written by Abby Avery
how-brands-can-use-tiktok
How to use TikTok for your Business

 

What is TikTok

You may have heard this term a few times now but you’re not fully aware of what it is. Well, TikTok is the new social media platform on the block, and it’s not one to be ignored. Over the years, social media has been evolving, with the focus moving to visual imagery thanks to the likes of Instagram, and then to short video content thanks to SnapChat. TikTok blends the two and is a video sharing app, founded in 2017,  that allows you to publically share videos that are usually music or entertainment based. Unlike our other favourite social media apps, TikTok was formed by a Chinese company and has huge international reach. As of 2018, it was available in over 150 markets and 75 languages.

In November 2017, TikTok’s parent company bought out the lip syncing app, musical.ly and they merged together almost a year later, consolidating their data and features under the TikTok brand. In the first half of 2018, TikTok was downloaded over 104 million times from Apple’s App store and surpassed Facebook, YouTube and Instagram to become the world’s most downloaded app during that period. 

What makes TikTok different

TikTok is a fresh new platform that offers something different from our usual social media platforms and is very relevant to current culture. We’ve all gotten pretty used to the similar features that are now consistently available across Instagram, Facebook and SnapChat, but TikTok doesn’t follow suit. It’s become the place where content is created and then shared across the web and across platforms, appearing in our NewsFeeds and messaging apps. The closest example to TikTok would be Vine (RIP).

 

So, what can you do on TikTok? 

Thanks to its merger with musical.ly, TikTok is often described as a lip-syncing app, but in reality, it is so much more. Users film themselves lip-syncing or acting something out, for up to 15 seconds. TikTok has a huge database of music, soundbites and effects to add to videos, which is perfect for creating video memes and viral trends. Sharing and collaborating is a major feature of TikTok, but not quite as we know it. Users can create a duet with someone by replying to their video which will create a split screen and allow you to film a video alongside theirs, thus creating an endless chain of reactions. 

 

Who uses TikTok?

In total, TikTok was downloaded 660 million times in 2018 across Apple and Google’s stores with the majority of downloads on Android devices rather than Apple. 43% of users are from India, where the app has been downloaded 240 million times. Including musical.ly, the app has been downloaded 200 million times in the US. Two thirds of TIkTok’s users are under 30 years old, with 62% being aged between 16 and 24. When thinking about your business, consider who your target market is and whether they are likely to be using TikTok. If your business targets Gen Z and/or young Millenials, then TikTok could be the perfect platform for you.

 

How your brand can use TikTok

Challenges on TikTok form a fundamental part of its structure and are a great way to get involved and get you started on the platform. A collaboration with Jimmy Fallon created the start of the #TumbleWeedChallenge which had 9 million views and resulted in 8,000 videos using the tag in just one week. Being creative and light-hearted is key here while sticking to your brand values and personality. Incorporating your products into a challenge or trend is a great way to be seen. TikTok is, afterall, a place where people go to be entertained. Videos are often silly for the sake of being silly, they may not even make sense, but they provide entertainment. Be sure this suits your brand’s tone of voice before adding this platform to your social media strategy.

 

 

There are a number of brands already using TikTok, including Nike, Fenty Beauty and Apple Music. Guess was the first fashion brand to adopt the app, partnering with TikTok and starting the branded hashtag #InMyDenim, which challenged users to show how their Guess clothing transforms their look. 

Whilst a lot of your content may be duplicated across all of your social media platforms, some brands save something a little different for TikTok. The NBA  usually save their social media channels for sharing game highlights, however on TikTok, they show a lighter side to their brand with behind the scenes footage, videos of their players working out to dramatic music and video adventures of their Mascots. 

The Washington Post is another company who would usually share serious content and news stories on their social channels, but post behind-the-scenes office antics and funny conversations on TIkTok instead.

 

 

Chipotle have done a great job using the app to increase awareness of their brand and menu items by posting videos against music or relating to popular memes. On National Avocado Day, they shared a great meme reference by posting the Guacamole song with the caption “TFW guac is free.” and the hashtag #GuacDance. This sparked a #GuagDance challenge where users danced, mimicking the video. It became the highest rated branded challenge to date. 

Especially when compared to the other big social media platforms, TikTok is a relatively untapped space for brands. It is not yet saturated with ads and branded content. It’s a place for content creators. So, if your social media strategy is focused on video content for Millenials and Gen Z,and you have room for humour in your brand, TikTok may just be the opportunity that you’re missing out on.