• Marketing, Industry Trends

The ultimate guide to TikTok marketing

by Genevieve Jooste, Director, Strategic Services | Mar 08, 2021

Anyone who has been on the internet lately has likely heard of TikTok. The social video-sharing app has exploded in popularity in recent years, even reaching a record 315 million downloads in January 2020 alone.

The success of the app has piqued the interest of brands and marketers around the globe. But the network is relatively new, and you may not know where to start. This guide is for marketers at enterprise brands who are looking to get started on TikTok. We’ll dive into the app’s user statistics and popular marketing tactics your brand can adapt to create an effective TikTok marketing campaign.

Understanding TikTok for brands | Khoros

What is TikTok, and why is everyone so excited about it?

TikTok is a user-generated video sharing app. Like videos on predecessors such as Vine, TikTok videos are subject to strict time constraints; most are 15 seconds or shorter.

TikTok is the international version of the app Douyin, which debuted in China in 2016. Following the app’s success in China, owners released it to the international market in September 2017 under the name TikTok.

TikTok’s meteoric rise (which was accelerated by the spread of COVID-19 in early 2020) has created quite a bit of buzz around the internet. Younger people, especially those in Gen Z, have taken to TikTok for everything from quarantine complaints to lip-syncing videos — and much more. But young users aren’t the only people excited about this platform; marketers are, as well. A few things make TikTok stand out both to users and to brands:

Short-form content

Since TikTok videos are so short — usually under 15 seconds — they’re excellent for delivering information that ranges from the hysterical to the “oh wow, I never knew that.” Marketers, especially those interested in video production need to pay attention to the rise in short-form video consumption as a result of Covid-19. In fact, Gen Z increased their consumption by 67% and Millennials by 51%.

Variety and diversity of content

Since TikTok has so many users and so many videos (see below for stats), there is a wide range of content — and anyone who’s scrolled through the app knows to expect the unexpected. If you, brand, are going to try out TikTok, make sure to immerse yourself in the app. Get familiar with the creativity, authenticity and individuality that reigns supreme. TikTok isn’t like other social networks, in fact, they don’t even view themselves as a social network. It’s about entertainment and connection. Marketers can and should flex creative muscles that might not get much use on more traditional platforms. Don’t overthink, just have fun. At its core, that’s what TikTok is about and if your content isn’t reflecting that then it’s time to try something different.

Global reach

With over two billion downloads to date, TikTok has almost as much reach as other social networks, who are being put on notice, and by far the most for Gen Z (again, see below for stats). But this reach isn’t confined to one country or even one region; it’s global. Using some of the techniques we cover here, marketers can reach people in Europe, Asia, and North America simultaneously — and with creative ways of shooting video and telling stories visually, they can even overcome language barriers. Of course Instagram and other networks offer similar opportunities, but TikTok’s unique capabilities and wild popularity make it a bit of a unicorn for marketers in many industries.

Is TikTok good for marketing?

While brands are still trying to figure out what to do on the app, the power of TikTok to help sales is undeniable. According to data shared during the recent TikTok #ForYouSummit, 67% of TikTokers agree that the platform inspired them to shop even when they weren’t looking to do so and on top of that, four in five Gen Z TikTokers have influenced their parents to buy a product they’ve seen on TikTok. The #TikTokMadeMyBuyIt hashtag has more than 1.6B views on the app.

Still not convinced? Take a look at these stats.

TikTok Statistics

TikTok has been downloaded more than 2 billion times globally.

(SensorTower)

After seeing record-breaking growth in Q1 2020, TikTok surpassed the two billion mark in total worldwide downloads.

These countries accounted for the top number of downloads:

  • India: 611 million downloads (30.3% of total downloads)

  • China: 196.6 million downloads (9.7% of total downloads)

  • United States: 165 million downloads (8.2% of total downloads)

Global TikTok downloads chart
Global TikTok downloads chart


The takeaway: TikTok has a huge reach in the U.S. and globally — and it’s still growing. Based on the sheer number of downloads alone, it’s safe to say that you’re likely to find people within your brand’s target audience on the app.

