What Marketers Need to Know About the Rise of Black Friday Campaigns on TikTok
Black Friday is a critical part of any retail brand's Q4 sales strategy. From traditional advertising channels, such as television and print ads, to social media marketing campaigns, brands are tapping a variety of channels this time of year to reach audiences and drive potential purchasers to online and brick-and-mortar stores.
TikTok is a relatively new social mobile platform on the scene that allows users to create short-form videos, with an emphasis on music, to share with one another. It’s meteoric rise to the top of the app stores happened rapidly over the past couple of years. In fact, since launching in 2017 internationally, TikTok reached over 528 million users by 2018 and then exceeded this in June 2019, by reaching 1 billion users.
Users are accustomed to engaging with one another through “Hashtag Challenges,” where editors challenge the community to post photos on a certain topic. This year, we predict that Black Friday Challenges will be a widely popular trend on TikTok. With a massive audience and features for advertisers to tap into, TikTok is a channel that advertisers just can’t ignore for the Q4 holiday shopping season.
Here, we’ll discuss how brands can tap TikTok Hashtag Challenges to drive Black Friday sales this year:
Black Friday Historical Trends
In the U.S., Black Friday typically starts the day after Thanksgiving. It's traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year, because it kicks off the holiday season, which is crucial for the economy and particularly for retailers. According to the U.S. Census Department, U.S. consumers spent $717.5 billion in sales during Black Friday in 2018 (a 4% increase from the previous year). As such, brands are expected to focus marketing strategies and budgets explicitly for Black Friday in the month of October, leading up through November.
TikTok Users’ Spending Trends
Users on the TikTok platform are not shy about spending online and in-app. They primarily spend money on the app through buying coins that they can use to send emojis to other users on livestreams. Between October 2017 and October 2018, in-app purchases on TikTok increased by 275% to $3.5 million, significantly more than the average growth of in-app spending for the same period (36%).
Around 42% of this revenue ($1.5 million) came from U.S. users, where the increase in spending measures 144%. This just out paces spending in China, which at $1.4 million represents 39% of the total.
As the audience has grown in 2019, so has user spending. According to SensorTower, TikTok reached a new revenue milestone when its roughly 500 million monthly users spent over $10 million in just the month of June 2019.
TikTok then released in August 2019 its “Hashtag Challenge Plus” shopping feature, which allows users to shop for products associated with a sponsored Hashtag Challenge, and without leaving its app. So, in addition to creating and viewing videos featuring the brand’s sponsored Hashtag, a separate tab features an in-app experience where products from the campaign can be purchased within TikTok itself.
The first brand to use the new e-commerce feature was the retailer Kroger, with a “TransformURDorm” Hashtag Challenge. In partnership with TikTok influencers, Kroger challenged TikTok users to post videos of their dorm makeovers using the Hashtag #TransformUrDorm. During the campaign, the Hashtag grew to around 477 million views across hundreds of videos, which was amplified by TikTok influencers.
On the Hashtag’s landing page, a separate tab also labeled “Discover” directed viewers to the new shopping experience. Here, Kroger showed off a scrollable row of featured products, including things like a popcorn maker, a box of snack bars, a toaster and other items. Tapping the “Shop Now” link then opens up Kroger’s website, where users can add items to their cart and check out online:
From both a branding and a revenue perspective, the new e-commerce feature in TikTok provides marketers with an opportunity to explore user engagement during the holiday season.
Black Friday Campaign Strategies for TikTok
Among all other tools and platforms marketers will be using during Black Friday, TikTok is highly worth adding to their campaigns this year. Advertisers should approach the TikTok platform as an element or part of their larger social strategy for Black Friday campaigns. It will certainly offer the benefit of ensuring more complete audience coverage during the holiday shopping season.
For instance, advertisers would do well to combine TikTok's standard ad formats with influencer marketing campaigns supported by media buying for the best performing creatives. Along with these digital activities, advertisers can add other creatives planned, like offline PR campaigns or real-world events, to create their story for shoppers this season.
Here are the current practices to consider for this year’s Black Friday campaigns on TikTok:
How Campaigns Are Created
- Brand Account Creation: Brands can now create and own accounts on the platform. It's important to keep in mind that organic content creation is at the heart of TikTok, and so being authentic and creating high-quality content is important for brands to remember.
- Campaign Management: Cooperation between brands 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: A brand’s profile on TikTok is then completed with a Logo and Nickname, giving it an official status. After such, they can also have an official brand song placed on the account and the profile gets updated with all the brand creatives.
- 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
As mentioned above, branded campaigns will start with developing a creative brief that clearly outlines the Black Friday campaign budget, goals, and the type of reach expected. Next comes the much harder part, sourcing influencers. Working with an official TikTok partner to source and manage influencers is crucial. A supporting influencer management team will contact influencers to check their availability and pricing, and then present the recommended influencer list to the brand for approvals. From there, an influencer management team will oversee all day-to-day operations, including campaign creation and organization, communications, campaign monitoring, performance tracking, and more to ensure the most effective outcome.
Tips for Engagement and 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.
- Hashtags — use ones that are catchy, easy, and related to the content.
- Music is an important part of TikTok and important to users, so think about incorporating music and dancing into your Hashtag Challenge. And, you needn’t worry about music licensing from TikTok, because the platform’s content is expanding and there’s an extensive catalog.
Final Thoughts on TikTok Black Friday Campaigns
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 Black Friday campaign.
Related story: How Can Brands, Agencies Unlock the Power of TikTok?