3 Ways Brands are Using TikTok

The TikTok logo sits on top of text that reads, "for Brands."

TikTok users doubled during the pandemic. Let us say that again – doubled. The network has 689 million users internationally – um, wow. Revenue in 2020 is estimated at $1 billion, so like, a tiny fraction of Jeff Bezos’ fortune. 

All of us find it pretty hilarious. Some of us watch it for the dogs, others for the cleaning tips, still others for all the funny sh*t posted…but what we’re really interested in is how brands are using TikTok to market to their customers.

In June 2020, TikTok launched TikTok for Business which includes a whole bunch of stuff that confused the hell out of us – TopView, Brand Takeovers, In-Feed Videos, Hashtag Challenges and Branded Effects. 

Okay, real quick, so we are all on the same page. TopView is the ad that launches when you first open the app. Brand Takeovers are the three to five-second ads that can be either a video or image. In-Feed Videos can be up to 60 seconds in length and run with the sound on. Hashtag Challenges allow brands to participate in the user community by inviting TikTok users to create content around a hashtag of their choice. This includes Hashtag Plus, which also adds a shopping feature to this experience. Branded Effects allow brands to insert themselves more directly into the content creation experience. A brand can choose to be added to a video in a 2D, 3D or now AR format in either the foreground or background of the video. 

There is also something called Brand Scan, but we don’t have time for all of this in one blog. 

Here are some of the top reasons why (we think) brands are flocking to TikTok.

Quirkiness

Modern Retail points out that TikTok is not like other social media – it’s less polished, has no time stamps and because most content is served through a user’s algorithmically recommended “For You” page, follower counts don’t matter as much.

With the right video, any user – and any brand – can find themselves catapulted to viral fame overnight. By crafting their own branded songs, leaning into self-parody, and in some cases encouraging their employees to post on their behalf, retailers are finally learning how to use TikTok effectively.

Some of the ways brands are taking advantage of TikTok’s uniqueness are through original songs and dances, how-tos (fast food workers showing process, paint mixing at Sherman Williams), TikToker influencers or by handing over control of the account to their employees. We’re not sure if the latter is because they figure the employees are young and hip and know how to TikTok or because it’s actually a part of their strategy.

Influencers

Just when you thought you had the influencer industry figured out…TikTok enters the picture. According to Digiday, Gen Z prefers TikTok over Instagram, so depending on a brand’s audience, we are starting to see a shift in platform priority. Millennial usage grew throughout the pandemic as well…cause we were all so bored. 

Companies find the slight chance to go viral very appealing, which is why they are setting aside more money for influencers on the platform.

One common issue to consider is that brands want exclusivity when working with influencers and “creators” aren’t always willing to negotiate on usage rights. 

Feedback

If a brand posts a video, the app’s duet feature allows any user to post a split-screen with their reaction to your video. Meaning, you might think your video is great, but a user can take it in a VERY different direction.

On top of that, the comment section of videos allows for conversation, trends, and questions to be answered…by anyone.  If brands are paying attention, this can provide great insight into how their products, campaigns and ads are being received.

One thing we can say for sure is TikTok deserves a seat at the table alongside other social platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.

In need of more social media insights? Reach out. We’re here for you.

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