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Is TikTok a viable option for businesses?

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Social media platform TikTok has come to the fore as a means of bringing people together during these socially distant times. While the video sharing app might not be a suitable option for all businesses, content marketing specialist Ashley Lipman reveals the industries which are benefitting - and some of the best practice techniques they employ.
TikTok for business

New social media apps are always popping up to try and attract some of the billions of people around the world who embrace them. One of the most recent social media apps to gain a mass user base is TikTok.

TIkTok is a short-form video app which people use to show-off a wide range of talents, including: dancing, lip-syncing and anything else which works well in the form of a short video. In short: it’s about people having fun. It has gained millions of dedicated users all over the world and has been downloaded over 1.5 billion times.

People from all ages and demographics have found their way to the app, but it is especially popular amongst children and teens. 41% of users are between the ages of 16 and 24, but the adult user base has grown by 5.5 times in the last year and a half. The app is exploding in popularity and its success is one of the major reasons that its parent company is one of the most valuable startups on the planet.

UPDATE: TikTok has officially launched TikTok for Business, putting it into competition with the likes of  Snapchat and Instagram for ad revenue.

As one of the most popular new social media apps out there, TikTok has increasingly become a viable option for certain business niches. It can be a great tool for marketing, growing your audience and engaging with a younger demographic.

However, getting the most out of TikTok isn’t straightforward. This article explores how to use TikTok for marketing purposes and the kinds of industries which stand to benefit most.

Do your homework

tiktok marketing researchBefore beginning to post videos on TikTok, you need to do your homework. If you join and start making content without knowing much about the app, it could cause some users to shun you and could actually hurt your business. You want to become an expert on TikTok before even making a single post.

You need to know what content works well, what doesn’t, and the brands or creators who are doing it right. Study up on their efforts. What kinds of content are they producing? How do they organize their content? There are many examples of companies and entities who are successful on Tiktok, including Chipotle, Guess, ESPN, Fortnite and dozens more. Brands from a variety of industries are making content work on TikTok.

These companies also aren’t afraid of thinking outside the box for their marketing campaigns. For example Elf Cosmetics created and commissioned a custom song for their TikTok campaign, called “Eyes Lips Face”, which is directly named after the brand name’s acronym. It is believed to be the first custom song created for the app, and went viral. The accompanying hashtag has been used billions of times since the campaign began.

Generally, visually appealing and light-hearted content works the best on TikTok. It is also important to learn how to interact with TikTok users. It is not the place to lecture viewers on the benefits of your product or give viewers an elevator pitch. You need to creatively show them the merits of your product, service or brand in a way that they can relate to.

Follow best practice when it comes to creating content

TikTok Marketing TipsOnce you know the landscape of the app and what type of content generally performs well, you can begin to craft your own content. When creating your content, try to give a demonstration of your product, or make a fun video about how your service can help people.

You want to make a good first impression. So be sure that your content fits, looks great and is formatted correctly before posting anything. Consider checking out a detailed and structured TikTok video formatting guide, to make sure your content looks just the way you want it to.

Of course, TikTok is quite casual, so don’t feel the need to endlessly edit or polish your video as you would for YouTube or another platform. Creating content on TikTok is fun and very affordable, as well. If you are successful, it has the potential to raise awareness and drive potential customers to your product or service.

Try to Be Unique

TikTok Marketing

The actual type of content you should create will depend on your product, service, brand and audience. Whatever you do put out, it is a good idea to try and be as unique as possible. If your content is the same as every other brand in your space, you will have a hard time differentiating.

It is a hub for creative individuals of all kinds to flock. As a result, feel free to get as abstract or creative with your content as possible. While TikTok is about being fun and, often, silly; it is important to also remember the voice and style of your brand.

Advertising on TikTok

TikTok Advertising

In addition to engaging with your audience and improving brand awareness, TikTok can also be a valuable place to advertise. It has millions of users and if advertising is a big part of your marketing plan for your product, TikTok might be right for you.

TikTok now has four different ways for businesses to advertise:

  • Native content – Ads that will appear in-feed, a bit similar to Snapchat or Instagram. They can be measured for success by looking at clicks, impressions and views.
  • Brand takeovers – This allows a brand to essentially take TikTok over for a day and create their own images, GIFs and videos to showcase before a user-generated video appears. Adverts are targeted via video category.
  • Hashtag challenges – This advertising method allows you to use a promoted hashtag to get more exposure. A hashtag challenge asks for users to complete a challenge. They work well when a prize is offered to the winner of the challenge. A hashtag challenge could go viral attracting lots of submissions and millions of engagements.
  • Branded lenses – You can create your own lens that individuals will be able to use and show off in their videos (similar to the lenses offered on Snapchat and Instagram). These could alter a person’s face, put a border around them or do something else to alter the photo or video. Cosmetic and fashion brands are among those making use of this feature.

If your product or service is aimed at a younger demographic (generally in the 16-24 year old range), then TikTok is well worth investigating. Many brands are already making good use of TikTok advertising, ranging from movie studios like Universal Pictures to skincare providers like Clean & Clear.

TikTok is still a relatively new platform, so expect to see it continue to change and grow as it matures.


Ashley Lipman
Author: Ashley Lipman

Ashley is a content marketing specialist with a passion in providing creative solutions for building brands online.

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