It seems like everyone is talking about TikTok. Generation Z can’t stop making them, young Millennials are adding it to their social consumption next to Instagram and Facebook, and Boomers can’t stop asking what it is. Meanwhile marketers are wondering: how can we capitalize on this hyper-engaged audience?
As the app continues to skyrocket in popularity among young people, many brands are hungry to create content that will engage a new audience. But ask any social media guru, and they’ll immediately tell you that TikTok is a totally different beast than other platforms.
So where do you begin with TikTok? How do you know if it’s right for your brand? We’re giving you all the deets on this new platform, and how to succeed on the app if it’s right for you.
A Brief History of TikTok
TikTok is a video-based social media platform, generally dominated by Generation Z. These teens (and tweens) post videos up to one minute in length.
Music is a huge part of many TikTok trends and videos, probably due to the fact that the app used to be known as Musical.ly, where users would lip sync to songs or audio clips. That concept still exists in many videos on TikTok, but more commonly songs go viral by being used in dance trend videos, where thousands of users do a choreographed dance or action to a specific song.
Trends are a large part of the TikTok ecosystem. Not only do trends encourage users to actively participate and post videos, but they also create a sense of community within the app. In general, TikTok videos are goofy, authentic, and raw. You won’t see lots of editing like you might on a platform like YouTube.
As of now, brands have their own TikTok accounts, influencers have paid sponsorships with brands, and there are a small number of brands who are eligible to do paid advertising within the app. This is new territory for almost all marketers, as TikTok defies many traditional marketing tactics and is a relatively new app.
Our Work on TikTok with Banila Co
Many brands that we work with have asked us about TikTok. As we’ll note later, not every brand is right for the app, but when Banila Co approached us to create a TikTok strategy, we knew they were a perfect fit.
Banila Co is a Korean skincare brand who recently launched in the United States market. Their most popular product is Clean It Zero, a 3-in-1 cleansing balm that removes makeup and cleanses skin without irritation. They’re incredibly popular among Gen Z and have a low price point, making them an ideal brand to try out TikTok.
We reached out to a range of TikTok influencers—some with tons of followers, some with fewer followers, as well as a differing ages. We sent them a free tub of Clean It Zero, and gave them minimal instructions. All they had to do was create a video of them melting off their makeup with Clean It Zero to the song “Melt” by E40 and include the hashtag #TheMeltChallenge.
No influencers were paid, and we didn’t provide a ton of guidelines for the videos. We wanted the content to be organic and creative, which TikTok influencers excel at.
The goal of the challenge, like most social campaigns, was simply brand awareness. Specifically, with this campaign, we wanted to create a movement that would inspire other users on the app to take part in the challenge.
The videos made by influencers were really creative and authentic. One video in particular has over 65,000 likes!
@beatsbydeb so satisfying to melt this makeup off🤤 ##TheMeltChallenge @banilacousa ♬ Melt - E-40
We saw the trend start to expand beyond the individuals we sent product to, with other users taking part in #TheMeltChallenge (with or without Clean It Zero).
Overall, we were pleased with the results of the campaign, especially since there was minimal cost and high-quality videos that came out of it!
Tips for TikTok
There are a lot of brands on TikTok trying to make it work—from Ralph Lauren to Chipotle, brands are desperately trying to connect with a younger generation that is averse to and unimpressed with traditional marketing techniques.
Assess Your Social Workload
Lots of brands want to start posting on TikTok, but they may not realize how much work goes into creating these videos. It requires a lot of creativity and effort to make videos that do well, which includes researching trends. And even though videos generally have minimal editing, you will still need to take time to do a little bit of work on them in post-production.
If you choose to do it in-house (instead of working with influencers to create the videos), you need to find employees who can be naturally goofy on camera without coming across as super cheesy or corny. Not every company has employees who are willing to put themselves out there on camera like that, so that is a consideration as well.
Bottom line: if your team is already struggling to find time to manage your Twitter/Facebook/Instagram accounts, you shouldn’t be on TikTok.
Work with Influencers
One of the easiest ways to break ground in TikTok is to work with influencers. This is still a relatively new platform, but there are still people monetizing off their following—even people who aren’t old enough to drive yet!
The influencer work we coordinated for Banila was on a product exchange only basis, requiring no additional cost to the client on top of the cost of goods and shipping.
Keep in mind that as influencers grow and more begin to take advantage of monetizing their audiences, just sending free product might not be enough. But, with smaller influencers, that option will likely always be there. Of course, you’ll still want to create your own brand account so that you can be tagged in the post from the influencer, and can also repost those influencer videos to your page to populate your brand's feed.
Make Raw and Authentic Videos
TikToks are an interesting combination of raw and authentic, as well as rehearsed and choreographed. The production value is low, so that part doesn’t require much more equipment than your smartphone.
Where the bulk of your investment in TikTok lies is making the content feel natural, fun, and not forced. Every piece of content you create should feel authentic. I know these words are somewhat vague and seem like trendy filler words, but they’re really the key to succeeding on TikTok.
Don’t Be an Infomercial
TikTok is the last place you want to traditionally promote your product. Whereas on platforms like Instagram or YouTube, you can document how to use a product or show features, that will absolutely not perform well on TikTok. In order for campaigns to be successful, something besides your brand has to be the feature—whether a challenge, dance, or trending song.
Your product becomes secondary or even tertiary to the point of the video. The focus should be on some kind of challenge, dance, or specific action that involves your product.
It’s Not for Everyone
So many brands are hungry to connect with Generation Z, and at first glance TikTok seems like the perfect place to market your product to them. However, not every brand is right for TikTok.
For example, if your brand has a high price point, you’ll likely not be able to eventually convince a teenager to invest in your product. Or maybe your brand simply isn’t geared towards young people—like a treatment that reverses wrinkles or a product for heart health.
However, many brands would do well on TikTok, even if they seem unconventional. Fast fashion brands would do well, as well as health-conscious food and restaurants.
Need a little help getting your TikTok off the ground? Want help determining if TikTok is right for your brand? Reach out to the Blue Wheel team today!