From its inception in September 2017, TikTok has taken over the digital world as the number one social media platform to share short-form mobile videos with 2.5 million Australian users in 2021. Through TikTok’s intricate algorithms, users are presented with a feed of videos that are tailored to their personal preferences and interests Ð making the platform highly engaging and truly difficult to stop scrolling.
Tik-Tok’s mission is to inspire creativity and bring joy.
Businesses and brands have now too jumped on the Tik-Tok marketing bandwagon. Due to the unique nature of TikTok, brands need to understand how the platform works and how it differs to social-media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook.
So how can we ensure that we are making the most of this Gen-Z social media gold?
In this post we will provide 5 tips for your brands TikTok marketing strategy and why these tips are so important for success and ultimately profitability on TikTok in 2021.
1. Understand the Tik-Tok algorithm
The TikTok algorithm is intricate and differs greatly from other social media platforms such as Instagram. TikTok curates a personalised for you page (FYP) for each user through a recommendation system that ensures that content is highly relevant. The recommendation system draws insights from the users’:
- Followed accounts
- Hidden creators
- Liked and shared videos
- Favourited videos
- Disliked videos
- Reported videos
- Video completion rate
- Content the user creates themselves.
Additionally, the algorithm compiles information from the device and account settings to find the user’s language, country setting, type of mobile device and categories of interest selected by the user upon downloading the app. Video information is also used such as what captions, sounds, hashtags, effects, and topics are searched in the discover tab.
Unlike Instagram and Facebook, TikTok does not boost posts with high levels of engagement, and hence, the algorithm creates a fair playing field. Therefore, a user is likely to see content from both small creators, and mega influencers on their feed, the only criteria is that their content aligns with the user’s interests.
2. Connect with the right audience: find your subculture
The TikTok algorithm curates a personalised feed for each user dependant on their likes and dislikes. Therefore, it is even more vital that a brand’s TikTok marketing strategy is carefully thought out and is efficiently targeting a specific audience. Luckily, TikTok is abundant with prominent, yet niche, subcultures of which are considered Gen-Z’s target markets.
Subcultures on TikTok are strong, cult-like communities of people who have beliefs or ideas that differ from mainstream culture. Brands can utilise these strong subcultures through targeting them through their marketing strategy. Some examples of prominent subcultures in the Tik-Tok community are:
Fashion Tok embraces creativity and individualism. The subculture frequently reviews latest drops from fashion labels, posts styling videos and collections of latest fashion purchases. @whatverowears is a prominent influencer in this category, with her outfit of the day post displayed below.
FitTok is the ultimate motivator, a community of likeminded individuals who share their ups, and their downs in their fitness journey. Exercise tutorials, recipes, and transformation stories are common posts in the FitTok community that gain high traction.
Dark academia values learning and literature, particularly of the likes of Harry Potter and Edgar Allan Poe. Fashion such as tweed blazers, the colour brown, wool jumpers, and loafers are all staples of the dark academia aesthetic. Book reviews, fan casting, and Òguess my Hogwarts house are all part of the Dark Academia world.
To tap into these subcultures, certain tools such as hashtags in captions can be used to directly target the desired audience i.e., #FashionTok. This allows the TikTok algorithm to feed a brands’ posts directly to those users who have previously engaged with #FashionTok posts.
3. Collaborate with influencers
In addition to targeting subcultures, a highly effective TikTok marketing strategy is collaborating with influencers. This strategy allows a brand to strengthen their targeting by aligning the brand with an influencer of choice. Influencers on TikTok are often linked to a particular subculture group, and therefore influencer marketing can strengthen the brands association with that subculture.
TikTok influencer marketing done well is:
- Allows the creator to have creative freedom over their posting
- Always discloses the sponsorship
- Has a clear campaign goal in mind i.e., increase brand awareness, or encourage users to download app.
As TikTok grows and becomes more refined, brands will have ability to track direct insights into the performance of their influencer marketing.
An example of an extremely effective influencer marketing strategy on TikTok is Dunkin Donuts’ collaboration with teen superstar Charli D’Amelio. Dunkin’ was quick to notice the TikTok star’s love for the brand and used this to create an authentic partnership. Dunkin’ now sells ‘The Charli’ which is a cold-brew drink created by Charli that can only be purchased through the Dunkin’ app. The day after the campaign launched, cold brew sales in the US were boosted by 45%.
In addition to The Charli Dunkin’ campaign, Charli frequently casually features Dunkin products in her everyday videos such as transition posts and dances. Dunkin also gifted Charli with merch for her birthday as pictured below.
The success of the campaign is attributed to the authenticity of the partnership. Generation Z notoriously hate marketing, and therefore creating a campaign that does not feel like marketing is the key. Dunkin’ has managed to achieve non-marketing marketing through Charli’s Ôcasual’ showcase of their products in her posts.
Therefore, whether the influencer is as big as Charli D’Amelio, or a local micro-influencer, influencer marketing in Tik-Tok is a practice brands should be adapting in 2021.
4. Be authentic and show the brands personality
With the decline of traditional marketing, and the rise of trust in earned media sources such as recommendations from family and friends (Weber, 2019), it is essential that brand owned TikTok posts have a strong feeling of authenticity and credibility.
TikTok’s spirit is fun, authentic, and honest, and therefore brands need to ensure that their posts also fit this environment. TikTok is unstructured compared to Instagram and Facebook, with the TikTok algorithm feeding viewers videos they can relate to. TikTok users are not on the app to be sold to, and therefore video’s that don’t look like they have been professional filmed typically do better.
UK Fashion brand ASOS has created an authentic personality online through its TikTok presence. In the post below, ASOS models were asked to describe their summer in 3 words or less. Many of the models used phrases such as having fun, having no regrets, adventure, and good vibes. This post strengthens ASOS’s brand image as a fun, youthful, diverse, and creative brand in an authentic and unstructured way.
Therefore, we have 3 tips to create more authentic posts:
- Post a behind the scenes. This allows the viewer to get insight into the brands personality beyond its products.
- Film using an iPhone this reminds the viewer that they are interacting with fellow humans.
- Use Tik-Tok’s live function, to show viewers unedited content. This also allows viewers to interact with the brand using the chat function.
5. Identify and adapt to trends
Due to the fast-paced nature of TikTok, trends are coming and going within days. It is therefore essential for brands to keep on top of trends, as these posts are more likely to be filtered through as Ôrelevant’ in the TikTok algorithm. From a viewer perspective, it is also a way of keeping brand content new, fresh, and therefore highly engaging.
Simply scrolling on TikTok feeds daily will give you an idea of which trends are prominent. It is important to keep on top of these trends to ensure brand content is staying up to date. Incorporate a dance trend or a transition trend to boost content relevancy.
Below pictured is fashion brand Princess Polly using the ‘Lets Groove Tonight’ dance challenge to promote their new spring collection. Additionally pictured is fashion brand Pretty Little Thing incorporating humorous trends in their posts to seamlessly blend into their target markets for you page.
Therefore, through knowing how the TikTok algorithm operates, and how it differs from traditional platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, your brand can achieve successful marketing on TikTok.