**Author’s note: We are closely following the ongoing controversy surrounding social media giant TikTok and should any relevant developments occur, we’ll be sure to update this post.
Glance over the shoulder of nearly any teenager on a cell phone today and you’ll likely see the same app: TikTok. This video-sharing platform has taken the world by storm, especially over the past year.
TikTok is a video creation platform on which users create funny, engaging and simply plain entertaining shareable videos. The videos themselves cannot be longer than 60 seconds or shorter than 1 second.
Today, the app has over 800 million active users across 154 countries and the app has been downloaded over 2 billion times in the App Store or Google Play. There are over 1 million video views on the platform each day.
The sheer volume of users on TikTok makes it an undeniable marketing opportunity for businesses and eCommerce websites. It is considered a breakthrough app that has the potential to get new eyes on your brand that you didn’t think were possible.
Despite being a relatively new app to the marketplace, TikTok has already established itself as a force in digital marketing. According to an online research project, TikTok already has the highest engagement rate of any social media platform across 100,000 user profiles, even over Twitter and Instagram.
For example, if you’re an influencer with fewer than 10,000 followers, your engagement on Instagram is around 3.7 percent, your engagement on Twitter is around .3 percent and your engagement on TikTok is 8.13 percent. That’s a significantly higher percentage that companies should consider when crafting a digital marketing strategy.
Today, there is no way for a brand to reach an audience faster than through TikTok. Not only is it one of the most downloaded apps on the internet right now, it isn’t showing any signs of stopping. In fact, TikTok has been able to reach the same number of monthly users in 3 years that Instagram did in 6 years.
The app is available in 155 countries and available in 75 different languages. Right now, the average user spends 55 minutes on the app per day, and 90 percent of users use it every day.
The numbers surrounding the success of TikTok don’t lie, and it’s a no-brainer for brands who want to grow their audience. eCommerce brands particularly can use the app to show off their product in a natural, realistic and creative way.
Tik Tok revolves around the ability to portray creativity, knowledge, and to help capture life’s most precious moments. Tying your brand into relevant TikTok trends and themes is a new and exciting way to connect with a huge number of people. Not to mention it’s an important way to gain valuable insight into the way that Gen Z consumes content.
Think back to 2005 when Facebook just came onto the market and caused massive disruption. Brands who adjust the best to emerging digital trends are typically the most successful in the long run, so make sure your eCommerce brand is ahead of the curve.
This low barrier to entry is an appealing ‘in’ for brands who want to explore a new platform that appeals to future generations.
The audience on TikTok skews young, as 41 percent of users are between the ages of 16 and 24. The US alone has 26.2 million monthly active subscribers. Males account for roughly 56 percent of users and 44 percent are females.
Keep in mind that Facebook initially skewed young when it hit the market in 2005. That demographic has shifted to a wider age range. It’s possible that TikTok will follow a similar trend.
Despite the app still working out its kinks in terms of advertising, many different companies and organizations have already tapped into TikTok to help strengthen their brand.
Mexican restaurant chain Chipotle has racked up 1.3 million followers and 21.3 million likes on their TikTok profile. The chain posts memes, music, and other creative tactics to promote menu items.
Chipotle also taps into national holidays that relate to their brand such as National Avocado Day. On this day, they posted The Guacamole Song’s music video with an accompanying caption of “TFW guac is free. Online/in-app only 7/31 Terms: chip.tl/avoday.”
This post led to a #GuacDance Challenge that was the highest-performing branded challenge yet. Implementing popular songs, memes and pop culture references into their videos helps appeal to their target demographic.
eCommerce brands can take a note from Chipotle’s book and start a challenge of their own to gain traction and popularity. Doing so can expose people who wouldn’t normally know of your brand to become intrigued and participate in the challenge.
The NBA’s TikTok account boasts an impressive 11.8 million followers and 254.1 million likes. Common videos feature game highlights, musical montages and inspiring quotes to appeal to their audience.
