TikTok in your company’s marketing strategy: Should my brand be on the social network?

Juanmi Díez

12 January 2023

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It’s no secret that Tiktok has become an excellent opportunity for brands, with a large audience and unstoppable growth. However, succeeding on this social network is more challenging than it seems. Tiktok has unique features that differentiate it from all other networks, and understanding how it works is vital for your brand to achieve its goals on this platform.

TikTok: The platform 

Let’s start by looking at the data. In the U.S., over 94.1 million people use TikTok and spend an average of 91 minutes daily on the app.  91 minutes is a long time and a golden opportunity to conquer your audiences.

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Source: OBERLO

It’s also a platform with a super young audience, because it’s a network that was born and has evolved with GenZ and post-millennials. However, it’s important to remember that according to recent studies, 67% of users on the App are already over 25 years old. Which shows us that the tool is a great opportunity to connect with audiences of different age groups.

However, despite the enormous potential of the tool — which allows brands to reach out in a much closer, organic, and real way to over-saturated audiences that pay less and less attention to what brands have to tell them—there are still few brands that have managed to understand the platform’s codes well, because it adds factors that were hitherto non-existent in the way we consume content.

Let’s take a look at some examples:

This is not a TikTok:

https://www.tiktok.com/@samsung/video/7176119056699854082?lang=es

This is a TikTok:

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♬ –

Both are brand-generated content and have a commercial objective that’s part of a promotional campaign. But only one adapts to the platform’s codes, so only one will connect with its target. Because TikTok isn’t like other social media platforms. Let’s analyse the main factors to consider before diving into this social network.

Understanding the algorithm. 

As particular as any other social network but more peculiar than others. But what’s so special about the TikTok algorithm?  Why does it affect how we should produce and publish our branded content?

The algorithm’s goal is for the user to spend as much time as possible on the app. The longer they use it, the more information it gathers, generating more “addiction” by displaying increasingly tailored content to their taste. The tool learns from consumers’ behaviour, and caters to our interests through personalised, uniquely curated content.

But what elements does the algorithm take into account?

  • Users’ own activity, from the content we create, to the videos we like or the profiles we follow.
  • Viewing time: whether a piece of content has been consumed to completion or whether users skip it.
  • The videos that are shared.
  • Comments on posts.
  • Location.
  • Music and effects, which define trends and will be key to joining the conversation.
  • Hashtags, which, unlike in other social networks, where they have been relegated to a merely decorative use, play a key role in the positioning of the content.

In other words, many factors influence the success of a piece of content that has nothing to do with the number of followers. For example, below are two TikTok profiles. The one on the left has 3,000 followers but has a video with 1.6 million views and another with 700,000. The one on the right, with 62,000 followers, has two videos with less than 10,000 views.

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Don’t make ads, make TikToks. 

As with the algorithm, engagement on TikTok is totally different from any other social network (and higher). It’s common for users to interact with brands through comments, acting as creators and jointly building the brand story.

This is a fundamental aspect when creating content: co-creation is part of TikTok’s DNA, and that’s why the platform rewards and accompanies brands that behave as part of the community, not those that are just trying to sell and talk about their product.

At Good Rebels, we’ve been championing this philosophy for years. Regardless of any marketing plan, and whatever the company’s annual target is, we can’t forget that people don’t care about brands. They care about the things that happen in their lives, and that sometimes might be a brand.

Keeping this in mind, we have the opportunity to radically change the way we address our audiences.  But, of course, it’s not that simple when you have a marketing plan to follow, messages to communicate, and KPIs to meet. You have to go through a process of reconfiguring what you have learned and open your eyes to new horizons that seem ever closer. Horizons where the brand can no longer be product-centric.

Let’s get to work: creating content on TikTok.

We already know we must follow the platform’s codes and put our community above our product, but how do we translate these guidelines more concretely into the content?

  1. Duration. Even though TikTok has been increasing the length of videos on its platform (initially 15 seconds, now a maximum of 3 minutes), this time limitation is one of the most important aspects of content creation. We only have a few seconds to attract the user’s attention before they continue scrolling to the next video… and we also have to keep them connected until the end.
  1. Narrative. Our storytelling must be attractive and entertaining if we want to keep the attention of our users until the end. Especially in more explanatory videos or videos that show the characteristics of our product or services.
  1. Music and sound. Another key to success, which usually goes hand in hand with trends. It’s essential to do some research to decide what will be the audio of the moment that we will use in our video. Assessing this point will help us to get the algorithm on our side.
  1. Native language. Maybe this is the most complex and unique thing about the platform. In Tiktok, users are mainly looking for entertainment and fun. So there is no place for hyper-produced content: the more ‘homemade’, the better.   If we show a product, we can do it from the emotional side or in a practical way, but never from the brand’s point of view. For this, we can use special formats:
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TikTokers and creators.

TikTok is a platform meant for content creators. Thus, collaborations with influencers or TikTokers can be the vehicle to build our brand narrative. This doesn’t mean that it’s essential to work with them, but it is highly recommended, especially for brands that are not prepared to generate content within the codes required by the platform.

Many entertainment brands, whose product is based on their own content generation, such as Netflix, Disney Plus, or Spotify, are lucky enough to have their own materials with which to enter into a conversation on TikTok organically. But that’s not the norm. The most normal thing is that our product doesn’t move on its own, nor can it generate content without the help of a person who serves as a channel to communicate it.

Numerous creator platforms that we currently work with, such as Numu or 11posts, facilitate the work, sending content briefs to creators who generate TikToks based on our requests. Content, moreover, at really competitive costs that allow us to maintain an active and sustainable production within the platform, at the same time as we develop other types of our own videos that provide brand elements that are more difficult to achieve through TikTokers.

History repeats itself. 

Many of you won’t remember, but this has happened in the past. There was a day when we had to jump into Instagram without really knowing where we were going. And another day when, already on Instagram, we were forced to dive into stories while combining the then static content strategies of other more long-lived platforms, and learning live and direct how to redirect the content of brands to continue working in the social media environment. Diving into the many trends that emerge daily (Influencers, Podcasts, BeReal…) with the same innate vertigo of not knowing if we were making good decisions along the way is now our daily routine.

At Good Rebels, we’ve been working on TikTok for over 2  years now, and we’ve known for a long time that future marketing plans were going to take this platform very much into account when planning their mix of social channels. Two years ago, we launched the Domino’s Pizza profile without knowing for sure where the platform would take us, at a time when we only found youngsters and without the context of having published the more than 200 pieces of content that the profile has collected. Today, many other projects, such as Viajes El Corte Inglés, Toyota, or Springfield, already have this platform in their social media mix.

Understanding the platform is relatively straightforward. Understanding that the rules governing content creation are no longer the same may take longer. A strategy of replicating content from other social networks will not work: it is time to question absolutely everything, from audiences to content editing, and to use all the resources at our disposal (creators, trends, TikTok Ads) to continue to connect with our targets.