On The Clock: Why Marketers Should Consider TikTok

The following was previously published in an earlier edition of Marketing Insider.

As one of the fastest-growing social platforms, TikTok has become the newest driver of cultural trends. With its steady rise, the platform is testing more advertising capabilities, with more brands establishing a presence and exploring new opportunities on it.

If you’re a marketer, you’re probably at least considering TikTok as a strategic move to reach the next generation of customers.

Still, just as marketers had a hard time leveraging the popularity of Snapchat, how do brands know if TikTok is right for them?

First, what is TikTok?

it's best known for its meme-like, short-form videos (between 15 seconds and a minute long) ranging from lip-syncing to creative content featuring dance, cosplay, comedy, and more.

With over 30 million monthly active U.S. users, 69% of whom are between 16-24 years old, the app’s users are highly engaged, spending an average of 46+ minutes per day on the platform, according to a recent pitch deck.



TikTok mimics other social platforms' interface and features, but its algorithm revolves less around the people you follow and more on AI-driven content suggestions.

So, what’s in it for brands?

If you’re looking to target hyper-engaged Gen Z-ers and are willing to push the envelope to get to know your audience, TikTok could be the place for your brand to thoughtfully develop a presence.

Repurposing simple ads and/or sponsored endorsements doesn’t seem to cut it -- but platform-tailored creative, leaning into trends, that shows off a lighter side of brands, does.

How are brands investing in TikTok?

Challenge for change: With a high level of social awareness, Gen Z values cause-oriented companies. Leaning into the “good” of society, TikTok has become a place for users and brands to “inspire and encourage a new generation to have a positive impact on the planet and those around them,” often through challenges encouraging users to participate in a community- or brand-created trend, according to the TikTok website.

Drive community: The NFL launched a multiyear partnership to kick off its 2019 season, including a series of themed hashtag challenges to invite users to celebrate and experience NFL fandom in a new way. With star players like Tom Brady active on the app, a new generation of fans can connect around their favorite moments with their favorite players.

Shoppable experiences: The grocery store chain Kroger leveraged a sponsored hashtag challenge, with placement on the Discover page, to introduce users to the brand’s page where they could directly shop for products using TikTok’s new ecommerce feature.

Authentic connection: Many media outlets like NBC  and The Washington Post have built a presence not only to reach a new generation of readers on a platform where they’re already engaged, but also showcase talent personality through lightweight, behind-the-scenes content.

Establishing an authentic relationship with this audience allows these brands to not only keep viewers informed, but also opens discussion for larger, more meaningful stories through crowdsourcing user-generated content.

What’s to come?  

TikTok is still in its infancy, but is proving its potential to reach a highly engaged, younger demo. Building an audience organically through a test-and-learn content approach, leaning into platform-native behaviors such as challenges, seems to be the best bet for brands entering the space.

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