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TikTok Takeover Continues: How Brands Can Be Successful on TikTok

TikTok Takeover Continues: How Brands Can Be Successful on TikTok

In September of 2019, the TikTok takeover began as brands, marketers, and consumers’ interest in TikTok began to surge. If the brand you work for is still contemplating creating a TikTok profile or if you’re already in the thick of things and working to solidify your strategy, dive in below for insights from our team of social media experts on how to be successful on the network.

TikTok Continues to Thrive in the U.S.

While the global pandemic certainly correlated with the rise of TikTok in the U.S., as states relax mandates and reopen to the public, usage continues to climb across more than just the Gen Z audience. In fact, the network is trending towards garnering 1B active users by the end of 2021 (which is where Instagram currently stands, a network that’s been around twice as long), and recent data from eMarketer shows that more Gen Zers are using TikTok than Instagram in the U.S. (that’s two digs at IG now).

What’s recently made TikTok even more appealing to marketers is data showing the purchase consideration on the app is also relatively high, especially among Gen Z.

And let’s not forget that TikTok is also a rising star in the influencer marketing world. TikTok is now the #2 channel for influencer marketing. Instagram currently holds the top spot, but for how long considering the trends we’re seeing in the data above?

With all the buzz about TikTok, the app has certainly taken notice and been working to seek out ways to improve the effectiveness of its ad platform (as any good social media network does). They’ve not only announced personalized ads earlier this year but additional features that marketers can leverage depending on their objectives.

How to Evaluate if Your Brand Should be on TikTok

Whether the brand you represent is already on the network or not, here are a few questions to consider before moving forward with your strategy and content production efforts.

What Audience Are You Trying to Reach?

The nice thing about the growing interest in TikTok is that there’s a little bit of everyone on the app these days, but Gen Z and Millennials take up over 75% of users. Ask yourself if your target audience fits in within those groups before you go venturing any further. Alternatively, if you’re trying to broaden your target audience from a traditionally older audience and reach a younger demographic on this network, then feel free to proceed. Just make sure that you follow our additional advice below and don’t work to produce content that doesn’t work within the platform.

GWI Data Chart: TikTok Audience Demographics Q2 2020

What’s Your Objective and is it Achievable on TikTok?

What is it you’re hoping to get out of your TikTok content? Below are a few thoughts on how different objectives can be approached on the network.

  • Awareness: Hoping that TikTok can help you gain some brand recognition? Well, the right content and hashtag strategy could help you get some of the views you’re looking for. Just don’t expect every piece of content you produce to “go viral”.
  • Engagement:  Looking to build up your community and get people engaging with your brand? Implementing branded hashtag challenges, developing original sounds for others to use, and developing stitch prompts are just a few of the many ways to generate engagement that are unique to the platform. Our only watch out is to make sure you have the right combo of content that’s true to your brand but creative enough to get people involved.
  • Website Traffic: If you’re looking to move people out of the app and onto your website, start digging into your paid media budget to make room for ads. The “link in bio” feature can only go so far and the only other way to get clicks is through ads since you cannot currently add a link to an organic post (similar to Instagram posts in the newsfeed).
  • Sales: Same as with website traffic, get ready to dig out some additional funds to run ads and drive audiences to product landing pages for purchase.

What Value Are You Providing Your Audience?

Don’t just be on TikTok to be on TikTok. Jumping on the bandwagon is never the right path to take when it comes to social media marketing. Instead, consider what type of content you’re trying to produce and share on the platform and how audiences will find that content beneficial. Are they even in the right mindset while they’re using the app to find that content beneficial to them?

For example, if I’m only using TikTok to watch some funny videos that will make me laugh, I’m skipping over anything that’s trying to push a hard sell on me. I’m not in the mindset of making a purchase.

Related, the content your brand produces on the platform should match the more humorous and trendy content that authentically lives on TikTok. Like we said earlier, you need to find a balance between the creativity this app requires blended with your brand voice. If you’re only planning to repurpose Facebook and Instagram-style content, it’s unlikely you’ll find success.

If you’re still not sure if a brand profile is right for your business, don’t give up just yet. An influencer marketing strategy on the channel may be just the thing you need to test the waters. That said, be prepared to dig into those pockets once again as influencer rates on TikTok have tripled since the beginning of the year (and that’s just for a single video).

Tips for A Successful TikTok Strategy

So your brand passes the test and is ready to get going on TikTok… now what? Here are several insights to consider for developing and implementing a successful strategy.

Familiarize Yourself with Popular User Actions

Invest your time in content that will elicit actions that TikTok users are known for taking. GWI data outlined in the chart below shows the top actions taken on the platform in Q4 2020 were liking/commenting on videos, following accounts, sharing videos with friends, watching livestreams, and using the discover page.

