TikTok has dethroned Google as the world’s most visited website—and with its short, snappy video clips, viral challenges, and celebrity stars, it’s easy to see why. Smart brands should wonder how they can get a piece of the action, working to create organic content and an efficient paid ad structure that will boost website hits, leads, and revenue along the way.
With a complex algorithm that feeds users videos from accounts they may not already follow, even small brands can get exposure and stand out in user feeds. By engaging with customers who may already be aligned with a brand’s customer persona, this individual approach to content discovery makes this growing platform one of the best for generating leads, building brand personality, and transforming brand perception.
So how do brands stand out, unlock viral success, and use TikTok for business marketing? Below, we’ll discuss the intricacies of the TikTok algorithm, what types of content perform best, and provide data-driven insights on how to build your brand’s presence and TikTok marketing strategy from the ground up.
What is Tiktok?
TikTok is a quickly growing social media app that allows its users to create, watch, and share short-form, easily-digestible videos—and it’s quickly earning its place in many brands’ marketing mixes. It was built from the popular platform Musical.ly, and since its rebrand in September 2018, it has surpassed Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat in monthly installs from the App Store. Currently, the platform has over 1 billion active users globally, outperforming the short-form product offerings of many of its competitors, including Instagram Reels, Snapchat’s Spotlight, and YouTube Shorts.
The app’s premise is simple: create short, shareable videos with a variety of trending sounds, filters, and effects offered in-app. All TikTok users (and branded accounts, too) have access to these video creation tools as well as the ability to interact and discover new content according to their likes or interests. Although the exact specifics behind the viral ‘For You Page’ remain a little fuzzy, it’s generally understood that the app features a highly complex algorithm designed to serve users engaging, relevant, and sometimes localized content believed to be of high interest.
The app uses a variety of functions designed to engage users with others’ content—including the popular ‘duet’ function, which allows users to sample another user’s video and add themselves to it in an adjacent panel. Users can also ‘stitch’ a video, adding an alternate ending or reaction to an original video’s content. The platform also recently added a livestream function, rolled out as TikTok LIVE, designed to allow users and their favorite creators to interact in real time and send and receive ‘gifts’, or animated tokens that can be exchanged for monetary value.
What is the Primary Audience Demographic on TikTok?
Often, brands discourage their marketing team from creating a TikTok marketing strategy due to the mistaken belief that its adolescent user base doesn’t align with the brand’s targeted audience. But it’s important to remember that TikTok isn’t just for Gen Z. If your brand includes anyone between the ages of 13 and 60, TikTok is worth a spot in your marketing mix. According to Comscore, over 67.5% of TikTok users are over the age of 20. When considering TikTok for business marketing, it’s important to remember that the platform’s audience demographic is also relatively even across genders. In the US, 60% of users are female, and 40% of users are male.
Why is TikTok an Important Marketing Channel for Brands?
Brands both big and small are quickly recognizing the importance of a TikTok marketing strategy and the platform’s ability to engage with new audiences, encourage user-generated content, and create authentic, approachable brand personas. It’s also a great place to experiment with short, creative content with a casual feel.
Many brands are first attracted to TikTok for business marketing due to its active, engaged audience. After all, TikTok is available in 154 countries, and nearly 90% of its 1 billion active users access the app daily. Its innovative algorithm also levels the playing field– unlike Instagram, which suggests content from top accounts with viral engagement, the TikTok platform allows small accounts to garner millions of views on videos thanks to the viral nature of its algorithm. As long as your brand’s content aligns with the interests of the selected users, engagement in the form of likes, comments, and shares will soon follow.
Due to its short-form modality, TikTok is also a great place for brands to show off authentic, behind-the-scenes content as part of their TikTok marketing strategy. TikTok users actually prefer to see relatively unedited, less polished content—and for marketing departments with small budgets, it’s a great place to give your social media or design teams free reign to experiment and see what connects most with your targeted audience.
An effective TikTok marketing strategy makes it easy to foster user-generated content (UGC), which can be a cost-effective way to gain real-life reviews and video content that can be used on both organic and paid social media channels. It’s a strong strategy because UGC increases user engagement, conversion, and trust in your brand’s products or services. This humanized approach to content marketing often resonates more deeply with your audience than staged shoots from your studio, and Tiktok provides a relatively unlimited flow of this valuable resource.
Finally, brands may also be attracted to TikTok for business marketing due to the more affordable rates of its influencers, as opposed to more traditional platforms like Instagram and YouTube. It also includes the highly-useful TikTok Creator Marketplace, a prospecting hub and database that is especially useful for smaller brands that may not have access to larger, more costly influencer management platforms.
What Types of Content Can I Post on TikTok?
TikTok’s large library of trending sounds, filters, and effects means that the sky is nearly the limit with what brands and savvy marketing teams can create in-app. There’s a variety of different video styles you can post, but a successful video will tell a story. In a TikTok video, you tell your story with your caption, the background for your videos, and the idea expressed within the video itself. When a user feels engaged with the story in your TikTok marketing strategy, they’ll likely want to stick around.
