TikTok for Businesses: A Short Marketer’s Guide

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

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

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
, and promote their products or services. Here’s how you can
use TikTok to market your brand, organically.

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

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


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

♬ Baby Shark – Countdown Friends

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.

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.


##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.

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.


Had 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.

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.

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.

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.

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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