How to Win on TikTok

TikTok is quickly becoming the most important force driving trends across all social platforms. It has done this so quickly, that we are only just beginning to understand what makes it “Tik”. Jokes aside, TikTok is here to stay and it is vital that those who work in PR and digital marketing understand how to fully optimize their performance on the platform. The rules for success on other social platforms do not apply to TikTok, and so marketers must adapt their approach. The pages are far less curated, and the algorithms are far more volatile. It is reshaping the way we share content and our understanding of what resonates with the user. Audiences are beginning to favor less curated and lifestyle content on all other platforms because of its influence. Users want fast, entertaining, content with calls to action and room for creative expression.

Finding success on TikTok will be key to sustaining it on all digital platforms in the years to come. Other digital platforms are developing their TikTok equivalent features to capitalize on the TikTok explosion. Instagram has added Reels, which is quickly becoming one of their most popular features, and Youtube has added their Shorts feature for sharing short, TikTok-esque content. In this article, we are going to explore the fundamental strategies and features for brands to achieve success on TikTok.

Build your Channel

Similar to Instagram, brands are able to set up their accounts for free and immediately begin posting, however the content and community on this platform are quite different than most other digital platforms. The more curated style of platforms like Instagram is unlikely to perform well on TikTok. The app is very user friendly and optimized for creative expression. Unpolished and lifestyle aesthetics perform best on this platform. Videos should be mobile friendly and fit the vertical dimensions of a smartphone. Contents should also be short and entertaining. The goal of content is to command the users attention, as users typically encounter content on the “For You” page. This is an important distinction from Instagram as TikTok users spend more time on their discovery pages than actually interacting with the content from accounts they follow. 

Brands will also want to ensure they post with a higher frequency than other social channels. This is important due to the incredibly volatile nature of the platform’s algorithm, it is far more extreme and content is more “hit or miss” than other platforms. For brands with smaller followings, most posts don’t receive a lot of traction so it is vital that brands play the odds and post often to increase the chances of their content blowing up. Sometimes it can take up to a week or two for a post to catch, so consistently posting is key. Up the frequency, reduce the quality. It is also important that brands be ready to hop on trends quickly in order to maximize exposure.

Influencer Partnership

Leveraging influencers is important for brand success on this platform. It increases the overall visibility of the brand and also allows it to share the load and meet frequency standards. It is in a brand’s best interests to leverage influencers who are native to the platform as they specialize in the content and have a far better handle of what is trending. They also tend to cost less than established influencers on other platforms. TikTok has a creator marketplace to help match brands with the optimal influencers for their marketing needs. Brands should give some creative freedom to influencers to leverage what has worked for them and heighten the chances of content gaining traction. Brands should also consider experimenting with influencers they wouldn’t normally target in order to maximize visibility, think outside the box! This app is all about creativity.

Viral Challenges

TikTok’s platform has quickly evolved and changed the way brands can better gain awareness while generating buzz. With a formula for brands consisting of the balance of direction and creativity, thoughtful brand integration, specific music selection and a strategic influencer strategy; buzzworthy content will surely be achieved. With this simple yet complex formula, a viral #challenge is created, making a cultural imprint potentially generating millions of views through hashtags that drive discoverability.

Integrating your brand is integral; it not only boosts its vitality but also helps to drive your KPIs while remaining connected to your audience. Also resonating with your audience is the music that you select. Music is imperative to driving a successful and viral challenge on this platform.  Lastly, the stars of your challenges are crucial for this process and its rate of success. In viral challenges, the overall goal is to generate excitement via the chosen influencer, to have their fans and followers participate in the challenge themselves. In following these simple steps, you are setting yourself up for success!

In Feed Ads

Just like any other platform, TikTok is able to sustain its platform through selling ads to brands to generate better reach for themselves. To break it down, an in-feed ad is run through organic content on the platform's “For You” page. This marketing tactic is a great start to test and learn with smaller budgets. To purchase in-feed ads, your brand can use TikTok's self-service ad platform or through reservation with the company's sales team. Just like any other methodology for success, the best way to get the most out of in-feed ads includes the creation of new ads for the specified platform you are posting on, which in this case would be TikTok. It is best to avoid reusing content from other platforms due to the different aesthetics and use of each social platform. Second, when creating your in-feed ad, be creative but stay within the TikTok aesthetic, make sure it is not out of line with the kind of content typically created. Lastly, consider using influencers for in-feed ads, it helps to create a more organic approach when aiming for a specific audience. The use of influencers also helps with the use of trends by them to better align with campaign objectives. In-feed ads made to look organic, are best suited to achieve optimal results. 

These are the fundamental features and best practices for brands to achieve success on TikTok. It is a trendsetting app that has already eclipsed 2 billion downloads since March of 2020. It is a space that brands should definitely begin exploring as a viable addition to their digital marketing campaigns as it is here to stay and is changing the digital landscape as we know it.