TikTok Advertising: Fueling Growth and Engagement for Businesses in 2023
June 14, 2023
Find out the reasons why you should add TikTok to your social media advertising strategy and mention some tips on how to craft compelling campaigns.
As we dive into 2023, it becomes ever more important for marketers to explore new promotion channels to stay ahead of the curve and reach out to new audience segments. This can include experimenting with different social media platforms that offer plenty of opportunities for marketing and advertising – most notably, giants like Facebook, Instagram, Google, and Youtube.
While these platforms have long dominated the social media arena, there is another platform that is steadily climbing to the top positions and has already gained more than a billion active monthly users worldwide – TikTok.
The explosive growth and creative potential, as well as the highly engaged and young user base of this platform, have sparked a paradigm shift in the world of marketing. TikTok offers a lot of new opportunities to reach out to various audience segments and connect with them authentically, which makes it a must for businesses that want to build long-lasting relationships with their customers, especially millennials and Gen Z-ers.
Now, let's delve into the specific reasons why you might want to include TikTok in your online advertising strategy and how to make the platform work for your business.
Why choose TikTok?
At first glance, TikTok is just one of the many platforms where you can post and watch short-form video content, which should mean that it is no different from Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube which also provide analogous features. But this can’t explain TikTok’s huge popularity and high user activity rates in many parts of the world.
This TikTok users' growth forecast by Insider Intelligence shows that the platform will continue its expansion in the next few years, making it a priority for many brands and marketers.
One of the main reasons for the ‘TikTok phenomenon’ is the platform’s unique algorithms that bring personalization to a whole new level, offering its users content that matches their interests and preferences to a T.
This hyper-personalization distinguishes TikTok from all the other platforms and attracts both regular users and businesses alike. Moreover, if we look at it from the advertisers’ point of view, TikTok is the perfect place to:
1. Reach young audiences
TikTok is the most popular platform among young people, and this demographic prefers short videos to other forms of content. TikTok provides plenty of opportunities to easily create content that reflects their tastes, preferences, and opinions.
If your target audience tends to be on the younger side, it’s more than likely that you’ll be able to reach them on TikTok. It also works for businesses that want to tap into new audience segments, freshen up their brand personalities, and gain a more ‘down-to-earth’ and authentic public image.
In order to achieve that, it’s important to understand what kind of content your potential customers engage the most with, and specifically how they interact with branded content. Each audience segment will have its own specific characteristics that you need to take into account when developing your TikTok strategy. Therefore, thorough audience research is a must if you want to build authentic and reciprocal relationships with TikTok users.
2. Build communities
It’s far easier to create and upload a video on TikTok than, say, on YouTube, and the content tends to be more engaging than on other social media platforms. TikTok is also very addictive, which explains the higher engagement and activity rates of TikTok users in comparison with people on other platforms. Combined with the speed and ease of content creation and the interactive nature of TikTok videos, this provides all the necessary conditions for growing communities.
There are communities on TikTok dedicated to all kinds of things, which means that you can definitely find the one your brand can fit in. By discovering communities that your brand’s values and personality align with or even creating ones, you’ll be able to participate in relevant trends and discussions, introducing people to your brand and offering unique solutions to the problems faced by your potential customers.
Rare Beauty is a great example of a brand that also managed to create a loyal community built around not just the products themselves but also a set of shared values.
Another great thing about TikTok is that the content you create doesn’t have to be as polished and curated as what brands usually post on Facebook and Instagram, TikTok puts emphasis on authenticity and creativity rather than on aesthetic perfection, which means that marketers and advertisers can experiment with various forms of content to forge genuine connections with their audience.
3. Discover new products and brands
Besides being a place where people have fun, TikTok can also be a source of knowledge and discoveries for a lot of people. The more immersive nature of TikTok content makes the platform an alternative to classic search engines like Google, and many brands turn to TikTok for this exact reason.
