TikTok for Business, a platform filled with short, user-created videos, delivers phenomenal opportunities savvy brands.
The world’s most downloaded app in 2020, with hundreds of millions users on the platform, is intrinsically different from any other. TikTok is not only revolutionary, but also evolutionary, and it is shaping the way we create, discover and consume content.
Inspiring creativity and bringing joy are core of the experience on TikTok. Creativity is how users express themselves, create trends and come together. If you spend any amount of time on the platform, you will quickly find this to be true. TikTok has the power to take seemingly mundane, everyday moments and catapult them into massive viral movements in which millions of people participate. On TikTok can anyone be discovered, and any video can become viral.
In a recent article, MIT heralded the TikTok algorithm as one of the “year’s most important technologies”, next to other breakthrough tech such as mRNA vaccines and lithium-metal batteries. MIT explains that this is largely “because the algorithms that power TikTok’s ‘For You’ feed have changed the way people become famous online”. The article also notes: “The ability of new creators to get a lot of views very quickly – and the ease with which users can discover so many kinds of content – have contributed to the app’s stunning growth.”
This rapid evolution of content discovery and consumption can be explained by the major shift in consumption graphs, where TikTok is leading the change from the social graph to content graph. This can lead to higher user engagement rates than other social media platforms. The content graph is all about you: the content you want to consume and not necessarily that of your immediate connections.
The powerful difference for advertisers
Compared to other platforms, TikTok’s advertising formats can build deeper and more comprehensive connections with a brand’s audience. Why? Because instead of just passively accepting a brand’s message, users are empowered and equipped to cocreate, interact and participate in those campaigns. So instead of pushing a message out, brands are equipped through TikTok to pull users in. Instead of creating ads, brands are making actual TikToks.
Consumer expectations also have changed, demanding that brands and products understand who they are and what they stand for in an authentic way. Consumers expect brands to understand them and what they like and dislike, while showing up in a believable way. When brands meet consumers in this authentic way on TikTok, in their native tongue so to speak, they can better connect with their audience, and stay relevant and relatable.
The Tiktok community is actively engaged and leaned-in with zero distractions. The user experience is an uncluttered, fully immersive and sound-on environment. This is very different from other platforms where a brand would share the screen with other advertisers or pieces of content.
Ad formats are vastly different, in a good way
TikTok offers brands a way to build awareness and consideration, and rejuvenate brand affinity better than anywhere else. It allows brands to shape cultural conversations by inspiring their customers to lead these conversation and be part of shared experiences.
A branded hashtag challenge, for instance, can generate vast amounts of user-generated content, which is hard to achieve on other social platforms. Such a challenge is a way to create guaranteed virality and allows users to cocreate the campaign.
TikTok Auction is also fully live and being used by a number of brands already. We are seeing brands spending a large portion of their time, energy and media budgets here. The auction would form the staple execution for brands looking to be present and gain market share on TikTok throughout the year. Brands have the option to select from multiple bidding strategies that can be optimised based on various goals, such as driving app installations, gaining mass reach and awareness for a product launch, or driving consideration of a product or service.
The auction has the ability to drive unparalleled results across the full marketing funnel, with brands receiving their own ad account access and running their campaigns in the self-service platform.
Best practice tips for creating TikToks and not ads
- Sound on: Create ads for a sound-on experience. Sound is integral to any TikTok video; the format doesn’t work without it. Sound, in particular music, should be a key consideration when building content.
- Duration: Try and get the message across concisely and effectively. Videos can be 5-60 seconds long, with 12-15 seconds recommended as the optimum time, due to user attention span.
- Vertical video: TikTok is built for vertical video, the vast majority of all user content being shot on phone and in-app. Anything other than vertical just looks out of place.
- Strong call to action. Use calls to action to tell the audience what you want them to do, whether to shop now, click to website, find out more, and so forth.
- Be natural: Keep ads authentic and remember why your audience is on TikTok.
- Leverage creators: Creators can give brands the inside lane when it comes to relevant content that feels native to the platform. Utilise the targeting capabilities of in-feed paid ads and select creators that align best with your brand’s audience
- Leverage trends: Leveraging TikTok trending content is a great way to make sure your challenge resonates with your audience.
Ultimately, remember that users come to the platform for creativity and joy. So don’t make ads; make TikToks.
Julian Jordaan is the managing director of 365 Digital, South Africa’s premier independent online publisher marketplace, with a 20-year track record servicing top platforms and publishers across Africa. Jordaan also serves as committee lead for the IAB SA Digital Audio Committee, as well as devoting personal time to the Won Life, a non-profit organisation that aims to improve the quality of education for underprivileged learners.
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