TikTok: Marketing Opportunities on the Video Platform
Being an underdog was yesterday. TikTok has rapidly developed into a social network that is mentioned in the same breath as Instagram or Facebook. The platform now has over one billion users and continues to grow. Companies have also long since discovered the potential of TikTok. According to estimates, the number of advertisers grew by an impressive 200 percent in the first quarter of 2022.
No wonder some observers consider TikTok to be the Facebook of tomorrow. But can you leverage this success story for your business and, if so, how? Here you can find out more about how TikTok works and what opportunities it opens up for social media marketing.
What is TikTok, and how does it work?
TikTok’s predecessor is the lip-sync app musical.ly. A few years ago, observers said it had the potential to become the next Snapchat. This prophecy did not come true. Instead, the Chinese company Bytedance bought the successful app and merged it with its own similarly structured application under the name TikTok in 2018. This marked the beginning of a success story that continues to this day.
Short videos are at the heart of the app. Initially, these could be a maximum of 15 seconds, then up to one minute long. Today, they can be as long as 10 minutes. However, most clips on the platform are still significantly shorter.
Apart from that, TikTok works as follows:
- Users can create videos and add special effects, filters, and stickers, along with sounds and music clips.
- They can watch other users’ videos, interact with them, and follow them.
- Users don’t need to sign up to the platform in order to be able to watch videos. They simply open the app, and content is provided right away. Those who want to get creative and interact with other users do need to set up an account though.
- Speaking of accounts: On TikTok, as on many other platforms, you have the choice between a private account and a business account. Companies that want to use the network for marketing should opt for a business account.
- If a user has an account, they can switch between two feeds: “For You” suggests videos to the user through an algorithm. “Following” shows videos by creators that the user is following.
One of the characteristics of TikTok is the ease of use of the platform. Everything is designed to help users get where they want to go quickly and intuitively. At the same time, TikTok provides a wide range of options for creating, editing, reassembling and duplicating videos. Unlike Facebook or Instagram, the network is particularly successful with a certain age group.
TikTok as a platform for Generation Z
Nowadays, older people are also increasingly appearing on TikTok. However, the lion’s share of all users is still made up of young people under 30. In this respect, the network is similar to its predecessor musical.ly.
This is also one of the reasons why TikTok is so interesting, especially for companies that want to appeal to a younger clientele. On TikTok, they can reach them directly, as long as they take the video platform’s peculiarities into account.
TikTok Marketing – Your opportunities
Right now, a number of companies are already using TikTok or its Chinese counterpart, Douyin, for marketing. The following strategies are proving to be particularly successful.
Among the prominent fans of TikTok is Jimmy Fallon. The comedian and host of the legendary program “The Tonight Show” makes particular use of a tool popular on the platform: hashtag challenges.
For example, as part of his #TumbleweedChallenge, he challenged fans to transform themselves into tumbleweeds for videos. These are the withered plants that blow through prairie towns in every Western. The result was more than 8,000 tumbleweed videos and a surge in downloads of the TikTok app.
The #TumbleweedChallenge is now one of the classic hashtag challenges on TikTok. A more recent example comes from Scotts, an American manufacturer of gardening and plant care products. The company successfully challenged users to perform dances on their lawns and post videos of them online with the hashtag #DoTheScottsSlide.
@johntravolta Thanks to my daughter @ella.travolta for being a great dance partner. Join us and #DoTheScottsSlide @scotts_lawn #lawn #ad ♬ Sunday Best – Surfaces
The concept behind hashtag challenges is simple:
Give users a challenge, such as imitating a certain dance, and ask them to post a video of it on TikTok.
Depending on the challenge, users will have to get creative in different ways. Ideally, hashtag challenges help brands significantly increase their reach. By getting influencers involved, you can provide an initial boost.
Tip: Use well-known events as a starting point for a hashtag challenge. Dr. Oetker challenged TikTok users to document their transformation from hungry to happy in a video just in time for the Super Bowl. The hashtag: #TackleYourHunger.
@tgybdn Yummy yummy #TackleDeinenHunger @droetker_pizza ♬ Originalton – droetker_pizza
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Make brands more personal
Want to use TikTok to make your business more approachable and give it more personality? Take a cue from the NBA.
The North American professional basketball league uses TikTok videos to show the sport and its players from an unstrained, human side. Whether it’s short statements from players, work-out videos or mascots slam-dunking, this kind of marketing is likely to appeal to people who don’t consider themselves hardcore basketball fans.