TikTok displays content that is tailored to the preferences of each individual user. This means that even if a specific user does not follow your brand, there's a chance that they will come across your ads or videos while scrolling their For You page if your content aligns with what captured their attention previously.
As short-form videos provide higher engagement rates than other ad formats, it is undeniably one of the best options for showcasing your products or services in a way that makes it hard to not at least want to try them (that’s why the hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt exists).
There are plenty of products that became popular thanks to TikTok, and you can leverage this potential for promoting your brand or products as well.
However, it’s important to note that the reputation and trustworthiness of a brand or a creator who promotes it play an increasingly important role in consumers’ purchasing decisions. TikTok users value transparency and authenticity when it comes to interacting with branded content, which means that you should strive to be honest with your audience and provide reliable information to them.
4. Collaborate with other creators
TikTok has many creators who have gained popularity within specific niches and communities, and collaborating with them can help you significantly expand your outreach.
On TikTok, a creator’s authenticity and ability to make valuable and entertaining content is far more important than things like follower count or video quality, and the audiences of smaller creators often tend to be more engaged and active. If your products or services are relevant to the specific creator and their audience, you have a high chance of tapping into new and highly engaged audience segments, fostering relationships with them, and finding loyal advocates for your brand.
TikTok also provides a great opportunity to interact with people via user-generated content, which is one of the best ways to promote your brand in an effective and authentic way by using social proof.
Now that we’ve got this covered, let’s go through some tips on how to successfully use TikTok for marketing and advertising.
Tip #1: Explore different ad and content formats
TikTok's "For You" page algorithm presents a unique opportunity for brands to go viral. When a piece of content gains traction, it can rapidly reach a massive audience, and this viral potential becomes a magnet for advertisers seeking rapid growth and exposure.
Besides, TikTok offers a variety of content and ad formats that can help you craft engaging and creative promotional campaigns.
Here are the main ad formats that you can use on TikTok:
- In-Feed ads, or short vertical videos with sound that showcase your products: they appear on users’ for-you pages, look organic, and can be liked and shared;
- TopView ads, or ads that users will see when they first open the app;
- Branded Mission, or content related to your brand created by TikTok users that you can boost and use as ads;
- Branded Effect, or custom effects that you can create and prompt people to use in their videos;
- Spark Ads, or boosted videos – it can be your own content, content created by TikTok users, as well as content mentioning your brand.
As you can see, what makes TikTok great for marketing and advertising is that you can easily create ads out of organic content and make sure that they seamlessly fit into the user experience. There are also many opportunities to let your creativity shine. For example, you can add music, voiceovers, text, animations, etc. to your videos, keeping the engagement rates up and making your content resonate with your target audience.
If you want to learn from the best, go and check out the top ads within your industry on TikTok Creative Center. This can help you figure out what worked from other advertisers and incorporate these insights into your own strategy.
On TikTok Creative Center, you can easily find the top-performing ads based on different parameters.
When it comes to organic content, there are also many opportunities to keep your audience engaged. You can share tips and hacks on how to use your products effectively, share advice and insights on something related to your industry, post light-hearted and funny content, and so on.
Take Chewy’s TikTok page as an example: they post various kinds of content, from funny to helpful videos and everything in between.
On TikTok, you can often see that people follow the account of a particular brand because of the content, not simply the products. This shows that content is truly king, at least where TikTok’s user base is concerned: you can gain a lot of followers by making content that aligns with their interests and is relevant, which brings us to the next tip.
Tip #2: Use relevant trends and hashtags
As TikTok is quickly becoming the search engine replacement for many young people, it is important to pay attention to how the platform’s algorithms work and what kind of content TikTok users prefer to see. If you want to draw people’s attention to your brand, you need to align your marketing strategy with the unique features of this platform, in particular with TikTok trends.
TikTok trends can spread rapidly across multiple audience segments or stay confined within smaller communities centered around specific interests or hobbies, but in any case, it’s crucial to pay attention to them if you want to be on the same wavelength as your audience.
