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Should your business consider marketing itself on TikTok?

In the relatively few years it has been around, the video-sharing social media app TikTok has fended off many threats to its popularity – from a US ban attempted by the Trump administration (and since halted by the Biden administration) to the arrival of a Facebook-owned rival, Instagram Reels

With TikTok having now been downloaded over 2 billion times, starting a corporate marketing account on it might seem like a no-brainer – but this undoubtedly quirky platform isn’t quite suited to every business. 

A quick introduction to TikTok 

TikTok was originally launched in 2016 by the Chinese company ByteDance but took longer to take off in the West. However, after it merged with the now largely forgotten lip-syncing app Musical.ly in 2018, TikTok’s popularity exploded – a rise also fuelled by the platform’s rapid move away from its musical roots. 

Today, TikTok users can post their own looping video snippets – known as “TikToks” – to the platform, with the subject of each up-to-60-second clip largely left to the creator’s discretion. 

What makes TikTok uniquely appealing for marketers? 

In a sense, TikTok’s concept has borrowed a little bit from each of the social media site’s most obvious rivals – with the video aspect bringing to mind YouTube, the scrolling feed reminiscent of Facebook and Twitter and the manner of content discovery aping Netflix’s personalised, adaptive search algorithm. 

Most importantly for you as a marketer, though, you won’t be able to charm TikTok users by being overly salesy towards them. Your TikTik content needs to look like a fluid, intrinsic part of the platform. 

How can your brand cut through the noise on TikTok?

With TikTok itself not even currently giving many of its users any means of directly converting TikTok users into paying customers, companies’ emphasis should ultimately, for now, be on fostering brand awareness. This exercise should indirectly help these companies to generate sales in the longer term. 

In any case, you should make sure your TikTok content aligns with what your brand also posts on other social media sites. Our social media marketing experts can help you with multi-channel campaigns like this.

Don’t forget to, quite simply, have fun!

After all, that’s what many of your target customers will be on TikTok for in the first place – if, indeed, they are on TikTok. The rather spontaneous nature of most TikTok clips means that the platform doesn’t always lend itself well to use by straight-laced brands such as serious news sites – though there can be exceptions…

One good case in point would be that of the Washington Post, which has used its own TikTok page to post humorous behind-the-scenes videos of happenings in the news outlet’s newsroom. 

If you have never used TikTok in any fashion before, let alone in a marketing context, one way for you to gently ease yourself into the TikTok world could be to run hashtag challenges. Use these to invite followers to create their own content promoting your brand – and don’t forget to use the same hashtag on various social media platforms.

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