Written by Caroline Stringfellow & edited by Chris Cable

TikTok brand use has grown rapidly in the past few years. The platform acts as an entertaining channel to build relationships between companies and broad audiences in a way consumers accept. It’s not uncommon for people to install ad blockers in their devices or opt to skip ads while streaming or using apps. With TikTok, advertisers can create original, entertaining content that audiences are open to receiving. Big brands have started using it to generate unique content at scale, measure marketing efforts, generate and nurture leads, and help grow brand audiences and awareness. 

The Basics of a Strong Strategy
To reach the broadest audience in the shortest amount of time at low costs, companies can develop an effective strategy using these considerations. Start with your target market, figure out who your audience is, who you should be trying to reach and what their interests are. Once you understand this group, evaluate your objectives, the best tone for your content and what kind of ads will resonate with them. Next, assess your target market to determine how exactly you should use TikTok.

Assessing Your Target Market
Every campaign starts with a target market. Who is your brand’s current audience? Reflect on their interests, behaviors, demographics and social media preferences. TikTok has over a billion monthly users, all of whom are potential followers, users and advocates for your brand. Because that’s a very broad, international audience, the platform has created several tools to help companies target and convert the right niche audiences into consumers. This helps leverage your brand’s tone, content and creators to reach the audiences who are most likely to react and engage with your company. 

TikTok SEO can help focus your hashtags and challenges to make impressions on audiences who will respond, helping you achieve your business objective and campaign goals. The creator marketspace provides ample opportunities to expand your audience by utilizing trending sounds, hashtags and challenges—or create your own. Elf cosmetics is one success story, the brand commissioned Kash Doll to create “Eyes Lips Face,” a song specifically for their TikTok campaign, which has generated over 8.6 billion views. The TikTok community has proven to be heavily influenced by peers, presenting an opportunity to entertain and engage with exponentially large audiences through sounds, stories and stitches. 

Organic TikTok
The purpose of creating content is to form connections, which you can do by developing a brand identity on TikTok that may be slightly different from your style in other spaces. The NBA creates more casual, entertaining content for their TikTok account than other channels, even partnering with some of the platform’s biggest influencers to boost engagement.  

Exactly as you would find a tone to resonate with your audience for a digital or print campaign, find the best tone to use on TikTok. Timing is another important consideration. Ideally, try to post when a trend is relevant to the platform or to the general social climate. Factor in events and interests that are top of mind for your audiences, to increase the engagement viewers will have with your posts and their likelihood of connecting with the content and sharing it with friends. Users who are entertained or informed, or who identify with your brands’ voice will return to your brands’ page for more content in the future and develop brand loyalty. 

Choosing the Best Ad Format
You’re on-board with uploading to TikTok, but not sure what format will click with your audience? Brand Takeovers and In-Feed ads are two effective approaches. Make sure you optimize the one most effective for your specific goal. In-Feed Ads are organic-looking videos appearing on users’ For You Page or native news feed. Full screen versions capture the viewers’ attention, and though these ads are easy to scroll past, they enable interaction through comments, likes and shares. A study by Neuro-Insight reported In-Feed ads achieve a 23% higher detail memory than ads seen on TV. 

Some companies opt to use brand takeovers, which pop up immediately when a user opens the app, displaying a brief video and then switching to in-feed content. These are most effective for creating mass awareness for interested audiences. The algorithm helps drive sales by appearing as videos, gifs and images with clickable links seamlessly taking users to the brand’s TikTok landing page. To launch the “best chicken sandwich ever,” KFC created takeover ads to generate awareness, buzz, and demand for their new item. The campaign reached over 44M viewers, earning a 13.8% CTR to the website where users could order a KFC chicken sandwich, selling out at several locations.

Top View Ads are slightly more subtle versions of brand takeovers, occupying users’ feeds as soon as they open the app, but not covering the entire screen. This format is best for increasing brand awareness and triggering interactions; a recent study proved 71% of users reported TopView ads capture their attention. The strategic algorithm will help your ads find the right audiences, but it shouldn’t be trusted to do all  the work. Be sure to use real audience data and research when setting campaign goals and defining your target to help your campaign earn the maximum reach, engagement and impressions. It’s best to test different types of creative on appropriate targets to learn what resonates and interests them. This will also help generate the appropriate calls to action which will ensure your links, hashtags and sound bites are supporting interactions and driving sales.

Influencer Marketing
Influencers have viral power and their own following, they’ve essentially built a brand themselves and have the power to expand yours. Before connecting with any popular influencer, reassess your goals, budget, timeline, reach and target. Spend time on the app choosing an influencer who aligns with your brand identity. Someone who connects with your target, already has talked about your brand and earns high engagement on their posts would be much more effective than an influencer who has thousands of followers among different audiences. 

Influencer marketing gives you the opportunity to build trust, increase engagement and earn more followers and sales. This strategy is a budget and time-flexible approach to see long-term results. Trust plays an important role in the effectiveness of your influencer marketing campaign. Establishing a strong relationship with the creator you’ve chosen often leads to a successful campaign. TikTok is their language and they understand the best ways to speak to and entertain audiences. Take the time to work with these creators, figure out their passion points and once they feel empowered, give them the creative control.

Influencers add personality to your brand, their dance moves, unboxing videos or trending TikToks see results. Gen Z and Millennial audiences frequent the app the most, but some creators have built mass followings in older audiences through educational, entertaining videos. Don’t shy away from engaging with multiple influencers for a campaign, using stitch features and creating your own challenges.

Taking Over TikTok
In 2022, let us help you break into the TikTok creative space to reach new audiences, build brand awareness and trust, and deepen connections with your target. The platform created a business landscape to make it easier for your brand to effectively reach your business goals. We can hand you the keys to a successful TikTok advertising with a solid strategy built on research and data, monitoring campaign performance and staying flexible. 

In all, it’s the right time to open up your brand to the world of TikTok. Designsensory can help you with growth tools and other in-app functions for scheduling posts, generating relevant hashtags and creating challenges so your brand leaves a lasting impression. For other ideas and recommendations for marketing in emerging spaces, reach out to us for assistance in building your strategy, creating creative content and managing your social campaigns and community.