@nba When we need help reaching something, we know to call Victor Wembanyama 🤣 #NBA #NBAGLeague #NBAPreseason #basketball ♬ original sound – Andy
Tip: Short behind-the-scenes videos or interviews with employees are well suited for TikTok. They can be humorous and improvised. On TikTok, the focus is on entertainment. If in doubt, it’s better to show a clip from a company foosball tournament than to ask a developer about the technical features of the latest product series.
Product content: Sephora
Sephora knows how to show off products on social media. This also applies to TikTok. Here, the beauty company presents numerous makeup tutorials and tips and shows its products in action. Simple, but effective.
Semrush proves in a humorous way that even SEO is suitable as a starting point for successful TikTok marketing.
@semrush TW: FLASHING LIGHTS 🚨Can pickles k1ll you? 🥒 Dill more like K1LL 😵💫 #Semrush #StruggleSearch #SketchComedy #MarketingHumor #Google #FFXmasSwitch ♬ So Many ppl have use this sound omg – 💞Love y’all 💞
Tip: Sometimes it’s enough to show your products from the most beautiful side. This applies to fashion brands and cosmetics companies, but also to travel providers. After all, AirBnB is also one of the companies that successfully use TikTok.
Preparing information for young users
Tagesschau is probably not the first name that comes to mind in connection with TikTok. However, Germany’s No. 1 news program is already successfully active on Instagram. In addition, the question also arises for the news section as to how it will reach a young audience in the future.
With humor is probably the Tagesschau’s answer. After all, its first TikTok video showed anchorman Jan Hofer making the not-so-easy choice of a suitable tie. However, the Tagesschau also devotes itself to (daily) political topics on TikTok.
@tagesschau Ab 2050 könnte dort der Müll aus drei Schweizer Atomkraftwerken gelagert werden. #tagesschau#nachrichten#atomkraft ♬ Originalton – tagesschau
Tip: Even though entertainment is key on TikTok, this does not mean that the portal is not suitable for informative purposes. Media that don’t want to lose touch with a young target group can practice dealing with complex topics in a short time and in an exciting way – a core competence in the digital age. The successful example of the Tagesschau shows that such an offer is accepted.
Recruiting on TikTok
Your company is looking for new employees? Why not use TikTok for this purpose? After all, you can reach young people where they are anyway.
Snocks, a start-up for sneaker socks, makes clever use of this potential.
@snocks.whynot Komm ins Team Marktplätze als Amazon Manager (US) 🚀 #joinus #jobsbeisnocks #snocks #wearehiring #jobsearch #amazonmanager ♬ Originalton – Snocks
Volksbank Mittelhessen is also cleverly doing employer branding on TikTok, showing in a humorous way that a job at a bank might not be as boring as some people imagine.
@vbmittelhessen Erster TikTok-Dreh in unserem neuen Studio 🥰 wie findet ihr es? Vielen Dank für die Inspiration @tiktokchavs_ #volksbankmittelhessen #dance #suit #business #move #wave #sport #HereIAm #vbmh #dancechallenge #mydog #mickymouse ♬ Mickey Mouse Club House Theme – TootyMcNooty
TikTok Ads: even more reach with advertising
Since 2021, companies have been able to place ads on TikTok in addition to organic marketing.
The following ad formats are currently available.
- TopView: Your video is shown first to users when they open the app.
- InFeed: InFeed ads appear in full-screen format and with sound in the “For You” feed.
- Branded Hashtag Challenges: TikTok pushes hashtag challenges with personalized hashtags.
- Branded Effects: Provide other users with branded stickers, filters, special effects or games.
You can create TikTok Ads through a custom advertising platform. This works mostly the same way as you might know it from Facebook or other social media platforms. Targeting as precisely as possible helps to avoid wastage.
TikTok Marketing may not be for everyone – but for some, it’s a great choice
TikTok is particularly interesting for companies that want to address a young target group. Fashion and lifestyle brands in particular have new opportunities to work with influencers and present their products with short, attention-grabbing videos. The fact that the competition on TikTok is even less pronounced than on Facebook or Instagram is anything but a disadvantage. In the meantime, the platform has also established itself to such an extent that no one has to assume that it will be a flash in the pan.
To be successful on TikTok, however, it is not enough to “advertise.” Even more than on other social media platforms, the focus here is on humor and creativity. Being different from others is not only allowed, but often rewarded.
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