Unless you are a teenager with unlimited internet access, you might not be aware of the new video sharing sensation known as TikTok. Maybe you have heard the name here or there, or you might have clicked on a video of Gary Vaynerchuk convincing you to open a TikTok account for your business, but that’s probably about it. Well Gary Vee is, in fact, correct. As bizarre as it may seem, TikTok is THE app to be on if you want to gain fast recognition and build brand awareness.
This app is taking the world by storm, showing no chances of slowing down in 2020, which means it’s the perfect time to jump on the bandwagon and start producing video content. We touched a bit on the importance of video marketing in our recent article “7 Digital Marketing Trends in 2020: Goodbye to Classical Advertising”, and how crucial this type of content is for your overall business strategy. Keep on reading if you want to know all about the app, and why it may be necessary for your business.
But first – what is the TikTok app anyway?
What is TikTok?
TikTok is a social media/video-sharing app, owned by Chinese company ByteDance. It allows users to shoot, edit and share 15-second video clips, which can be edited using a variety of features – music, filters, special effects, animations and more. Like most social media apps, you can “like” content, comment on it and follow creators. The app is free, easy to use and trendy, which is why everyone and their mothers have been creating a TikTok account. No, really; just search “TikTok Moms” – you’ll be surprised.
There is a wide variety of content you can post on TikTok, ranging from lip-syncing and dance challenges to promotional videos. Simply doing a short YouTube search will show you a whole new world of compilation after compilation, challenge after challenge and so on. This kind of content is everywhere on the web, which is not surprising since the app currently has over 500 million active users across the globe.
The Origins of TikTok
Prior to the existence of TikTok, some of you may remember an app called Musical.ly – it was all the rage amongst preteens and teens. Just like TikTok, it was a video sharing app, but with considerably more narrow variety of features and a primary focus on lip syncing. Musicl.ly was launched in 2014 and had gained a considerable user base by the time Chinese giant ByteDance decided to buy the app and rebrand it as their own.
ByteDance redesigned the app, added a few more features and released it as TikTok in August 2018. All accounts and videos were moved from Musical.ly to TikTok and the original app was wiped off the face of the planet. In China, the app goes under the name Douyin, and has over 400 million daily active users. The beloved video-sharing platform that won the hearts of many teenagers with smartphones was back under a different name, only bigger and better.
What is TikTok’s User Base?
According to Global Web Index, the primary user base of TikTok is ages 16-24, with the majority of users being teenagers. This is exactly why people question whether TikTok is a legitimate platform for growing a business or not, with many still considering the app to be a virtual playground for teens.
However, as time goes on, people are beginning to realize that TikTok is not simply a lip-syncing app for Gen Z - it’s a rapidly growing platform with great marketing potential. Moreover, several well-known and respectable brands have created accounts by this point and are enthusiastically working on their TikTok strategy (e.g. Chipotle, Elf Cosmetics, Guess, the NBA, the NFL, GymShark and more).
What Content Can You Find on the Platform?
The traditional lip-syncing content originates from Musical.ly, but TikTok is more than just home-made music videos. You may see a lot of choreography videos on the app, as well as various dance challenges and even some sports-related content. Comedy is also one of the main genres on TikTok, with users recording various skits, lip-syncing videos and overall funny content. Recently, businesses have begun using TikTok to promote their companies and spread brand awareness, which is something we will discuss further on.
As time goes on, more and more brands are beginning to develop a TikTok marketing strategy and TikTok marketing campaign. On this platform, nothing remains the same for a long time; it’s a very dynamic environment. People are encouraged to switch up their content in order to attract a variety of audiences, navigate from trend to trend and even form temporary friend groups for collaboration purposes.
TikTok is not a standard social media app when it comes to the technology behind the scenes. The platform is highly based on artificial intelligence – much more than, say, Facebook or Instagram. The second you create an account, TikTok begins gathering data on your preferences based on algorithmic observation. To get a better understanding of this, let’s consider the “For You” tab. TikTok offers two tabs on its Home Screen – “Following”, which show posts from the accounts you follow, and “For You” – content catered to you based on what you have been watching previously.
Unlike other social media, it doesn’t take TikTok a while to figure out the content that might suit your taste – thanks to artificial intelligence behind the app, this happens instantly. The algorithms are excellent at processing individual preferences and rapidly creating a “For You” feed (like the Instagram explore tab), which is basically a reflection of the type of content you previously watched. The app’s AI is what gets people involved in the first place, but also gets them addicted. Likewise, from the content creator side of things, this AI supports video producers by simplifying the video editing process, making it easy for videos to become trending.
TikTok for Business
The time has come for us to answer the question we have been dying to know – can I use TikTok for business? In short, yes; TikTok marketing is a great way to build brand awareness. Considering the number of users on the app, as well as it’s rapidly growing popularity, TikTok is gradually moving away from it’s predominantly teen target audience and becoming a place where anyone and everyone can share their ideas and build a following. 2020 is the perfect time to start thinking of your TikTok marketing campaign, since the platform is not yet over-saturated with advertising campaigns and obsessive selling (Instagram, we are looking at you).
