How to create high performing ad strategies for TikTok

Reading Time: 5 mins

Our founder and CEO, Olly Hudson, sat down with #paid to discuss all things TikTok growth. Trust me, if you have a brand or creator that's trying to nail down a high-performing TikTok ad strategy, you’re going to want to listen to the full interview here. For any of you that might not have the time to do that, I’m going to boil down some of the key insights for you now. Strap in for some juicy little knowledge nuggets. 

So why the focus on TikTok?

When TikTok was finding its feet as a platform, it was hard not to notice the potential holds. Everyone has the same chance of going viral on TikTok. For example, musicians. If their music is involved in a viral TikTok trend it can propel them into stardom, their song can take on a form of its own, as it evolves with other current trends. Imagine this, but for your brand, off the back of the content that you produce. There’s an incredible amount of attention for your content to be put in front of. There's massive potential for exponential growth at the launch of your product or brand if you follow some of the following tips.

What are some of the first questions that we ask clients who want to advertise on TikTok?

First of all, do you have content available? We’ve noticed that what a lot of brands try to do is take what they are doing on Instagram and apply it directly to TikTok. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work. TikTok is a completely unique platform, which means that the content you produce needs to be tailored to TikTok specifically. 

What content works best on TikTok?

Authentic content, as well as content that drives engagement, you really want to try and push videos that encourage the audience to comment, watch the whole video, and share (we’ll go into some tactics for this later in the article). These are some key metrics that the algorithm analyses and then uses to decide whether to push your content out to a further audience. 

“You need to know what you want your TikTok community to be and what you want them to stand for - then mash the two together”

Is it important to test organic concepts before moving on to a paid strategy?

Of course. You need to make sure you have a solid organic concept that performs well before you begin to scale using a paid strategy. We find that a lot of organic content that gets the best results translates into super-strong paid performance. You need to find an ad that has performed really well, pull it apart, and create iterations of it to further test. 

What iterations should you test to find out what's working?

Usually what you will find is that certain hooks, certain angles, or certain creators will work best for specific brands. Once we’ve found out what works best we usually ask creators to produce videos of varied styles. For example, one might be an unboxing. One may be an ‘us vs them’ concept. Once successful content angles have been established, you need to get a little more granular with it, and test things like the font style or audio. Your angle and your hook are the most important aspects to tweak before moving on to the smaller changes and really optimising those ads. 

What angles work best?

With TikTok, there isn't a one-size-fits-all. We have found that some brands thrive using behind-the-scenes, story-based content which shows the real authenticity of the brand. However, others benefit more from traditional user-generated content like unboxing videos. Testing angles is the biggest variable you want to experiment with. You need to understand what works well with your specific audience and tailor content to them. 

Why is the hook so important?

Attention spans on TikTok are notoriously short given the relentless feed of video you are provided with on your for you page. It’s so easy to scroll past and never see the ad again. This is why the first 1-2 seconds of the video is the most important. You need that scroll-stopping hook that's going to make your audience pay attention to what you have to say. If you can work out how to stop those thumbs, you’re one step closer to having effective ads that will engage your audience and lead to conversions. 

What’s the best duration for an ad?

Should an ad always be kept to 10-15 seconds? Not necessarily. We have had longer ones that have worked, the tough part is keeping the audience engaged for longer periods of time. You need to take the audience on a journey, push a narrative that hooks them in and keep those eyeballs on screens. Our data suggests that around 21-34 seconds seems to be the optimal range as long as the content you have after the hook is consistent and entertaining (entertainment is key overall).

Does one size fit all?

No. No creative framework will work perfectly for everyone that uses it. No ad set set up will work perfectly for everyone that uses it. You need to test. Test using the framework for fundamental best practices and find out what performs with your brand, then home in and test it some more. It’s only through consistent testing that you will work out what truly works best for your individual client's needs. 

How long should we test?

The time taken for testing really does depend on your starting point. If you are a new client and come to us with no creative yet then we would need to go through organic strategy, then through creative, and then through to paid testing - which all takes time. We always push for 30-60 days as this allows for a 3-4 week creative production lead time. But on the flip side of this, we’ve worked with brands who throw something up and it’s just popped right away. It does tend to work on a case-to-case basis, depending on what assets are already available.

How do you drive engagement?

The videos which end up performing the best are sometimes the ones that you least expect. Our Co-founder is running a biohacking, organic page, posting images with a moving background and he’s managed to pull in a substantial amount of sign-ups in a month. One of his videos got 1.9 million views - and it’s a video on the implications of mouth breathing. People got involved in the comments to tell him about how outrageous the post was. It’s the absurdity factor that made perform so well. That can be an incredibly effective tactic to take with organic ads. Be brash. Don’t be afraid to be divisive. It will pay off dividends with the amount of engagement it brings. Even more so, can you find a way to gamify the platform to further drive engagement?

Top secret tip: See if spelling things incorrectly on purpose works. People are so keen to get in the comments to let you know you have made a mistake. And what does that do? Drive engagement. 

Want a longer watch time? Use interesting information, people want to learn. 

There are actually some really intuitive techniques to ‘hack’ the watch time. If you put too much text on the screen to be able to read on the first time around, it then forces the audience to go back and re-watch. We’ve seen some brands put up a discount code for 0.1 seconds so you have to scroll back in the video to find where it was, further driving that watch time, signaling to TikTok that people are loving the video so let's show it to more people. 

Make it shareable. This can be a difficult one to crack but if you can do this then you’ve cracked marketing. One person shares with 10 people, they then share with another 10 and it snowballs. 

If you want to learn more about the power of TikTok you can book a call with one of our lovely team to walk you through it. Here’s a link to Joe, Dom, or Freddie calendar to book!

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