Successful brands, regardless of the marketing channel they use, have always been the ones that listen to their audience and tell them the stories they want to hear.
Social media is not a broadcast channel, and you have to listen to your community before you can start an authentic dialogue with them.
To do this well, you have to be able relinquish a certain amount of control and that’s not always easy for brands. TikTok is a creator-led platform where the community is in control, and that’s one of the reasons people love it so much. So it will come as no surprise that to be successful on the platform you have to get creative and let yourself be led by its community.
Create native content and show your brand personality
A social-first approach to content is a must across all social media platforms, and it’s no different with TikTok. However, if you stick a TV ad on TikTok, it jars so much with the rest of the content being created, that it stands out for all the wrong reasons. As TikTok says: “Don’t make ads, make TikToks”. It’s a chance to show the human side of your brand, the people behind it and have some fun. I love the way The Washington Post uses its reporters’ personalities through behind-the-scenes content, as well as jumping on trends to create content that is comical and relatable, to connect with viewers.
Collaborate or co-create with TikTok creators
If creating native content is a little daunting, partnering with creators is an effective way to get started on the platform. Once you have a business account, access to the ‘Creator marketplace’ is the best place to start looking at which creators are on the platform, who their followers are, as well as which brands they have worked with and how their content performs. The creators know their audiences, what they love, what engages them – so it’s just a matter of finding the right creator fit for your brand. I like the way Hilton has approached one of their most recent ads, by really playing into TikTok’ers wanting to do things their own way.
Find your audience through community hashtags
There are so many different communities on TikTok, and the easiest way to find them is through hashtags. With the exception of hashtag challenges, which tend to be branded, the hashtags on TikTok are driven by what’s important to TikTok’ers, what they want to talk about or what’s trending at that moment in time.
Communities range from the broad to the niche. Some of my favourite examples are: the educational #LearnOnTikTok – where people share tips from everything from financial advice to life hacks; the fun hashtag #Picasso (started by one person’s video audio going viral and started a trend where people show off something that they or someone else created – that’s usually not very good – and declare “Okay I like it, Picasso”); or the more serious #Alzheimers where people can find support from others going through the same experiences.
And we know it works. Books recommended via #BookTok create sales spikes and sends books to the top of bestseller lists, so it makes perfect sense for a brand like Waterstones to jump on the hashtag to find its perfect audience.
Get on board with hashtag challenges on TikTok
Another good way to test the TikTok waters is by launching a hashtag challenge. Most brands choose to partner with popular creators or celebrities to create official videos to launch with and inspire user-generated content (UGC). These challenges allow you to see how people will interact with your brand and also generate a huge amount of UGC.
The #ThousandDollarCrocs challenge, for example, generated 50,000 pieces of content submitted for the challenge in the first 24 hours. And less than 36 hours after launching, the hashtag had been viewed 95 million times and more than 45,000 videos had been created. Crocs also saw an 18% increase in followers.
Engage with your fans
As with any social platform, TikTok is a place to engage. You can do that by engaging with direct comments on your content, using hashtags or by using TikTok features such as dueting (building on someone else’s video by putting yours alongside it, or allowing others to ‘duet’ with your videos) and stitching (taking part of someone’s video and ‘stitching’ it into your own, or vice versa).
Proactively looking for indirect mentions of your brand, products or other associated keywords is also a great way to spot trends and get involved in conversations, as Dr Pepper (client) did when fans @kaaylaa310 and @mikeyhen21 completed the popular “date night challenge” where they purchased each other small gifts in various categories, including “favourite drink” in which they each selected Dr Pepper! A reply that now has 102k likes!
So, if you’re considering TikTok as part of your social media strategy in 2022 (and why wouldn’t you?), don’t be afraid to try new things. Find the format that works best for you, and have some fun being creative.
Thirsty for more TikTok reading? Check out our blog from last week on why your brand should be on TikTok this year.