Whether you’ve been with TikTok since the beginning, or perhaps only discovered it during lockdown last March when your teenage children forced you into a family video, one thing is for certain – it’s no longer just a fringe platform.
Undoubtedly aided by the boredom of lockdowns around the world in 2020, TikTok is now closing in on one billion average monthly users – quickly catching up with the likes of Instagram and WeChat (1.2 billion), though still a ways behind Facebook and YouTube (2.7 billion and 2.3 billion respectively).
In fact, TikTok was the most downloaded app in 2020. In Australia alone, its user base grew 52% in the first half of the year. Here in New Zealand, our reps tell us it’s got 1.3 million monthly users, each spending an average of 85 minutes a day on the platform – that’s 15 more minutes per day than Netflix.
What’s more, 30% of New Zealand’s TikTok audience can only be found on TikTok – they don’t have accounts on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook or other popular social networking sites.
It’s clear that TikTok is here to stay – so how does it work, and how can brands leverage it to connect with their audiences?
Why is TikTok so explosive?
Powered by super-smart AI, TikTok’s “For You” page reflects each user’s individual preferences, serving them hyper-relevant, new content right when they open the app.
The algorithm takes a combination of user interactions (that is, what you like, who you follow and any content you create), how long you spend watching certain videos, as well as your selected country, language, device type and more to select the perfect content to serve you.
It’s the discovery aspect, as well as the “perfect for me” content recommendations of this feed that make the app just so addictive. For content creators, there’s also the enticing potential of going viral. Based on the “For You” algorithm, even users with little or no following can go viral, as long as their content is good enough (that is, gets mass levels of engagement when first posted).
TikTok – not just for teens
While Generation Z does make up a large portion of TikTok’s user base, it would be missing a huge point to say its only purpose is sharing fun videos.
Plus, it’s important to remember that many members of Generation Z are no longer kids. The oldest of the generation are currently 24 years old – a prime target audience for a large number of brands.
In New Zealand, 44% of TikTok users are 18-24, and an additional 22% are 25-34. The TikTok audience here in NZ is 61% female and 39% male.
Media companies are among those with the largest TikTok followings – sports media outlets like ESPN have the highest average followers, followed closely by TV and streaming services like Netflix. Other brands like Redbull, Xbox, Disney Parks and Starbucks also rate highly by followership.
How can brands leverage TikTok?
Now, obviously these are brands with massive social media presences to begin with, not to mention mammoth production budgets. Your brand may not become the next big TikTok sensation – but you can position yourself alongside these behemoths and leverage their following.
How? Advertising on TikTok. There are several ad units you can (and should) try to reach the Gen Z and Millennial market in particular.
- In-Feed Ads. Much like a vertical video on Instagram Stories, this is a video that plays to relevant audiences between organic videos. This will appear when users are watching content in their AI-powered “For You” feed, and they can interact with it through likes, shares, comments and more.
- TopView Ads. These vertical video ads are placed on TikTok’s most premium real estate, the top of the “For You” page when first opening the app – guaranteeing high impressions and reach.
- Brand Takeover Ads. These ads are shorter than those above, available as 3-second static images or 3-5 second videos, comparable to a YouTube bumper video. They’re entirely clickable to internal and external landing pages, and unmissable – they appear when a user first opens TikTok and boast 100% share of voice for the first day they’re featured. There is no surrounding content such as the like, share and comment buttons – instead, the video completely takes over the screen.
- Branded Hashtag Challenge. Tap into the viral, user-generated content nature of TikTok with a compelling and exciting campaign hashtag that your audience will be excited to share and engage with. TikTok’s Clean&Clear case study showcases this option well.
- Branded Effects. As with Instagram stickers and Snapchat filters, you can get your audience engaging with your brand and sharing it far and wide with branded special effects that users can add to their own content and share.
Interestingly, internal krunch.co research suggests that new users (having not spent much time on the app), don’t get served ads straight away – perhaps a clever mechanism of the app to create the most relevant ad experience for users, and keep new users coming back.
This delay would allow TikTok to create the most personalised ad experience possible – only advertising to users once it has a full enough set of interest data on the user to ensure the ads are relevant, interesting and not a turn off from the app altogether.
TikTok advertising best practices
Ready to start advertising on TikTok? Make sure you follow these content best practices to ensure you get the best performance possible.
The shorter the better. Most TikTok ad formats allow video of up to a minute long. However this audience, raised on the short formats of Vine and Musical.ly, prefers fast-paced content – no longer than 15 seconds.
- Front-load the excitement. In the ever-scrolling format of TikTok, your video (organic or In-Feed Ad) will be scrolled right past if it doesn’t draw the user in from the very beginning.
- Make it look natural. Use in-app fonts, colours, video and sound effects so your content fits into the natural flow of video content being consumed. Ensure your content is designed so that TikTok’s native text overlays (music, caption, like buttons etc) are not covering the creative (especially important for In-Feed Ads).
- Don’t forget the text. That is, captions and hashtags. #foryoupage or #fyp is a popular one aiming to land content in the “For You” page, but any trending or descriptive hashtags will help your ads get more reach. Captions may entice users to watch until the end, or add to the message of your video.
Follow the trends. Stay across TikTok trends and respond to them with your ads. But beware – they change quickly!
So – why isn’t your brand on TikTok yet?