7 Things Brands Should Take to TikTok

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Time isn’t running out for TikTok…

The fear of missing out has persuaded billions of mobile users to check out the fastest growing mobile platform, TikTok. Over 2.6 billion people worldwide have downloaded the app, as reported in December 2020. 

But what is it? TikTok is a short-form, vertical video-sharing app that allows users to create and share videos up to 60-seconds, on any topic. Some popular genres include comedy, dance, and education. Yes, that’s right…education. YouTube is not the only place anymore for learning online. In fact, TikTok offers a short-form, aka microlearning solution that is the preferred way of learning in 2020.

TikTok was initially launched in Beijing, China, in 2016. It wasn’t released into the international market until 2017, which is when TikTok merged with the popular lip-syncing app Musical.ly. A lot of Musical.ly’s original DNA still can be found on the platform, such as lip-syncing videos and dance challenges.

2020 Madness: TikTok’s Explosive Growth 

During the Coronavirus pandemic, everyone had more time to spend on their phones at home. As a result, TikTok became the #1 top-grossing app on iOS App Store globally in the second quarter of 2020.  

2020 was an excellent year for TikTok, especially in America. It was the year that the United States became one of TikTok’s most prominent markets after India’s government banned the app. Former President Donald Trump threatened to ban the app, too, accusing its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, of jeopardizing national security. He claimed it would give the Chinese government access to user data and demanded a complete sale of TikTok to an American owner. Oracle and Walmart Inc. then agreed to buy 20% of TikTok in a complex deal pushed by the former president. There haven’t been any recent threats of banning the app by President Joe Biden, provided it can ensure American user data is secure.

All that commotion created panic for TikTok users, and “why is TikTok getting banned” became a trending Google search. In 2020, it was the 5th most asked ‘why’ question ahead of “why is everyone buying toilet paper” and “why is it called COVID-19”. 

Who’s on TikTok | Audience & Reach

TikTok is available in over 150 different countries, but focusing on the United States, there are an estimated 100 million monthly active users and about 50 million daily active users. 

Let’s break those down: 

  • On average, U.S. TikTok users open the app 8 times a day.
  • U.S. TikTok users spend an average of 498.09 minutes on the TikTok app per month — making TikTok the second most used app. The most used app is Facebook, with users spending an average of 769.16 minutes per month.
  • Roughly 60% of users are female, 40% are male.
  • In the United States, 18.2% of the active TikTok accounts belonged to female teens (19 and below).

While Gen Z (ages 10 to 24) make up the most significant age demographic on the app, users of all generations have been swarming to TikTok. A quarter of U.S. users, for instance, are aged 45-64.

Instagram vs. TikTok | Platform Contrasts

A successful content creator on TikTok often finds their audience follows them across other platforms like Instagram and YouTube. This is mainly because TikTok allows creators to directly link their external pages in their TikTok profiles. However, there are differences between influencers on TikTok and Instagram, which should be kept in mind as you choose the best influencer/platform combination for your campaigns and KPIs. 

To dive deeper, the CEO of the global influencer agency, Open Influence, weighs in on the possibility of Instagram Reels replacing TikTok.

Is Tiktok Right For You? | 7 Brand Takeaways

If your brand’s target audience is anyone between the ages of 13 and 40, you should invest time in TikTok. The platform recently added the ability to include links and commerce URLs in your profile and videos, making it even easier to market to users. So not only is the organic reach on TikTok massive, but you can also drive meaningful traffic to your website. 

For more background on the app, check out The Ultimate Guide to Influencer Marketing on TikTok.

Tip #1: Make Trends Relevant to You

Since TikTok is still new and trends change every week, think about ways to make a relevant trending video relatable to your brand. 

@washingtonpostThe CDC also emphasized both authorized vaccines are “very safe.” #coronavirus #covid19 #vaccines #coronavirusvaccine♬ Shaxicula (Toxic x Love Shack x Dragula) – DJ Cummerbund

The Washington Post is a prime example. This newspaper knows how to keep up with trends and has nearly 900,000 followers to prove it. The face of the brand on the platform, Dave Jorgenson, is shown here doing a trending TikTok dance while news about the COVID-19 vaccine is shown in text-on-screen. Thus, making a trend relevant to the brand.

Tip #2: Be Authentic

Unlike Instagram, users are not coming to Tiktok to find new products to buy. Instead, they are looking for content that conveys authenticity and entertainment. Based on a new U.S. study from Nielsen, people come to TikTok to lift their spirits, showing that the real value of marketing is authenticity.

Being real is the new cultural currency as today’s influence comes from the authentic ideas and imagination of everyday people. This opens up a new opportunity for brands to take a more meaningful approach to marketing by truly connecting with our community. Trends on TikTok create moments and movements that extend off the platform and become part of our daily lives.”  -Sofia Hernandez, TikTok’s Head of U.S. Business Marketing

Tip #3: Hashtags

Use hashtags that relate to your content. TikTok hashtags are essential because they are used to categorize content. They signal to the algorithm what a video is about and help get it in front of the right people. 

Don’t be afraid to use smaller, more specific hashtags for some posts so potential customers can find you. #marketing

Tip #4: Contests

If you try to start a hashtag challenge and want to boost it, try turning it into a contest. You can offer an award or prize in exchange for challenge participation or award the best take on the challenge. 

Cosmetics brand, e.l.f., nailed their contest by combining a viral concept, unique hashtag, relevant prize ($250 of its products), and perfect influencer collaborations to reach now over 7 billion people.

Tip #5: The Clock is TickToking 

Try to start with a hook. Grab users’ attention at the beginning, so they stay. The shorter the video, the more likely users will watch to the end and then play it again. And every time a video replays, it counts as another view. Additionally, if it’s under 30 seconds, you can even repurpose that video on your Instagram account using Reels. 

Tip #6: Partner with TikTokers 

Aside from the top TikTok influencers pursuing celebrityhood full-time, most content creators do TikTok as a side hustle. Several people have even become influencers on the app by documenting their actual jobs. For example, @bruontheradio calls himself the CEO of Radio TikTok. With almost 3 million followers, he records himself on the job in the studio where he does entertaining challenges. 

Another TikTok influencer @sterlingmonett has over a million followers on her account. She’s a model that went viral for her uniquely edited fashion videos that showcase her funky clothes and personality. Both of these examples show how TikTok influencers have more to offer than just being influencers. They are real people, documenting their real jobs.

“I love working with brands. Especially those that give me creative freedom to show the products naturally in a TikTok. Those videos tend to get higher engagement too because it flows with my personal brand and my followers can tell that my hand was on the making of it.” -Sterling Monètt

Work with TikTokers and their ideas. The more naturally your brand fits their account, the better.

For example, Sterling Monètt’s behind-the-scenes video of a campaign with Kim Kardashian’s Skims had double the engagement than the planned campaign video.

Tip #7: Call to Action

Multiple studies show how spending a lot of time on social media can lead to anxiety and depression. However, a new study conducted by Dr. Lee Smith at Anglia Ruskin University shows how people can change that. Moods can be increased, and people’s mental health can prosper if they actively consume social media rather than passively. Instead of scrolling past mindlessly, when people engage, like leaving a thoughtful comment, the results are positive. 

Brands and sponsored influencers can help utilize this by being the first to comment on their branded content, encouraging others to do the same. A clear CTA is essential; so try giving direct instructions such as, “like and comment your favorite _____.”

If you’d like to learn more about marketing strategies for your brand, email social@openinfluence.com. Open Influence is a global influencer marketing agency that helps facilitate meaningful partnerships between brands and content creators. We’d love to hear from you!

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