You’ve probably seen kids randomly dancing in front of their mobile device in supermarket aisles. And you’ve likely seen short bytes of well-coordinated, multi-filtered, fast-paced staccato, lip-synced TikTok videos in blogs, morning news or Instagram feeds.
TikTok has taken the world by storm — from fun-loving tweens to celebrity shenanigans. However, many big brands haven’t jumped on the video sharing platform’s bandwagon just yet. TikTok has flummoxed industry experts who can’t seem to agree on who should be using the app and how they should be using the app in their marketing.
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What is TikTok and who is using it?
TikTok is an app known primarily for short, wacky videos and tons of younger users (primarily 30 and younger). Since Beijing’s ByteDance launched TikTok in 2018, there have been more than 800 million downloads globally — with a giant fan base of young Gen-Zers and a growing base of Millenials.
Similar to Snapchat, users choose from an array of augmented filters that can change them from a sparkly kitten to a multi-colored disco queen. While the app is well known for lip-syncing, users plan and act out hilarious hashtag challenges infused with snippets of music and other sounds. The videos go on to become memes recreated and regenerated by other TikTok users.
TikTok has 60 million monthly active users in the United States. 60% are female, 40% are male. 60% are between the ages of 16-24. 26% are between the ages 25-44. 80% are between the ages 16-34. An older generation of users is using the app more every day — producing what the media-describes as “cringey” videos.
Retail-focused businesses, such as apparel brands, are a good fit because TikTokers love showing off their style. Healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, surgeons and other specialists, debunk health myths and educate the public about healthy living, medicine and other trends. Rappers, DJs and pop stars have successfully leveraged the video-creating app to promote their latest music while attracting a legion of fans and followers — all in well-choreographed 15- to 60-second videos.
How can businesses use TikTok in their marketing?
In line with the ever-changing, fast-paced vibe of TikTok, the way the app is being used is already changing. It’s not just about music any more. Comedians, dancers, prankster, cosmetologists and more are using the app to demonstrate their talent. Additionally, painters, woodcarvers and other craftspeople are uploading time-lapsed videos of their art. Users also are reportedly using TikTok to share videos using their favorite products. While TikTik offers advertising opportunities, including sponsored hashtags for $150,000 per day, many brands are scrambling to include the platform as part of their organic marketing.
Videos are the sweet spot of marketing
Brands that can demonstrate their products on TikTok in 15 seconds will attract a broader audience — especially if the videos are fun to watch. TikTok is primarily an entertainment platform, so focusing on engaging content is a smart move.
The app is so new, best practices and trends have yet to be established. The NBA shares games highlights to its 5.1 million TikTok followers. The San Diego Zoo posts cute animals with fun music.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with TikTok. One thing is certain: If you are having fun posting videos to TikTok, your users will, too.
Develop organic relationships with your followers
It’s no surprise to learn that people who use digital apps and websites have grown to hate ads. They don’t care for their obtrusive nature and vapid view of life.TikTok is an emerging way to connect the corporate message with a new generation of users, and this younger generation doesn’t want to be sold to. They want to be entertained.
Today’s audience prefers short videos that show other people … doing their thing. Brands should produce content that gives a glimpse into their human side. The Washington Post, for instance, posts funny behind-the-scenes videos about the newsroom.
Like any social media network, the goal is to get people to click and share videos. The influencers, artists and brands successfully using TikTok make full use of hashtags and challenges to encourage engagement.
Connect your brand to existing social platforms
Today’s marketing strategies have a multichannel approach. Even on established social networks, it’s difficult to garner unpaid attention. Unlike Instagram’s and Facebook’s algorithms that favor already popular users, anyone can surge in popularity on TikTok because the app is constantly looking for new videos. Naturally, many marketers want to capitalize on TikTok’s popularity.
If you have a brick and mortar business that depends on a local community, TikTok might not reach the audience you need to grow your business. However, save time with content generation and repurpose your TikTok videos on Facebook and Instagram.
Sponsored hashtag challenges pick up steam
While most social outlets have become sounding boards for people to air their political opinions, TikTok’s fun-loving, short-lived videos are a breath of fresh air. The app doesn’t rely on sponsored ads or posts. Instead, advertising becomes experienced-based with sponsored hashtag contests. A TikToker or brand creates a challenge video, typically with a song, and challenges fellow users to follow suit using a specific hashtag. There’s an entire category of contest hashtags — such as #favoritemovies, #welovepizza, #jobtips, #alarmclock and more. The videos aren’t highly-produced, but that’s what makes TikTok so lovable.
Should your marketing include TikTok?
Start at whatever pace you want and explore the app to see what drives its culture. There could very well be a place for your business or organization — if you understand how TikTok works and what its users want to see.
While staying on trend will help you engage with a new way to communicate, it’s also important to allocate time, money and resources wisely. Identify your audience. Find out where they are. And engage them with high-quality content.
If the platform’s demographic is a match, there’s no reason to delay. That’s true for companies who are disappointed with the lack of results from TikTok’s more saturated rivals. If engagement continues to drop on other social media platforms, marketers will seek out greener pastures.
For now, TikTok is shaping up to become a dominant player.