Since the start of quarantine, TikTok has amassed 2 billion downloads on the app store and has become the most downloaded app worldwide in 2020, as people looked for new ways to entertain themselves and stay connected with others.
Initially, TikTok was looked at as simply an entertaining app for Gen Z to share dances and prank videos. Then, early adopters like Chipotle started harnessing the power of the app in 2019 — running hashtag challenges like #ChipotleLidFlip that led to the brand’s highest digital sales day.
Now, nearly half of all brands and creators plan to increase their presence on TikTok. If you’re not already planning to invest in TikTok this year, here’s why you should.
1. TikTok creates a new immersive sales funnel
By the end of 2020, TikTok indicated that it’s further investing in social commerce by introducing several new features for marketers.
Most notably, TikTok partnered with Shopify to allow merchants to create, run, and optimize their TikTok marketing campaigns directly from Shopify’s dashboard. With the partnership, Shopify merchants gain access to the key functions from the TikTok For Business Ads Manager, allowing them to easily target audiences and seamlessly create content that turns their products into in-feed video ads.
But that’s not all. TikTok also launched “Learn Lab” — a menu tab dedicated to pulling together instructional content like tutorials — optimizing the platform for ecommerce with popular staple trends, such as “how-to” and shopping guide videos. In December, the company also partnered with Walmart on shoppable livestreaming.
Users have also quickly embraced the app as a shopping channel (need I mention the “TikTok made me buy it” trend?) and are eager to discover new products. It’s become common for products that go viral on TikTok to sell out both online and in stores.
Needless to say, building a presence on TikTok and leveraging its new commerce features opens up a new and engaging sales channel for brands.
2. TikTok sets you up for virality
Unlike any other social platform, metrics like follower count, previous views, and engagement rate have no effect on the potential of a video going viral. According to TikTok, “The system recommends content by ranking videos based on a combination of factors — starting from interests you express as a new user and adjusting for things you indicate you’re not interested in, too.”
These factors include things like:
- User interactions, such as videos you like and share, accounts you follow, comments you post, and the content you create
- Video information, including details like captions, sounds, and hashtags
- Device and account settings, like language preferences, country setting, and device type
However, it’s not that simple. These factors are individually weighted by TikTok’s “For You” recommendation system, meaning that each “For You” page is completely unique to the individual user and their interests.
And while a video is likely to receive more views if posted by an account that has more followers (by virtue of having a larger follower base), TikTok says that “neither follower count nor whether the account has had previous high-performing videos are direct factors in the recommendation system.” This means that anyone can create a viral video, regardless of follower count or previous experiences.
While there is no exact formula for virality, here are some tips that will help your video make an impact:
- Hashtags: Hashtags are a great way to find your niche. Go beyond the typical #fyp, #foryou, or #foryoupage hashtags. Tap on the Discover tab to find trending hashtags, or type one in to find how it’s performing. Look out for the 🔥 icons next to the hashtags and incorporate the hashtag into your caption, if the content aligns.
- Songs and sounds: Using a trending song or sound at the right time can mean a quick bump in likes and views. You can discover trending sounds in TikTok’s video editor. Better yet, leverage the Analytics tab if you have a TikTok Pro account — this feature will allow you to quickly find sounds your audience has listened to over the last 7 days!
- Audience activity: TikTok Pro accounts have access to some great audience analytics, including when your audience is most active. This will give you some insights into what time you should post to garner the most engagement.
- Video content and editing: While it’s still a mystery as to what kind of content the algorithm favors, there’s a theory that TikToks with a seamless loop can potentially be a trigger for the platform. These are the videos audiences watch several times in a row, meaning that it’s really grabbing their attention.
3. Brands can reach new audiences
When TikTok first started taking off, it became widely known as the lip-syncing and dancing app dominated by Gen Zers. However, its userbase has expanded way beyond Gen Z since the start of quarantine. According to Comscore:
Percentage of US based TikTok users
- Ages 10-19: 32.5%
- Ages 20-29: 29.5%
- Ages 30-39: 16.4%
- Ages 40-49: 13.9%
- Ages 50+: 7.1%
This data shows that users on TikTok are aging up, giving brands the opportunity to connect with new audiences in various age demographics.
Additionally, there are thousands of niches that exist on TikTok. There’s bound to be at least one that your brand can resonate with.
For instance, TikTok’s unique algorithm could take you to “FitTok,” which may include workout videos and fitness tips, or “FoodTok,” which could entail cooking and baking videos. Within those niches, there’s even more specific communities — like “LiftTok” and “RunTok” among “FitTok” and “BreadTok” and “SnackTok'' among “FoodTok.” These hyper-focused niches allow brands to work with creators and reach audiences who are really passionate about their interests, hobbies, and the like.
4. TikTok opens up a new ad channel
TikTok’s algorithm also pertains to the ads — and who doesn’t want to run a viral ad?
TikTok has a whole slew of ad features that brands can use to engage users on the app. Paid TikTok ads include:
- Pre-roll ads: These are videos that starts as soon as users open the app
- In-feed ads: These appear in between videos as users scroll down their feeds
- Promoted hashtag challenges: These videos encourage users to submit their own content using a custom branded hashtag
- Branded effects: These are custom AR filters for TikTok creators to use in videos — similar to those on Snapchat and Instagram
Brands have seen mind blowing results from their TikTok campaigns. Peace Out Skincare grew its sales by 4x in 24 hours and sold 15,000 units of its pore strips after working with influencer Kaelyn White and TikTok’s biggest ‘skinfluencer’ Hyram Yarbro. Simmons ran a Branded Hashtag Challenge called #Snoozzzapalooza that inspired 1.1 million TikTok users to participate, garnered a whopping 6.3 billion views, and spurred a +107% increase in traffic to Simmons.com week over week. The list goes on.
5. Brands can capture creative UGC
One of the biggest perks of running a TikTok campaign is the amount of creative user-generated content (UGC) brands can source. Campaigns like hashtag challenges can round up TikTok’s community to tell authentic, engaging stories around the brand. By doing so, brands can start trends that lead to tons of user participation and add a human element to its marketing content. Plus, it allows brands to participate in cultural zeitgeists and be a part of the latest and greatest trends.
For instance, E.l.f. Cosmetics launched its #EyesLipsFace hashtag challenge paired with an original song, which resulted in 6 billion views, 5 million user-generated videos, and even a top spot on Spotify’s Global Viral Charts.
All aboard the TikTok train
If you’re not already on TikTok, hop on the bandwagon now! TikTok’s unique algorithm and fast-moving trends, paired with its creative ad offerings and growing user base can all impact your business in transformative ways.