GWI Data Chart: What have you done on TikTok in the last month?

Know What Types of Content Works (and What Doesn’t)

We’ve said it a few times already in this post (which means it’s a prettttty important tip), but you’ll need to make sure you’re creating content that can authentically live on the platform. The same strategy you’re using on Facebook isn’t going to translate. So take some time to familiarize yourself with popular types of content and reference our list below of tips for what does and doesn’t work on TikTok.

What Works

  • Keep it Casual: No matter the type of content you seek to create on TikTok you’ll want to avoid giving it too polished of a look. Keep the high-grade cameras in your bag and the effects as native to the app as possible.
  • Be Real: It’s the antithesis of Instagram’s heavily curated, glossy versions of ourselves. Authenticity matters here, so let your hair down!
  • Stories over News: Users on TikTok are there to be entertained, not spoken or marketed to. Instead of focusing on product information and updates, think about how you can continue telling the story of your brand, the people who make it possible, and how your products play a key role in that lifestyle.

What Doesn’t Work

  • Traditional Video Content: If it was intended for TV, your YouTube, or Facebook pages, it probably won’t work on TikTok.
  • Bandwagoning: You’ll want to be aware of which trends work well with your brand and which to avoid. Among TikTok’s teen audience, brands encroaching on the platform is already a hot button issue, and jumping on unnecessary trends can be seen as a lame move.
  • Improperly Formatted Video: Be sure your content adheres to the 9:16 vertical format on TikTok! Whether you film your content in the app itself or produce it elsewhere, it absolutely must be in a vertical format, and under either the 15-second or 60-second limit.

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Take Advantage of the Unique Features and Tools

TikTok provides users with a plethora of unique features that your content team can leverage for original content production, and as a way to engage with viewers/followers.

  • Sounds: A primary feature of TikTok that you need to know and understand are sounds and how to use them. Tapping the sounds button will open a new window that allows you to browse from seemingly infinite soundtracks for your videos from pop favorites, currently trending clips, as well as your bookmarked sounds. You can also create original sounds for audiences to leverage and create content with.
  • Effects: If you’ve seen a crazy special effect in a TikTok video, this is where you’ll find them! Not only can you save the ones you love to your favorites, but you can also do it straight from any TikTok video that uses a built-in effect.
  • Duets: TikTok allows creators to not only “Like” and comment on each other’s videos but respond directly to them in their own feed with a TikTok of their own. For this functionality to work, you must enable Duets during the final step of the publishing phase via the “Allow Duet and React” button.
  • Stitches: Similar to Duets, a Stitch gives users the ability to clip and integrate scenes from another user’s video into their own. The original video begins, and then you can create an original video that follows. This is another feature that you’ll need to enable in the “Settings and Privacy” section of your account and will apply to all videos in your account.
  • Livestreaming: A feature less unique to TikTok but very common across all social media networks is livestreaming. The network rolled out this feature shortly after lockdowns began and has been working to enhance it ever since. It’s also been announced that TikTok is working on a Live Shopping feature that Walmart has been able to capitalize on early through an exclusive partnership.
  • Playlists: Similar to Instagram Highlights, TikTok launched Playlists in March of 2021, allowing select creators (only influencers at this time) the ability to group clips together into themes on the profile page.
  • Q&A’s: Another new tool for 2021 is the Q&A feature. In videos, users can designate their comments as Q&A questions, which are then labeled as questions in the comments section. This makes it easy for a creator to quickly identify and answer questions in their videos’ comments.

Consider Running Ads

While one of the many aspects of TikTok that’s appealing to brands and marketers is the fact that the majority of content is organically published and discoverable on the platform, we know it’s not always going to be this way. Plus, the surge in popularity of the app has many big brands getting ready to spend big dollars on ads. We also have mentioned that running ads is the only way to really generate clicks and website traffic from the platform.

Taking all those items into consideration, running ads on the platform may be an ideal approach for your brand. The dashboard has nicely evolved already and is likely to continue to improve if popularity continues trending upwards and people continue to spend more advertising dollars here. Again, familiarize yourself with what analytics are available from a paid standpoint and what objectives you’re able to optimize towards.

Consider Running Ads

So… what’s it going to be? After all of that, are you ready to get started with your TikTok strategy and produce some quality content? Or are you going to keep using your Instagram Reels as a way to test if this is the right path for your brand? Either way, our teams are happy to help if you need it – just contact us to get the conversation started.

Alternatively, keep yourself informed on what TikTok rolls out next, along with other news and trends in the social media marketing space, by subscribing to our e-newsletter, Social You Should Know, below.

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