It’s new, it’s fun, it’s exciting. It’s TikTok. The potential for advertisers is currently unrivalled. The nature of advertising on the platform is VERY different in nature when compared to other means of social media marketing, it allows you to get creative in ways that you might not have been able to do elsewhere. Some people might hold misplaced preconceptions of it being a younger person's app. When in reality, it holds multigenerational appeal for audiences globally. TikTok ranked #1 globally for ad equity. TikTok was 2020’s marketer of the year AND 92% of users globally have taken action after watching a TikTok.
Just in case you needed even more proof that TikTok is an amazing platform, I’m going to run you through some of the key reasons why you should be getting involved and utilise it as a space to advertise your brand.
1. A huge, diverse audience
TikTok currently has over 1 Billion active users. To put that into perspective, Facebook has around 2.9 Billion and YouTube has around 2.5 Billion, these platforms have spent almost 2 decades now growing their user base. TikTok was only established in 2016 and has been growing exponentially ever since, in the last two years it has absolutely exploded.
While 63% of the audience is 29 and under, 37% of the user base is aged 30 and over! Which dispels the myth of TikTok being solely for Gen Z and younger. Although it is important to make ads that are going to appeal to a younger generation you need to take into account that almost 40% of the user base does fall into that older age bracket and should not be forgotten about.
These stats are just to give an idea of the range of people on the app. When advertising on TikTok, you need to try and forget the somewhat outdated idea demographics and instead think about customer mindsets. Mindsets provide a deeper level of understanding in an environment where consumer behaviour can change rapidly. For years, marketers have used age as a key demographic for targeting ads, attributing specific traits and behaviours to these age groups when realistically, the behaviours allocated could apply to anyone of any age. Brands should instead focus on creating content to appeal to how users are feeling and the reasons behind why they use the app if they want their content to really resonate and make an impression with the desired audience.
2. Ad format variety designed to facilitate engagement
When it comes to advertising, variation and change are key to making sure that audiences don’t experience fatigue due to being served the same creative + messaging repeatedly. Constant repetition can lead to boredom, boredom leads to audiences switching off, switching off means less engagement and interest in what you have to say and sell. An unhelpful, unprofitable butterfly effect.
Having said this, let's quickly run through the different ad formats that you can run on TikTok so you can make the decision on what’s right for your brand.
- In-Feed ads
These ads appear in-feed (hence the name) on the For You page. Just like any of the other videos on TikTok, these can easily be skipped if the audience isn’t interested so you need to make sure that your hook is on point to entice them in to watch the rest of the video.
If you are savvy enough, you should be creating ads that don’t feel like ads. TikTok advsises “Don’t make ads, make TikToks”. We’re finding that organic, UGC-style content using creators on the platform is working really well at the moment, you can read more about that here.
If you have ever opened TikTok and been presented with an ad right away, you’ve seen a TopView ad. They’re pretty exclusive and only really viable for bigger brands with big marketing budgets. They’re great for driving mass awareness and direct sales as they can be targeted to the best audiences by using TikTok’s ad manager. 71% of users say that TopView ads grab their attention. Brands need to make sure that they fully utlise this ad space by creating entertaining content that will actually KEEP their attention. Remember, these ads are skippable, like all of the rest of the content on TikTok so it’s important not to waste this space by creating uninteresting ads.
- Branded hashtag challenge
This is a one of kind engagement format that invites the wider TikTok community to engage with your brand. Not only will this build trust but it will generate a tonne of authentic, organic user-generated content. Branded hashtag challenges have a media engagement rate of 17.5%.
- Branded effects
TikTok offers lenses and AR filters that all users can utilise. They’re fun as well as engaging, and now they are offering their space out to brands to create their own and use them in order to advertise on the platform. Features like this are fun for the user as well as being super engaging, allowing the audience to directly interact with your brand in a way that they might not have done before. Not only does it drive great UGC but it breaks down language barriers and allows users to communicate visually.
3. TikTok Creators
Creators know their audiences incredibly well. They can create content that they know audiences will stick around to watch. Audiences resonate more with a Creator than a business which in turn builds trust and leads to a more positive sentiment towards the product or brand that is being advertised. As discussed earlier, making content that doesn’t look like an ad, but instead feels like an organic piece of content is key to keeping eyes on the screen. When people feel like they are being advertised towards, it can put them off. Ads that aren’t engaging, entertaining, or informative will not connect with modern buyers on this platform.
You need to make sure that you are partnering with creators that hold values similar to your brand that will create consistent, authentic content. TikTok users are switched on and savvy so you need to ensure that the ads feel as organic as possible. 90% of consumers say that authenticity is important when deciding what brands to support, according to Stackla.
4. Authentic content always wins
Authentic content seems to be rewarded by audiences on TikTok, so it’s important that you make sure your content appears organic and authentic. Going back to the point made about using creators on TikTok and why you need to collaborate with people that you could see actually using your brand - it makes the content feel real. According to Mintel, content from creators not being believable risks annoying customers and damaging brand sentiment. Consumers are more likely to be aware of inauthenticity, as well as being put off by it. Brands need to make sure that they are collaborating with creators who align with their brand's core values and that they are believable users of the product or service they are promoting.
5. You are advertising to an engaged audience
This will come as a surprise to some, but absolutely not to others. People in the US and the UK spend on average, 60-68 minutes a day on TikTok. People love the app and will spend hours on it a day. TikTok has a wealth of communities which all have their own unique traits and trends. This gives advertisers scope and interests to home in on and create bespoke content which will appeal to these already heavily engaged audiences.
6. Get creative with video strategy
While you can use video on other platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, they tend to lend themselves to static images over video advertisement content. Whereas TikTok video, is a sound on platform. This means that you don’t have to work to get someone to turn their sound on when they’re scrolling the same way that you would do on Facebook. TikTok rewards creativity, which means you can have a lot more fun when creating ads.
7. Anyone can go viral
One of the benefits of TikTok is the way that its algorithm works. They use a content graph, rather than a social graph which is usually favoured by social media platforms. You can read more about that here.
Here is a basic run down of how the algorithm works:
- It takes around 7-10 days for the algorithm to really work you out and personalise your ‘For You’ page.
- Think of the algorithm as a talent show of sorts. You make a video that is then placed in front of an initial panel of people (imagine them as judges).
- The ‘judges’ then cast their votes via engagement - watch time, likes, comments, and shares.
- Based on levels of engagement, TikTok would then decide to promote or bury the post.
- High levels of engagement = post shown to more people.
- Low levels of engagement = post fizzles out and drifts into obscurity.
- If your post passes the initial panel of ‘judges’ it is then shown to exponentially more people where the cycle continues.
- Don’t delete old posts because content can go back into the cycle weeks/months after the initial cycle.
Hopefully, that clears things up as well as provides a deeper understanding of the inner workings of TikTok’s mechanical brain, so you can tailor your content to hit the algorithm just right - boosting your content to the widest audience possible. Therefore increasing brand exposure. High brand awareness and exposure can lead to higher brand equity, meaning that you can charge a premium for what you are selling.
Creating ads based on current trends keeps your content fresh and engaging. It also means that it’s more likely to end up on someone else’s For You page.
8. You can use comments as content angles
One of the great things about communities on TikTok is that they love to be involved as part of the conversation. What’s so good about that? Well, you can go through the comment section of popular videos you put out and search for a few key aspects: Questions people ask, comments with the most likes, comments with a lot of replies are good angles to aim for. They give you an idea of what your audience is most interested in and what drives the most engagement, which is one of the most important aspects of any strategy on TikTok.