In recent years, TikTok marketing has emerged as a powerful means for businesses to elevate their brand awareness and generate sales. Comparing it to other social media giants like YouTube or Facebook, TikTok is very new. However, its novelty and unique nuances are precisely what has compelled various big brands to use it, some of which have seen significant impact and achieved record-breaking growth.
The critical question to begin with first is: why TikTok? The Chinese-made app reached over 3.5 billion downloads in 2021, with over 50 million daily active users worldwide. The most interesting aspect, however, is the way marketers have been approaching and using the platform for their brand. According to Hubspot’s 2023 report, 53% of marketers plan to increase their investment in TikTok to drive their advertising and campaigns.
As a paid social and TikTok Marketing agency, we will explore why marketers are more motivated than ever to get leads from TikTok and how they are doing so. However, before delving into that, it’s important to understand what makes the platform so uniquely different from other social media channels.
What Makes TikTok So Different
While there are is a variety of factors that make TikTok distinct from the likes of Instagram or YouTube, the following are some key differences between them:
1) A Mostly Generation Z Audience
The majority of TikTok users are Americans aged 18-24, forming nearly half the platform’s total global users. This strongly contrasts with social media channels like Facebook and YouTube, where the audience spans a much more broader range. If your brand’s audience falls within this age group, TikTok will be a wise choice.
2) A Focus on Short Form Content
Unlike YouTube with its quite often lengthy videos, TikTok only hosts videos that range from 15-60 seconds. This forces marketers to fine-tune their messaging to ensure it remains engaging and persuasive throughout that much shorter duration.
3) A Focus on Authenticity
Also unlike YouTube, TikTok isn’t a platform that resonates well with highly edited videos. Rather, it encourages content creation that’s organic, such as filming videos that are inspired, captured in the moment, and humanly authentic. Although this is a novel approach for marketers, it powerfully increases an audience’s relatability and connection to a brand’s campaigns.
4) Making On-Platform Shopping a Priority
Since its inception, TikTok has focused on building shopping features into its app. Their 2020 partnership with Shopify created a massive opportunity for e-commerce brands to leverage TikTok advertising very successfully. Unlike Instagram and Facebook, the platform has continued to rapidly expand its partnerships to introduce more shopping integrations and features.
While we have briefly covered a few nuances that make TikTok different from other social media platforms, it is important to explore real-life examples to see how the app can be effectively utilised for advertising and campaigns.
Two Great Examples of Paid TikTok Campaigns
1. Chipotle’s #ChipotleLidFlip Challenge
Chipotle, the renowned American restaurant chain for tacos, burritos, and salads, ventured into paid TikTok campaigns in 2019. Their main objective was to raise their brand’s awareness and sales. Achieving these goals, on a new platform, entailed a strategic approach to using TikTok’s many unique features.
First, they developed a hashtag (#ChipotleLidFlip) to begin a challenge that involved flipping the lid onto a burrito bowl, an act skillfully performed by one of their own employees. Then, they partnered with a famous YouTube influencer and multiple TikTok influencers to drive attention to the challenge.
Once launched, the challenge received over 100,000 video submissions from TikTok users. In turn, this led to 220 million impressions within one month, driving Chipotle’s two record-breaking days for their highest level of digital sales. Since then, Chipotle has remained one of the most followed brands on TikTok, on top of receiving the Shorty Awards.
2. Tanologist’s Use of TopView Ads
Successful TikTok advertising isn’t only a domain for large corporations such as Chipotle. Tanologist serves as a great example of this. In order to grow their brand’s awareness and sales, their strategy was to use TikTok’s “Top View” feature. This ad type positioned their paid ads within the first 60-seconds that users see when they open the app.
Like Chipotle, they also collaborated with TikTok influencers to create attention-grabbing creatives, use engaging audios, and leverage their large base of followers to launch their campaigns. The result was that their paid ads drove 70 million impressions, they completely sold out their main product, and increased ad recall by over 15%.
While there are many more success stories that showcase the marketing power of TikTok advertising, it is also important to translate case studies into actionable insights. For that, let us now consider five TikTok tips to make marketing on its platform work for you.
5 Tips to Make TikTok Work for Your Brand
1. Align Your TikTok Marketing with The Platform’s Vibe
For TikTok marketing to work effectively for your brand, it is crucial to take an approach that aligns with the apps’ unique vibe. As mentioned earlier, the platform’s favours short-form content that’s highly engaging, uses creative storytelling, and is organically authentic. This means your TikTok campaigns should be tailored to captivate your target audience immediately, tell your story quickly, and entice them on your offer throughout.
One way to leverage the platform’s unique functionality is to use the creative filters, visual effects, and extensive audio library. There are a range of best practices to do so, and you can find a wealth of information on it through TikTok’s own “Best Practices” guide for using effects to boost engagement.
