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Making Sense of TikTok Part 1: A guide for brands.

Social & Mobile

Firstly, what is TikTok?

With an impressive algorithmic feed, easy to use editing tools that drive creativity and its unique ability to launch viral trends, TikTok’s influence on today’s culture and social media landscape is undeniable.

Transforming the way people create and consume vertical content, TikTok’s rise accelerated the emergence of short-form and user-generated video content, now a preferred format across online platforms and channels.

While we’ll dive into how brands can integrate with TikTok later, let’s start with understanding what the platform is to its users.

What makes TikTok different to Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat?

That’s a very good question, especially as the other platforms continue to evolve and introduce new features that can sometimes feel similar. In fact, Instagram continues to build and improve its Reels offering, which in many ways is similar to TikTok, and could be more attractive to some audiences and advertisers as it exists within the Facebook and Instagram ecosystem.

TikTok can be differentiated in the following ways:

  • It’s a creation tool and a platform. Within TikTok itself, users have a suite of video editing tools which allow users to be extremely creative with limited skills. And, you can post it in the same place you’ve created it – meaning it’s an all in one expression platform.
  • The audience. The TikTok audience is young, with Gen Z & Millennials making up most of the users (and there are one billion of them worldwide every month).
  • It’s sound-led. A song can remind you of TikTok, and TikTok can introduce you to a song – soundtracks, voice overs and sound effects are foundational to TikTok content. In fact, TikTok has actually launched the careers of budding new artists.
  • Community: TikTok has a strong sense of community, with users frequently collaborating and engaging with each other through challenges and duets. This has helped to create a sense of belonging and connection among users.
  • Viral nature: TikTok trends can quickly go viral and spread across the platform and beyond. This has had a significant impact on pop culture, with TikTok influencing music charts, fashion, and even politics.
  • The algorithm. TikTok is well-known for its advanced machine learning. It learns from audience signals, tracking what type of content you watch and engage with and feeding you more of that. This means users now expect content to be extremely targeted to them and their niche interests. While you can still follow your friends and seek out specific profiles, you’re also likely to see more content from people you don’t know than those you do.

Like the Gen Z users it was made for, TikTok moves fast and so do the trends that appear on the platform. The main ‘macro trends’ that continue to be adopted by the masses are:

  • Challenges
    Challenges made up by users catch on quickly, and then disappear as soon as they’ve started. Examples of these include the kiss your best friend challenge, the ‘savage challenge’ (learning dances) or even ‘level up challenge’ seeing how high your animals can jump!

Top 10 TikTok Challenges 2020 - YouTube video by Best TikTok Compilations

  • Duets
    These are side-by-side style videos created when a user shares an existing TikTok alongside their own new content – creating a remix, reaction or unique take on the original. Duets are a clever way to encourage engagement, and by adding new audio and video, creators can introduce harmonies, record funny reactions or even start ‘duet chains’ like this full comedic musical.
  • Music/Voiceover Memes
    A new take on meme culture, TikTok users create amusing content about personal or social situations using existing quotes or songs. Plenty of these bring new meaning to the audio they’re using, and start entirely new trends themselves!
  • Video diary entries
    Many users, especially those with big followings tend to make quick vlogs about elements of their lives.
  • Education
    TikTok is also full of videos from experts in a variety of fields, teaching viewers how to do everything from applying the perfect red lip and manifesting wealth to stretching their hip flexors and using psychological tricks to win an argument.

So, should my brand advertise on TikTok?

TikTok is a platform that moves quickly, and there’s no shallow end that you can dip your toe in. Understandably, this can be quite intimidating as a marketer. So to make it easy, we’ve highlighted why TikTok might be a good fit:

Reasons TikTok could be perfect for your brand:

  • You simply want to reach a younger audience
    Almost half of US users are 18-34. It’s no secret that this demographic has high disposable income, and are active online shoppers. So if your product is of interest to this audience, and can be swiped from an ad and added to cart in a blink of an eye, your brand might find ad formats like TopView & InFeed ads beneficial.

  • Your brand has an authentic way to engage in the TikTok trends and features
    For instance, challenges are a great TikTok phenomenon to take part in if there’s one relevant to your brand. Netflix did this really well with a Branded Hashtag challenge and supporting Branded Effect filter for the final season of Money Heist – encouraging fans to wear the iconic Salvador Dali mask from the series and duet with Brazilian rapper Emicida. A fun way of putting fans at the heart of the conversation and helping generate a cool 1.1b views during the activation period.

  • Music is a passion point of your customers
    As mentioned, music is a key component for TikTok. If you’re a brand that leans on killer soundtracks for your most memorable campaigns, you could use TikTok to bring new meaning to those songs through the POV challenge. HighSnobiety gets creative with their videos and leans into TikTok’s sound and music features.

  • Your product or brand lends itself to creating utility content
    Instructional videos? Product tips and tricks? TikTok is the place for discovering things to do, and how to do them. Your product or service can play a starring role in this. Kaja Beauty has consistently done this very well.
  • You need to drive product purchases.
    Want to spark demand and get customers to the check out with no headaches? TikTok Shopping Ads allow brands to display their products within the TikTok app, making it easier for users to discover and purchase products without leaving the platform. Combining advanced targeting and product accessibility, this ad format is designed to simplify and improve the customer journey.

For more insights, check out Part 2 of this series, which dives into best practices for ads on TikTok. If you’re interested in getting started with TikTok, we can help. Get in touch to arrange a time to chat with your local Genero team.

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