How to Leverage TikTok to Market Your Products

One of the world’s fastest-growing and most addicting social media platforms for advertising today is the one and only TikTok. The app is rapidly gaining users, and users equal potential customers, so the curiosity towards how it could benefit brands is rapidly growing. If your target audience is Gen Z and younger millennials (but let’s face it, there is something on TikTok for everyone) TikTok should probably become a part of your future marketing strategy. 

With 689 million active monthly users, TikTok is unlikely to become a passing fad. The goal of this article is to get you up to speed on TikTok and share everything you need to know about unlocking the power of this popular platform. 

If you find yourself asking, “what the heck is TikTok?” Check out my recent article about the platform and how product trends go viral here

How marketers are using TikTok

As time goes on, more brands understand the power of TikTok and its influence on younger demographics. Being able to get in front of young consumers allows brands to stay relevant and reach an audience that is typically unreceptive to traditional marketing methods. 

There are a number of business owners who are hesitant to join the app because they assume they will only reach a younger audience. However, as the app gains popularity, the range of users broadens. Nearly 38% of TikTok’s users in the US are above the age of 30. And given the hesitancy to join the platform, your brand can get ahead of your competitors by reaching a plethora of people at a relatively low cost by  publishing creative content. 

Many brands struggle with planning out creative ways to use the app’s video and audio tools to promote their products. It doesn’t matter what type of products you sell on TikTok; what truly matters is if you can blend your brand with existing viral content on the platform. If you can put a personal twist on current TikTok trends, your videos can potentially gain the attention of millions. Here are some examples of how brands are leveraging TikTok within their marketing mix:

Chipotle

Chipotle launched a hashtag challenge where they asked users to upload a video of themselves flipping a Chipotle burrito bowl lid on TikTok and tag their videos under #ChipotleLidFlip. The campaign consisted of 110,000 video submissions and more than 104 million video views. Not bad given  at least 110,000 individuals had to purchase a burrito bowl to make the video!

e.l.f Cosmetics

e.l.f sponsored in-feed posts that featured TikTok influencers mouthing the words to a song called “Eyes Lips Face,” which is what the brand’s name stands for. This was a creative and incredibly catchy way for the company to grow brand awareness and show off their new products.  

Gymshark

Gymshark invested a large portion of their marketing efforts into TikTok influencers. Gymshark created a “66 Days: Change Your Life” challenge that asked users to pick a personal goal and document before and after pictures of their progress. The challenge promised the winner a one-year supply of Gymshark products. The company partnered with six influencers, who had a collective total of 19.8 million followers. The campaign raked in 2 million likes and an engagement rate of 11.1%, and the campaign hashtag, #gymshark66, was viewed more than 45.5 million times.

How to build a TikTok strategy

Now that you’ve seen some examples of businesses that have successfully launched marketing campaigns on TikTok, it’s time for you to build yours! Here are some tips on how to leverage TikTok within your current marketing strategy.

1. Understand TikTok’s basic layout

There are two main areas on the app:  the “For You Page” and the “Following” page. TikTok also has a “Discover Page” which is similar to Instagram’s. Once you open the app, you are taken directly to the “For You Page” (FYP).

  • For You Page: On the “For You Page,” you can see some of the trending videos and the top video creators. As you explore the app and start following and liking content, you will see videos catered more towards your interests. What is attractive about the app is that you don’t need to follow anyone to have an inclusive user experience.
  • Following Page: The following tab will show you videos created by TikTokers you follow.
  • Discover Page: The discover page shows the latest trends, videos, creators, and most prevalent hashtags

2. Know how the TikTok algorithm operates

One of the unique parts of TikTok is that you don’t always have to hire influencers for products to blow up. There is a one-of-a-kind sense of trust the app instills in consumers since the app is not completely flooded with paid advertising like other social media platforms. 

The app prioritizes who sees what based on three prominent factors: 

  • User interaction: User interaction also includes measuring video completion rates, including how often your video gets watched from beginning to end.
  • Video information: TikTok groups videos by similar characteristics, so users can be exposed to content similar to what they usually watch. 
  • Account or device setting: TikTok takes user account and device settings into consideration, prioritizing videos located nearby and of the same language.

Going viral on TikTok isn’t a set-in-stone guarantee, but virality is not as rare as it would be on competing platforms like Instagram or Youtube. TikTok is a platform that is constantly filtering through trends that your brand can take advantage of.

3. TikTok for business: paid advertising 101

TikTok for Business is a way marketers can advertise on TikTok. Instead of creating their strategy alone, the platform helps marketers through the entire process of creating advertisements, setting budgets, reaching target audiences, and analyzing campaign data. The TikTok For Business platform provides five different ad formats:

  • Top-View: Top-View video ads on TikTok only appear once a day but are the first thing users see when they open the app for the first time. These ads are 15 seconds to one minute long with sound. Users can click off to a hashtag challenge or an external URL. This option is excellent for businesses advertising products that need more extended periods of attention.
  • Branded Effect: One of the ad strategies is the idea of branded lenses. Like Snapchat, branded effects ads use 2D, 3D, or artificial reality (AR) to add images of products into TikTok videos. Brands can create stickers or filters related to their products that TikTokers can use when creating videos that they share with their followers and other users on the platform. 
  • Hashtag Challenge: These are advertisements that businesses use to inspire TikTok users to create content around a branded hashtag. Unlike other social media platforms, companies have exclusive access to the hashtag that they create. However, the ad comes with a high price tag, with reported average costs being around $150,000 for six days.
  • In-Feed: In-feed ads are helpful for marketers looking to use TikTok to drive sales conversions since the videos can feature a direct call-to-action. Users can click on the advertised URL landing page, TikTok page, or app download. The number of clicks, impressions, click-through rate, video views, play duration, and video interactions measure the ad’s success.
  • Brand Takeover: Brand takeovers can include top view, in-feed, and branded hashtags all at once. They can also be in the form of a 3- to 5-second video, gif, or still image. The embedded links can connect to websites, landing pages, challenges, or hashtags within the platform. Since takeovers can generate a high impression rate, the ad can cost around $50,000 per day. TikTok will only feature one brand takeover per day.

4. Beware of unforeseen outcomes

Like most success stories, with such power can come unexpected consequences. Viral TikTok videos don’t always result in sales boosts; sometimes they can lead to sales losses. 

Many content creators have emerged in popularity on the app, with skincare influencers conquering this sector. Many beauty brands such as CeraVe, The Ordinary, and Glow Recipe, have had positive results and skyrocketed in popularity due to skincare recommendations on TikTok from influencers or industry experts. TikTok also has the power to quickly demolish a brand’s reputation if an influencer points out any relevant flaws. Brands such as St. Ives, Neutrogena, and Dr. Thayers Witch Hazel saw a significant drop in sales due to negative reviews from skincare experts and enthusiasts on TikTok. TikTok has offered a new window into the wants and concerns of consumers today, and if your company can’t keep up, it will become undeniable.

The takeaway 

If you have a brand or product to promote, it’s time to explore the power of TikTok. With so many promotional routes to choose from, it is hard to refute the idea of joining the video-sharing app. 

TikTok is a unique marketing tool because you don’t need high-quality or overly polished content to make an enormous impact. Quality is no longer the driving force (at least on TikTok); people would rather see originality, creativity, and honesty when promoting products. As a brand, you have a lot of creative freedom and can create unique content for your brand voice. You can find inspiration from these products and brands that took over TikTok over the past year. 

Growing an audience on TikTok is a lot easier than one may think. You just have to step out of your comfort zone and go for it!