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Marketing on TikTok: is it worth it?


TikTok popped out of nowhere into becoming one of the most downloaded apps of all time in the current space of social media. With over 1 billion active users globally, Tiktok has managed to overshadow many social media titans like Twitter and LinkedIn.

However, businesses have hesitated to take advantage of Tiktok’s unprecedented virality, with just 3% of marketers considering it an effective platform. Many businesses underestimate TikTok’s potential for marketing. Here’s what TikTok users feel about ads on the platform:

  • TikTok users find ads on the platform to be unique compared to other platforms
  • Users feel that ads on TikTok to be authentic, fun, genuine, honest, real, and trustworthy compared to other social media platforms
  • Heavy TikTok users feel ads on TikTok blend well with its content
  • 52% of users say they discover new products on TikTok

If you are convinced, then you might want to get started on TikTok as soon as you can. Learn what TikTok is, how to use it, whether it is right for your specific business, and if it is; tips on getting popular and even going viral!

What is TikTok and how does it work?

TikTok is a free media-sharing platform for short-form video content, usually 15 seconds long, though it can go up to 60 seconds in length. While this might seem like a limitation, it has proven to be one of its unique selling points as it pushes its content creators to get creative and to the point in 60 seconds or less.

This kind of quick video format has made TikTok extremely easy to sink time into. Statistics estimate that the average daily time spent on TikTok is around 52 minutes. While rival apps that work similarly may exist on the fringe, like Triller and Byte, TikTok has cornered the social media market for short-form video streaming. They managed this by acquiring Musical.ly, the app that replaced Vine as the most popular short video app after its shutdown back in 2016.

Users on TikTok usually discover videos on their individually curated For You page. Videos that appear on a user’s feed are decided by TikTok’s unique algorithm that values a video’s relevance to your interests over its general popularity. When choosing videos for a specific user, the algorithm considers factors such as:

  • Video information—Hashtags, captions, sound & genre
  • User Settings—Language & country
  • User Interaction—Videos watched & accounts followed

This kind of content-focused algorithm allows for any video to go viral very fast on TikTok, even with low follower counts.

Who is using TikTok?

This medium of short video content typically appeals to the generally short attention span of Gen Z and Millennials below 30. Despite youths being the primary audience, the user demographics of TikTok are quite diverse.

The TikTok user statistics in the US show that the percentage of teens and young adults — 25% and 22.4% respectively — are only marginally higher than users in their 30s (21.7%) and 40s (20.3%). It is not just popular in the US. Available in 141 countries, TikTok ranks in the top 25 apps in 139 of them.

Do you need TikTok marketing?

As with any social media platform, it depends on who your audience is and if they are on TikTok. Since the majority of the app’s users are verifiably millennials and teenagers, should those demographics not overlap with yours at all, then TikTok might not be the optimal social media platform for you to invest in. So to understand if TikTok is worth investing your time into, you should identify your brand or business’ audience and demographics first and see if there is any overlap. Consider if the primary demographics on the platform are worth reaching out to.

However, even if there are no common audience demographics between your brand and TikTok this is not a reason to completely give up on TikTok.

Even if the majority of TikTok users are Gen Z, with time, it’s shown that users are growing up with the app. Last year, in just four months, TikTok’s 18-24 audience grew from 9 million to nearly 14 million unique visitors and the 25-34 audience grew from 5 to 11 million. As the app grows older, so will its user base, and by establishing yourself on TikTok now, when there is still very little competition, you can reach that audience early.

Something else to consider is brand identity. TikTok is a platform that values candid authenticity, creativity, and casual interaction. Most of the brands that have found success on TikTok, like Chipotle and Gymshark, have fostered that kind of identity around themselves. If the persona surrounding your brand doesn’t suit that kind of environment, then it might not be advisable to invest in marketing on TikTok as you aren’t likely to be very well received.

How can you use TikTok for marketing?

To get started, registering an account for your brand or business and creating relevant content on it can build up engagement easily with absolutely no cost or risk. 66% of marketers don’t make videos because they think it’s too time-consuming. But with TikTok, it is as simple as recording a quick video on your phone. Unlike its competitors like Triller, TikTok has easy-to-use editing tools in the app itself that you leverage.

If you already have established a presence on other social media like Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube, try not to repurpose content from them onto TikTok. It is a unique platform from others with a completely different audience, so it will take little getting used to. Study up on TikTok and what its content is like before creating content for it. For example, users on TikTok value creativity and authenticity even in their ads.

Once you understand what content is like on TikTok, you can set goals for your content that align with your business objectives. While you can create a presence on TikTok by creating content for its sake, you can streamline your growth by having a specific goal in mind. Identifying and setting certain goals like, raising awareness for a product or reaching a new audience can help you build a practical roadmap for establishing your brand or business on TikTok. Take advantage of TikTok’s built-in analytics by upgrading your account into a pro account for free and use those metrics to measure your progress towards those goals.

Here are a couple of opportunities you could leverage on TikTok:

1. Hashtag Challenges

35% of users have participated in a challenge and at least 16% of all videos on the platform are related to challenges. By participating in hashtag challenges, your brand can integrate itself into the TikTok community.

If you start one yourself, you have the chance to start a viral trend related to your brand. Branded Hashtag Challenges or hashtag challenges sponsored by brands or companies are estimated by TikTok to garner an average of 6.1 Billion views. The most successful of these branded hashtag challenges, according to TikTok itself, has been Samsung’s #VideoSnapChallenge, which by today has amassed 33.4 billion views.

2. Influencer Collaboration

Finally, the most obvious way for a brand or business to quickly gain attention is to work with an already established influencer on the platform. No one knows how TikTok ticks as well as the influencers who have already gained large followings. By collaborating with these influencers, not only can you reach an already engaged audience with your content, you can better understand how to incorporate natural brand integration with entertaining videos.

To find the best influencers that are most appropriate for your brand or business, simply search through hashtags for content that is most relevant to you. This way, you can quickly come across talented and popular influencers that are already trending in the areas that you need. Take into account what the influencer’s audience is like as well and try to find one that overlaps with yours. Once found, simply reach out and let them know your brand or business is interested in collaborating. From that point on, it’s a numbers game and how likely you are to land a partnership with some of the bigger influencers depends on how big your presence is on TikTok.

3. User-Generated Content (UGC)

If your brand or business has a product to sell, then you are likely to have an easier time growing on TikTok than most. UGC content is extremely useful for marketing on a platform like TikTok that values authenticity. Statistics show that UGC TikTok videos perform 8% better than TikTok brand videos. In addition to these three major points, your brand or business can also add standard advertising to TikTok such as banner ads or advertisements in a user’s feed. TikTok has introduced an accessible platform for businesses to reach out to them called TikTok for Business.

As new as TikTok is, it’s fair to assume that it may be just a fad that will lose steam in a few years. However, statistics show that by 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic. As one of the biggest video streaming services in the world right now, TikTok will continue to be a strong resource for brands and businesses in the social media space

Ultimately, TikTok is a platform, despite its controversies and perceptions, that has continued to grow into one of, if not the most, fastest-growing social media applications of all time. And in the future, it is projected to only grow even bigger, with certain sources even predicting its revenue to grow by 457% year-on-year.

Despite this gigantic growth, advertising and marketing are still relatively new to the platform. This will soon change as more and more businesses work to take advantage of TikTok’s viral popularity to expand their reach. By establishing your brand or business on TikTok now, while it is still new, you can get a head start on your competitors in reaching its growing audience.

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