Are You Ready to Make a TikTok?

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Marketers from around the world attended September’s virtual AMA Toronto’s Member Networking Group to learn more about TikTok. Curiosity about this fast-growing social platform attracted guests from as far away as Nigeria, India, Texas and Chicago. Our guest speaker, Vanessa Gaik, Group Director Brand Partnerships at TikTok, shared key insights and trends for brand marketers.

TikTok reportedly has 100 million users in North America so far, bringing together a community of artists, chefs, teachers, gardeners and social activists. It proclaims to be “a place for everybody,” except that it isn’t, at least not yet. TikTok resonates best with Generation Z and Millennials located in urban centres around the world. 

How TikTok is Unique

It stands apart from other social platforms with its full-screen, vertical, short-form mobile video. It’s also positioned the platform as a “place to create without boundaries…with positive, joyful entertainment… where people come to lift their spirits.” TikTok allows users to find content based on their viewing preferences and habits. Vanessa shared that social responsibility, eco-friendliness and knowledge resources are the top things that TikTok users want to see from brands.

Luring brands with organic reach, TikTok for Business  asserts that it achieves 2X higher than global norms for unaided brand awareness, brand favourability and purchase intent. And it has a catchy slogan, too: “Don’t Make Ads, Make TikToks.”

Before jumping on the platform, Vanessa advises brands to start by joining the TikTok Community and getting to know its values. Next, find your brand voice on the platform and explore your creativity with videos using the “sound on.” Brands can further amplify messages with Branded Solutions and Creator Partnerships.

“Realness is the new cultural currency. And there is no better place to be real than TikTok”

Vanessa Gaik, Group Director Brand Partnerships, TikTok

Tap Into Content Trends

Popular trends are centred around education and learning, including #DIYProjects, life hacks, food, wellness and #familytime. With 7 billion views on #learnontiktok, brands across a variety of industries can play in the sandbox. To make it fun, TikTok has creative filters, editing tools, and voice effects.

The best storytelling models that work for video on TikTok are imperfect, raw and gritty. Ones that depict everyday life. Popular “Hashtag Challenges” have caught on, where users create organic content to win prizes from sponsoring brands. Vanessa showed successful examples, including Chipotle’s “Sponsor Me” and Aldo’s “Step into Love” campaign.

Engage with User-Generated Content

Brands looking to capitalize on the platform’s organic reach need to look no further than a recent video by Nathan Apodac that went viral. “Skateboarding dude drinking cran-raspberry juice and singing Fleetwood Mac” has been viewed 23 million times on TikTok in just 10 days.

The band retweeted the video and then the band’s co-founder, Mick Fleetwood, responded with a video of his own; skateboarding while drinking the same juice and lip-syncing to the same song, “Dreams.” Next, Ocean Spray showed up and surprised Nathan with a new truck, which was filled with juice of course. And “Dreams”? First released in 1977, the song had its best streaming week ever with 9 million clicks in one week. 

Not every marketer can dream of achieving virality of this magnitude. But the popularity of TikTok is proving to be a timely and relevant channel for brands that drives deep engagements. And those clicks will be shoppable before long.

You’ll soon be able to click on video ads and buy products through Shopify’s eCommerce platform and distribution service. The new partnership will grow Shopify’s client base, currently at one million merchants, and expand TikTok’s commerce capabilities. Walmart is also pursuing a deal with TikTok, but is waiting for a decision by the U.S. appeals court, which is expected to be announced in early November. 

It looks like TikTok is indeed a “place without boundaries.”

Authored by Wendy Greenwood, a Toronto-based marketing consultant and AMA Toronto Board member.

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