A marketers introduction to TikTok

03 June 2020 4 min read
Written by

Claire Durrant

Is it time for marketers to pay serious attention to TikTok? The short-form video-sharing app hailing from Beijing's ByteDance has caught the imagination of huge groups of society, but despite its rapid rise, there are still plenty of people — often, older people — who aren't quite sure what TikTok is. 

If you haven't been paying attention to TikTok, you haven't been paying attention. TikTok is a social platform based around user-generated, short-form videos. The videos are uploaded via users' phones, can be from 15-60 seconds long, and are shown in a vertical orientation. Each video is paired with music clips, or sounds which can either be uploaded by the user or taken from TikTok's vast library, which has millions of options to choose from. 

It's a stark comparison to the existing social media platforms which rely heavily on still images and engaging copy, and as a result, has become hugely popular and addictive. It's quite normal to open the app and end up watching clip after clip, after clip. 

How can TikTok be used for marketing? 

Many brands are experimenting with the platform as a way to engage with influencers and attract a new audience. As early as April last year, The Telegraph reported that brands including Coca-Cola, Sony, FIFA and Calvin Klein have turned to TikTok to run cut-price influencer campaigns.

Claire Durrant, Head of Social Media at Mobas explains that, "TikTok is substantially more affordable than Instagram and can be hugely effective at reaching a particular audience - most notably Gen Z. A lot of brands are still learning and understanding TikTok's potential value, but we have seen it prove effective when brands are marketing products and services which will naturally appeal to the demographic and mindset of TikTok users. It’s a challenge to brands to develop a new and fresh approach, rather than shoehorning any old ad or product in the hope of gaining traction." 

If you are thinking of publishing content directly as a brand rather than using influencers, there are currently two routes for promotion:

Route 1 - Create your brands' own channel and upload videos relevant to your business or product - typically referred to as organic activity. This works well for brands who have a strong social following and an active audience, but don't expect overnight viral success, unlike Instagram — who've openly discussed how their feed ranking system works - TikTok algorithm are kept very secret to stop people gaming their way to the top. 
A great example of this is ASOS who use the platform to share their products in a fun and exciting way with their followers. 

Route 2 - Pay to advertise utilising TikTok's new campaign options - a similar concept to social campaigns on other platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter etc. 
When it comes to advertising opportunities on TikTok, there are plenty of options for brands and businesses to explore:

  • In-Feed Ads
  • TopView
  • Brand Takeover
  • Branded Hashtag Challenge

TikTok's In-Feed Ads have a clear "Sponsored" label when they appear in the For You page, as well as a new clickable pop-up call-to-action, such as "download now," "learn more," or "shop now."

How to get started

If you're keen to use the platform to share your content, we would advocate starting small. Claire's advice is, "Just like any new marketing channel, our advice to businesses would be start off with a relatively small budget and start testing out different concepts and ideas to see what works for your brand. You might be convinced your audience will be there, but creating content that will engage users will take time to perfect.’

Brands who just recycle content from other platforms will fail. For this reason, at Mobas we recommend a test and learn model for every new campaign to allow the business to get insight into what creatives, messaging and style works for them as a brand and resonates with their users." 

Ready to dip your toe in the water? 

Perhaps unsurprisingly TikTok has made advertising a pivotal pillar to monetise their platform, so there is lots of help and advice to brands on how to get started directly on their website. But learning the physical process is just the start of the journey if you are keen to work with a team to devise a platform-centered strategy, why not get in touch with the Mobas team to find out how TikTok can work for you.