Let’s talk about the rise of TikTok—the world’s most-downloaded app right now. What was once a quirky online curio, or a source of escapism from the global pandemic (and, of course, the place to perfect a dalgona coffee recipe) is now a mega social media marketing player, with the world’s leading companies and celebrities recognising the benefits of showing a more human side to their brands.
The app has amassed well over 1 billion users around the globe, and is quickly becoming the social platform we spend the most time on, thanks to a unique—and addicting—algorithm. You’re provided with an endless scroll-fest of content based off your activity on the app in the form of a ‘For You’ page (get ready to feel really seen), with a relentless supply of new material flowing in from content creators across the globe.
But when it comes to building brand awareness, TikTok is not just a space for the big players and famous faces to thrive; authenticity and consistency are the key tools for any business looking to unlock and grow their community.
So why should you get your brand involved?
Your audience are already there
“TikTok is 1.8x more likely to introduce people to new topics they didn’t know they liked compared to traditional social platforms.” (TikTok’s ‘What’s Next 2023’ Trend Report)
TikTok increasingly has the most engaged users, with the average person spending over 1.5 hours a day on the app. The app has also become a powerful search engine (a Search widget for iPhone has just been launched, as though to underline the point), making it easy for us to learn, explore and find just about anything in an instant.
This is a huge marketing opportunity for brands to connect with potential customers, as the algorithm unites like-minded users and builds niche communities.
If you spend time interacting with your target audience and answering their questions through entertaining, personalised content—even better if you’re using trending sounds!—then you’re on your way to building a strong brand presence.
It’s not just for Gen-Z!
TikTok has been long regarded as a platform just for Gen Z, but as the app has grown and changed the reality is quite different. With its user-friendly layout and hyper-specific algorithm, the demographics are rapidly diversifying as the 20-29 and 30-39 age groups catch up to the teen majority. It may come as a surprise to some, but the parenting community on TikTok is also thriving, with over 34.3 billion views on ‘#parenting’ content alone!
When you think about TikTok’s principles of favouring relatable, humorous, and informative content, it makes sense that the parenting community is so active and engaged on the app; it’s the perfect destination to get quick tips, product reviews and recipes—and, of course, share relatable moments of chaos.
All ages and stages of life can find content that aligns with their interests on the app, meaning every brand has potential to reach their base audience. Post consistently, use trending hashtags and sounds, and you can capture the attention of your target audience!
Community Case Study – Primark TikTok
Over my 5+ years working as a social media marketer, I have worked with many different asset forms. Working with Primark, I would publish posts featuring campaign imagery, influencers and flatlay—but still the top performers would typically be the lo-fi, phone-shot content, filmed walking around a Primark store and showing our community what’s new.
Why? Because it’s relatable, authentic and provides a service…precisely the stuff TikTok really feeds off from an engagement perspective.
From a community perspective, TikTok is the platform to really go big by showing love. We would combine in-store content with trending sounds and text relating to some of the common comments we would get, letting our community know that we see them, and we relate.
This strategy ticks off promoting new products and community building in one go, subtly showcasing collections without feeling like traditional advertising. The most obvious plus, of course, is that it costs nothing but can reach many. I would highly recommend spending time looking at the UGC you are tagged in (hello, #primarkhaul) and commenting on them to show your followers some extra appreciation!
5 tips for your first video
- Faces first! We are nosey by nature and love to see the people behind a team. Team involvement generates intrigue, encourages retention, and highlights the human side of your brand.
- Keep it short and sweet. Holding attention on TikTok is competitive— that’s what happens when there is a truly an endless scroll to compete against). Try to stay under 15 seconds for your first few.
- Know your audience: Research trends and relevant hashtags to use in your first videos, and interact with like-minded users and creators for brand awareness and community growth.
- Answer a question: If your content can answer a question or provide a specific service—e.g., ‘Top tip for X’—it will go a long way to locating your target audience and enhancing visibility. Start with the question first to gain instant attention.
- If you have a dog, including them in your content is a no brainer!
TikTok has redefined what a brand’s social media presence can look like. It has opened up a whole new arsenal of content possibilities, with lo-fi, easy to create video content becoming key for a brand’s social success. A gap has been closed between brand and consumer, resulting in an interactive and community-led experience which strengthens brand loyalty and trust.
What once may have taken a big budget campaign to gain traction now only needs a simple, phone-shot video with a strong message or trending sound to achieve impressive results. In fact, it is the brands who adopt the humorous, light-hearted and community-led approach that see the most success on the app!
If you are a small business looking to thrive on TikTok, there is one key piece of advice: just go for it. Test content, be reactive, get to know your community, and always put your most authentic foot forward.
What may have started as a platform ‘for dances’ has now redefined how we consume social media, and with this growth comes exciting opportunity—for everyone!