Since its launch in September 2017, TikTok has continued to make huge waves on the social scene. For years, there was talk of which platform would take on Instagram, who the next big social app would be, and if we’d ever get our chronological feeds back. It seems we’ve finally identified the contender in TikTok. At this point in TikTok's life cycle, it seems the app is here to stay, and brands have taken notice of the network’s vast audience of younger users, and new ad platforms.
Unlike Instagram’s fairly straightforward “post a pic and tag a brand” strategy, TikTok’s content strategy is vastly different. Brands recognize the effort that goes into the video creation seen on TikTok. There’s almost more of a realness behind the shoutout, and most definitely more of an entertainment factor.
So, you’re ready to put some effort into the new platform? Let’s break down creating your first TikTok marketing strategy.
Step 1: Outline Marketing Goals
Before you start throwing money into the wind, you should identify a clear vision of what your specific goals are for TikTok. It’s best to save time and money for you and your team by having a clear-cut understanding.
Initially, consider your brand voice, look and feel. You want to be sure you or your assigned team member keeps branding top of mind first before doing any influencer outreach or creating content for your brand’s profile.
Second, you’ll want to know if you’re going after brand awareness or sales, as the marketing strategy varies vastly between the two goals. Tracking your results based on either tactic should be done separately.
Similar to Instagram, TikTok posts cannot contain links to websites, but you can add links to your bio for conversion objectives. One of the most common TikTok marketing strategies is a hashtag campaign where a brand will have influencers create videos around an activity, and then use a unique branded hashtag in order to track and measure the success of the campaign.
For example: ELF cosmetics used the hashtag #eyeslipsface (based on the acronym for their brand name), and commissioned a song based on their hashtag specifically for a TikTok influencer campaign. To date, 7.8 billion people have viewed content using the #eyeslipsface hashtag on TikTok.
Step 2: Determine Your Content Categories
Hashtag challenges are so influential in this day and age, you can even catch mentions of them on national news networks like ABC and NBC. In 2021, these challenges will continue to rise in popularity, and we’ll likely see more than just Fortune 500 companies taking advantage.
The two types of hashtag challenges that can garner virality are sponsored and organic. Sponsored challenges leverage large amounts of paid influencers to promote content using a branded hashtag. Organic challenges usually gain traction via celebrity usage.
Both sponsored and organic will each technically cost marketing dollars over time. But, if you want to get your brand off the ground with a brand profile that has zero growth currently, a sponsored tactic will suit your needs better as a launch goal.
Tutorial videos related to your brand’s product or service are another way to garner TikTok success. Because TikTok is video-focused, it’s much easier for users to create content with tutorials, life hacks, reviews, etc.
Presenting a common problem most people experience with a solution using your product/service is a fantastic way to garner organic brand trust. A major focus should be on the organic part of this strategy because if the product is oversold it can come off distasteful. Be sure that the influencers you employ to conduct tutorials present the content in as natural a way as possible. Tutorials are an exceptional TikTok strategy for your brand to exhibit value to your customer.
Testimonials and Reviews
Review videos are rampant on YouTube and there’s a reason for that, they work. A still image, such as a picture on Instagram, lacks much emotion and realism. With a video, on the other hand, you can tell how much the reviewer cares about what they are talking about. So, imagine even 50 trusted TikTok influencers reviewing and endorsing your product or service – it’s what brand trust dreams are made of.
Product-based businesses like beverage companies can partner with influencers to taste and react to their products. Haircare brands can have hair stylists use and review their products, showing before and after results. If the influencers used have thousands of followers who trust their opinion, your brand will likely see immediate positive results.
Don’t forget, you can reuse all of the videos on your own profile so that when you’re tagged by one influencer and users visit your brand’s profile, they see it’s not a one-time thing. By looking through tagged content, they’ll be able to see hundreds of other trusted influencers speaking about your brand.
Everyone loves a good commercially shot video or final photoshoot images, but sometimes you like to see how it all got done. There’s something to the realness that lies behind social media content that users trust. With all the touched-up images these days, people love to see how you got there, and not take everything so seriously. Authenticity can go a long way for your brand. Don’t be afraid to let people in and show them you are real people, not just a logo.
If you do regular new product launches, show people the product being packaged up for delivery, the employees putting in hard work, or the owners getting their hands dirty. People love to know they are interacting with real, trustworthy brands.
Step 3: Consider TikTok Influencer Marketing
Influencers help your brand reach wider audiences in specific niches, and at the same time, provide you with content for your brand’s profile.
Let’s face it, creating videos in-house can be a lot of work. Set a clear budget and offer in place before anything. Get a Google Sheet going so you can organize who you reached out to, their follower count, average views, etc.
When conducting outreach to influencers, make sure your offer is clear. Let them know you will pay x dollars for x amount of videos with your brand being mentioned (tagged). If you want to take it to the next level, you can have the influencer change the link in their bio for a period of time pointing to your product or service (this will likely be an extra expense, of course).
If you’re new to influencer marketing, start by partnering with micro-influencers in order to build up your own profile first, then go after bigger fish. You don’t want to point massive amounts of people back to your profile if you don’t have content there for users to engage with.
Cross-Posting and Repurposing
If you can get a solid crew of influencers creating content for you, it’s a double whammy for your brand. Take your marketing budget into account as well, and think about what it might cost you to create your own content vs. paying a dozen influencers to create content for you.
Additionally, you can repurpose your TikTok content for YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook.
Best Practices for TikTok Marketing
With just 60 seconds to get your point across, be sure to keep content clear and concise. This actually works in your favor, given social media’s fast, “get in and get out” quickly with your messaging pace. The shorter the video, the more likely users are to watch the entire video, so keep that in mind.
Aspect ratio is portrait and tall on TikTok, so be sure when you’re creating content, you don;t shoot in square or wide. You want to take up as much screen real estate as possible. Audio has to be used on TikTok, but what is great about TikTok’s audio sources is all of the music available on the platform is legal to use in your own videos.
Your call to action, also known as CTA, should be prominent in the caption as well as at the tail end of the video. You need to let viewers know what to do next, i.e. check out a profile, visit a website, etc.
Third-Party Apps to Save You Time
To save you some time right off the bat, here are some third-party apps to try out.
InShot - A great video editor for iOS and Android that allows you to slow or speed time, add music, crop aspect ratios, edit filters, and more.
Video Saver - An iOS app that allows you to download YouTube videos to your phone. If you have already created a lot of video content for YouTube, this is a great tool to quickly prep those videos for TikTok posting.
RepostTik - An iOS app great for downloading any video from TikTok. You can use this app to get raw video with no watermarks.
TikTok is no longer a one-hit-wonder and seems here to stay, so consider exploring the platform for your brand. Good luck out there!
Kenny Bost is the co-founder of True North Social, a social media marketing agency in Los Angeles, and a contributor writer for PLANOLY. To learn more about True North Social, follow them on Instagram & Facebook.