However, there are a couple of aspects that differentiate this strategy from the usual social media marketing, mostly because this isn’t your average social media platform. Below, you will find all the necessary tips and tricks on how to use TikTok for business.
Marketing on TikTok
Before you delve into any kind of marketing campaign, you need to understand the essence of TikTok. The app is all about fun, laid-back content that is also visually appealing – nothing too polished. This is because the app is all about having fun and sharing what you love, which means that entertaining, authentic content will always be favored over everything else. Your video content should have a more laid-back, authentic tone to it and not look like your average marketing content, which is often pushy and corporate-looking.
You can pick from a variety of video ideas depending on what you are trying to market at the moment. This includes funny skits, memes, behind-the-scenes clips, hashtag challenges and more. Check the video below for some ideas on what to post on a TikTok business account.
How to Advertise on TikTok
Ads are a rather recent phenomena on the platform, yet highly beneficial to businesses or individuals planning to use TikTok for marketing. The platform currently offers four different options for advertising:
- Infeed Native Content - very similar to Instagram story ads. Like any other TikTok video, they last for 9-15 seconds, play full screen view and can be skipped. Success can be measured via the CTR (click-through rate), impressions, video views and engagement.
- Brand Takeovers - where a brand takes over the app for a day, creating images, GIFs and videos and even link to their landing pages.
- Hashtag challenges - create a promoted hashtag and make your challenge go viral. These challenges are always created with an end goal/prize for everyone who participates. Common examples include asking people to dance to specific songs, or simply creating a short video promoting the brand in some way.
- Branded lenses - similar to Snapchat and Instagram filters. Users can apply these lenses to their videos to change or enhance their features.
It’s best to start encouraging brand awareness by going for infeed native content, and building on that once your brand has been introduced to the public. However, it’s ultimately up to you to decide on the type of advertising you want to go for when it comes to using TikTok for business, as long as you remember one thing - content should be fun, interactive and casual. In short, think of a TV advertisement and do the opposite.
TikTok Influencer Marketing
Since the core idea of TikTok is video sharing, any influencer marketing campaign will be focused on the influencer making, sharing and even livestreaming short clips that promote your brand and raise awareness. However, don’t try to give the influencer a script or tell them exactly what they need to do, since anything that resembles traditional advertising is not applicable on TikTok. Plus, most of these influencers are used to flexibility and have their own personal style, so it’s best to give them the general idea and let their creativity flow when it comes to marketing a product/service. That’s also the difficulty with Generation Z - they don’t like content that is very salesy.
It’s crucial to find influencers that appeal to your target market, and work with them to come up with a creative strategy that will appeal to potential customers and get them interested in your brand. If you need assistance in finding the right influencer, it’s always a good idea to work with an influencer platform. It’s not necessary to find a TikTok influencer with the largest following; relevance and the appropriate niche are factors which are much more important. We’ve already spoken about the benefits of using Micro-Influencers, which you can check out here: “5 Reasons to Use Micro-influencers to Boost eCommerce Sales”.
TikTok vs Instagram
It has been speculated that Instagram may be facing a decline soon, particularly due to the rapidly increasing popularity of TikTok. It can’t be denied that the Gram is still one of the most popular platforms to conduct marketing activities on, yet many people are gradually getting tired of the perfection that comes along with the app. Instagram is all about perfection: perfect photographs, perfect people, perfect lifestyles.
Although somewhat alluring in a marketing sense, we understand deep down that this is not realistic. Life is not this polished in reality, and Instagram influencers often come across as very unrelatable. You may come across an advertisement for skincare on Instagram, presented by a popular model with millions of followers, but you understand that she has the resources to get professional dermatological treatments alongside her usual skincare routine. As a result, we end up distancing ourselves from the whole idea.
TikTok, on the other hand, is like Instagram’s quirky younger sibling. The more “real” you are on the platform, and the more genuine and relatable - the better. TikTok is all about having fun and expressing yourself instead of creating an art gallery for a profile, which is why it’s so popular amongst Gen Z (and why it has such a rapidly growing user base). TikTok encourages a more laid-back environment, which may be beneficial for users and corporations alike because it makes everything seem more authentic.
On TikTok, people are (more or less) given an equal opportunity to express themselves; looks, follower size, fame and affluence aren’t as important. And isn’t that what people genuinely crave?
At the end of the day, it cannot be denied that TikTok is growing incredibly rapidly - both as a social media platform and as a marketing channel. The app is very different from other social media platforms that have come before it, which can often be confusing for anyone who is not part of Gen Z. Yes, TikTok is still predominantly “run” by teens and young adults, yet there have been some changes in the demographics as of late. As mentioned above, a small percentage of large and small businesses alike have engaged in TikTok marketing, which has proven to be surprisingly effective.