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How Marketers Can Maximize The Newest Social Media Craze: TikTok

November 4, 2019

There’s no question that TikTok is the most talked-about social media platform of 2019. But the more important question is whether this emerging social network is right for your brand. With celebrities, influencers, and brands all hopping on the bandwagon, we’re here to provide some answers.

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a platform for users to publish short-form mobile videos up to a minute long, with popular content including lip-syncs, comedy, and talent videos. Think Vine 2.0.

Why is TikTok Important?

Quick history: TikTok started in China as Douyin, and later expanded to the United States and the rest of the world. In 2017, TikTok began its rapid ascent after acquiring popular lip-syncing app Musical.ly. These moves have contributed to TikTok’s international success and racially diverse audience. The platform is heavily geared toward Generation Z and young millennials, with 66% of the total audience being younger than 30.

Thanks in large part to mainstream support from people like Jimmy Fallon (regular series of Tonight Show Challenges) and Gary Vaynerchuk, TikTok was the most downloaded app in the iOS App Store for five straight quarters (January 2018 – March 2019). In 2018, TikTok reported 500 million monthly active users, and early in 2019, 100 million of those were in the U.S., with people spending an average of 52 minutes every time they open the app.

Does Your Brand Need to Be on TikTok?

First, determine if your audience is there. The most engaged TikTok users are between the ages of 13-30. Metrics are still vague, but here are two important stats: 60% of TikTok’s U.S. audience is 16-24, and 40% of its users are under the age of 20. That clearly underlines the youth of this platform – though as we all well know, that was the knock on Instagram for a long time.

Police, military, firefighters, gamers, and healthcare professionals are among those audiences said to be heavily into TikTok, so that should be something to consider if those groups are among your target audiences. 

Second, consider if your company has a visually appealing product or entertaining brand persona that can sustain an ongoing strategy. Start with a three-month pilot program to test before maintaining a long-term content strategy. Remember, with any digital campaign, it’s usually best to be patient and allow your original strategy to play out before rushing to judgment. 

Third, define the objective of your company or campaign goals and ensure they align with TikTok’s interface. For example, TikTok is great for brand awareness and brand discovery, but driving website traffic will suffer due to a lack of link placements in-app. TikTok’s main benefits for brands at this time are encouraging user-generated content, building a community, and testing content ideas. There is also always added benefit for early adopters of any platform. (Remember how much quicker your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram audiences grew years ago?)

How to Use TikTok to Build a Following

  • If you’ve created content for Instagram and Snapchat, this will be easy. From the upload screen, create or upload a 15-second or 60-second video.
  • Add filters, transitions, and other special effects to enhance your video.
  • Layer sound on top of your video (you can either create your own audio mash-up or choose from thousands of options within TikTok’s library). This is one of the most popular features. By choosing a popular audio track, your page becomes more discoverable.
    • Pro Tip: add hashtags; they work just as well here as on Instagram.

Influencers

TikTok is a natural fit for fashion, beauty, food, and other highly visual industries; these also lend to more authentic partnerships, which should be a main objective in your influencer marketing strategy. To find influencers, search popular TikTok hashtags within your industry. When developing influencer partnerships, make sure content direction and messaging align with the influencer’s content; again #authenticity.

Opportunities for Paid Advertising 

Outside of content creation and influencers, another way to utilize TikTok is through paid ads, which include:

  • In-feed native sponsored content ads, which last up to 15 seconds
  • Brand takeover launch screen ads: display a full-screen static, animated, or video when users open the app
  • Hashtag challenge ads: promote a branded hashtag that entices users to create posts around the theme

TikTok Analytics

To make the most out of your TikTok analytics, switch to a TikTok Pro Account. (You’ll need to wait up to seven days for your account to generate enough data to start displaying insights.) TikTok’s three main insights include:

  • Profile overview: total video views, profile views, and follower count
  • Content insights: detailed information on each of your posts
  • Total like count of posts
  • Total number of comments
  • Total shares
  • Total playtime of video
  • Total video views
  • Average watch time
  • Traffic source types
  • Audience territories
  • Follower insights: gender ratio of your audience and a percentage breakdown of your audience by location

TikTok can be a valuable social media platform for your brand to engage with younger audiences, but make sure to evaluate and clearly define how TikTok will benefit your company (and your followers). Through content creation, influencers, and paid ads, the platform provides several ways for your brand to engage.

And make sure you’re thinking ahead. It’s probably not best to put all of your digital marketing budget in the TikTok basket just yet (RIP Vine). But this is clearly a social network with some staying power, so it very well could continue to grow and expand into your target audience someday soon.

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