TikTok logo on a smartphone screen.
By Steph Jones

Should my business be using TikTok?

March 9th, 2023
6 min read

TikTok has been taking the world by storm as one of the fastest-growing social networks, but is it here to stay? Some brands have been gripped by an apparent TikTok FOMO (fear of missing out) and have decided they must adopt an active presence on the platform.

One of the main draws for some brands is that the user-base is incredibly specific so those companies with a target audience within that demographic are seeing a huge opportunity to reach them.

But is TikTok worthy of all the hype and should your business invest time and money there? Let’s find out.

TikTok: causing a storm, but is it here to stay?

TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms in the world with over 500 million active users worldwide and surpassing 1.5 billion downloads. The hype has left marketers wanting to know if they should be using TikTok for their brands and many are still unsure as to whether to take the jump and connect with audiences on the short video platform. Comparable to the popular Vine app, it is certainly making its mark – becoming the fourth most downloaded non-gaming app (only beaten by Facebook, Messenger and WhatsApp).

What is TikTok?

Developed by Chinese company ByteDance, the app gives users the ability to create, share and discover short videos to share within the app’s newsfeed.

Clips are required to be from 3-15 seconds long or up to minute-long videos when using the app’s popular music feature. Just like Snapchat and Instagram, videos are displayed vertically filling up the full proportion of the user’s display screen on mobile. TikTok users are able to share and comment on content; the app’s ‘For You’ feed is a mix of different content that is designed to engage the user based on their previous activity and is attuned to the latest trends, creating new ways to connect.

TikTok advertising  

TikTok’s innovative ad formats are helping big brands to boost their awareness in an effective and concise way.

Early in 2019, TikTok launched a beta version of its ad platform. Since then major brands including Apple have used the platform to promote products using a variety of unique and creative ways while utilising their targeting options, while Gymshark has collaborated with lifestyle and fitness influencers using its marketing expertise to generate awareness on the platform.

The ads platform gives three different options for ad objectives; traffic, conversion and app installs, with the ability to change an optimisation goal to reflect the key metrics of conversions, clicks or impressions. The bidding of ad placements will be optimised to the goal selected.

Paid advertising targeting

Similar to Facebook advertising, TikTok has a targeting selection that allows for the definition of the target audience for a campaign and ads which includes setting your location, gender, age, languages and interests of your target audience. TikTok’s advertising platform has three main ad placements; in-feed, hashtags and brand takeover ads.

  • In-feed ads are the typical ads that you would expect to see on any social media platform like Facebook and Instagram.

  • Brand takeovers is one of the most expensive ad-purchasing options on the platform and suited for major brands. Currently, TikTok only allows just one brand takeover per-day.

  • Hashtag ads or hashtag challenges are one of the most popular ad formats on the platform. Any brand can create a hashtag challenge, and this can be done by creating a video accompanied by a song that encourages users to add their own touch to the hashtag challenge set by the brand.

Influencer marketing on TikTok

Influencer marketing focuses on using key leaders to drive a brand’s message rather than marketing directly and TikTok is the next frontier of social media marketing for influencers, with brands looking to invest money into the social platform.

With influencer marketing, brands have to take a step back and focus on the people who appeal to the behaviour of your target customers. Brands that sell to a youthful audience could consider working with influencers on TikTok.

When comparing the potential of influencer marketing to Instagram, the key demographic of younger users suggests that it would be just as effective.

Consider your audience

The primary demographic of TikTok users are 18-24-year olds, with popular content ranging from dance challenges and reaction videos to day-to-day lifestyles. TikTok users want a digital experience that is authentic, entertaining and user-generated.

There is still some uncertainty about whether TikTok will work for brands. With plenty of hype surrounding the launch of Snapchat, it has since been abandoned by many with its first initial brand adopters being unable to measure their ROI on the platform.

With statistics showing that people’s attention span is declining (this currently being 8-seconds on social media), the 15-second video platform seems to have got the balance right so far; allowing people to create short videos that are engaging to watch, and highly sharable, most importantly attention-grabbing. Creating content similar to what is already out there but with your own twist to make it unique to you as a brand or as a user of the platform is the way forward to getting started on the bite-sized video platform.

Final words

Undoubtedly, TikTok has made a mark on the social media landscape. So did Vine, and that had little long term benefit for brands. Snapchat also made waves and whilst it is still a major social network, the proportion of brands that can leverage it effectively is tiny. Many of the features of TikTok crossover with those of other platforms so its challenge will be to maintain its draw after the novelty phase.

When deciding whether to launch yourself into a new arena, weigh up the opportunity cost of your reduced focus on other social media marketing or any other business process. If you do fancy a flutter on TikTok, remember that relevance is more important than reach on the platform. Don’t just go for a strategy that uses influencers with massive followings – go for those that have a suitable audience.

By taking time to research your audience and the capabilities of the platform, this will put could be on your way to creating hashtag challenges of your own – and even creating the next big viral trend.

Steph Jones.
Steph Jones

Head of Social

A hands-on Head of Social, with extensive experience across Charity, Retail and eCommerce, both agency side and client side, with brands such as WWF, Virgin Pure and Purity Brewing. Steph considers all facets of the customer journey through social and paid media, as well as creating engaging content in line with the business goals to capture attention and convert audiences.