and leverage it to support your content (your video).
TikTok has an extensive library of sounds and even encourages its own creators to use them frequently as a means to boost their engagement and overall success on the platform.
Creating Your TikTok Marketing Strategy
Now that you understand the basics of how TikTok works, develop your brand’s TikTok marketing strategy accordingly.
Marketing Resource’s very own Senior Client Strategist and TikTok Scholar, Morgan Hellwig stays up-to-date on the latest trends and best practices to serve her clients. When we asked her advice for creating a TikTok marketing strategy, she offered the following:
“Create a seamless user experience and promotional asset for PR with a promotional landing page! A promotional landing page can serve your program’s needs in a variety of ways:
- A promotional landing page serves as a hub of important info,
- showcases your influencer and user-generated content,
- provides answers to frequently asked questions, and,
- inspire your fan base to create an Instagram worthy post.”
Define Your TikTok Audience
While TikTok is extremely popular with a teen audience, don’t write it off as just a teen app. In fact, take a look at the breakdown of TikTok’s demographics in 2022, and compare it to your brand’s target audience.
- 25% of TikTok’s active users’ accounts in the U.S. are people aged 10-19.
- 22.4% of TikTok’s active users’ accounts in the U.S. are 20-29.
- 21.7% of TikTok’s active users’ accounts in the U.S. are 30-39.
- 20.3% of TikTok’s active users’ accounts in the U.S. are 40-49.
- 11% of TikTok’s active users’ accounts in the U.S. are 50+.
An important note about gender and TikTok users: TikTok users are around 60% female, and 40% male when you’re looking at a global audience. In the US, however, the ladies outnumber males 2:1.
As you can see, with over a billion users, you’ll find that your audience is somewhere on TikTok, you’ve just got to find them.
Align Your TikTok Marketing Strategy With Your Business Goals
Your TikTok marketing strategy ought to align with your overall business goals. If not, why exactly are you using TikTok?
Your brand can engage a new audience, promote awareness for a product or brand, or develop deeper customer relationships through engagement with TikTok, but you shouldn’t try to do it all at once. Be sure your goals are clear and measurable. You should always have a pulse on what your TikTok marketing strategy is, how you execute it, and what its results are.
While TikTok is surely a much more fun and casual social platform, ensure that your TikTok marketing strategy is one cohesive piece in your marketing puzzle, not an outlier.
Paid Ads on TikTok
Monetization is the name of the game with social media and TikTok is no different. Tired of playing the organic content creation game and looking for a few quick wins? Look no further than paid advertising.
TikTok offers a few different ways for your brand to run advertising campaigns via their platform. Not all ad types are available in all areas, so be sure to check your specific location before finalizing your TikTok marketing strategy.
The most common type of ad you’ll see or submit on TikTok, these are simple and versatile. These can be:
- image ads- simply feature a static image and a call to action.
- Video ads- much more like the commercials that we’re familiar with
- TikTok’s proprietary Spark ad– allows your brand to boost organic content (similar to Facebook) from your own account or from other users. TikTok research shows Spark Ads have a 24% higher completion rate and 142% higher engagement rate than standard In-Feed ads.
Boosting videos from other users is a relatively new feature and one that’s unique to TikTok, but full of potential. Imagine a loyal fan posts a video, or even a few, about how great your brand is. They love you, they love your products, they love your logo, they love it all! But, they only have a few followers. This awesome video and genuine testament to your brand doesn’t have to live and die on the For You Page of just a handful of followers. Now, your brand can boost that content to your own page, spreading its reach and sharing its message.
Ads for Managed Brands:
Some brands take their relationship with TikTok to the next level and who can blame them? These brands, known as Managed Brands, work closely with a TikTok sales rep to get the most out of their advertising, and as such, are offered a few different exclusive ad formats.
- TopView ads– video ads that appear as a full-screen takeover for 5 to 60 seconds when users open the TikTok app.
- Branded Hashtag Challenge– a campaign format to encourage engagement, where user-generated content appears on the hashtag challenge page.
- Branded Effects– branded stickers, filters, and special effects.
Promotional Marketing and TikTok
With the immediacy of a scrolling social feed and all of the opportunities available to your brand, your TikTik marketing strategy can also help support your promotional campaigns.
Like running a promotional sweepstakes on Facebook, your brand can certainly execute a full-fledged campaign exclusively on TikTok. Reward users for engaging with and sharing your content by offering prizes and rebates to those who do.
Investing in TikTok can surely be “worth it” for brands, so long as they do their research. Select influencers who resonate with your target audience, hop on trends that they’re likely to see, and create content that matters to them.
Expand Your Brand’s Campaign to New Audiences
Your brand also has the opportunity to greatly expand the reach of a campaign via TikTok. Like most other networks, hashtags are an effective way to categorize and spread your brand’s content. If you have the app downloaded, open it up and click on the first hashtag of the first video you find. It probably has thousands if not millions of other videos or views associated with the hashtag.
If you keep scrolling, you’ll notice that nearly every video uses as many hashtags as it can, even if they’re not super relevant to the content. While this may be a bit frustrating as a content marketer trying to organize your posts, think of the tremendous amount of brand exposure you can get here.
Take Pepsi for example. Friends and partners of ours for years, the great folks at Pepsi marketing have, in our books, won the TikTok marketing game. On the heels of a fresh new product launch and promotional campaign for their hit product Nitro Pepsi, Pepsi deployed the hashtag #SmoothLikeNitroPepsi (with the Walmart logo at the end, signifying a partnership with Walmart) across TikTok and in just a few days gained over 315 million views. Video after video under this hashtag features the brand new (and GORGEOUS) Nitro Pepsi.
Brand recognition? Pepsi has that on lock, and tell us you don’t want to at least try the new soda after seeing all of those videos. Pepsi just turned you from a viewer into a paying customer, all while supporting its current promotional campaign.
What about all of the videos that use the hashtag but don’t have anything to do with Pepsi? There are plenty of those! While they may not feature your brand or product heavily, they do still get hundreds of thousands of views each. With Pepsi, the hashtag features their brand name and product name, still allowing them to get their product in front of millions of eyes. Make sure you use a branded hashtag so you still collect brand recognition as part of your TikTok marketing strategy.
Connect With Your Consumers
Clearly, TikTok deserves a place in most brand marketing strategies. The ability to reach such a large and engaged audience offers brands a world of opportunities to connect with consumers and foster brand loyalty.
One final piece of advice from Morgan, “the key to successfully amplifying your Tik Tok promotion is choosing the correct partner.”
Whether you’re ready to run a promotional campaign and just need to delegate the logistics to a trusted administrator and prize fulfillment agency, or you’re looking for advice on your brand’s promotional strategy, Marketing Resources is here to help. Contact one of our experts today to build deeper relationships with your consumers.