Some of us might roll our eyes watching TikTok videos but let’s face it, this newest social media app is nothing short of addictive.

Whether it’s the hilarious comedic shorts and duets or the silly reactions and funny pet videos – TikTok has taken the world by storm.

What’s incredible about this platform is that it empowers everyone to be a creator.

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Having surpassed 1.5 billion downloads on the App Store and Google Play and jumped from 269th to 4th in global app download rank in February 2019, TikTok has seen phenomenal growth in a short span of 4 years.

Given its unbelievable growth trend, it’s high time businesses consider including this promising platform in their social media marketing strategy.

How does TikTok work?

On the surface, TikTok seems like a lip-syncing app but there is so much more to it.

Centered around self-expression, this platform is all about creating authentic and engaging content. It encourages users to tap into their creative side, doing what gives them joy.

TikTok delivers an immersive and engaging experience while allowing users to create 3 to 60-second short videos.

It’s interesting to note that an average user spends 52 minutes per day on TikTok – higher than most of the other social media platforms. This can be attributed to TikTok’s smart use of artificial intelligence (AI) to optimize content creation, curation, and recommendations.

Who uses TikTok?

As a marketer, your first question is likely to be “Is TikTok relevant to my brand?”

With 50% of TikTok’s global audience being under the age of 34 and 26% between 18 and 24, this social media app is hugely popular among Gen-Z.

That said, TikTok is growing at a rapid pace and is slowly being embraced by adults as well.

What’s more, with not too many marketers taking TikTok seriously, it might be a good idea to hop onto it and gain the first-mover advantage to promote your brand (if your target audience is on it).

How to use TikTok to market your brand?

TikTok is a great tool for showing the fun side of your brand. There is no place for airbrushed, perfect images here. This platform is about striking a personal connection with your audience through experimenting and spontaneity.

The good news is that TikTok offers ample opportunities for brands to create fun and edgy content that can create awareness, educate and hooks users, and promote their products or services. Here’s how you can use TikTok to market your brand, organically.

1. Create montages

Music plays an integral part in TikTok. Almost every video is complemented with catchy songs that tend to fit the video perfectly. What’s more, TikTok connects directly to Apple Music (and other distributors), making it incredibly easy to find the music of your choice.

Due to this popular feature, music montages are a common sight on TikTok. As a brand, you can consider creating montages to showcase your product and appeal to your audience.

Here’s an example of a music montage by the NBA. It’s fun and endearing, with a fitting choice of music.

@nba##showcasesunday featuring all our little NBA fans movin’ and groovin’ 🥳 ##justdancemoves ##littlekids ##fancam ##dancecam ##wholesome

♬ Baby Shark – Countdown Friends

2. Use the duets feature

Another popular content type on TikTok is “duets” posts. Duets are split-screen videos that allow users to record a video and play it alongside another user’s TikTok video.

You can leverage this collaborative content format to engage with your followers and reach out to a wider audience, encouraging them to follow suit.

From dance challenges and lip-syncing to tutorials – think of creative ways to involve your community and have them replicate your content through TikTok’s duets feature.

3. Collaborate with influencers

Influencer marketing has always been a powerful tool to create awareness and reach new audiences so why should TikTok influencer marketing be left behind?

Considering the demographic this social platform caters to, you should consider collaborating with TikTok influencers and content creators.

Start with determining a list of creators who speak to a similar audience and see high engagement. The key is to give influencers the creative liberty to promote your brand in an
organic manner that their audience will take note of.

An example of a brand that carried out a successful influencer marketing campaign on TikTok is Calvin Klein.

@calvinklein##statements on hair, via ##kendalljenner. our now. ##mycalvins ##calvinklein

♬ original sound – calvinklein

To announce their spring collection, they roped in celebrities such as Shawn Mendes, Kendall Jenner, and A$AP Rocky and did a 15-second interview with them, using the hashtag #MyCalvins. Their campaign went viral in just 24 hours and was extensively shared across platforms.

4. Leverage trends and challenges

A huge part of getting visibility on TikTok is capitalizing on the ongoing trends and challenges. This is a great way to jump on the bandwagon, create fun content and attract attention – for free.

Apart from keeping an eye on hashtags, you should also search for trending songs on the app and use them to create your own TikTok video.

Here’s an example of a brand Vineyard Vines jumping onto the #BottleCapChallenge and posting their own version.

@vineyardvinesHad to do it 🐳 ##bottlecapchallenge ##vineyardvines ##foryou ##whale ##foryoupage

♬ Lalala – Y2K & Bbno$

How to advertise on TikTok?

Apart from the organic methods, brands also have the option to advertise on this platform. TikTok advertising is still at a very nascent stage and currently only gives advertisers from certain countries access to the beta self-serve ad platform.

While their ad platform is easy to use, there’s still a long way to go. According to advertisers, it lacks “robust targeting”, “an application programming interface critical for automated buying, and offers inferior metrics” compared to the other advanced social media platforms.

While the parent company works on rolling out more advanced advertising features, brands can get started with the following TikTok ad formats.

1. In-feed native content

In-feed native content ads are 9 to 15-second video ads that appear at the bottom of your feed as part of the queue while you’re watching other videos or in the ‘For You’ page.

These are skippable ads that can be used to direct users to an external landing page or app. They enable the use of call-to-action buttons to drive downloads and website clicks.

In-feed native content ads are $10 per CPM, making them the most affordable option.

Here’s an example of Yves Rocher using in-feed native video ads to create awareness among Gen Z and Millennial women in Italy.

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In-feed native ad
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Landing page

This ad campaign drove a CTR of 1.51%, an engagement rate of 4.4% and drove quality traffic to their product page.

2. Sponsored hashtag challenge

Give your hashtag a boost by running a sponsored hashtag challenge campaign.

This enhances visibility and encourages more people to participate. This is a popular format because it’s engaging and drives user-generated content while creating awareness.

The hashtag challenge lasts for six days and brands are charged a flat fee of $150,000.

An example of a successful hashtag challenge is Universal Pictures’ challenge called #FindYourMagic. This was launched to promote their film, The House with a Clock in its Walls.

Users were encouraged to show their own magic tricks and post it on TikTok using the hashtag.

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With over 1.3 million likes and 19,000 user-generated content, Universal Pictures successfully achieved what they set out to.

3. Brand takeovers

An expensive ad format, brand takeovers take up the entire screen and appear as soon as people open the TikTok app.

Brand takeovers can be in the form of static images, videos or GIFs and you have the option to redirect people to an internal or external page.

TikTok ensures users don’t see more than one brand takeover per day.

Here’s an example of a beauty brand, Too Faced using this format to promote their lip gloss and create awareness among Gen-Z women in the UK.

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This ad surpassed expectations by receiving 7.6 million impressions in just one day. It also drove 1.3 million clicks to the product page.

4. Branded lenses

Think Snapchat and Instagram filters – that’s what TikTok’s branded lenses are.

This ad format utilizes 2D, 3D and augmented reality to create fun filters and effects. Branded lenses last for up to 10 days and appear in the trending section. Users can click and use them in their videos.

If your campaign has a mascot or strong branding element, it’s a good idea to give TikTok’s branded lenses a shot to create an immersive experience, strike a connection and improve brand recall.

Here’s a look at cosmetics brand MAC using branded lenses to encourage users to explore their different lipstick shades.

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Bottom line

Before you decide to launch your brand on TikTok, it’s important to warm up to the platform, understand how it works and come up with a dedicated marketing strategy.

The only way to succeed on TikTok is by showing your brand’s real side, posting fun content and not being afraid to experiment because that’s what it’s essentially about – real videos by real people.

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