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July 22, 2020

How to Use TikTok For Brand Building

by Laura Harker

Brands are no strangers to using social media. From Facebook to Instagram, these platforms are key places to target audiences and assist your brand building. But, for your brand to get the most from social media, it needs to be on top of the latest big trends. We’ve gone from Facebook to YouTube and then IGTV and now, TikTok.

Not many brands have ventured onto TikTok just yet; however, to get one step ahead of the competition, you should consider adding to your social media arsenal. Once you get to know the app and exactly what you can do with it, you will find that it’s a great help with brand building. To help those dipping the first toe into TikTok, we’ll go over the basics of the platform, explore what other brands are doing with it, and discuss how you can use it to your own brand’s advantage.

What is TikTok?

If you’re over 30, then you might not know what we are talking about. TikTok—what is it?!

It’s just like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, in that it’s a social media site that brings people together. The main USP of TikTok is that it’s all about videos: users can upload and edit videos up to a minute long.

The app is still in its infancy compared to the other social media giants, but has an impressive number of users: 800 million! 56% of these users are male while 50% of global users are under 34.

It can be easy to compare TikTok to Instagram, as both platforms encourage users to post videos. Sure, there are some similarities: they both feature pages to help people discover who to follow and see what’s trending. You can use video on both platforms, but it’s only Instagram that also allows photos. With TikTok, it’s all about videos. While Instagram gives users the chance to upload videos of over a minute long, TikTok’s videos are a lot shorter: videos are no longer than 15 seconds, although multiple clips can be edited together to create minute-long videos.

As the user base of TikTok is younger than Instagram, there’s also a distinct difference in the content on both platforms. On TikTok, the aim of most users is to go viral, so expect hilarious, meme-driven videos that are created to grab people’s attention. Videos on Instagram usually aren’t so in-your-face and range widely from informative and educational content to AMAs and YouTube-style shopping hauls. On TikTok, once a user has uploaded their video, they can then add various filters as well as adding tracks from a huge music library. It’s these extra edits and additions that can help videos go viral.

The Benefits of TikTok for Branding


TikTok is a very potent platform at the minute and can bring these following benefits:

1. The App Makes Cross-Promotion Easy

Cross-promotion is an easy and effective way to build continuous sales and conversions. You might be a huge success on Instagram right now, but there’s no guarantee that it’s going to last forever. If something happens that reduces your brand’s appeal on the platform—perhaps a negative PR incident or a reduction in post engagement—you might not be able to recover without another platform to lean on.

Want to keep on using both Instagram and TikTok? Well, you can thanks to the easyness of cross-promotion on TikTok. It’s super easy to save TikTok videos to your camera roll. They are then yours to upload to any other social media app or site of your choosing. In just minutes, you could post the video to your Instagram newsfeed or stories, for instance. If you do cross-post to your Insta feed, just remember about the difference in dimensions. The TikTok newsfeed posts are 16:9 whereas on Instagram it’s 4:5.

When you do post your TikTok onto a different platform, be sure to always add a call-to-action to try to persuade users to follow your TikTok account.

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2. You’ll Be Exposed to a Huge Audience

We’ve already mentioned that there are an incredible 80 million users on TikTok. This is a huge audience that you can utilize to your own advantage and can help massively when it comes to your brand awareness. The more people on the platform means the more people that you could present your brand to. Even if they don’t act on any of your content or adverts, they will still become familiar with your branding the more they see it. Eventually, through osmosis, your brand awareness should spread further as more people start to talk about it away from the app.

For example, The NBA boasts an incredible 11 million followers on its TikTok. One thing that it does well is to completely separate its TikTok content from what is published on the brand’s Instagram. Whereas its Instagram profile is mainly basketball game highlights, it uses its TikTok profile as a way to show fans behind the scenes. One example is the videos that show all the adventures the various mascots get up to.

Follower numbers are set to increase over time too, as users abandon older forms of social media for newer ones. For instance, only 10% of teenagers state that Facebook is their preferred form of social media, which shows that brands looking to target younger audiences might be better placed focusing their efforts on the huge number of teens on TikTok.

3. A Chance to Work with Local Creators

There are many popular creators who are based in small cities around the world, who have over 10,000 followers. They have become known as “micro-influencers” as they each inhabit such a small niche when it comes to their location. This is super useful for small, local brands that could do with a bit of a boost. Much like working with Instagram influencers, you could also reach out to a micro-influencer who is big in your local area.

An example of a larger brand taking advantage of this strategy is Sony Music. During a campaign across Spain, Italy, and Argentina, the brand teamed up with 12 influencers to promote the Nicky Jam x Sch song. Eight million users engaged with this content and around 10,300 user-generated videos were created that helped the song go viral.

Influencers can also have a huge number of followers, sometimes even in the millions, and this is a vast audience that you can’t afford not to tap into. Once you do, you can expect your brand awareness to go through the roof!

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How to Use Tik Tok for Brand Building

On the face of it, TikTok may appear like it’s just been made for fun and games. After all, it’s the go-to app for teens to make memes and to try to go viral. But, as the examples above show when brands venture onto this new social media platform, a lot can go right for them.

So, how exactly do you use TikTok to help with your brand building? Here are some key points that can help you make it big on this new app.

Use Analytics and Trends to Get on the For You Page

When you sign up to TikTok, you can choose either a free profile or pay for their Pro account. It’s much better to plum straight for the pro as you will have access to analytics for the app. You’ll see insights on who is watching and sharing your videos. This can be extremely useful as there is still little known about the TikTok algorithm at the minute. But there is just enough knowledge out there that can help brands get onto the important For You page.

