TikTok is one of the fastest growing social media platforms of all time and saw a dramatic rise in users throughout the COVID pandemic. It has been shortlisted as one of the most downloaded apps globally for the past two years, with many users finding time to explore the platform and connect with online audiences in new ways.
90% of TikTok users use the app at least once a day and spend an average of 52 minutes on the app daily. The largest demographic present on the app is those aged between 16 and 24 and has evolved from a video-creation app to a marketing and advertising haven.
What is TikTok?
TikTok is a go-to video entertainment app and calls itself the “destination for short-form mobile videos.” Users can upload 15 to 60 second videos that incorporate music, filters, editing effects and duets thanks to well-developed in-app editing software.
Creators on the app use the platform for different purposes—some lip-sync or dance to songs, others discuss complex subjects, campaign for change and educate their audience in niche subjects.
While TikTok is most popular globally with Gen Z, it is an app for everyone. Teenagers were early adopters of the app and figured out early how to adapt the platform to fit their tastes and needs. Millennials and Baby Boomers are present on the app, regularly poking fun at their tech-clumsiness, and many claim they were encouraged to use the app by younger family members.
TikTok is available globally in 154 countries, with the highest penetration in Asia. Across the planet brands have realised the importance of TikTok as a method of communicating and engaging with younger audiences. TikTok encourages user engagement, UGC and is a good place to partner with relevant influencers authentically.
TikTok has seen its own native influencer emerge but has also become a celebrity hot-spot. Many stars joined the app during 2020 in an attempt to stay relevant with global fans. The combination of influencers and celebrities on the app has made it a playground for global marketing strategies.
How does TikTok work?
There are various ways users can use TikTok for entertainment. Users can discover new creators and videos through hashtags; any hashtag can be added to a video through captions. Videos at the top of hashtags are typically the ones that are most popular, rather than uploaded most recently.
When opening the app, each user is presented with a For You Page. This page is uniquely curated for each user through an algorithm. The algorithm picks up signals from the user to find the most relevant and engaging content, focusing on user interactions, hashtags and sounds searched and user settings.
Videos on TikTok have a high chance of going viral. The platform selects content it deems interesting and engaging for users and places that content in the For You Page. The more interactions it receives on this page, the more users will be exposed to the content. It is easy to gain visibility when using a popular hashtag, filter or sound.
How can marketers use TikTok?
TikTok has become one of the most popular and effective locations for social media marketing. It allows brands to directly communicate and engage with their current and desired audiences through influencer marketing, paid-for advertising, TikTok challenge campaigns and user generated content. TikTok has developed various business tools that brands can use to assist marketing efforts on the app.
TikTok for Business
TikTok for Business is an all-in-one tool that brands and marketers can use to advertise on the app. The platform assists businesses in creating advertisements, budgeting, reaching target audiences and analysing campaign performance data. The TikTok for Business Ad Manager is a platform that helps marketers create these advertisements by offering different formats.
The five formats brands are able to choose from are: in-feed native content, top view, brand takeovers, hashtag challenges and branded effects.
In-Feed Native Content
In-feed native content is an ad format that is directly integrated into users’ FYPs. The ads typically last 15 seconds, have sound, are full-screen and skippable. The ads host a click-through link to a brand’s landing page, TikTok page or app download. Brands can measure the clicks, impressions, views, play duration and interactions on this format.
Top View Ads
Top view ads present users with your brand’s ad as soon as they open the app, instantly capturing their attention. These videos can be up to 60 seconds long which makes it a good choice for brands looking to advertise products or services that require more attention—TV trailers for example. Users can click the ad to be taken to an external site or to a TikTok Hashtag Challenge.
Brand takeovers can include top view ads, in-feed and branded hashtags all at once. The takeover only features one brand per day and is one of the more expensive options. Takeovers hook users’ attention and embed links that can be connected to website landing pages or challenges and hashtags within the platform.
Hashtag challenges are one of the most engaging ad formats available on the platform. Brands can create their own branded hashtags and challenges which encourage user generated content. Inviting participants to create their own content using branded hashtags can create trends on the app, increasing the chances of viral content.
Brands have the opportunity to create their own effects and filters on the app, making advertising efforts more engaging and interactive for users. Similar to Snapchat, brands can create lenses for photos and faces that users can use in their own videos, encouraging a high level of user generated content.
TikTok Ad Library and TikTok Creator Marketplace
TikTok has created an Ad Library tool that allows marketers to analyse the top performing ad campaigns currently available across the app. The feature aims to provide better insights into which ad campaigns reach the most users. Ads can be filtered by vertical and region to provide relevant information for marketers. Results can be further specified by time and performance.
The platform also offers insights into popular trends and showcases. While it is a great platform to use to gain a better understanding of TikTok campaigns, not all top-performing ads are included within it; advertisers need to authorise the use of data. However, it is still a great inspiration point that marketers can use to adjust their campaigns.
TikTok has also created an official marketplace marketers can use to find creators to collaborate with. The TikTok Marketplaces gives brands access to top tier creators, the basic tools needed to create a TikTok influencer marketing campaign and offers influencers direct access to brand partnerships and deals. Brands can filter creators through country, topic, reach, views, audience country, gender, age, audience device or e-commerce anchor.
Brands can use the Marketplace to contact creators and create a campaign review once the partnership is over. Since the Creator Marketplace is an official TikTok partner platform, brands can guarantee data is verified and accurate.
TikTok for Business Summary
If your brand isn’t yet present or active on TikTok you should definitely consider creating a presence. TikTok is where future customers lie and building a relationship with them early will increase loyalty in the long term. New users are still joining the app daily and it is predicted it will gain another billion users in a year.
The app is also developing its social commerce abilities. While it currently has a partnership with Shopify, TikTok is said to be developing in-app shopping. This means TikTok could become a central advertising and shopping platform for consumers.
TikTok wants to be used as an advertising platform and it has made tools to aid marketers make that possible. The platform is looking to increase video length, meaning there will be even more opportunities for brands to be creative and directly engage and communicate with their desired audiences. This means more brands will be approaching TikTok’s new audiences through the various ad formats available and through influencer marketing.
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