Some of our favorite branded TikTok content includes UGC, like Laura Mercier’s #ReadySetGo Campaign; how-it-works videos, like glass printing company Fracture’s video; and unboxing, done right by sustainable jewelry company Alex and Ani. Product reviews, behind-the-scenes company content, and videos that utilize trending sounds, hashtags, and more also work well to help your branded videos stand out from the crowd.
How Do I Stand Out on Tiktok?
Now that you have a better understanding of what TikTok is, why your marketing team should invest in a TikTok marketing strategy, and what types of video content perform well when using TikTok for business marketing, we’ll share our data-driven learnings on how to stand out, no matter the size of your brand’s following.
To begin, it’s important to know your audience. This isn’t just about understanding the general TikTok demographics—rather, it’s understanding who might connect with your brand. Go beyond just your general industry and audience personas. For example, if you sell custom throw pillows, like Christy B Home Design, women ages 35+ is a great starting point, but there are ways to go deeper into the niches that you may want to target as a part of your TikTok marketing strategy.
A great way to do this is to start with a base niche, and then determine three sub-niches. In our example, those interested in home decor may also be interested in DIY and home renovation. After you’ve determined these secondary areas of interest, you can further brainstorm niches based on those categories, as demonstrated in the graphic below. This will give your brand a wonderful starting point of niches to target as a part of your TikTok marketing strategy and provide valuable insight into what content may be relevant to your potential customers.
To effectively use TikTok for business marketing, it’s also important to try new things as a part of your TikTok marketing strategy. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Video content on this platform is encouraged to be more casual, and your audience will likely connect with a more authentic, lived-in style of video over more polished, overly-produced work. With this in mind, ditch the costly production set and let your social media team—and their iPhones—take the lead on your TikTok marketing strategy.
Encourage your marketing team to capture behind-the-scenes footage, days-in-the-life, or their favorite way to use your product or service. If your new video doesn’t perform well, try something else—the beauty of low-production is that you aren’t overspending on failed experiments. The TikTok Creator analytics tool is a great starting point to determine what sort of content your unique audience likes to see on their feeds.
Consider adjusting your video’s length and content style. Test whether your audience responds better to UGC or company-produced assets as you refine your brand’s TikTok marketing strategy. It’s also worth it to determine whether content created by actual customers or your in-house production team generates more engagement as you use TikTok for business marketing. The findings may surprise you—but there’s no way to know unless you experiment.
Follow Trends and Collaborate
Of course, a surefire way to stand out among the billions of videos viewed each day and gain tons of valuable engagement for your brand is to build content around trending sounds and hashtags. You can view trending sounds by utilizing TikTok Creative Center’s Trend Discovery tab, or just by scrolling your own brand’s “For You” page. If you’re creating a video that’s directly related to your brand’s niche and uses popular effects, filters, and content, it’s extremely likely that TikTok’s algorithm will pick it up and deliver it to a relevant audience.
Another great way to increase your TikTok marketing strategy’s views and engagement is to collaborate with influencers and form meaningful partnerships with creators in the space. Influencer collaborations can take on many forms, including branded takeovers on your own account, sponsored videos, participation in hashtag challenges, or just sending out gifted products in hopes of UGC creation. To find influencers that may be a right fit for your brand, try searching relevant hashtags or identifying influential followers that may already be connected with your account. You can also use the TikTok Creator Marketplace, a helpful database of the platform’s best users.
Finally, fostering cross-functional collaboration within your brand’s teams is a great way to ensure success and proven ROI as you use TikTok for business marketing. While it can be easy to have your social media team just create an account and fully own your brand’s TikTok marketing strategy, remember that the help of other teams and departments can amplify and increase the success of this channel exponentially.
Supporting your organic social efforts within your brand’s teams is a great way to ensure success and prove ROI. Enlist your teams to boost organic posts, whitelist creator videos or UGC, or share relevant data on user demographics and behavior with those in charge of the brand’s presence. You can even get your design team or videographers to help with content creation, or consider reaching out to your influencer team or affiliate manager to identify potential partnerships as a part of your TikTok marketing strategy.
TikTok is primed and ready as the next big platform for social media success and sales-boosting paid ad efforts. With a complex algorithm designed to highlight brands and creators of any size, the content you create has a high chance of reaching potential customers around the world. Success in a TikTok marketing strategy happens through a combination of experimentation, industry best practices, and creative strategy when targeting relevant niches.
Partnering with an experienced agency can maximize your investment into a TikTok business marketing strategy. Coalition has managed social media marketing for hundreds of clients with a comprehensive approach to business success. We care more about long-term revenue than creating a viral snapshot, which is why we conduct in-depth analysis of your market niche and competitors to recommend high-performing best practices. Contact our strategy team for a free action plan to optimize your efforts and reach a wider audience.