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#TikTokMadeMeBuyIt: Leveraging the power of TikTok for brand growth

Digital Natives’ Tommy Wigley explores how brands can make the most of TikTok

Tommy Wigley, Digital Natives.

Strategy Director at social-first creative agency

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TikTok. It’s where Gen Z copy dance trends, not a place for brands. Right?

Wrong. Whilst TikTok has become an iconic incarnation of Gen Z and their digital nativity, with over 1 billion active users on the platform, it’s not all dance crazes and Doja Cat. In fact, over 60% of TikTok users are between 20-49, with entertainment - not dance - taking the top spot for the most consumed content type.

Most importantly, it’s a place where all brands have the potential to live. Think your brand’s too serious? Check out the Washington Post. Wrong audience? How about Crocs.

With #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt sitting at a whopping 5.8B views (and counting), the power of people to influence the trajectory of trends and products on TikTok is truly unrivalled. And when we shift our mindset from purely striving for virality to creating a long-term brand vision, the real magic starts to happen. 

It’s time to get messy. Try new things, push boundaries, and see where you land. Read on to get started. 

Speak TikTok

Don’t make ads; make TikToks. Creating content that is native to the way consumers are already engaging on the platform is key to resonating with relevance and authenticity. TikTok is a platform built around trends. Tapping into the moments, sounds, and transitions users are already responsive to will not only see you win their attention: it will also see you favoured by the algorithm as it deems your content more likely to be liked. 

But don’t just take our word for it. With entertainment being TikTok’s most popular category, it’s no surprise that 73% of people want to see funny content from brands on the platform. For a brand doing it well, check out Ryanair

Be yourself (and be specific)

While we’re on the topic, there are few brands who are owning what users are saying about them like Ryanair (just check this out). 

It’s time to own it. Discover the people who are engaging with you and speak to them, specifically. Because if you try speaking to everyone, you’ll end up speaking to no one. It’s impossible to speak with relevance if your message is too generic - and the algorithm won’t like it either. 

The platform is built on creating curated worlds of content unique to each user, resulting in “niches” (think: CleaningTok, FashionTok, PotteryTok… the list goes on). To be relevant, but first be seen, you must be specific.

Create with community

No one can help you authentically tap into these niches like creators can. 

JD’s Pass on the Passion campaign is a great example of a brand that has disseminated a message to a broad range of audiences - leveraging makeup artists, footballers, dancers and even nail artists, they were able to authentically place their message within existing nooks on the platform to speak with relevance to their different audience segments. 

And it goes without saying: the community-led, video-only format of the platform and favouring of “lo-fi” content provides the potential for more authentic, richer storytelling opportunities.

Amplify

63% of TikTok users are likely to watch ads - and that’s thanks to content that fits natively and seamlessly within a user’s app experience so that they don’t even realise it’s an ad. But there’s a reason we’re calling this amplify - ads can never exist in isolation. They must exist alongside - and work with - broader brand-building activity, such as extended storytelling on organic, to ensure consistent growth as well as shorter-term activations. 

Integrate

It’s also essential to look beyond the platform itself. Integrating activity from TikTok into your broader ecosystem will not only allow you to extend the life of your social activity but also tap into wider opportunities afforded by the platform. Take Waterstones for example - they created a physical, in-store stand labelled “Seen on TikTok: BookTok’s favourite reads”. 

Waterstones didn’t create BookTok but were able to tap into the conversation, placing their brand within the story in an organic, fun way.

Where next?

So, what’s next for TikTok? As platforms continue to merge content and commerce capabilities, there is a range of commerce opportunities making their way to our screens on TikTok over the coming months. 

The first is TikTok shops. Exclusive partners already have access to this, but the ability to list your own products on a dedicated shop tab on your profile will extend to all brands soon. In turn, this will facilitate opportunities such as product tagging within ads, organic videos, TikTok lives, and even affiliate programmes, allowing creators to tag brand products on your behalf.

TikTok live streaming is set to improve too. Product tagging and direct purchase are currently available through it, but optimisation of the Live tab is still needed to enable successful user discovery of live and upcoming streams.

Finally, we have AR integration. Already trialled by brands like JD for their JD Vapor Max Shuffle, TikTok are testing an Effect Studio to make AR capabilities accessible to more brands and creators in due course. 

To wrap it up…

If there’s anything to take away for your brand today, it’s this: embrace the power of TikTok. Don’t take yourself too seriously - own what your community has to say and use creators to amplify your message. And whatever you do, don’t use TikTok in isolation. As part of an overarching strategy, it has the power to do much, much more. 

Guest Author

Tommy Wigley, Digital Natives.

Strategy Director at social-first creative agency

About

At Digital Natives, Tommy has been responsible for nurturing and growing the agency’s strategic offering, connecting the dots between insight, human connection, our clients’ brands and mobile action. These four points are rolled out across all the clients resulting in truly social first work, driving both campaign efficiency and effectiveness. Tommy has created social first strategies and campaigns for brands such as Adidas, Boots, Mattel and Vans.

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