Want your brand to be present on TikTok? Here are your options

The Drum 20 Jan 2020 02:05
By MJ Widomska-20 January 2020 14:05pm

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.

If you work in marketing or lead a brand, you’re probably over 24. If you are over 24, there’s a good chance you’re not on TikTok.

TikTok is a social media network, not unlike the now-defunct Vine but with more features and better tech. Its core offering lies in short videos created by and fed to its users as one continuous, full-screen video feed. You may remember it as before it was bought by Chinese company Bytedance, merged with an app called Douyin and rebranded as TikTok (it’s still called Douyin in China).

So, how do you market a brand on TikTok?


You might be thinking, 'ok, and?' You’re not a teenager with too much time; you’re trying to market a brand here. You don’t want to be on TikTok. That’s fair — but your brand may have a mascot. Or, you could create a mascot. Or, you could find an enthusiastic employee who’d make a great host.

We can learn a couple of things from Big Potato:

You need to spend some time on TikTok in order to figure out what works and what doesn’t. You want to create content that offers entertainment, not causes second-hand embarrassment. Enlist a Gen Z consultant, even if it’s someone’s teenage child. They’ll tell you if you’re accidentally participating in an insensitive trend or just being painfully uncool.

But, if you’re looking for more… there is more. So, so much more.

TikTok offers a wide variety of choices, from conventional in-feed ads (which look a lot like Instagram stories) to elaborate hashtag challenges and custom effects.

One of the most notable hashtag challenge examples comes from Chipotle with their #lidflip campaign. Users had to - you guessed it - flip the lid of a Chipotle box and showcase their skills. To take part, you obviously had to have a Chipotle box, and because TikTok users want to take part in challenges (that’s how they grow their following), they flocked to Chipotle. Talk about a healthy ROI!

What about something more traditional?

In-feed ads appear as users scroll through the app, between two creator videos. It sounds intrusive, but as long as the ad feels native, this format can be very successful. Keeping your production value low helps your view-through rate, too, as users will watch for longer before realising they’re staring at an ad.

Another step further is a brand takeover. Much like a top view ad, it’s the first thing you see when you open TikTok, but this will be a three-second gif or an image that allows you to link to something like a hashtag challenge.

If this all sounds great and you’re ready to spend all your hard-earned paid budget on TikTok, I have some semi-bad news for you: while TikTok’s advertising is still in its infancy, you will have to go through their internal team to do any media buying. The downside is that it may take a bit longer than it would with other platforms but on the upside, you’ll be establishing a relationship with TikTok before they grow so big as to not pay attention to brands with budgets not in the millions.

The answer is a resounding maybe. If your brand appeals to Gen Zs, probably, yes. If you have trust in your team or agency and think you can create compelling, funny, relevant content — definitely.

MJ Widomska, founder and creative director, YRS TRULY

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