By Warren Jolly, CEO of adQuadrant, a leading omnichannel digital marketing agency in Orange County, CA.
Right now, TikTok is still emergent enough as a marketing platform for content to occasionally catch lightning in a bottle and go viral organically. More commonly these days, brands are using TikTok’s ad partnership program, Spark Ads, to pay for increased visibility and odds of stronger reach. Neither of those scenarios, however, guarantees a campaign will connect with consumers in a way that spurs genuine curiosity or inspires them to act.
For a TikTok campaign to have a winning chance of effectiveness, there are several factors—all unique to TikTok—that marketers need to understand. As leader of a company that manages TikTok advertising campaigns for many of its clients, I find these three to be the most important factors:
TikTok content must be native to TikTok.
Many marketers are still under the misguided belief that content used on other platforms can be repurposed for TikTok. It can’t, and doing so in an attempt to cut corners is a waste. Not only because its ecosystem won’t support it, but optimal TikTok content looks very different than on other platforms. It must be created specifically for the app, in the app, using its native tools, modalities and frameworks. Additionally, I’ve found that creators who found success with TikTok early on studied the trends coming from Asia, trained themselves and quickly adapted their content.
TikTok entertains first and educates second.
It’s important to keep in mind that TikTok, more than any other social platform in my opinion, is about entertainment. And well-executed TikTok content delivers information while entertaining. For example, California Almonds’ #AlmondWalk campaign included messaging around the health benefits of almonds that encouraged users to share videos of themselves taking their almonds on a literal walk. To date, variations of the #AlmondWalk hashtag have nearly 3 billion views, making it a trifecta of successfully relayed product information, entertaining content and an engaged, piqued consumer audience.
TikTok is best for low-risk, impulse purchases—but that may be changing.
For the time being, I see TikTok still being best utilized for inexpensive, high-impulse purchases. If it involves a larger commitment of time or money, TikTok traditionally isn’t the best platform to market it. That said, TikTok Live and the recent launch of TikTok Shop in the U.S. allow creators to interact with consumers in real time to answer questions and offer in-depth explanations of a product or service. TikTok Shop, especially, is changing the game and in the near future will open the door to consumers becoming comfortable with more substantial social shopping opportunities. Now is the time to take advantage of these services before everyone joins the bandwagon.
Here’s the bottom line: To successfully market on TikTok, you need to be on TikTok. That may sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many decision-makers don’t understand their target consumer experience on the app because they don’t inhabit it. Get on TikTok, research your audience and the hashtags and trends they follow, and partner with creators who speak to them. Finally, lean into the latest services. Getting in early increases your chances of grabbing a maximum number of impressions now and seeing significant results.