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What’s the big deal with TikTok and should brands be paying attention?

By January 9, 2020 No Comments
Tiktok with vegemite

While TikTok launched in 2016, it has only more recently crossed the radar of Australians and is rapidly gaining popularity with younger generations. With millions of active users, should brands be taking note of this platform? Will it be the next Snapchat or Instagram? Only time will tell, but here is the info you need to make an informed decision.

TikTok can be described as a combination of Vine, Twitter and Instagram, made up of 15-second videos, which can be used consecutively to make a video of up to 60 seconds in length. With all the editing and audio features inbuilt, the focus is on making creative and spontaneous videos in the quickest and easiest way possible.

TikTok claims to have over 500 million active monthly users, and its demographic sits strongly with a younger fan base. It is fast moving, and the user experience is relaxed and enjoyable with the focus on authenticity, creativity and comedy.

While the platform is not as saturated as others out there, and brands are jumping on the opportunity to build an audience early while it’s still free, the challenge comes with how do you cut through? A simple endorsement or influencer campaign just won’t cut it.

If you thought the Instagram algorithm was a tough one to crack, TikTok is a whole new ball park. Videos are found through the Following Page (a thread of all the videos from accounts you follow) and the For You Page, which is based on videos that TikTok thinks you want to see.

While a frequently used method to increase your chances of being featured on the For You Page is to hashtag #foryoupage in the caption of your videos, there doesn’t seem to be any way to guarantee your video gets a feature.

So, how can your brand cut through? The platform has recently started exploring paid advertising and now allows you to hyperlink.


There are three main ways a brand can advertise on TikTok:

  1. In-feed native content
  2. Hashtag challenges
  3. Branded lenses and stickers

In-feed native content is a good way to get your brand in front of the audience. However, you’ll need to make every second count if you want this type of advertising to work. Stick within the content that does well in TikTok and you’ll gain eyeballs and attention. You can include a hyperlink within this type of ad and this is also a good way to encourage a hashtag challenge.

Hashtag challenges are arguably the most effective and popular way to engage in marketing on the app. A hashtag challenge done well can see immense success, whether that be through your own brand channel, or by utilising influencers. The hashtag challenge involves creating an easily mimicable video or theme for users to get involved with using your hashtag. This is a good way to gain user-generated content and increase brand awareness.

A brand that has seen great success with the hashtag challenge is Guess with its #inmydenim campaign. The brand has built its own account by using a hashtag challenge and by utilising TikTok creators to make sponsored challenge content. The #inmydenim hashtag challenge now has more than 38.8 million views.

Brand lenses and stickers are similar to what we have already seen on Snapchat and Instagram. They are a fun way to let users subtly interact with your brand, but TikTok is anything but subtle.

Other brands using the platform well include Fenty Beauty and Apple Music.

Fenty Beauty uses a few tactics when it comes to its TikTok account. The brand uses glow up before and afters, influencer content, dance videos and sneak peeks from its office and events to cut through.

Apple Music is making a TikTok name for itself by repurposing existing video content into TikTok format.

If you do decide to create a brand account, make sure you select a pro account to ensure you gain access to analytics. A pro account will show you profile insights including video views, profile views and follower count, content insights including top viewed videos and trending videos and insights into follower demographics.

The key is to be active, work with influencers who align with your brand and create fun and easily replicable content.

This platform is obviously gaining traction, and is worth keeping an eye on. Whether you choose to invest in TikTok will depend on your brand. Are you looking to engage Gen Z with bingeable, memorable videos that build affinity for your brand? If your answer is yes, then it is probably worth exploring what resources it would take to do it effectively, whether this be nominating someone on your team to be your brand’s TikTok superstar, or engaging a TikTok content creator.

But keep this in mind – authentic, entertaining, creative content will be required.

Tiktok credit: @dante_moeller

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