In the first of a series of posts on TikTok, brand and strategy director, Chloé Mathieu Phillips, looks at why this is the year for brands to be on the platform.
Do you remember the pre-2020 days when TikTok was this slightly weird, up and coming platform? Well as you may have noticed… wow, things have changed! TikTok went from the seventh most visited domain in 2020 to the number one most visited site in 2021 (knocking Google from first place). A predicted monthly user count of 755 million and a possible ranking of third in the world’s largest social networks shows how serious things have gotten, and how seriously your brand should be taking TikTok.
While the older networks have tried to mimic the appeal of TikTok, neither Insta’s ‘Reels’ nor YouTube’s ‘Shorts’ have made a serious dent in TikTok’s audience figures.
TikTok’s appeal spans different generations – it’s not just a place for young people (although 62% of users are under 30, 11% are over 50). It’s a creative space, and has a huge community of passionate influencers and creators. It also has a reputation for (mostly) being a more positive place than other social platforms.
Combine this with a powerful, hyper reactive algorithm, and unique brand features, and we can start to see just how important TikTok could be for your business.
Why TikTok works for brands
TikTok’s algorithm is more powerful than the other major networks
TikTok has learned from Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, and has created a more powerful algorithm than any of the other major networks. This means that everyone has a very different experience on TikTok – if you put the time in to train the algorithm, you’ll get highly targeted and relevant content, which keeps people coming back for more.
It knows the power of its creators
TikTok gets the power of its creators and influencers for brands. So it’s made it really easy for brands to find the right creators for their products.
If you set up a business account, you can use TikTok’s creator marketplace, which lets you see each creator, their audience size and type, their engagement rates and stats, and who they’re working with already. It’s a brilliant way to see which creators will be a great fit for your brand. It’s also a long way ahead of other platforms.
Working with creators can be really powerful for brands. It takes courage for some brands – handing over creative control to someone else – but by working with an established creator, you can create content that’s fun, native to the app, and which has the potential to reach massive audiences. You’ll give people content they want to see. (We’ll post more on how to create great content for TikTok later in the series.)
TikTok is a place for brands to get creative
TikTok is a really fun place for creative brands. It’s a place to push your creative limits, to be playful, to collaborate with your community, and to create original native content. It’s not a place to post your TV ad (even though some brands do). It’s a place to experiment with new types of content.
Here are some UK brand campaigns on TikTok that we love:
UK supermarket brand, co-op, creates skits on TikTok
Innocent Smoothies also posts skits but uses its famous brand of humour
Nandos, meanwhile, is fond of using filters and memes to share images and videos of its food
It’s great for engagement
TikTok exploded in popularity through the pandemic, as people sought entertaining content. I personally remember weeks in early 2020 where TikTok was my lifeline. Maybe because brand content is more playful than on other platforms, it gets better engagement. Upfluence found that TikTok’s smaller content creators had engagement rates of just under 18%, compared to just under 4% on Instagram and 1.6% on YouTube. (For mega-influencers, the rates were just under 5% on TikTok, 1.2% on Instagram and just 0.37% on YouTube.)
TikTok users drive sales.
Some brands have seen amazing results when TikTok users post about a brand organically. Just look at Trinidad Sandova, the 54-year-old TikTok user (who at the time had just 70 followers) created a video in August 2021 showing her applying Peter Thomas Roth’s Instant FIRMx Eye Temporary Eye Tightener.
TikTok allows for simple and effective brand ecommerce
Brands can also use it as a more direct ecommerce platform. Users can buy products directly from the shopping tab on a video. It’s an easy way for people to shop and is really effective for brands.
According to a report published by TikTok and WARC, 80% of its users say that the app helps them “get ideas about brands and products they’d never thought of before”. The report also finds that 72% of respondents find “ordinary content creators” more interesting than celebrities. TikTok is a powerhouse of community commerce.
Okay, so TikTok’s great, but what are the challenges brands need to be aware of?
No platform is without its challenges.
Historically, there has been a lack of trust (particularly from US organisations) over TikTok’s data policies, because of its Chinese ownership. In the US, there are moves to limit TikTok (and other Chinese-owned apps) because of security concerns.
Content moderation is also likely to be an issue as engagement grows. As with all platforms, the more users, the more potential for abuse, so the platform will need to invest to keep users safe and prevent bullying or abuse.
Then there’s the all-powerful algorithm. It’s great if you teach it to show you positive content. But the flip side is if a user searches for negative content (such as self-harm, for example), the algorithm will serve up more and more similar content. So while one user can have a fantastically positive experience on the platform, their friends may feel very differently.
Overall, though, TikTok is a great place for brands to have fun with content, and take advantage of its creator programme and commerce opportunities. If TikTok’s success keeps growing at its current rate, can you afford not to be there?