As it can be hard to keep up with all the trends that emerge on the platform, you might want to focus on larger and more stable trends. TikTok’s Trend Report provides a helpful breakdown of the patterns (or ‘speeds’) that can be spotted within the rapidly changing trends on the platform. According to this report, there are:
- Moments, or things like sounds, hashtags, and formats that become viral and then quickly forgotten over the course of a couple of days to a couple of weeks;
- Signals, or patterns that demonstrate emerging user behaviors or interests. They have a lifecycle that spans from a few months to a few years;
- Forces, or significant changes in people’s behavior happen on a large scale and can take up to several years.
This report will be useful for any advertiser seeking to leverage TikTok micro- and macro-trends for reaching their marketing goals. Moreover, TikTok’s Creative Center provides an opportunity to check current trends (including trending hashtags, songs, creators, and videos) for specific countries and industries, which helps you stay up-to-date and know what’s popular at the moment.
If you want to stay in the loop with what’s trending on TikTok, just go to the Creative Center and see recent trends for your industry or country.
Hashtags play an important role on TikTok, so you might want to spend some time researching them to use the most relevant ones for your campaigns. There are hashtags related to seasonal (e.g. #solotravel) and lifestyle trends (e.g. #softlife or #fittok), specific communities (e.g. #booktok), things that are relevant for different audience segments (e.g. #ExpectationVsReality), and so on.
Finding the right keywords for your content will increase its discoverability and help you align it with what people find interesting. Besides using already existing hashtags, you can also create your own branded hashtags: you’ll be able to promote them via In-Feed ads or banners on the Discover page and prompt users to create their own content with them.
Also, don’t forget about the memes: there are many brands that maintain a steady presence on TikTok by tapping into the platform users’ interests and sense of humor. Take Duolingo as an example: they post a lot of funny content that is targeted at Gen Z, and it works fantastically for providing high engagement rates and increasing brand visibility.
Duolingo’s TikTok page is one of the best examples of how brands can thrive on the platform by creating content that goes hand-in-hand with current trends and memes.
So, if you want to find your place among other successful brands on TikTok, keep an eye on the trends and memes that your target audience relates to and get inspired for new content and advertising ideas.
Tip #3: Learn the art of storytelling
Storytelling plays an important role in content creation, and many viral TikTok videos only prove this point. A well-told story can drive people to connect and grow affinity with your brand, making your content more memorable and relatable.
Crocs has been reposting the videos of TikTok users where they use simple but actionable storytelling to tell about their experiences with wearing Crocs – this can work as a great customer testimonial strategy.
Here are some recommendations that can help you make your content resonate with your audience:
- Focus on telling the story first, and only then move to promote your products or services. You need to start by establishing an emotional connection with your audience because your brand is not the center of your story – your audience and their problems are;
- Speak your audience’s language by talking about topics that your audience is interested in and starting industry-related discussions – this will help you make your content relevant and relatable;
- Prompt your audience to share their stories: start your own trend and ask people to share their experiences and opinions using your branded hashtag, and repost the most insightful videos on your page;
- Use sounds and special effects — they can add a lot to your stories. You can use trending sounds or music tracks, sync audio with transitions, utilize voiceover effects and text overlay (e.g. for POV videos), etc.;
- Keep your videos short and to the point: don’t make people wait too long for the punchline – start immediately with a hook that will catch their attention and move to the main part of your story;
- Follow the basic rules of storytelling: grab people’s attention (for example, by asking a question or presenting them with a problem), build up the tension, offer your solutions or answers, and show a satisfying outcome. Little hack: introduce an element of surprise to your story by giving it an unexpected twist.
Tip #4: Interact and collaborate with other creators
TikTok makes it very easy to team up and interact with other creators, which is essential for engaging and building authentic relationships with your audience.
