Should Your Brand Be On TikTok?

Insights / 2020.05.18

Should Your Brand Be On TikTok?


In recent months, TikTok, one of the fastest-growing social media platforms in the world, has joined the ranks of social media powerhouses like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. It has over 800 million active users worldwide and two billion app downloads. The average user spends 80 minutes per day on the app (with a little help from COVID-19), and it’s the digital playground for Gen Z.

As TikTok continues to blow up, smart brands are mapping out cutting-edge strategies for ways to reach Gen Z (and, increasingly, Millenials and Gen X) on the app.


So What is TikTok?


TikTok, formerly, is an app that allows users to create and share short videos (they’re capped at one minute) with music, interactive filters and a host of other tools and features. 

TikTok is different from other social platforms in that it focuses on entertainment over lifestyle content, enabling people to create and share their passions through “short-form mobile video.” It’s also a lot more addictive than other platforms, boasting a 15.35% engagement rate. To put that number in perspective, Instagram’s average is 3%. 


Who’s On TikTok?


COVID-19 and stay at home orders have changed the way people socialize. Limited in-person interaction - and perhaps a little too much interaction with roommates or family members - is causing people to seek out digital community in a number of different ways. 

Some have turned to conferencing apps like Zoom for virtual hangs and happy hours. Some are rewatching favorite shows, or catching up on all the shows they’ve been meaning to binge on streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu. But an exponentially increasing number are turning their attention to TikTok–even if they never thought they would.

The current TikTok demographic skews heavily towards Gen Zers with over 41% of users between 16-24 years old. This makes the app ideal for brands attempting to penetrate this market. Another quarter of users are 25-34 years oldHowever, the app is quickly aging up. In fact, it’s doing so faster than any other social media app with 30% of new users in April over the age of 35. 


How Brands Can Use TikTok


TikTok is in its early stages, but growing fast. With its high-quality, low-cost traffic and low barrier to entry, now is the perfect time for brands to get in on the action. 

Savvy brands are eager to take advantage of TikTok’s early ad opportunities as the app continues to mature. Presently, there are six ad formats available, all requiring a TikTok advertising representative. These include:


1. Biddable Ads

In-stream video is, at least for now, the only type of biddable ad unit available. These videos can be seamlessly integrated into a user’s feed without disruption by targeting either the user’s age, gender or location and can take one of three action models: cost per click, cost per thousand impressions or cost per view.


2. Brand Takeovers

A brand takeover allows your ad to appear as an image or a 3-5 second GIF/video the second a user opens TikTok. Hence, taking over the screen. When a user taps on the ad, they’re directed to either a specific TikTok profile or a site off the app. This ad type does, however, have a high barrier to entry for both its cost and the fact that just a single advertiser can leverage this ad per day.


3. Branded Hashtag Challenges

Hashtag challenges allow users to create and share content centered on certain themes. Brands can leverage this ad type to build brand awareness by turning users into co-creators and asking them to participate in campaigns that can last up to six days.

There’s also TikTok’s Hashtag Challenge Plus, which gives users the ability to shop products featured in a hashtag challenge on the brand’s Discover Page. Engagement, meet sales.

Many brand and user videos center around challenges. These challenges are the next evolution of meme culture, typically involving songs and dancing–and everyone is eager to show off their moves. It’s all about self-expression and bringing personality into the trend. TikTok takes advantage of the ripple effect one challenge can have by adding brands to the mix to perpetuate their presence and reach. As a brand, that’s how you can join the conversation and garner user-generated content to bolster your message.


4. Branded Lenses

Unique face filters, motion effects and augmented reality...oh my! Similar to the lenses offered by Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook, TikTok also allows brands to create lenses.


5. Top Views

Top view is a video-based ad format that presents a brand once a user opens the app, similar to brand takeovers and similar in its ability to reach a wide audience. Unlike brand takeover ads, however, top view ad units seamlessly fade into an in-feed video ad, lasting a total of 15 seconds.


6. Customer Influencers

Your brand can also invest in TikTok influencer marketing ads where you partner with top TikTok creators to create and share sponsored video content with their audience. The interesting thing about TikTok influencers is that their influence is specific to and from this channel, unlike other social media influencers who post content on multiple channels. They’ve become popular through their unique TikTok content that their fan base now associates with the app, which means their followers are both highly loyal and highly receptive to the brands they promote.


Brands That Are Doing It Right


With such a highly engaged user base, brands have a unique opportunity to stand out from competitors by appealing to this audience through the creation of compelling content–and welcoming it from others.

To see who’s doing it right, look to these cutting edge brands: 

  • e.l.f Cosmetics’ #eyeslipsface viral music video campaign – currently the #1 most successful viral campaign in TikTok U.S. history – generated over five billion views. 

  • Chipotle’s #Guacdance challenge smashed TikTok records by urging guacamole fans to show off dance moves. 

  • Even the NBA has jumped in on the app’s popularity with comedic memes and motivational content. 


Getting Started on TikTok


Brands that have taken to the app–and showed up with relevant purpose–are coming out successful on the other side. The good news? Your brand can, too.

One of the best ways to create an effective TikTok ad, and discover where you’ll get the most bang for your buck, is to actually get on the app and familiarize yourself with what’s trending and how others are incorporating their brand message into the mix. Then, look to see how you’ll be able to do the same for your own brand.

Regardless of the prominence and fandom TikTok has garnered, especially recently, the decision to take your brand to the scrolls of TikTok users requires strategy. How will you engage your audience? What will set you apart and make your brand more memorable than the next? Does your TikTok strategy ladder up to your brand’s overall approach?

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