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4 Ways Brands Can Use TikTok Marketing to Go Viral

Laura Finnerty

Multimedia Content Manager @ AdRoll

The platform that turned Duolingo from a friendly language-learning platform to a superstar brand specializing in unhinged viral marketing. The app that turned Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae into household names. The cultural phenomenon that has transformed the way we socialize, relax, learn, and shop.

TikTok, once reserved for Gen Z dance challenges, is undeniably the hottest playground for brands today. If you’re finally ready to take the plunge and post your first short-form video, here’s everything you need to know about making it big on the app.

The Latest on TikTok

Here are some fun facts about the platform:

  • As of July 2022, the app boasts more than 1 billion monthly active users worldwide, making it more popular than Snapchat, Pinterest, and even Twitter.

  • 62% of TikTok users are between the ages of 10 and 29, and 7% are over 50.

  • Users spend an average of 45 minutes per day on the app, making TikTok the most active social media platform. 

  • For Gen Z, TikTok isn’t just a source of entertainment — many have begun using it as a search engine to find information and products that can solve their problems.

  • With both ad spending and the number of users on the platform growing exponentially in the last few years, experts say TikTok will soon be the most valuable platform for ecommerce advertisers. 

It’s clear: if you’re looking to target a massive user base with high engagement, TikTok is the way to go. 

How to Get Started on TikTok

After downloading the app and creating a business account, spend some time browsing the two main feeds to understand how users engage with the platform. This is especially important if you eventually plan to use TikTok as a marketing channel.

You’ll find many TikTok features — including following other accounts, liking, commenting, and sharing content — are similar to the social platforms you already use personally and professionally. Of course, as you interact with TikTok, the platform will learn about you and personalize its suggestions accordingly to help you discover the most relevant content.

1. Leverage Hashtags and Hashtag Challenges

Tap into the power of hashtags — and hashtag challenges — to get your videos noticed. You can use the best practices you’ve honed on other networks, such as Twitter, where you already know not to overuse hashtags if you want to optimize engagement. (Although TikTok makes it harder for brands to get in trouble here as captions are limited to just 100 characters — so choose them wisely.) Hashtags will help with your TikTok SEO when users are searching for content, like the branded videos you’re creating.

You can use TikTok itself to help focus on the right hashtags, too. Search for a keyword, and TikTok will suggest related hashtags. From there, it’s about striking a balance between generic hashtags with a lot of competition and more specific hashtags that might not be as known. What’s the right mix? That’s up to you to figure out.

One real opportunity for discovery lies in wildly popular hashtag challenges. Brands have the option of both participating in existing challenges and creating their own. If they can succeed with the latter — like Scotts’s #DoTheScottsSlide dance challenge and sweepstakes or Calvin Klein’s #OnlyInMyCalvins “strike a pose” challenge — they’ll be true masters of TikTok marketing.

2. Partner With Influencers

Like other social platforms, TikTok has big-name influencers like the aforementioned Charli D’Amelio, Addison Rae, and Zach King, who boast huge reach and devoted followers. These top influencers may be out of the price range of your brand’s TikTok marketing budget — at least to start — but plenty of other influential TikTok users have followers interested in your brand. 

You can identify relevant influencers by searching for brand-adjacent topics on the platform (or via TikTok’s easy-to-use Creator Marketplace, which displays user metrics). If you see a TikTok user creating content you think would be a good fit for your brand, you can reach out to talk about a collaboration or use TikTok as a conduit.

TikTok’s Creator Marketplace makes discovering and connecting with relevant influencers easy.

You may have to start somewhat small, but as your audience grows, so will your prestige and bargaining power — if you’re creating valuable content with the right influencers, that is. In this case, it’s the same as any other social media platform.

3. Create a Paid Campaign 

Brands can also opt-in for TikTok ads through the TikTok for Business Platform. This is a way to fast-track brand awareness and engagement on TikTok in as little as 24 hours. From in-feed ads to shoppable ads to brand takeovers, the options are endless, and ultimately, the right ad mix will depend on your brand’s budget, marketing goals, and campaign type.

Here are a handful of ad types brands can leverage. 

4. Think Outside of the Box

Here are some additional pro tips to keep in mind as you navigate the platform and find your brand’s niche:

  • Be creative. Where TikTok starts to differ from other platforms lies in users’ overall emphasis on self-expression. The good news for brands is this leaves the door wide open for creativity — note which videos captivate you most, whether because of content type, format, or editing. 

  • Keep it short. Although TikTok bumped the maximum video length to 10 minutes earlier this year, remember: brevity is the soul of wit. Users are expecting short and snappy content. 

  • Experiment with editing. Part of TikTok’s magic also lies in the effects you can add, including animation, augmented reality, music, touch-ups, and voice effects.

It’s unlikely that your first post on TikTok will go viral overnight, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different content styles and formats to find the right fit for your brand on the platform.

Want more tips on acing TikTok? Take a page from top TikTok brands’ playbooks — here are 8 A+ case studies to check out. Check out even more guides and resources on TikTok below.

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