The NBA’s Instagram account is dedicated to showing the brand’s more serious side, focusing on specific games, league updates, and other newsworthy information fans need to know. Their TikTok shows more of its playful and lighthearted side by showing content.
This is a smart branding angle for the NBA to help make it a more well-rounded, wholesome and relatable organization. Their TikTok content, such as motivational speeches or mascot montages, shows off a more personal side.
Showing off a more relatable side can help attract viewers and fans who may not have cared about a team or a player otherwise.
If you’re like most people, when you think of agricultural development, you don’t think of TikTok. However, the United Nations IFAD TikTok account has more traction than you’d expect with 14.4K followers and 90.9K likes.
As a whole, the group is fighting world hunger and promoting rural agriculture, using TikTok as a platform to help bring awareness to their new causes. Rather than posting funny or quirky videos on their account, IFAD takes the angle of creating educational and informative videos to encourage users to be the positive change in the world.
For example, scroll through their TikTok profile to see short films of farmers around the world to help viewers understand the process of agriculture and what they can do to help.
They also launched the #dancefordance challenge to encourage followers to film themselves dancing to help spread awareness about world hunger. Although it may not feel natural to make videos and challenges surrounding such a serious topic, doing so can help spread awareness.
The group itself is a prime example of how any type of business or company can use TikTok to their advantage, even the unexpected ones.
One of the earliest brands that jumped on the TikTok bandwagon is The Washington Post. To date, their profile has 651K followers and 25.9 million likes. As one of the most respected and well-known news sources in the country, you may expect serious content from the Washington Post’s TikTok account.
In reality, their account features comedic videos that feature content from behind the scenes in the newsroom. For example, in one video, they highlight a slip-up that Sen. Kamala Harris made during a debate.
The Washington Post isn’t trying to gain trust through TikTok as they know that is not the platform to do so. As they are already a trusted news source, they lean into the lighthearted, pop-culture-focused side of the platform to strengthen their connection with a new group of followers.
Showing the players involved in real, hard-hitting journalism in a more approachable light can help younger viewers become more interested in politics. If your brand revolves around academia or other similar industries, try showing a lighter side on your TikTok profile.
Guess is a clothing brand that currently has 48K followers and 140K likes. Although they are relatively new to TikTok, Guess was the first brand on the platform to launch a challenge.
Soon after TikTok launched, they partnered with Guess for the #InMyDenim challenge that encouraged fans to post interesting videos of them dancing in Guess’ new denim line. The responses showed thousands of creative and innovative submissions.
Guess, although still figuring out the best way to connect with their audience on TikTok, is an inspiring example of a brand that is using TikTok to help promote their unique clothing items and lines. Incorporating a challenge can help attract new customers.
Your product worn by real people in everyday life can inspire some else to make a purchase, too.
A zoo on TikTok? Yes, you got that right. The San Diego Zoo is combining two things that people can’t seem to get enough of: cute animals and TikTok. To date, their profile has 1.7 million followers and 19.1 million likes.
The San Diego Zoo doesn’t overthink the type of content that their audience wants to see. They combine cute animals with fun, engaging music. From meerkats to penguins, the account prompts popular exhibits and updates.
If you’re able to identify a platform that suits your business well, take the opportunity and run with it just as they did at the San Diego Zoo.
NBC has a Snapchat show called Stay Tuned that is now producing content on TikTok as well. The account has 699K followers and 25.7 million likes, featuring content that shows viewers fast news updates and behind-the-scenes footage. Most featured topics revolve around interesting events and pop culture.
For example, a man was taking a nap by his pool only to be startled by a bear saying hello. They also feature updates on complicated topics such as AI, or artificial intelligence.
Similar to The Washington Post’s TikTok account, ABC’s Stay Tuned account produces lighter content with more personality and flare compared to the content that they push out regularly. This marketing strategy can help attract entertainers, academics or even bloggers who want to post more about relevant news updates.
