Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Why marketers should care about TikTok – and how to make the most of it

by Iain Beable, Social Marketing Manager EMEA, Hootsuite

With more than 1 billion monthly active users and 3 billion global downloads, TikTok has quickly become one of the largest digital platforms in the world. The UK spends more time on TikTok than any other nation and almost one third (32%) of British adults now use the app, according to Hootsuite and We Are Social’s Digital 2022 report.

In order to make the most of the enormous reach and engagement TikTok has to offer, marketers need to develop effective social media strategies and take advantage of real-time insights to succeed.

Back to basics

TikTok is the frontrunner for short-form content, and has led to many social media apps trying to recreate its success, such as with Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts. TikTok even calls itself “the leading destination for short-form mobile videos” and states that its mission is to “inspire creativity and bring joy” to its users.

While many still associate the app with Gen Z dance challenges, TikTok has grown rapidly to tailor content for the vast demographics that use the platform. With subcultures for every community imaginable, from books to fridge organisation, TikTok has opened a new world for users to find and connect with likeminded people – while opening the door for marketers to hone in on their target audiences with curated content. Hootsuite’s 2022 Social Trends Survey, for example, found that 24% of marketers considered TikTok effective for reaching their business goals – up from just 3% the previous year.

Strategic success

TikTok marketing involves using the platform to promote a brand, product or service. There are three major types of marketing brands can use on TikTok:

Influencer marketing – here marketers can use the star power of influencers such as Charli D’Amelio to connect with tens of millions of users a day, or leverage niche-based influencers to reach their target audience.

Creating your own TikToks – original content gives marketers the freedom to create and post about anything, from products to dance challenges.

TikTok advertising – from in-feed ads to branded hashtag challenges, paying TikTok directly for advertising is a sure-fire way to get more eyes on your content.

But as TikTok trends can be completely random, there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all marketing strategy. However, there are legitimate steps marketers can take to find TikTok

success. The first is to get familiar. Marketing teams should dive in and use the app themselves. The algorithm is unique and tailored to each individual – the more people on your team that use the app, the more insights you will gain about what content sparks the highest engagement.

The next step is to define your target audience. With more than 1 billion TikTok users, it’s impossible to please everyone – do your research and find the people you are most likely to convert into customers. Chances are, they will have a TikTok community or subculture! Once you know your audience and the type of content they prefer, you’lll be able to start creating and posting curated content.

Marketers also need to post regularly and track progress closely; a TikTok for Business account, for example, provides real-time metrics and audience insights. Trends change quickly and unexpectedly – what’s popular one day, may not be the next. Make sure to monitor your posts – and those within your target community – to stay up-to-date, or risk appearing out-of-touch.

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment. The often random nature of what’s hot on TikTok can be daunting – especially if you’re new to the platform. Marketers can use this to their advantage by embracing their courageous creativity to create content that is out-of-the-box – helping them to stand out among the masses.

Top tips for 2022 and beyond

TikTok is the most engaging of all social media apps, with an average user session of 10.85 minutes — over three times longer than users typically spend on Instagram.

Here are some top tips for brands looking to drive engagement and connect with key audiences, without interrupting the user experience that makes the app so popular:

Use music – Music is bigger than ever on TikTok, with 75% of users saying they discover new songs on the app, and 73% associating specific songs with TikTok. According to TikTok’s What’s Next Report 2022, 88% of users report that music is critical to the TikTok experience, and 93% of top-performing videos use audio. So, take the time to add the perfect tunes to your content – it’ll be worth it.

Engage with TikTok users – TikTok users like connecting with brands, with 73% reporting they feel a deeper connection to companies they interact with on the platform. There are a myriad of subcultures that you can tap into—explore and become familiar with the communities that already exist, and reach out and engage with your community on a human level.

Partner with creators – Brands can partner with over 100,000 creators through the TikTok Creator Marketplace. This benefits users as much as brands: 35% of users discover products and brands from creators, and 65% enjoy when creators post about products and brands.

TikTok is the new frontier of social. Your audience is almost certainly on there, so your brand should be too. Marketers that take the time to do their research, post regularly, and get creative will be rewarded with greater brand engagement and authentic customer connections.