What is TikTok? An Overview for Brands

The success of TikTok has been launching artists into the viral stratosphere, much like Lil Nas X, a well-known success story for his song ''Old Town Road '' featuring Billy Ray Cyrus. His country-rap song started trending on TikTok when creators dressed up in their best western attire. TikTok, the latest breakout platform, has exploded overnight and its popularity has skyrocketed among Gen Z in particular. 

But what does this mean for brands that want to get into the influencer marketing scene? What do marketers need to learn about TikTok before diving into the rapidly changing social media landscape? There are a lot of questions regarding the upcoming future of the fastest growing social media platform, but there is no question regarding that it is, in fact, the future. 

It has been installed 1.6 billion times making it a huge hit globally according to data from Sensor Tower. It’s parent company, ByteDance, purchased Musical.y and merged the two, renaming it TikTok. With Musical.y's pre-existing audience, TikTok naturally became a massive presence among 16-24-year-olds. 

What sets TikTok apart? 

TikTok sets itself apart from other social media platforms like Instagram, Youtube, and Twitter in a very particular way. It’s meant to be solely entertainment-based with its variety of content ranging from choreographed dancing, comedic lip-syncing voice-overs, and challenges that evoke others to be a part of. The ability to become a creator is seamless with TikTok’s in-app features which allow users to add music, visual effects and filters to their content makes it more engaging for users. The clips range from 6 to 15 seconds but it also allows you to merge clips together for a total of 60 seconds. 

This small time limit means creators working with brands need to display product or endorsement in a quick and captivating way without making it look scripted. To avoid having an influencer coming across as a salesperson for your brand, it’s necessary to give creators enough room to let their creativity shine through their content. Savvy marketers should pitch creative that embraces pop culture through music, memes, or jokes to truly get the viewer’s attention and engagement. 

Tips for Brands To Use TikTok Now: 

Start a TikTok Challenge 

This might be one of the best forms of getting organic engagement for your brand.

For example, Chipotle posts its own content which shows off their menu items in a funny and quirky way through memes and musical references. They posted a video for National Avocado Day with the hashtag #GuacDance advertising-free guac on that day. TikTok-ers started posting themselves dancing with avocados as part of the challenge. The hashtag has a total of 1 billion views gathered from everyone who used the hashtag #GuacDance. 

They’ve even worked with huge influencers and YouTube personalities. Brent Rivera who has a total of 18.5 million followers on the platform made a video with #ad and #GuacDance which generated 7.6M views. They’ve also worked with David Dobrik who has a whopping 8.7 million followers and 95 million likes in total. He started the #ChipotleLidFlip which has a total of 5.7 million views. This goes to show how far the challenge reached users but even small scale companies can be inspired to model their strategies by exploring the wide variety of content on the platform. 

Experiment with Your Brand’s Personality

TikTok is still so new and up and coming which makes this the best opportunity to experiment with new marketing ideas. A new strategy could just be to explore content and see what best fits with your brand and then see which influencer can fit that idea.

By looking into TikTok’s trending videos or even coming up with new ideas that you think would be a potential hit, give it a try. Your brand can embrace their quirky personality through a creative approach. For many, this platform is uncharted territory and might seem difficult to break into. But this is the time your brand can demonstrate a lighter side or what goes on behind the scenes. The goal is to tailor content to your target audience but also showing a personal side that users might be able to relate to. 

Find TikTok Influencers that align with your brand 

TikTok influencer marketing opportunities are at an all-time high right now. From fashion, lifestyle, and even gaming influencers are flocking to TikTok to get a piece of the fun as well. They’re also showing their less curated side from what they may be perceived on Instagram.

TikTok also affords creators an opportunity to get even more creative than what Instagram gives them the capacity to do so. It is important that brands do research to find influencers that align closely with your brand’s message. This will drive brand awareness and organic exposure that fits with the influencer as well. 

It’s important to note that TikTok is very fast-paced and it’s too early to know what exactly works to be TikTok famous. However, companies that experiment, think outside the box, and get creative to connect with their target audience, are off to a great start. If you’re looking to tap into TikTok, now is the time to explore the next generation of consumers.