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The Clock is Ticking on TikTok

by Kathleen Ruiz

TikTok is one of the most influential social media platforms in the world.  In Q1 of 2020, the app had more than 315 million downloads worldwide, which is the most downloads a quarter by any app, ever. Whether or not you are familiar with the app or have a desire to become familiar (some of us had finally figured out SnapChat), as marketers, we must not ignore the power and influence of this app and what it means for brands.

I decided to take a deep dive into TikTok about six months ago under the guidance of a TikTok expert and scholar - my 12 year old niece. It started out as a challenge. Could her “aging” aunt get the moves down on a choreographed dance video?  Well, I did (she was pleasantly surprised) and now I have to admit I find myself scrolling through the app several times a day. I personally love the cooking and home improvement videos. It's so important as marketers that we take time to study this platform. In order for us to recommend the best marketing tools for our clients we have to understand everything in the toolbox.

Tik Tok is now one of the channels we recommend when deciding on the best digital opportunities for our clients. It is currently the seventh largest social network, surpassing LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter and Pinterest with 800 million active users.  

Marketers know that strong video content and viral sharing can lead to increased brand engagement which ultimately leads to an increased ROI. TikTok is the ultimate platform for short videos that have the ability to go viral very quickly which is what makes TikTok an amazing tool for brands looking to reach the younger customer base.  

TikTok's biggest age group in the US is 18-24 year olds, which account for 42% followed by 13-17 year olds at 27%.

While the demographics skew quite young, according to Marketingcharts, the number of US adults using TikTok has been consistently on the rise over the past few years which is another reason why this platform cannot be ignored even if your brand targets adults 24+.

The best way for marketers to use TikTok is to create fun and engaging content that doesn't look like a traditional ad. Generation Z, in particular, is turned off by anything that looks like an ad. Working with influencers can help brands make connections in an authentic way. A hashtag challenge is another effective way to get people talking about your brand and encourage users on TikTok to create or recreate content with your hashtag.

As far as paid advertising on the platform, here are some ways a brand can advertise:

  • Native Ads: These are similar to Instagram story ads and allow for website clicks or app downloads. Pricing varies depending on a brand's goals and intended reach.

  • Brand Takeovers: Displays a full-screen ad when a user opens TikTok. You can link to a branding page or hashtag challenge. Takeovers run anywhere from $20k-$50k

  • Hashtag Challenges: Promoting a hashtag challenge to get more engagement will set you back $150k for 6 days.

So far, branded hashtag challenges seem to be the most popular approach for brands on TikTok. Several musicians and companies like NFL, Sunsilk, and Universal Pictures have run campaigns. These campaigns encourage users to create videos around a specific hashtag, often using a specific song or set of dance moves. Last year, Chipotle partnered with influencer David Dobrik for a paid TikTok marketing campaign for the #ChipotleLidFlip challenge and got more than 100,000 submissions and 230 million views. 

Even if you think TikTok is not the right platform for your brand or your clients, I strongly suggest you keep it top of mind. It is clear that it's here to stay and given the number of eyeballs that are looking at it every day, it's something we certainly cannot ignore.

Happy TikToking!


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