A marketers’ guide to TikTok

One of the biggest and fastest-growing social media channels, TikTok is a phenomenon that looks set to stick around.

It’s particularly popular with millennials and Gen Z, with 69% of users being aged 16-24. It was the most downloaded iOS app on the Apple App Store for Q3-Q4 in 2019, has been downloaded over 1.5 billion times, and (as of January 2021 figures) had amassed over 689 million users worldwide.

The main reason for TikTok’s popularity is that it’s a lot of fun. It makes it simple for users to create, edit and share their own content, and popular content goes viral really quickly. The younger generation of users are smartphone natives, accustomed to consuming YouTube content created for them, and comfortable with the idea of creating their own, as well as being open to the idea of influencers.

But despite its opportunities, it’s an app that many marketers haven’t quite got the hang of yet. Captiv8, the largest AI-Powered Branded Content Platform, recently published a comprehensive marketers’ guide, and I want to share with you some of the key insights and TikTok marketing tools.

What is TikTok?

In case you’re unfamiliar with it (in which case, where have you been?), let’s start with the basics. TikTok is a social platform which allows users to create and share short-form videos. 15-second videos can be set to soundtracks using published music or original backing sounds, and lip-synching, dance and prank videos are all popular.

Challenges are also hugely popular on TikTok, where users are challenged to recreate a video on a particular theme, or using a particular piece of music, and share it using a challenge hashtag.

One of TikTok’s big success factors is its simple, lo-fi production capability. Millennials and Gen Z, although used to influencers, find content that is too ‘slick’ inauthentic and less trustworthy. TikTok ‘keeps it real’, bringing often unfiltered, unedited and deliberately imperfect content to users, in contrast with the level of ‘perfection’ which often characterises Instagram channels, for instance.

Another string to TikTok’s bow is its potential for rapid internet domination. Unlike other channels, where it can take years to build enough of a following for content to go viral, with TikTok, a single video has the potential to go viral within hours, catapulting the content creator to fame.

For millennials and Gen Zs whose ambition is to become an influencer, or even just those who enjoy the challenge of creating viral content, the potential is seductive indeed.

Let’s take a look at five key ways marketers use TikTok:

  1. Branded hashtag challenges

Hashtag challenges make use of the natural tendency of TikTok users to create and share content, rather than merely consume it.

Branded hashtag challenges take it a step further to create genuine brand engagement, and are one of TikTik’s most widely used and most successful marketing tools.

By sharing a branded video, and challenging users to record their own version using your sponsored hashtag, you can build affinity and drive engagement with your brand, potentially across millions of users.

In a recent campaign, E.L.F cosmetics created a song ‘Eyes, Lips, Face’ to use for their #eyeslipsfacecampaign which (at the time of Captiv8’s report publication had nearly 18,000 TikTok videos using the song and collectively the videos tagged with #eyeslipsface had been viewed nearly 1.2 billion times.

Find out more about how to create a branded hashtag challenge: https://www.tiktokforbusinesseurope.com/resources/7-tips-for-an-effective-branded-hashtag-challenge

  1. In-feed videos

In-feed videos look like the typical social media ads you’ll be familiar with from other platforms. The video spots (up to 60 seconds, but 15 is recommended) havesound and you can choose from CTA types including website clicks, app downloads or to your brand’s TikTok Business Account. The video ads auto-play within a user’s feed, but can be skipped.

This is a relatively cost-effective way to advertise onTikTok, but some skill is needed to make sure your video is eye-catching enough to avoid a skip.The CTA options make it simple to measure your ad’s success.

Find out more and see some examples on in-feed video ads here: https://blog.shuttlerock.com/complete-guide-to-tiktok-video-ad-formats

  1. Brand takeover

TikTok Brand Takeovers are ads that are served to users immediately they open the TikTok app. It’s a 3-5 second full-screen ad which can be either a static image or a GIF, and users can click out at any point. You can use the CTA options to link to your brand’s TikTok page or to your external website.

You can also add interactivity and engagement by including a branded hashtag. It’s a great high-impact tool for generating high reach, as the whole screen is clickable.

Brand takeovers are exclusive to one advertiser in a category per day, so yours is the only ad in this format that users will see that day. This does make it a premium format, with a price tag to match, so is mostly used by larger brands looking for maximum exposure and reach.

  1. Branded lenses

Branded lenses are a feature that allows users to interact and play with the brand using their filter. They allow users to test products (so are ideal for cosmetic brands, for example) and choose to buy. You can also integrate branded lenses into a hashtag challenge, creating stronger interaction with your brand and promoting your products more widely. 

TikTokbranded lenses offer brands the possibility of using 2D, 3D and Augmented Reality (AR) to providecreative face filters and objects, including animated objects,for users toincorporate into their content.

Lenses appear within thetrending section of the TikTok app and users can select themwhile filming, giving them creative control whilst also interacting with, and promoting your brand.

They are time-limited, with branded lenses live for up to 10 days,and able to rank in the top 5 trends for up to 5 days. It’s an excellent tool for driving deeper brand engagement, and cosmetic brands have successfully used this ad format not only to generate sales, but also to trial new products through AR technology.

Read more about branded lenses: https://www.deptagency.com/en-gb/story/a-new-advertising-opportunity-has-arrived-copy/

  1. Top view

Top View is possibly the prime area of TikTok, appearing first when users open the app. Because it seems more native, users are less likely to skip it before it fades into an in-feed video ad up to 60 seconds long. By creating an engaging video, brands can develop a really immersive brand experience, and there’s no competing content to distract the user.

TikTok only allows one advertiser per day per category in Top View, so it’s great for increasing brand awareness in your category.

See a top view example here: https://www.tiktok.com/business/en-GB/apps/tiktok

The future for TikTok – watch this space

These are the top five options currently, but in common with other social media platforms, TikTok isn’t static, and there are constant new developments for marketers.

TikTok’s future focus looks to be on increasing revenue through advertising, creating revenue streams for creators, and improving its user safety measures, especially for children. The platform doesn’t yet offer a direct way for creators to make money out of their content, though there are a number of ways in which you can generate income streams through it – developing your influencer status, or using content to sell product or services being two.

According to the Captiv8 report, advertising and in-app spending accounted for $100M globally in 2020, so despite some gaps, it’s a serious revenue generator as well as being a highly effective platform for forward-thinking brands to use for audience building and engagement.

Read the full Captiv8 report here.

Gordon Glenister is the author of a new book, Influencer Marketing Strategy. Learn:

  • how to build an influencer strategy
  • what makes a great influencer
  • about the rise of Clubhouse and TikTok
  • about future digital trends for connecting with a digital customer

Order your copy at:Gordon Glenister | Membership and Merchandise Specialist London

Find out more at: https://gordonglenister.com/book-launch