In July 2022 TikTok hit the one billion active user mark worldwide. After its launch in 2017 (for countries outside China) TikTok now exceeds the OG-social media platforms in average time spent on the platforms.
Even though the social media platform is mostly used by GenZ with the intent to entertain through short-form videos like lip-synching or dance battles, companies and brands must become aware of this hidden and underestimated gem for their business’ success – and digital marketing agencies must learn how to accelerate this young social media marketing instrument:
[#section1]1. How TikTok Outperforms Instagram & Co[#section1]
Unlike other social media platforms where familiarity with accounts and previous interaction contribute to visibility, the special algorithm of TikTok enables accounts with zero following to go viral with their content. The “For You Page” on TikTok suggest similar content based on views and likes, the video information such as caption, sounds and hashtags and device account settings, whereas the Explorer Page on Instagram creates additional hurdles for unknown accounts by considering the creator’s virality.
The increase in users, user retention and duration time (TikTok 48.5min vs Instagram 30.1min on average) all paved the ground for the overall highest engagement rate (TikTok 5.96% vs Instagram 0.83%), more exposure, and bigger communities than the other platforms. Social Media Marketing on TikTok thus allows more scalability and efficiency in content creation and management since the algorithm and amount of exposure enables higher chances of success.
However, the restriction to video-content-only makes the process of content creation more time-consuming than other formats and singular compared to Instagram that also offers feed, highlights, shop, and guides. Centralizing most social media marketing efforts around funny, eye-catching, and entertaining video creation, empowers but also forces brands and businesses to be bolder, more creative, and more human in their content creation to get and retain attention. This accelerates the value of personal branding by CEOs and employees to benefit from the better performance of authenticity that leads to more than 50% of TikTok users and creators feel closer to brands - but also the use of Influencer Marketing to benefit from the significant higher engagement rate for Influencers than on Instagram (17.96% vs. 3.86% for the US; 15.86% internationally).
Until now TikTok hasn’t become a substitute for the other platforms but they’re trying which is why TikTok gradually increased their video length from 60 seconds max. up to 10 minutes in the future to improve monetization potentials of creators and to compete with the OG video-content-only platform YouTube. That not only changed the funny and loose environment of the platform by getting authorities like Cambridge University and others to educate their followers but also increased the overall engagement time – reducing the pressure of viral and short-form content creation by emphasizing higher quality long-form storytelling for educational content.
All these facts and developments show us digital marketers that TikTok is an ever-changing social media platform that is gradually closing the gap to its competitors and cannot be neglected for all too long – by ourselves and our clients. Their lead in engagement rates & number of users and information about demographics and winning content on that platform give us enough insights to enter and effectively use this social media marketing tool. Marketers' increased confidence in the platform's effectiveness is also evident in the Hootsuite Social Trends Survey, which shows an increase of +700% compared to 2021.
[#section2]2. 4 TikTok Tips to Go Viral & Skills Digital Marketers Need[#section2]
The survey also shows that Facebook and Instagram remain the leading platforms when it comes to marketers’ trust which can also be a result of little or no experience with the platform. We saw value in wrapping up the key takeaways of what TikTok Marketing contains and where challenges in the digital marketing business may arise.
1. Less Is More in Content Creation:
The video-only content and entertaining environment favors less than more: Abstract and cutting-edge video edits for brand messaging don’t attract on that platform. People want to be entertained and informed – at best unpolished. Businesses can do the entertaining part by hopping on the bandwagon of trending hashtags, sounds and challenges – most effective when it stays relevant for the profile’s content - or creating those themselves.
TikTok provides the bandwagons in their video editing where users can choose from trending effects in the menu. This promises higher probability that your clients’ content creation efforts have a higher reach and that they’ll be featured in the “For You Page” where TikTokers spent most of their time on. The informational part can be pursued with short and easy-to-digest videos where parts of the business can be explained – but not in a salesy language.
Digital marketers must be aware that their clients aren’t only competing with their competitors but also with other creators for attention – unlike Instagram and co. where followers mostly know the brand and are already interested in specific hashtags. Even with the introduction of TikTok Ads, the number one goal is to increase brand awareness first through viral content and features on the For You Pages from unfamiliar users. So digital marketers must shift the focus from differentiating through high-quality and branded content to unconventional, non-brand-specific and relatable content that is generated more spontaneously but also likely transforms into conversions - just through the increased brand awareness.
