With TikTok aggressively growing, marketers are quickly searching for the best ways to leverage and engage the hottest new social platform.
As recently as June, TikTok set a new record in user spending, climbing 588% to more than $10 million from in-app purchases of virtual currency (known as Coins). At the same time, the audience base is growing, as well; reaching over 528 million users by 2018 with an average user session time of 8.95 minutes.
Here, we’ll discuss expert tips for the different ways that brands and apps can market on TikTok and unlock the power of this channel:
Use It as an Influencer Performance Platform for Branding Campaigns
Use the platform for influencer marketing — it’s a powerful channel with low investment required and the potential for high returns. TikTok started out with primarily a Gen Z-based audience, but the average age of the audience is rising, so it’s becoming a stronger opportunity for working with influencers to spread content to a broader audience.
Even while this audience is growing, it’s still a relatively untapped and low-cost advertising channel (for now). So it’s best to strike while the iron is hot. You can run partnerships, such as promotional campaigns, and start a campaign with influencers and a specific hashtag.
Also, it’s important to consider that influencers on emerging platforms like TikTok are also a cheaper alternative to those on other social networks.
Use It as Your Own Branded Marketing Channel, Upload Relevant Videos
While we love this tactic, it requires a lot of work. So make sure you can sustain producing great quality content. Brands such as CK and Uniqlo are already on board.
Use It to Run Media Buying Campaigns — Both Performance and Branding
TikTok offers standard and non-standard ad solutions:
- Standard: in-feed video ads and brand takeovers
- Non-standard: hashtag challenges and lenses (native integrations); in addition to its content marketing solution that calls influencer video “ads”
In this way, brands can run media buying seamlessly in-app. Use it for running ads on the platform — a new feature you can unlock by partnering up with official partners of TikTok who can run these promotional campaigns for your brand.
What makes TikTok stand out is that it is a highly engaging platform. TikTok has trained its users to participate in hashtag contests — without advertising — from the very beginning. And, as such, users expect a new challenge every week. Once advertising is natively integrated into the hashtag challenges, it doesn’t feel like advertising for the users and instead it feels and looks organic.
How Campaigns Are Created
- Brand Account Creation: Organic content creation is at the heart of TikTok, and virality can be driven organically via high-quality content and the use of hashtags. Hashtag “challenges” are very popular. Currently, for TikTok it’s all about growth, which includes expanding the user base in Europe and the U.S., and creating content to develop the platform. So brands can expected that higher-quality content will be delivered by TikTokers, with wide reach. TikTok was originally a karaoke app called musical.ly, where its creators were predominantly female teenagers. Since the app was acquired ByteDance in November 2017 and relaunched as TikTok, the content quality has improved drastically, and it’s attracting brands to set up their own accounts there, too.
- Campaign Management: Cooperation between the clients (brands, apps, games, etc.) and influencers is coordinated by a TikTok-approved agency that connects and coordinates between all parties. This typically starts with a brief from the client, which the agency then adapts to recruit specific influencers.
- Verifying Brand Accounts: The client’s profile on TikTok is then completed with a Logo and Nickname, giving them an official status. After such, they can also have an official brand song placed there on the account.
- Branded Creatives: The campaign is then updated with the creatives, based on the selected ad format.
- Attribution and Campaign Tracking: TikTok is currently partnered with key third-party attribution solutions, such as Appsflyer and Adjust, which are leveraged to track campaign performance. You can also track performance with web tracking tools, such as Google Analytics. Tracking links are added to the campaign. The best option for tracking views is to support MOAT setup.
Working With Influencers
- Creative Briefs: Brands need to create a brief that clearly outlines the budget, goals, and the type of reach expected.
- Sourcing Influencers: Based on this, their supporting influencer management team contacts influencers to check their availability and pricing. This list is then presented to the client and they have a final say on who will be picked for their campaign.
For instance, let's say a gaming company wants to work with TikTokers. A type of campaign could be a hashtag challenge. Videos on TikTok are short. (Normally, users can create a 15-second video, and top creators who have a verified account with a high following can go up to one minute.) So the creator can’t play and comment on the “game play,” but this could be the case when you are working with YouTubers.