Your future exposure is largely based on the performance of previous videos. So, if your very first TikTok video manages to go viral, then that’s a brilliant kick start! As soon as a video is published, it’s shown to a small number of users. If these users like it and interact with it, then TikTok will open it up to even more people.

Your geographical location matters. Once a video goes live, it’s usually only shown to users in the same country. This is good news for smaller brands that are trying to increase their local brand awareness. However, bigger brands might feel like this is a disadvantage. If your video does well in the initial geo-location it’s shared to, then it will start to trickle through to further afield locations. So, as long as your video is engaging, there’s no need for bigger brands to worry!

It’s always worth using hashtags and sounds, as they are both useful in going viral. Adding hashtags makes it possible for videos to show up on Discovery pages It’s even believed that using #foryou, #foryoupage, and #fyp can greatly increase a video’s chances of making it big on the For You page.

Videos can go viral at any time, even ones that were uploaded a while ago. This means that content on TikTok has a much better shelf life than it does on Instagram. Every video’s performance is being tracked by the algorithm, so there’s a good chance that a video from a month ago can start to gain some serious traction if it performs well all of a sudden.

If you follow the latest trends, post regularly, and use insights from analytics to see the kinds of videos your target audience wants to see, then you’ve got a greater chance of getting on the For You page. This is the ultimate goal for every brand as it will make the brand so much more discoverable. The For You page is just like Instagram’s Discover page. It shows a collection of posts from accounts that are similar to the ones a user already follows. This is a brilliant way to increase brand awareness, as TikTok is literally telling users to follow you.

Make Sure All Posts Benefit Brand Awareness & Engagement

Brand awareness and engagement always have to be at the front of your mind when creating content for TikTok. This shouldn’t be all that difficult as there are a number of TikTok features and trends that you’ll be able to jump on that can help push your brand name out there.

Advertise on Tiktok

As well as trying to build a following, it’s also worth funding some advertisements on TikTok. Ideally, you want to aim for a brand takeover advert. These are shown to users as soon as they open the app and feature a clickable link. As these ads are exclusive to your chosen category, you can aim them at your target audience. The ads will appear for one whole day.

Grubhub was one of the first brands to use the brand takeover ads, ensuring that their name was seen by millions of users:

What’s the catch? Well, they are extremely costly, to the point they could be out of reach for most startups. In June 2019, a TikTok pitch deck was leaked and it reported that these ads cost $50,000 per day. That’s certainly pricey, but when each ad guarantees five-million daily impressions, there’s no wonder that so many brands justify the huge spend.

If the brand takeover sounds too rich for your blood, you could instead try native video ads. These will appear between user-generated content and can be anywhere between 9 - 15 seconds long. The only downside to these ads is that users can skip them, but creating engaging adverts that your audience will want to see will ensure they view right till the end.

Create Branded Face Filters and Lenses

Just like Snapchat, TikTok has the ability for brands to create their very own face filters and lenses. These will be live for 10 days for users to use in their own content. 64% of users have used face filters before, as they are a creative way to mix up their videos.

Make a cool and fun filter or lense and be sure to stick your branding on it. When people use it in their videos, then their followers will see your branding too. This creates a ripple effect and you could have thousands of users using your filters and lenses, and spreading your branding around the platform.

You can even partner with TikTok to create 2D and 3D branded lenses. Partnering with TikTok means that the lenses will appear in the Trending tab for 10 days. However, this is another pricey form of promotion, as it can cost between $80,000-$120,000 depending on how complex the lens design is.

Hashtag Challenges

You have two options here; you can come up with your own hashtag and encourage followers to use it, or you could participate in a current challenge that is doing the rounds. If the challenge goes viral, then hundreds of thousands of users could become familiar with your brand. Around a third of users have participated in this kind of challenge before, making them a popular route for going viral.

One of TikTok’s best-performing brand challenges came from Chipotle, in which they encouraged fans to post videos of themselves dancing along with the hashtag #GuacDance.

The clothing line Guess may not have many videos up on TikTok just yet—at the time of writing, they only have 10—but they’ve still attracted an impressive 460000 followers. That could all be down to their very successful #InMyDenim hashtag they use to encourage followers to show off their Guess clothing.

Using Viral Music

Take a look at the videos tagged with #ThisIsBliss and you’ll notice one thing: they all use the same music. This skincare brand partnership created their very own piece of music for users to add to their videos alongside the hashtag, which quickly went viral.

Team up with Influencers

Just like Instagram, TikTok has its own set of extremely popular influencers. To put this into perspective, at least 40 TikTok stars have more than 10 million followers. You might not be able to partner up with these big guns, but if you look for TikTok users that have tens of thousands of followers, then it’s still worth implementing an influencer marketing strategy. Have a look at Red Bull’s work with influencer C9 Keeoh for some inspiration!

Going Live

Going live is a great way to increase engagement with your fans, but keep in mind that you’ll need at least 1,000 followers to do so.

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TikTok isn’t just a place for teenagers to go viral; as you can see, it’s also a platform that benefits brands as well. When using the app to make creative, engaging content, you’ll find that it’s easy to get your name out there and increase brand awareness. What’s more, advertising opportunities have huge lead-generation potential.

Take the plunge and set up a brand profile on TikTok. Follow the tips above to help rocket launch your content so that it’s got a great chance of going viral. And then, by tracking various metrics on the app, you’ll be able to see just how TikTok’s reach can send your brand further.

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