Advertising on TikTok is still a relatively new phenomenon that is still being explored. There are predetermined formats that brands must advertise through on TikTok, including hashtag challenges, biddable ads, brand takeovers and branded lenses.
Hashtag challenges revolve around brands getting their followers to use a sponsored hashtag to help generate buzz and revenue. It’s an example of user-generated content (UGC) in which users can shop for products associated with the hashtag.
The best part? Users don’t have to leave the app in order to make a purchase. Particular “creators” who are established on the platform and have a large following can help promote your particular product or brand.
Any associated products with the hashtag can easily be found through a separate pop-up tab within the app, making the buying process a breeze for users.
For example, US grocery chain Kroger was the first company to utilize the hashtag feature on the app. They rolled out the #TransformUrDorm challenge that prompted users to post before and after videos of their college dorm. After, they were invited to purchase items through Kroger such as a toaster or microwave through the TikTok app.
To further draw attention to their challenge, Kroger partnered with four TikTok innovators to post videos for the hashtag.
Another option for eCommerce brands who want to start advertising on TikTok is biddable ads. The current ad unit that’s available on TikTok is in-stream video. As users scroll through their feeds, they may be introduced to in-stream video ads. The idea is that users can consume ads in a way that doesn’t completely disrupt their experience.
Biddable ad models on TikTok include:
Targeting options are also available on TikTok, allowing advertisers to both include and exclude based on age, gender and location.
Have you ever opened up the TikTok app to immediately see an advertisement appear on your screen? This tactic is referred to as a brand takeover. The user will immediately be taken to a different page; either to the page of another TikTok profile or to an external web page.
These takeover ads are currently limited to one advertiser per day.
The final way to advertise on TikTok is through a branded lens. Just as there are alternative reality (AR) filters in Snapchat and Instagram, TikTok is following suit. Brands can come to life through 3D stickers and transformative face filters.
Branded lenses are an especially powerful tactic to increase engagement because so many users are intrigued by how your lens will transform them.
Some brands may feel the pressure to be too creative or may not feel as though TikTok is the correct platform to suit their digital marketing needs. In reality, TikTok is an incredible platform that all types of brands can benefit from.
If you don’t feel like your debut TikTok video is within the mold, that’s okay. TikTok is still a young app that is growing and learning with its users. It’s a platform that rewards risk takers and can take your brand to places you didn’t think were possible.
More traditional social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are still beneficial, but they don’t encourage the same creative liberties.
Commenting, liking, sharing and following are some of the most important actions you can take on your TikTok brand profile. Engagement, regardless of how many followers you have, is an integral part of how the app works, as it feeds off of audience reactions and stimulates emotions.
The relationship between advertisers and humans who are consuming the ads is becoming closely intertwined, especially on an app such as TikTok. Utilize this unique opportunity to create a lasting connection with your audience in a highly personable way.
If you feel apprehensive about how to integrate your business goals with TikTok, know that you have nothing to lose by creating a profile. Sometimes, the hardest part of a new digital marketing tactic is simply starting.
TikTok can be a great tool to get in touch with your younger audience that you didn’t know was there. Or maybe it’s a way to stick out from your competition who have yet to get started on the platform.
Businesses shouldn’t feel intimidated about creating content for TikTok because the platform is still so new and other brands are still understanding how to best implement TikTok into their digital marketing strategies.
As many brands have already established themselves as a force on TikTok, keep in mind the following takeaways when building your brand’s TikTok account.
As you can see TikTok has been an incredibly fast-growing platform that, if all things remain as-is and TikTok’s fate remains stable for businesses looking to leverage their brands, it can become an impactful part of your own digital marketing strategy. If you need an extra hand in better understanding everything that TikTok has to offer and how it can benefit your business, we’d be happy to help.
We’re excited about chatting with you to see how we can take your eCommerce business to new heights. Feel free to reach out to us at Catapult Revenue to get started.
Ivan is Catapult Revenue’s co-founder and production director, spearheading all of the agency’s design, development and digital marketing efforts.
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