Bottom line? Work with someone who already has the experience on TikTok and can budget smartly so that you wouldn’t spend and burn money on campaigns.
Music is an important part of the promotion and for users. By working with TikTok’s official partner agencies, you don’t need to worry about music licensing from TT. TikTok’s content, while it is expanding, is still very much linked to music.
Here’s an example of the successful gaming campaign #Superlord, which took Germany by storm:
Key Tips for Generating Campaign Virality
Creative content is about the video, hashtag, and the challenge, as it needs to engage audiences. It has to be short, simple, unique and, above all, easily reproducible (behind the scenes, slightly unedited, raw content). As such, adhere to the following:
- Avoid giving strict content creation guidelines to the influencers. TikTok is a highly personalized platform. Influencers understand their followers and the type of content they appreciate. When you use TikTok with an influencer, allow them the freedom to experiment. Think of it as “Freedom, with guidelines.”
- Campaigns should be short and they typically last a week, so they must be high impact and grab the user right away.
- Data and creative content are crucial. By using data, it’s very easy to see the performance and virality. Go for Relevance vs. Reach.
- Authenticity and creativity on TikTok are the key. It’s not about the glossy life of Instagram. Also, it’s how the video feels and looks.
- Adopt the vertical format, as it’s been growing tremendously since Facebook first introduced it in 2016. The power of TikTok and vertical video can be seen from when Major Lazer & Anitta’s new track “Make It Hot” was released, including a version that is suitable and cut for vertical viewing on Instagram and TikTok. With the way fans are consuming video today, making it vertical-friendly was a crucial step for virality. For example, Ed Sheeran’s challenge generated more than 270 million views in five days, with the challenge #BeautifulPeople. Fans were invited to upload videos celebrating the beautiful people in their lives, using the hashtag #BeautifulPeople and the song by Sheeran in the campaign’s kick-off video. The artist promised to pick some of his favorites. Ed Sheeran’s challenge drew more than 150,000 user-generated videos. According to the hashtag’s page on TikTok, the campaign has since exceeded 359 million views.
- Hashtags — use the right ones that are catchy, easy, and related to the content.
- Have a challenge with dance and music attached. An example of a successful challenge was Lil Nas X using viral marketing. Lil Nas X began generating social-media memes for “Old Town Road,” and the song first became a hit on the video sharing app TikTok. Thousands of young people made short clips mugging in cowboy hats and boots with Lil Nas X’s song playing in the background, tagging their clips #yeehaw. “I promoted the song as a meme for months until it caught on to TikTok and it became way bigger,” Lil Nas X told Time magazine. He was signed by a record label afterward.
Final Thoughts on Best Practices
You may benefit from working with someone who has the experience, knowledge, and a partnership with TikTok. (This can also mean trust, as only a few agencies work on the platform.)
Music is licensed for campaigns and it’s a big part of the experience. Also, once gaming companies work with TikTok, they have the right to check the song. If there is advertising content on TikTok, they have the right to use this music on their platform and automatically license it.
While it’s a great platform for creating content — on the opposite “supply” side, you’ll want to find someone who has experience in influencer marketing and can find you the right influencers to create amazing content. There are many challenges with this, as it’s an unregulated market with no fixed prices or benchmarks for campaigns, and it can be difficult to maintain smooth relations with influencers. However, there are numerous benefits of influencer marketing, including:
- Native ad integration
- Earned media effect
- Branding campaigns
- Campaign transparency
- International exposure
- High chance of virality
While you can find influencers and reach out to them personally via social channels, you will need the tools to vet the influencers. Then you must negotiate the terms of the partnership, manage relations during the campaign, and track results. We’d advise sourcing someone who works with influencers daily to manage these relationships.
At the end of the day, TikTok is still very much a new platform that is just experimenting with how advertising and campaigns can be effective and contribute to the user experience. Be prepared to experiment, and also lean on the successes from previous campaigns to bring best practices into your own ads.
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