The Marketing Guide to TikTok

November 13, 2020

Why Consider TikTok?

More than 1.5 Billion Downloads

A funny thing about TikTok marketing success is that most marketers older than 30 have never heard of the platform. However, its popularity is not to prove anymore.

TikTok has grown tremendously over the last year. With the app being the third most downloaded in 2019 with 500 million active users, and having more monthly users than Twitter or Snapchat, TikTok marketing sure deserves your attention.

TikTok Conquers the Teens of the World

tiktok demographics

TikTok has really hit the nail on the head when it comes to engaging with the youngsters of the world. It might be a bit of a head scratcher for the older generations, but TikTok is no news to the teens of the world. 41 percent of TikTok users are aged between 16 and 24 (Source: Oberlo).

With such a young demographic, it’s no surprise that many colleges and universities have TikTok accounts. The University of Florida (UF) has more than 83,000 fans and 973,000 hearts. The account shares everything from student accomplishments and sports hype videos to behind-the-scenes campus footage and dance challenges.

What is TikTok?

TikTok is an iOS and Android media app that can be used for creating and sharing short videos. It was initially launched as Douyin in September 2016, in China. The following year, in 2017, the app was launched by ByteDance for markets outside of China. TikTok and Douyin both use the same software, but maintain separate networks in order to comply with Chinese censorship restrictions. TikTok is available all around the world via the App Store or Google Play stores.

Our favorite cover of “Stand by Me.” 😍
— TikTok (@tiktok_us) October 22, 2018

Some of you might be wondering why TikTok might sound oddly similar to Musical.lyin terms of what you do within the apps. And there’s a good reason why. In late 2017, TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, purchased As a result of the merger, TikTok had smooth access to targeting the US teenage market which previously belonged to

How Can Brands Use TikTok?

TikTok is a fun, non-serious platform that people download purely for entertainment purposes. As a brand, you should understand the dynamics of the app and use it to show the lighter side of your product or service to the audience. There are three main ways how brands can utilize TikTok and take advantage of its user pool:

  1. They can become part of the conversation by creating a channel and sharing clever and entertaining content related to their product.
  2. The app has given rise to a number of nano-influencers. The brands should collaborate with these influencers to reach out to youngsters and create relevant buzz.
  3. TikTok has just started to develop its advertising platform which is expected to grow over time. Brands should keep a lookout and integrate TikTok Advertising as soon as the platform has matured.

Hashtag Challenges

Hashtag Challenges have worked very well for Twitter and Instagram. The nature of the content on TikTok makes it 10 times more interesting and the good news is that the community present on the app loves them.

A good example to consider will be Jimmy Fallon’s #tumbleweedchallenge which managed to get 10.4 million engagements. The challenge asked people to drop on the floor roll around like a tumbleweed using the overlay of a western music theme. With 8000 submissions, the challenge was successful and since then Jimmy Fallon has employed the route for engaging his young fans through more challenges.

User-Generated Content

One factor which differentiates Gen Z from their older counterparts is the way they consume content. They do not want to sit and wait for a broadcast instead want new content on the go. They also like content to be immersive and want to be involved. This can be used as an opportunity by brands to include and engage fans at the same time. If your channel is new and doesn’t have followers, there is always the option of collaborating with TikTok’s popular nano influencers.

A Chinese Restaurant called Haidilao attempted to include fans through user-generated videos of some customers making a DIY meal from their outlet. This encouraged people to flock to the restaurant for a DIY creation of meals and create a video. As a result, 15,000 people requested a DIY meal creation at the restaurant out of which 2000 created videos and uploaded it on Douyin.

Influencer Marketing

No one understands the essence of TikTok better than the youngsters who regularly publish content on it and have gained loyal fans as a result. As marketers, we need to harness the power these influencers hold through collaborations. For the campaign to be successful, the brands need to give direction, set goals and provide full creative liberty to the influencers. It is important to understand that a part of TikTok’s appeal lies in its rawness and ability to develop quirky content.

Advertising on TikTok

Ads are being tested in the US and Europe markets for TikTok which is a huge opportunity for brands to explore. The app has been experimenting with different ad formats in the past year but we have yet to see a proper profit-sharing system to invest our money in. The short ads have already been running on the app since January 2019 and even though we don’t know what ad formats will be available to us, there is a possibility that the following will be introduced:

  • Lens filters for photos and video inspired by Snapchat
  • Brand takeover
  • Promoted hashtag campaigns
  • Native video ads integrated with content

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