4 Ways Brands Can Enter TikTok

TikTok has grown exponentially in the last year, both in its audience (the app grew to 100 million U.S. users) and the number of brands on the platform. Many of TikTok’s early entrants are enjoying outsized success, attracting the attention of brand marketers across categories. Here we break down the four main ways brands can enter TikTok:

Brand Channels

A TikTok brand channel is similar to an Instagram profile or Facebook page. We predict that by the end of 2021, nearly every consumer brand will have a brand channel. The most successful brands have generated billions of engagement points via their brand channels.

Brands that are serious about TikTok post content daily, although some chose to test the water with a few posts. While most posts may not get a ton of traction, the occasional post can go viral. The more content posted, the greater the chances for it to go viral.

Trends (aka “challenges”) offer an easy way to create content that accelerates a brand channel. Every week new music, dances and other content trends on TikTok.



Challenges offer an entry point into these trends. This not only demonstrates your brand’s relevance and generates “cool” points, but also boosts the chances of virality, because TikTok’s algorithm favors videos that participate in what’s trending.

Influencer Campaigns

Social distancing protocols boosted the use of online entertainment and social platforms -- and in turn, the power of influencers. A TikTok influencer campaign is structurally similar to other social media platforms. Working with TikTok influencers, also known as “creators,” is relatively low-risk. Brands can execute a meaningful test with a smaller investment than for comparable options.

Partnering with TikTok-native influencers is the best option, as they understand how to create on TikTok and their engagement is typically much stronger. Marketers should also consider influencers from various categories to expand reach. For example, one cosmetic company partnered with dancers and comedians (among others) to help spark a very successful viral challenge. These unconventional partnerships can lead to the best hits.

Ad Buy

TikTok is constantly growing its ad offerings. One of the most popular ad types are in-feed ads which are very similar to Snapchat or Instagram story ads. These ads run between organic content on TikTok’s “For You” page and allow for direct click-outs, so it’s a great choice for performance marketers.

For these ads to be successful, marketers should refrain from reusing ads created for other platforms. The best performing TikTok ads look and feel organic to the platform and align with popular TikTok storytelling styles.

Hashtag Challenges

The hashtag challenge is TikTok’s claim to fame. Unique to TikTok, these are branded viral challenges supported by influencers, music and paid ads. They are similar to a “challenge” (outlined above), but backed by an ad buy. While a loftier investment, this is a chance for brands to create virality on massive scale. The top-performing challenges get billions of views, and can have millions of people creating videos for the campaign.

Although powerful, hashtag challenges can be tough to organize. The structure greatly varies from any other marketing campaign, as you’re relying on the public to bring the campaign to life. To do so, marketers need to design a challenge concept that invites participation and tees up virality, with music that coordinates second-by-second and lays out the “instructions” for people to create their own content. There are a lot of pieces to a hashtag challenge, but it can lead to massive brand exposure.

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