Why brands need a slice of the TikTok action and how to nail it.
Katy Powell Digital PR Lead
7 min read
Thursday, 6th August 2020
Every man, gran (not kidding) and their dog is on TikTok, and if you’re a brand and you’re thinking nah, this weird dancing app isn’t for us, think again.
Bursting onto the scene in 2016, TikTok boasts over 800 million users worldwide, ahead of Twitter, LinkedIn and Snapchat. Despite recent concerns about data safety, the app is still immensely popular.
Just this week, Instagram launched rival feature "Reels" to try and compete with its popularity. It will be interesting to see whether there will be a shift over to Reels or if users will stay on TikTok. My thoughts? TikTok will keep its crown.
So, who’s actually using TikTok?
- 👶Age - 42% of users are aged 18-24 and the next largest group at 27% is 13-17, so the audience is quite young, BUT the age is on the rise. During lockdown, TikTok saw the number of users aged 25-34 increase at the fastest rate.
- ♀️ Gender - 60% of users are female.
- 🌍Location - TikTok’s available in 155 countries and 75 languages! The UK currently has over 3.7 million active users.
If you have been living under a rock or have just refused to jump on the hype, TikTok is all about trends. These trends take the TikTok community by storm and users find themselves subconsciously learning dance routines, saying phrases again and again, and quoting TikTok in real life.
You’ll see dance routines, funny memes, educational content, fashion DIYs, and cooking lessons all within one app. And it’s touching other areas too, just listen to the UK Top 40 - a huge number of the songs are TikTok sounds. Jason Derulo has literally released two songs based on TikTok sounds, one of which is at number 1 in the UK charts for its third week.
TikTok is probably one of the most creative platforms out there, the talent is unbelievable, yet things feel authentic. It’s a platform for creatives and unlike other platforms that are full of lurkers who don’t post, TikTok has a relatively high rate of creators with around 34% of users posting daily in the US. People are MASSIVELY engaged with TikTok.
Something I find particularly interesting about the platform is the fact that literally anyone can go viral. Sure, there are stars of TikToks, your Charli D’Amelios and Addison Raes, but your mate Bob from down the road can go viral too. There is still a lot of speculation about the algorithm but it seems as if all content is discoverable by anybody, and anyone is able to go viral even with a minimal following... I’m still waiting for my moment.
Why TikTok resonates with every audience
- It’s easy to do. You don’t have to be a creative to go viral. The huge number of video effects mean it’s easy to get stuck in and create something fun.
- Different ‘sides’ of TikTok make you feel like you’re all living the same life, with people making videos about extremely niche things that happened to them that are actually extremely common.
- Unlike other social media platforms, TikTok users aren’t afraid of taking the piss out of themselves, and having a laugh. Everyone isn’t a perfectly filtered insta model and this makes people sympathise and therefore engage more with videos.
How can brands have a slice of the action?
In terms of branded content, TikTok is still in the *relatively* early stages and most brands are still unsure of their presence on the platform. This makes it the perfect time to EXPERIMENT. Give it a go, try things, learn and adapt, treat it like the fun auntie of the social media family. Concentrate on using the platform for awareness rather than driving leads or traffic.
Unlike Facebook and Instagram, the main feed is created by assessing how you interact with other videos, serving you more of the same or similar. You are served videos from users whether you’re following them or not, giving brands an opportunity for a potentially huge extended reach beyond followers and therefore increased brand awareness. Instagram Reels is still in its early days but it looks as if it'll be solely for creating videos for YOUR following, not for everyone.
Why is using TikTok a worthwhile investment as a brand?
- Increased brand awareness - It’s another touchpoint to get your brand’s message seen by a wider audience, often of a different demographic to those on other channels.
- Traffic to your website - Creating content that peaks interest is going to leave people wanting to learn more, linking to your website on your brands page will lead potential customers to your website, increasing the chance of conversion.
- Huge user engagement - TikTok users are very engaged, and as a brand, this is perfect for keeping the brand front of mind. The algorithm also means that people are served more and more content that they show interest in, so you’ll be targeting an already very interested audience.
- Influencer opportunities - Also known as creators, these influential users have huge numbers of engaged followers so provide great partnership opportunities for brand partnerships.
Some of the brands that I think have had interesting TikTok strategies so far are:
Fenty Beauty - Rihanna’s beauty brand has ramped up its TikTok strategy, creating content jumping on the latest trend but also slightly more promotional product videos.
Gymshark- using its brand ambassadors.
Papa Johns - Papa John himself has taken to TikTok to bust some pizza myths and I’m all for it. Choosing a spokesperson for the brand works perfectly in this instance and gives your brand a face. He’s got over 400k followers so is doing something right!
It’s all about using the native features of TikTok, encouraging creativity but keeping close to your brand. The beauty of the app is unlike Instagram, branded content doesn’t need to be as polished. Influencers can create content with their phone, skipping the need for professional photographers or a load of editing.
It will be interesting to see how TikTok manages branded content, influencers and ads as I feel that the authenticity of videos on the app will continue to a stark contrast to the #ad content we see on Instagram.
But my brand isn’t targeting teenagers...I hear you shoutIf your brand’s target audience isn’t young people, never fear. The age of TikTok users is on the rise. TikTok is Gen Z’s playground but Millennials on the app are on the rise. There is also a huge presence of grandparents on TikTok which is heartwarming if not anything else. Lockdown has been incredibly lonely for many, and families have used the app to bring their families together. A particular favourite of mine is Grandad Joe, who has over 2.2M followers! No matter which demographic your brand is targeting, it can find its place on TikTok.
How can your brand get started creating content on TikTok to include in your Organic Social and Digital PR strategy
- Grab your phone, someone from your team who likes being in front of the camera and get shooting. The true beauty of TikTok is that videos don’t need to be polished, you can just shoot and go. There’s no need to build a whole team for this - just someone enthusiastic and genuine will be perfect.
- Start by creating micro content on TikTok for a campaign you’re planning. Think about anything about your campaign that can become shareable. For example, got a campaign coming up about the films getting people through lockdown? Use the sound bites and get creating funny videos encouraging viewers to try it out themselves. Doing PR for a beauty brand? Use slick transitions to show tutorials.
- Work with influencers with large TikTok followings that will resonate with your audience. Create content both on your brands feed and theirs but make sure it’s not too salesy. This will stick out like a sore thumb and it's not what people are on TikTok for.
- Have fun with it. Don’t spend hours and hours in production creating the perfect video. Decide what you’re going to make TikToks about, and go for it.
Get in touch with us if you want to learn more about how to get on the TikTok hype and make it work for your brand alongside your Digital PR and Social strategy.