Here are just some things you can do to make that happen:
- Boosting and interacting with videos created by TikTok users where they mention your brand, talk about industry-related topics, etc.;
- Finding macro- or micro-influencers to create sponsored content (for example, tutorials on how to use your products);
- Dueting videos of other creators to share your brand’s POV on particular topics and allowing people to duet your videos;
- Answering the questions in your comments in a video form – it is always more engaging and shows that you take audience interactions seriously.
When looking for ways to interact with your audience, you’ll need to find common topics and interests that can connect your brand with potential customers. For example, you can go through the comments on your page or the pages of your competitors, or check the trending hashtags (e.g. #MustHaves, #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt) to see what people are discussing at the moment and which products they recommend.
You can start a dialogue with your audience by asking them questions about how they’re dealing with a specific issue related to your industry or products and prompting them to share their experiences. Not only can this raise awareness for your brand but it can also help you create advertising campaigns that directly address your customers’ needs and pain points.
You can also leverage lifestyle content with hashtags such as #ShopWithMe, #ComeWithMe, #Myday, #GRWM, etc. by collaborating with popular creators and asking them to showcase your products in their videos.
Videos under hashtags like #GRWM can help you showcase your products in the best light, effortlessly combining authenticity with promotion.
And don’t forget about all the opportunities to prompt your audience to make videos. For example, you can start a branded-hashtag challenge or trend: users can make videos with your special branded effects or hashtags, show how they use your products, etc. You can reward top creators with gifts and repost their videos on your page to increase engagement rates and the visibility of your brand.
Also, very often TikTok users start challenges and trends themselves, making particular brands or products go viral. Take the recent ‘Grimace shake’ trend, for instance: it all started as a meme video posted by TikTok creator Fraz in which he drinks the purple McDonald's milkshake that was added to the US menu as part of the Grimace Birthday meal.
Soon, other creators started replicating it, posting hundreds of videos and putting a new spin on the original TikTok. As TikTok trends tend to quite literally transcend the borders, Grimace Shake has spread from the US to other countries as well. Naturally, McDonald’s social team on TikTok has noticed it and posted the response video with the Grimace mascot poking fun at the trend.
Popularized mostly by Gen Z teenagers, the trend has also caught the attention of other demographics and even celebrities.
This shows the impressive power of TikTok to make things go viral in the span of just a few days. If you want to leverage this potential for promoting your brand, stay on the lookout for emerging trends that you can hop on, don’t be afraid to have some fun, and don’t forget to interact with the content made by your audience.
The statistics and experiences of many brands show that in this fast-paced digital era, embracing TikTok's vibrant landscape might be the key to unlocking new growth opportunities in 2023 and beyond.
The main ingredients for success on TikTok are authenticity, creativity, relevancy, engagement, and good timing. You have to be able to hop on a trend in time, regularly post creative and memorable videos, and interact with your audience to cultivate brand loyalty and image.
Finally, here are some TikTok tools, features, and resources that can help you in your advertising journey:
- TikTok Business Center for accessing and managing all of TikTok’s marketing and advertising solutions;
- TikTok Ads Manager for creating and managing ads;
- TikTok Creator Marketplace for finding the right fit for your brand among TikTok’s top creators and Branded mission for crowdsourcing authentic content from TikTok;
- Creative Center for exploring the most successful TikTok ads;
- TikTok Commerce for accessing features like TikTok Shop and Video Shopping Ads that help people easily discover and purchase your products;
- Video templates for turning various assets (photos, videos, text) into TikToks;
- Smart video for automatically cutting longer videos and editing them;
- Effect House for creating your own branded effects and leveraging augmented reality to engage with your audience;
- Pulse ads for running contextual ads that will be displayed right after the top 4% of the content within one of the 12 categories;
- TikTok’s marketing planner for creating your own posting schedule.
When you start running ads on TikTok, remember that you can always manage them more effectively with the help of automation. And if you’re already an experienced TikTok advertiser, consider using AutomatedRules to automate the most repetitive aspects of managing your ads.