Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Let’s talk TikTok for B2B

By Milly Bell, Digital Expert, Fox Agency

In August 2021, as reported by the BBC, App Annie crowned TikTok as the most downloaded app of 2020, taking over from Facebook Messenger and becoming the only app not owned by Facebook to make the global top five downloads.

However, surely TikTok is just full of dance crazes, makeup transformations and cleaning hacks, right? Wrong. TikTok holds an abundance of opportunities for brands to gain exposure, share their personality and engage an exciting online community. Plus, it’s not just B2C brands having all the fun, TikTok strategies for B2B brands are fast becoming a big deal and here’s why.

It’s not about who you are

TikTok boasts over a billion users – that’s one hell of a captively scrolling audience just waiting to absorb your content. But in contrast to other platforms, it’s not necessarily about growing your following – you can be discovered in many ways. TikTok’s genius algorithm favours authentic and relevant content above all else, disregarding fan-base or follower volume when choosing content for its For You or Discover pages, where it showcases trending videos, topics and hashtags. No wonder every man and his dog are getting so excited about it. That man and his dog could go viral in no time, with little to no following whatsoever.

It’s about what you do

For TikTok to love you as much as you love it, you’ve got to be real. Authentic content is king and TikTok prides itself on being the platform for original self-expression. The TikTok community doesn’t care for being talked at and sold to, so we’re not looking for traditional content here. For both organic and paid media, if you think you can bash out the same style content as seen on Twitter or LinkedIn, think again.

TikTok content needs to be created in tune with the platform’s existing videos. You want to join the ever-growing community, not kill the vibe entirely with an approach that’s completely at odds with the community. By no means am I saying blend in but, take time to read the room. Showcase your brand’s identity in an authentic way with non-polished, trend-led content. By engaging with the existing community, you invite engagement in return.

While it’s highly recommended for B2B brands to have an organic-led TikTok strategy, this also rings true when advertising content. TikTok offers several options for paid media, such as in-feed ads, and for larger scale budgets we’re talking brand takeover video ads, branded hashtag challenges and more. These placements are not completely dissimilar to the offerings of other ad platforms; however, this doesn’t mean traditional advertising is going to cut it. For successful paid campaigns, your content also needs to integrate with the For You page – looking and acting like organic videos.

Moreover, TikTok openly communicates that the channel aims to be educational, as well as entertaining. This provides huge opportunity for educational content around your brand, services, and products. Just be sure to approach this content in the right manner, bearing in mind that B2B is not, and never will be, ‘boring to boring’.

Short-form video content is undoubtedly a placement worth investing in, now and in the future. From TikTok, Instagram Reels and even YouTube Shorts, the cross-platform potential to feature effective, snappy video means your content can reach an even wider audience, growing and feeding your visibility on multiple platforms. Everyone’s a winner.

And why you do it

So, let’s be transparent. Though TikTok can work wonders, the platform rarely provides leads, meaning you might struggle to prove ROI. If you’re looking for hard and fast leads, TikTok probably isn’t the channel churning them out. This platform’s value lies elsewhere.

TikTok is the perfect stage for brand awareness. It presents a fantastic opportunity for B2B brands to build and enjoy a new, ever-growing community. Because that’s what it really comes back to – community, connections and relations. Given that 2020 was full of pretty scary circumstances, isolation and separation. It seems only fitting that a platform which aims to bring people together, lift spirits and add a human touch to online content, was the most downloaded app of the year.

In the vein of authentic self-expression, TikTok is equally fantastic for employee advocacy, workplace culture and the humanisation of your brand. In terms of thought-leadership positioning, imagine the impact of a CEO going viral on TikTok, breaking through corporate formalities, and presenting themselves as accessible, approachable, and human.

In the land of B2B, brands risk appearing corporate, faceless, and it pains me to say it but yes, boring. By taking on a TikTok strategy that pushes the boundaries of traditional B2B content, reactively aligns with fast-moving trends and remains true to your brand identity, you reduce this risk massively.

Think strategically about your content, but don’t be afraid to take risks. For once, it’s not about beating them, it’s about joining them. So get involved.