So go for entertainment first and then gradually direct to the informational route.
Even with the upcoming increase in max. video length of 10 minutes, marketers recommend to stick to 15-60 seconds to hit the sweet spot of average attention spans. Here the challenge for digital marketers is – when going the informational route – to brainstorm ways to share high-level information in highly engaging and captivating ways. Maximizing the first moments with powerful emotions and fast paced music are a good start. When clients want to go for longer videos, TikTok’s Live feature is promising since followers are notified and the livestream is pinned at the beginning of the For You Pages.
2. Meet the Visual First Mindset of GenZ
As a generation of digital-natives, GenZ audience on TikTok are skilled and experienced enough to judge visual communication when it comes to quality and effectiveness. Combined with the limited attention spans and amount of competitive content, choosing the right video editing to appeal to the GenZ standards is crucial.
Here vertical formats, TikTok’s built in features and special effects as well as matching sound is a safe start and digital marketers can be bold in embedding those effects and features. If clients are hesitant regarding the overall match with their other touchpoints of external communication, digital marketers must educate and explain the very different environment on this platform to reduce their discomfort. Check these 12 editing apps.
3. What Happens If Uniqueness & TikTok's Native Editing Are Neglected
Unlikely the content creation for Instagram, FB, and LinkedIn – when for their client’s TikTok audience, digital marketers cannot use the same or similar content and should invest in additional content creation. Relational video content like Reels, BTS and personal messages can be re-used – however the editing needs extra efforts to increase chances for virality and match the Visual First Mindset.
For more efficiency all-purpose-content can be created and repurposed for multiple platforms through resizing and editing. However, don’t make the same mistake as Buzzfeed that repurposed their Instagram content but didn’t stick to TikTok’s native editing standards by not going the extra mile TikTok’s content requires. As for the content creation for other platforms, it’s always safe to check your competitors’ profiles or get inspired by the best performing TikTok brands.
4. Wide Reach: TikTok Is Living of Trends, Subcultures, and Influencers
Unlike other platforms, digital marketers must constantly be at the pulse of the platform to detect new trending hashtags, challenges, songs, or memes that change on the daily. We cannot stress enough how important the pursuit of virality is, however it’s important that digital marketers speak to the relevant audience of their clients. TikTok’s discovery page gives insights into the latest trends – we suggest stopping tracking screen times in those phases. For higher reach, digital marketers can benefit from trending songs in branded videos since those lead to better brand recognition, connection, engagement and curiosity by more than 60% of TikTok users (as of 07/21).
They can also warm up existent communities, such as subcultures/niches of TikTok that can be approached with specific hashtags like #MomsofTikTok with a community that shares content around parenting hacks or #FitTok – definitely not the niche of our team.
With the strongest effects of influencer marketing on TikTok compared to other platforms, digital marketers are now called to step into the influencer marketing sphere if haven’t already. Chipotle’s most engaged TikTok post had 420K likes that didn’t result only from watching someone having this blessed moment with this jewel of food – we’re also shocked – but from featuring an influencer who already had millions of followers. If this wasn’t promising enough, Chipotle only featured a specific character of the comedy influencer that was already well known by 3.9 Mio. followers. Putting this all together led to this viral hit and even though the storyline was about Chipotle’s burritos, they we’re not the central aspect of the video.
Another example is the beauty brand Glow Recipe that had a +600% increase in direct sales days after they were featured by a beauty blogger. These are of course odd cases and require a decent budget, but good news: Micro-influencers are likely to go more viral than influencers with huge following because relevance surpasses reach. So digital marketers must look out for influencers that are relevant in their client’s niches to increase brand awareness.
[#section3]3. A Little Encouragement[#section3]
If you've read this far and are still unsure if TikTok is the right platform for your agency and/or client - even if GenZ is not your (predominant) audience - we encourage you to join the platform. We plan to do the same. But why? Not because we expect to gain potential clients, but to leverage another vessel for expressing our creativity.
We have some musicians, singers, actors and dancers in our team who would enjoy doing challenges and dancing to trending songs during their lunch break. And at best, we establish a Plan B as a solid dancing crew in the recession or increase our brand awareness. The platform has a chance to effortlessly meet brand goals while employees are having fun.
[#section4] 4. Here Are Our Top 3 Resources on TikTok Marketing 101:[#section4]
[#section5] 5. Here Are Our Top 3 Resources on TikTok Marketing Courses (Paid and Free):[#section5]
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