Another critical thing to note is that trends change rapidly on the platform. In order to make sure your campaigns continue to resonate with your target audiences, it’s essential to continuously monitor what the latest TikTok trends are. Incorporating things like popular challenges or trending sound effects (while remaining aligned with your brand image), is key to staying relevant as a brand that your prospects want to keep following.
2. Leverage the Power of User Generated Content
One of the biggest factors behind Chipotle’s successful TikTok campaigns was their strategic use of User Generated Content (UGC). UGC is any content that TikTok users create voluntarily, usually in response to challenges or trending hashtags. While leveraging this form of content instead of the usual brand-created content may be new territory for marketers, there are two major reasons that make UGC so powerful: it’s essentially free, with authenticity that drives engagement.
Traditional advertising often requires significant financial investment, and because of that, it is limited in scale. Leveraging UGC for your marketing isn’t only extremely cost-effective, but it also allows you to utilise a much broader, diverse, and creative range of content for your campaigns than you otherwise would have from creating your own.
Aside from cost-savings, what makes UGC extremely powerful for marketing is how effective it is at engaging users. The perception that UGC is genuine and authentic establishes immediate trust by removing any objections to credibility that would accompany ads made by brands. The persuasion principle of social proof also explains how your target audience will be much more likely to follow the decisions of their peers rather than an outside figure, making UGC an ideal vehicle for advertising.
3. Ensuring Your Call-To-Action Is Compelling and Clear
While this tip may seem redundant to a marketer, when using a new platform like TikTok with its various visual effects and filters, it’s easy to lose sight of your most important conversion element. When integrating your Call-To-Action (CTA) in any TikTok ad, it is especially important to consider both its placement and messaging.
The most strategic placement of your CTA is always the end of your video, after your audience has been captivated by your offer enough to watch the entire video. Through TikTok’s ad manager, you can access visual overlays and graphics to reinforce the action you want your prospects to take. However, whatever captions, visuals, and effects you use to make your CTA stand out, make sure to always keep it simple, clear, and easy to act on.
The messaging of a CTA is another critical factor to give attention to when creating TikTok ads. A great tip is from the industry-leading Conversion Copywriter, Joanna Wiebe, who made the point not just to use Call-To-Actions but Call-To-Values. For example, instead of a button calling to “Join Now”, the CTA’s messaging would be more strategic if it called to “Join for More Free Health Tips Today”. By making clear the value of what your audience would receive from clicking through, you’ll ensure their chances of conversion are significantly higher.
4. Keep Monitoring and Optimising Your TikTok Advertising
Just like any other advertising platform, monitoring and optimising your TikTik ads is crucial for maximising results. By paying attention to TikTok analytics and seeing what resonates with your target audiences and what doesn’t, you’ll uncover invaluable insights into their behaviours, and preferences. This knowledge base, when fed back into your TikTok campaigns, will make them more engaging, more impactful, and ultimately more converting.
Some key metrics to pay attention to on TikTok include: views (to understand the reach of your content), likes/comments/shares (to understand its level of engagement), completion rate (indicating how successful your video was in keeping viewers’ attention), playtime (assessing the overall interest in your content), and hashtag performance (so you can assess how effective a specific hashtag was for getting reach for your ads).
Once you’ve gathered the data, the next step is to extract insights before acting on them. While it is fairly straightforward to act on what worked by doubling your efforts into it, it takes more deliberation to act on what data revealed didn’t work. The easy option is to jump to conclusions as to why a specific ad didn’t work, but the more strategic option is to form various hypotheses and test them, allowing the data to validate them. This longer, more deliberate process will help you discover what to ‘avoid’ on TikTok to save on ad spend and create sharper, more effective campaigns.
5. Ask the Right Questions to Understand Your TikTok Audience
As previously mentioned, a unique feature of TikTok is the predominance of a generation Z/young millennial audience. It is important to recognise that within that niched audience, there are varied demographics that you would need to research in order to target. Just like any other platform, the success of your TikTok marketing relies heavily on your ability to understand your target audience to craft precise campaigns, tailored to engage them.
Some important questions to ask when researching your TikTok audience include: How often do they use the app? On what days of the week and times of day are they most active? What trends capture their attention? What type of content and which influencers captivate them most?
This audience research process is bound to take time. However, that initial investment will equip you with insights on your target audience’s behaviour and preferences, allowing you to create highly effective ads that amplify your brand’s reach and drive results.
TikTok’s rising position as one of the most used social media channels in the world is undeniable. However, all the major social media platforms are vital for marketers and with technological advances and new features/integrations becoming available all the time, it’s important to stay up to date with what they all have to offer.
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