Content Marketing
Keeping Up With the Kids
How to Use TikTok to Increase Brand Awareness and Market Your Business
Published On:
June 22, 2020
In this piece for Sherpa Marketing, I explain how businesses can leverage TikTok in an authentic way to reach a wider audience.
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If you’ve ever been witness to a couple of young people performing a choreographed dance for what appearsto be an audience of none, you might have in fact stumbled across a TikTok video in the making. While you might be inclined to dismiss the newest socialmedia app as simply something that kids do to keep themselves entertained untilthe next social media trend develops, but you’d be missing out on the potentialof what is in fact a global phenomenon.

TikTok may be the newest player on the block, but its reach is growing rapidly. Not only is it fast becoming the most popular social media app, it also offers an entirely creative and innovative way to spread brand awareness amongst a huge segment of the population and market your business to an increasingly wide audience.

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What is TikTok?

The app is actually the amalgamation of two separate apps: TikTok and a lip-synching app Chinese tech company, Bytedance, who owned TikTok, in 2017 (for the whopping price tag of $1 billion), and a year laterannounced that they were merging it with TikTok.

Since then, TikTok has become a video-based app – often compared to the now-obsolete Vine – wherein you upload 10- to 60-second videos and share them with users around the world. Inits first year, TikTok was downloaded one billion times, surpassing Instagram. It has already surpassed Facebook, YouTube, and Snapchat in total downloads, andtoday has over 800 million active users – making it more popular than Twitter,Snapchat, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitch. TikTok is clearly worth paying attention to.

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How Does it Work?

It’s actually incredibly simple and user friendly – after you download it, you’re prompted to film an in-app video with the option to add music, multiple video effects, transitions, and stickers. Once you’re happywith the video, you can make use of hashtags to increase your reach, add a Wikipedia link, and even share your cinematic masterpiece to other platforms. While you can follow and engage with other users, you are also able to explorenew videos through the app’s “Discover” feed (similar to Instagram), as well astrending videos and hashtags and suggested accounts.

TikTok is great because it allows you to not only direct people to your other platforms, but also go live,run ads, make use of their trending hashtags, and engage with your audience through likes, comments, shares, and challenges or duets. And because the app is relatively young (pun intended), it’s a low-pressure online environment. TikTok encourages you to be creative, fun, and funny – users are looking for new,authentic content.

How Can you Leverage TikTok for Your Business?

Because TikTok is new,businesses can experiment with it in a way that is considerably less risky than other traditional marketing tactics. You can easily explore the app anddiscover what other similar brands are doing and how they’re engaging with their audience, or you can simply start trying it out and see what happens! TikTokis growing rapidly, the competition is relatively low, and users are looking for unique content, so this is a place for really creative ideas. Funny perspectives on your industry, quick tips, behind-the-scenes videos, and content driven by the creation of personalities will work best here.

While you have the opportunity to drive users to your other platforms – including your website – the nature of TikTok’s younger audience means that the app mightbe most successful in generating brand awareness. And, of course, it’s not necessary to jump on every new platform out there, but if you’re looking toreach and engage a younger audience, then TikTok is worth a try.​

Conviva just released a 34-page eBook that outlines TikTok best practices, as well as “an overview of TikTok analytics” and “industry-specific benchmarks for performance to help provide some perspective.” Their tips include adding music tracks to your videos, whichenable additional opportunities for users to find you when they’re searching for videos that feature that specific song. They also suggest that you spendthe time to develop personalities – like a reoccurring staff member orcharacter – or incorporate celebrities and influencers in your videos to help draw in users.

The report also notes benchmarks per industry, with sports media the most successful in terms of both account growth and engagement, followed by television and pro sports leagues. The top three accounts for follower gains are NBA, ESPN, and Ellen DeGeneres, while the top three news and media accounts are Seventeen, Complex, and ENews.

Which Brands are Successfully Using TikTok?

Chipotle has done a great job of incorporating TikTok in their marketing strategies. They gained traction when they released a video for National Guacamole Day to promote free guacamole in stores that day. They used the “Guacamole Song” video – a 2015 video by Dr.Jean, a teacher and musical artist known for educational children’s videos – andlaunched the #GuacDance challenge. The challenge not only went viral – in one week it became the highest-performing branded challenge – but resulted in the restaurant chain’s biggest Guacamole Day on record, with 800,000 guac sides served that day.

Red Bull has also found an audience on the app, but rather than posting product-specific content, they instead play off of their tagline, “Red Bull gives you wings” by posting extreme sports and stunts from skateboarders, snowboarders, and BMXers.By posting awe-inspiring videos users will be interested in and that connect with their brand, Red Bull is able to engage a wider audience and raise brand awareness.

The NBA makes use of TikTok by posting game highlights,montages, and funny, behind-the-scenes content. While they sometimes post inspirational content from players, a good deal of their content comes from dance challenges or other viral TikTok trends with their in-house content team, players, and influencers.

What are you Waiting For?

While you may not end up TikTok famous right away, the app nevertheless provides a great opportunity for experimenting with your team to produce funny, creative, and unique content fora wide-reaching audience. If the platform is one that speaks to you, why not give it a try? The risks are low and the potential benefits are high, so download the app and try it out!​               

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