The clock is 'Tikking': How do brands excel on TikTok?

The Drum 09 Apr 2020 02:59
By Joshua Hopson-09 April 2020 15:59pm

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

As social media use skyrockets in the age of coronavirus, TikTok offers brands a way to rebel against social distancing (digitally, that is. #StayHomeSaveLives). The non-stop entertainment feed provided by the social media world’s newest behemoth connects users in more ways than ever before.

If we’re honest, this conversation has been on the cards for months now, COVID-19 or not. When social media applications announce their arrival with burgeoning popularity, brands are often cautious. Some aren’t of course, and that can align perfectly with those that have innovative and youthful brand personalities (the types that dive right in to the latest ’big thing’).

As coronavirus and the era of remote working boosts TikTok usership further, how do brands excel with our new social plaything, in our new socially distant world?

Just because everyone’s on it, doesn’t mean you need to be. Aligning your brand’s personality and voice to different channels (and their respective audiences) is a key part of social strategy. TikTok’s environment of humour, interest and music-led content is clear, but if your brand can’t tap into that, maybe you shouldn’t be there in the first place. Or understand what your brand needs to do to change that – and if that’s a sensible move.

TikTok got there without you, so maybe you should follow its lead. Trends and challenges are the lifeblood of TikTok (#the10touchchallenge; #papertowelchallenge; #Stairshufflechallenge) and are primarily user-generated, with very few brands having success starting their own. That’s not to say there aren’t some that have succeeded.

The cream of the crop rises to the top of TikTok just like other social channels, so don’t be afraid to use it. Influencer strategy has solidified its place in brand campaign strategy and communications in recent years, and TikTok offers another avenue for this. As with all influencer content, ensure they align with your brand and that content remains authentic to you and them. Audiences will spot money grab influencer spots a mile off.

Staying close to relevant trends and challenges is important, but don’t just think you can do the same thing and get traction. Make sure you put your twist on it and get people excited (Gymshark does a great job of sticking to trends, but adding their own feel). That doesn’t mean heavy editing though, make use of TikTok’s native effects and stick to them. They’re more authentic to the platform than any in-house editing will be (that’s right, we don’t want your TikTok video editing work!) and your audience will know that.

It’s simple, but it’s true – brands need to stick close to relevance. TikTok is all about up-to-the-minute challenges and trends, and brands can’t spend weeks deciding how to jump on the bandwagon. Get in there quick, or don’t bother.

Brands still need to perform, with or without coronavirus. It is all too easy for brands to make concerted efforts to reference COVID-19 and leverage it for brand building (for a great read on that, see here). Having said that, the lockdown and remote working related consequences of the global pandemic are the TikTok trend of the moment.

As TikTok continues to increase in usage, more and more opportunities for brands will emerge and best practice tips and tricks will adapt and evolve. For now, keep things authentic, relevant, interesting and pick a damn good music track.

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