The average user spends 52 minutes on the app per day.

(CNBC)

Not only are users active on the app for nearly an hour every day, but TikTok also reported that U.S. users open the app 8 times a day on average. This is notably higher than the average of 4.7 opens a day for Facebook and 3.1 opens for Instagram.

The takeaway: Not only does TikTok have a large user base, but these users also spend a sizable portion of their day on the app. And due to the short length of the videos, they’re exposed to a large variety of content. This presents a great opportunity for brands looking for new ways to get in front of users.

63.5% of TikTok users are aged between 10 and 29.

(Statista)

TikTok has a young user base, but older generations use the app as well so don’t count them out. Statista breaks down the user age demographics like this:

TikTok user age demographics chart

    The takeaway: If you’re looking to strengthen awareness among Gen Z, TikTok is your place. The app is also popular with millennials, but popularity wanes the older the consumer is. That said, there are niche audiences on the app (#MomsofTikTok) that could be a perfect fit for a particular brand. Remember, it’s important to focus on connection. It’s not about boiling the ocean.

    TikTok marketing strategies for brands

    So we’ve already established TikTok as a good marketing channel, especially for targeting Gen Z, but how can brands take advantage of it? Here are three tactics brands are using on TikTok right now.

    Brand-generated content and hashtag challenges

    Brands can create their own TikTok channels, upload content, and use that content to interact with consumers and build their audience.

    A popular content creation method is a hashtag challenge. Hashtag challenges involve creating and naming a challenge and sharing it on TikTok; users then create their own versions of the video and tag it with the same hashtag. This allows other users to easily find the video, thus increasing the amount of engagement the challenge gets.

    TikTok’s advertising capabilities allow fully branded hashtag campaigns. For example, Colgate created the #MakeMomSmile challenge, which encourages users to record themselves doing something to make their mom smile in celebration of Mother’s Day. Videos using the hashtag were viewed 4.5 billion times. The barrier to entry for this campaign was low and opened up the door for a lot of creativity.

    Brands can participate in an unbranded hashtag challenge for organic content as well.

    Creator marketing

    TikTok is a great platform for influencer marketing — or as they’d refer to it, creator marketing. But on TikTok, a creator is more than an influencer. A creator inspires, innovates and creates. An influencer is simply there to push a product because they are being paid. There’s limited creativity and passion. On TikTok, it’s all about creators.

    Many brands, including Too Faced Cosmetics, have used TikTok creators to engage with a larger audience. Too Faced’s creators campaign, #TFDamnGirl, involves beauty creators sharing videos of their eyelashes before and after using the brand’s newest mascara. The hashtag currently has close to a billion views worldwide.

    Brands can find the right type of creator and start conversations through TikTok’s Creator Marketplace.

    Other paid advertising opportunities on TikTok

    While the hashtag challenge and influencer marketing are popular ad choices for brands, TikTok offers several other ad products, including:

    • In-feed ads: TikTok’s infeed native video ads are 9 to 15 seconds long video advertisements that appear in between videos in the TikTok feed.

    • TopView: TopView is a video ad format that appears to the user upon opening the app. The ad takes up the whole screen and allows for up to 60 seconds of video.

    • Brand Takeover: Brand takeover advertisements appear in the form of images or videos which appear in a user’s feed before any user-generated content. Only one Brand Takeover appears in each category per day, so these are highly desirable.

    • Branded Effects: Branded effects allow advertisers to create video filters, similar to Snapchat’s branded lenses. The branded filter is then available to users for up to 10 days at a time.

    Using TikTok as part of your comprehensive social media marketing strategy

    TikTok can be a great platform for marketing, especially if you are targeting a younger consumer. If you think the platform is right for your brand, include it in your ongoing social media strategy. In tandem with a strong strategy for all social networks, TikTok marketing can help grow your brand’s social presence and online community.

    If you’re interested in learning more marketing insights for social networks, check out our2021 Social Media Demographics Guide.

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