TikTok for Brands: What You Need to Know
Unless you’re living under a rock, you know that there’s been a ton of news surrounding social media app TikTok lately. The app has been gaining traction among Gen Z and millennial audiences for a while, and brands are starting to take notice.
But is TikTok an app for brands? Should you focus marketing resources on creating content for TikTok?
We’re breaking down the origins of TikTok, giving a crash course on the platform, and laying out the pros and cons of starting an account for your brand.
What is TikTok?
For those who don’t know, TikTok has become the go-to platform for short-form mobile video content. The app launched in 2016 and has skyrocketed in the past year with over 800 Million active users to date.
Content can be uploaded or created in-app with timers and other tools. Creators can add visual filters, time effects, split screens, green screens, transitions, stickers, GIFs, emojis and more to create engaging visuals. There’s also an option to live stream, much like you’ll find on Facebook, Instagram and other platforms.
You may know TikTok as the place Gen Z and millennials upload lip-sync videos, dance challenges, comedy sketches and more – but it’s quickly becoming a place where brands are testing organic, human content.
The ‘For You’ Page and TikTok’s Algorithm
TikTok can be a little tricky to figure out initially because it’s not set up like other platforms. On Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, for example, you’re most likely seeing content posted by people you follow.
On TikTok, the app opens immediately to something called the “For You Page” which features videos specifically tailored to your interests, created by people you don’t know. When you log in for the first time, you’ll get a pretty generic mix of popular content, from dance trends to cute animals. As you scroll and interact with videos, the algorithm will learn what you prefer and show you more of that.
(See: A breakdown of the TikTok “sides - Bustle)
This tailoring can be beneficial for brands as it allows the algorithm to target the content you make to people who will likely be interested in what you do.
You can follow people on TikTok, but it always defaults to the For You Page, making it easier for people to go viral, even if they have little to no following.
Should I be creating brand content for TikTok?
Let’s say you're a travel brand and you want to promote reasons that people should book a trip to your destination. On Facebook, you may post a scenic photo with an attention-grabbing caption and a link to a blog post on your brand’s website. But on TikTok, you can craft a 15-second video with different video clips, on-screen text, music and more to visually showcase your destination.
Take a flight over paradise with us ✈️ ##florida ##southwalton ##30a ##hey30a ##drone ##paradise ##travel ##tiktoktravel ##ItStartsOnTikTok ##seasideflorida♬ Paradise - Bazzi
The key to creating a fanbase on TikTok is creating content that doesn’t look branded. Content on TikTok should look as organic as possible – otherwise it probably won’t perform well.
What Kind of Content Should I Create?
Whether educational videos or fun dance routines are your thing, there’s probably a space for your brand or business to make its mark on TikTok.
Footwear/apparel company Allbirds uses TikTok to expand beyond product marketing by featuring community members showing off parts of their lives. In this example, Allbirds fan Ross showcases what he packs when going on hikes.
Allgood Collective member, Ross, shows us how to pack for a day hike. ##weareallbirds ##hikingszn ##fyp ##foryou @merosskimball♬ original sound - weareallbirds
In this TikTok from Lululemon, one of their “ambassadors” demonstrates a quick yoga routine. This content not only shows off their products in a practical way, it also gives viewers something helpful that they can return to later and allows the influencer to get more creative with their content.
Raise your hand if you’ve been sitting all day. ##lululemon ##keepingactive ##hipopener ##yogaathome ##homeworkout ##learnontiktok♬ original sound - lululemon
This style of TikTok video is a great way to expand beyond your product, and into the lifestyle of your target consumers.
All three examples show content that looks organic and human – allowing it to blend in with non-brand content on a user’s TikTok feed.
Other brands use TikTok to post educational content that can help reach a broader audience. NPR’s Planet Money vertical uses TikTok to keep young NPR fans up-to-date on all things related to finance and the economy. They do this in a super organic and easy-to-understand way, which helps them achieve high viewership and engagement.
People change their behavior when they’re being watched 👁👄👁 ##economics ##tiktokpartner ##learnontiktok ##planetmoney♬ ALL INNA DAY - Pretty Beggar
Educational-style content works really well for a lot of brands, including museums and political offices to nonprofits. The key is finding someone within your organization who has a good on-camera personality (no matter their age).
TikTok’s advertising platform is still growing with features for advertisers, but now is a great time to get started with thinking about organic content for the platform.
For more ways on how we can work together on your brand’s social media presence, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.