By Amine Bentahar
Advertising has always been about finding customers where they are at and reaching them through platforms they are already spending time on. Increasingly for young people, one of these platforms is TikTok, which is a top-ranked app in more than 40 countries and has more than 26 million active monthly users in the U.S. alone.
TikTok is a short-form mobile app that allows users to upload their own videos in raw, unedited form. It is not geared toward personal connections or friend circles, but simply points you in the direction of what is popular. While other social networks have seen criticism that content is curated and does not represent real life, TikTok is all about creating a window into someone’s life, without the filters.
Why does this matter to brands? Advertising on TikTok the right way is hugely important for brands, especially if you are trying to reach younger consumers. At our agency, we have tested this channel with some of our clients who are targeting an audience that’s very active on the platform, and the results have been amazing.
We utilized a direct buy through TikTok rather than leveraging the self-serve beta feature, which was not available at the time of our campaign. TikTok’s self-serve service is still in beta in the U.S. and will likely stay that way through the end of the year. Advertisers in Canada can expect to see the self-service feature available within the next month, according to our account representatives at TikTok.
Here are some tips we’ve learned about advertising on this platform:
Keep branded content short and engaging.
There is no question that users are engaged with the app: 28.56% of users open TikTok every day, and they typically spend around 46 minutes per day on the app.
Advertisers are always looking for more views, especially in a society where it has become almost a habit to skip or scroll past ads.
Since users quickly swipe through TikTok videos, it’s extremely important to include a catchy hook with branding featured in the first three seconds of the video in order to keep users engaged. Don’t bother with unnecessary captions, since unlike other social platforms, TikTok videos automatically play with sound on. Additionally, although 15 seconds is the max video length, advertisers should strive to keep their videos under 10 seconds to improve video completion rates. Leveraging content creators and popular influencers can be an added way to increase performance.
Earlier this year, Chipotle put out a paid marketing campaign on the app to create the #ChipotleLidFlip challenge, which got more than 100,000 submissions and 230 million views.
In my opinion, the best way to succeed is to blend self-promotion with user engagement. Identify emerging and popular content trends that align with your brand, and integrate them into your challenge concept.
It’s great for brands trying to reach a younger audience.
Two things are true: Young people are increasingly spending their time online on social media platforms rather than traditional websites, and one of the most prominent right now is TikTok. According to research, 41% of active users in the U.S. are between the ages of 16 and 24, making this platform, along with Snapchat, perhaps the premier way to target Gen Z and millennial customers today.
Make sure your approach is authentic.
In its infancy, the app was more focused on growing its user base than advertising to users. Now that the number of users has grown, we have seen the platform be more active in searching for advertising opportunities and ways to integrate ads into the user experience. This means that consumers on TikTok have not been inundated with advertising, and there is a real opportunity to reach them right now.
But as with content on any social channel, authenticity is key. Users don’t want cookie-cutter videos; they want clips that are intriguing and real, and that offer value to their lifestyle. Stay genuine, and don’t turn your videos into overt advertisements. This should lead to higher engagement levels.
As TikTok’s U.S. Director of Marketing said in a Fast Company article, one trend among younger consumers is that they are more willing to engage with businesses and advertisers that are authentic and that they trust.
With an engaged user base and an app that doesn’t have as much advertising competition as other platforms, TikTok can be a great way to reach a young audience today. The app recently released advanced targeting options, such as interest-based and custom audiences, as well as information gathered via pixel data. And its new e-commerce feature allows users to shop for products associated with a sponsored hashtag challenge without ever leaving the app. This continued push to monetize the platform shows TikTok’s commitment to proving value to brands beyond just upper-funnel tactics.
I recommend any brand interested in testing out TikTok as a platform to drive awareness to stay authentic. While TikTok is different from Instagram and other social media channels, the approach should be the same when targeting these younger consumers.