TikTok Marketing - is it the Future?
It’s fair to say that TikTok pretty much took the world by storm. For a long time, though, its immense potential for businesses and marketers simply went untapped.
After all, until last year when politicians began to sit up and take notice of the platform (mainly because they were trying to ban it – as happened in both the US and India – over fears of foreign interference from China), no one over the age of 30 seemed to have heard of the platform.
It’s targeted largely at Gen-Zers – so tweens and teenagers, but statistics show that these users are remaining on the platform even as they leave this demographic.
More recently, joining the platform has been celebrities of all ages, politicians – and most importantly, brands and businesses.
As of February this year, TikTok has 689 million active users worldwide, and this staggering number even excludes users in its home country, China, where the platform operates under a different name. Together, the two platforms boast over 1.2 billion users.
The app itself has been downloaded over 2 billion times since it was created, which is simply staggering when you think about that kind of reach for your advertising or products.
But numbers aside, what makes TikTok so attractive to advertisers and marketers is that users spend an average of 52 minutes a day on the app. TikTok marketing, then, has the potential to be really impactful.
Now that is an awfully long time, and time that can be spent increasing your brand awareness and online visibility. To add to this, nine out of ten users report a visit to the app multiple times a day.
What is TikTok and TikTok Marketing?
TikTok is based solely on the premise of people sharing 15-second videos (although they can be combined to a maximum of 60 seconds) which are then viewed by scrolling through a feed.
One popular video format are dance videos as it is easy to add background music and effects like text or captions to the clips.
The thing about TikTok and what sets it apart from other platforms like Instagram or, to a less extent YouTube and Netflix, is that users are not at all required to subscribe to anyone in particular in order to continue being served relevant content.
This is because the TikTok algorithm is personalised. This specifically references the For You page – which is basically a whole feed of videos they think you would like.
“But how do they know what I like? I don’t even know what I like,” you say.
Can you hear the sound of TikTok laughing in the distance?
Unfortunately, this might be one of those cases where the technology is ahead of you. TikTok’s algorithm is actually very good at calculating what it thinks you might like based on what they call a “combination of factors”.
These determine how organic content is displayed as well as how TikTok marketing works.
They break these down into three categories:
1. User Interactions
These are the videos you have previously interacted with, whether that’s because you like the videos, follow their accounts, comment on them or the content you create yourself. You see, it’s no challenge at all to a platform like TikTok to learn an awful lot about you.
Every time a user engages with a video or some other content, they are leaving a digital footprint for the social media platform to follow and learn more about you.
Chances are that you often stop and watch a particular sort of video, and you’ll scroll past others that don’t suit your taste.
2. Video information
This could be anything from the kinds of hashtags a video has attached to it, to the actual sounds that are being used in the video or even the captions.
Again, a pattern of behaviour is quickly established, and TikTok will take note.
3. Device and account settings
Here, they will measure anything from language preference to country and device.
But TikTok can do more than just take these into account. In fact, they are able to rank such factors.
They say that weak factors would be along the lines of what country you’re in, because this is pretty broad, whereas a strong factor is more like what other videos you’ve previously interacted with.
So, why TikTok?
Well, as we said at the beginning of the article, because so few people are using TikTok at the moment, there’s some massively untapped potential in terms of advertising and marketing.
The inherent design of the platform also means TikTok marketing reaches many people for a relatively low cost.
They also recently announced that personalised TikTok ads will become mandatory from April 15. This means users can no longer opt out of receiving targeted ads that are largely based on the same kinds of features that enable the platform to design such a personalised feed in the first place for you.
How to use TikTok for marketing?
Like with all platforms, TikTok marketing gives you a couple of options.
- Create your own content and upload videos to your channel.
- Work with influencers.
- Paid TikTok advertising.
Firstly, you can create organic content that users will then naturally discover as they scroll through their feeds.
Much like choosing a topic for your blog post, you need to think about what topics your customers actually find interesting.
As always, if you don’t know what your customers need or want to know – get surveying.
Look at frequently asked questions relating to your industry, product or service that are often searched and then answer them in an amusing or interesting way!
Actually asking customers is likely to pay off in the long run as it means you’re not lobbing pointless or unwanted content at them.
You can also perform some keyword research on whatever tool you prefer.
Want to know what Ambire’s selection of our top 7 SEO tools is?
Don’t worry too much about trying to be funny, either. If humour is not really your thing, consider posting short, informative videos that have been overlaid by many different effects.
This helps make your own content recognisable and also changes an educational video into one that is slightly more interesting.
Make use of the easy editing features TikTok is already able to offer. Things like adding in background music or using movie clips as voice overs are actually surprisingly user-friendly.
Obviously, your content has to be discoverable so you need to put some thought into TikTok SEO.
This is all about ensuring your hard work does not go to waste.
Specifically, TikTok SEO helps you to be found when you’re using the search feature on the platform.
The easiest way to do so – use hashtags.
TikTok will actually help you to narrow down which ones are the most relevant for your content if you just do a search for a broad one.
Hashtags do count towards the caption length, however, and this is limited to 100 characters. Therefore you might not want to go too crazy on them, or there won’t be any space at all for you to actually write a caption.
Another great feature of TikTok are its hashtag challenges which users really love getting on board with. If you can come up with one of these, it encourages users to really engage with your brand.
Normally, you’d need to pair up with an established name like an influencer to share this with their own followers.
Like on Instagram, TikTok Marketing offers the possibility of pairing up with influencers who can promote your product or service.
Otherwise, there’s the possibility of finding larger players within your field and collaborating on a project with them.
Of course, as you get started, you might find this a little tricker, but as your own followers grow, more content creators will be interested in collaborating with you.
You’ll succeed in this area if you’re happy to just put yourself out there and give it a go.
TikTok has also tried to make collaborating with influencers easier by developing the ‘TikTok creator marketplace’. This allows you to see metrics associated with influencers so you can be slightly more confident as to what kind of a return on investment your collaboration will give you.
To join this program, however, you do have to submit an application.
As we said, TikTok is about to make ads personalised for users – which is good news for marketers as it means less wasted spend and ads should only be shown to customers who are actually interested in your offering.
As with much of the platform, TikTok Ads are relatively straightforward and quick to set up.
Oftentimes, you can get a campaign and an audience up and running within 24 hours.
TikTok offers five different types of ad campaigns.
- In-feed ads
- Branded hashtags
- Top View ads
- Branded effects
- Brand Takeover
In-feed ads are the most simple (and cheapest) way to get started with TikTok.
You simply create a TikTok ad account and create an ad. In-feed ads follow the same rules as all other TikTok content, so you have to keep the combined video length less than 60 seconds.
When you do create a TikTok ad, you need to have defined your advertising objective, whether this is a product purchase or app install.
When it comes to targeting with TikTok marketing – there are two main fields – either interest or behavioural.
Interest targeting means you select an interest that is relevant to your target audience, and then TikTok shows your ads to these people.
Behavioral targeting lets you target people solely based on what they’ve been up to on the platform recently.
This is great as it allows you to really actively engage with people who use the platform a lot.
TikTok also allows you to create custom audiences and lookalike audiences. Custom lets you input a customer list such as emails, so it doesn’t matter if they’ve never interacted with you via TikTok.
Lookalike audiences work well as you can reach people that are similar to your existing audience.
This is particularly good if you’re finding that the targeting options you’re using are simply not delivering great results.
Obviously, like with any platform, you do need to get your analytics. Otherwise, there’s no way of knowing what’s working well, or what needs to be improved upon.
One great feature of TikTok analytics is ‘Followers Analytics’. This lets you see what your audience is watching and when they are watching it. That’s great for informing what kind of content you should be creating and also what time of day is best to post.
Some brands have been using the novel platform as a way to communicate organically with customers and let them into a kind of ‘behind the scenes’ look when it comes to product development.
It is a time-consuming exercise as it involves having someone on the platform and able to actually engage and respond to customers.
You can actually ask people what products they’d like you to make, or how they would like a particular product to be re-designed to more accurately suit their needs.
Getting started on TikTok is likely to take some time. That being said, it is a really great platform because of the lack of competition on it.
You will have to take some time to play around with the time that you’re posting to work out what is best for your followers.
Write a detailed bio with a call to action such as following, and make sure you insert your website in the account preferences area.
Like Instagram, this makes it a clickable link and also doesn’t take away from your bio length.
Another TikTok trick is to jump on any bandwagon that appears. However, if there is a trend that arises that you really don’t have anything in common with – leave that for somebody else.
The good (and bad) thing about TikTok is that whatever goes viral does not stay viral for very long.
Instead, things tend to change very rapidly.
When there is a big trend, however, you can easily reach a huge audience in very little time.
Make sure you use the right hashtags!
- TikTok is still in its infancy when it comes to marketing and branded content, so now is the time to get on board.
- It offers great options when it comes to audience targeting, including the ability to create lookalike audiences.
- There are three forms of engagement available for marketers – organic content, influencer collaborations of advertising.
- Jump on the bandwagon when trends come around and use hashtags as your best friend to ensure greater engagement across the platform.
- TikTok also offers its own analytics platform so you can monitor and track campaigns.