How to make your TikTok tick

5 ways to make sure your marketing strategy performs how it should

Ed Hill, SVP EMEA at Bazaarvoice, shares his views on how brands can tap into the vast (and still growing) social commerce opportunities on TikTok…

With over 1bn active users, TikTok is one of the fastest growing social media platforms in the world, captivating consumers with the latest trends and creatively engaging content. Brands and retailers are now increasingly tapping into this burgeoning social commerce market, which is projected to reach over 100million buyers by 2023. For the brands that haven’t yet joined the TikTok community, if fear of missing out isn’t enough to entice you, the risk of losing out on the commerce opportunity – and millions of eager consumers – might well be. 

So if you want to really resonate with Generation TikTok, here's where your attention should be focused:

1) There's a space on TikTok for your brand

It’s important for marketers to recognise that TikTok provides more than just tongue-in-cheek content, it’s a place for users to discover new trends, brands and products. In a study conducted in conjunction with Nielsen, TikTok found that over half of users (60%) follow brands on its platform, creating a real opportunity for marketers to reach and engage with current and prospective customers. Recent research from Bazaarvoice attests to the platform’s incredible growth potential in social commerce: shopping on TikTok grew by 553% in 2020, faster than the likes of Instagram and Facebook. Users are turning to the platform to browse, like virtual window shopping – and marketers can take advantage of this to showcase their brand’s unique product offering through creative content and advertising. 

2) Find your brand voice

There should be careful consideration from brands when it comes to their social strategy, making it a priority to create tailored content for each platform. What makes TikTok stand out from other social platforms is the unique and addictive style of its content. According to a 2021 Attest survey, the most popular type of content on TikTok is funny videos or tutorials, as they’re not only engaging but also relatable. This sense of authenticity is a core part of the platform, with separate research from TikTok finding that 64% of users use the platform because they can be less polished, and more authentic, in the content they choose to share – and they expect to see the same from brands. 

A brand such as Feelunique has really grasped this, regularly sharing humorous, relatable content around beauty and skincares struggles in its TikTok feed, which is particularly engaging for its target audience. River Island is another great example here: the fashion brand regularly uses its TikTok presence to share more realistic content and behind-the-scenes clips, to provide an insight into the brand. By leveraging current trends and adopting TikTok-specific formats, brands can create a bold, creative presence that resonates with users – and potential consumers – and helps them stand out from the crowd. This is a strategy that can be easily replicated, but the most important thing for a marketer to consider when it comes to brand voice is to stay true to your brand image and messaging, and remain authentic. 

3) Make the most of the shopping tools

Last year TikTok launched TikTok Shopping, a new suite of capabilities and tools designed for e-commerce. The TikTok Seller App, for example, makes social commerce all the easier for brands by enabling marketers to handle all stages of the customer journey, from managing orders, returns and refunds to providing customer service. These tools also help provide consumers with the best possible shopping experience within the platform, enabling them to easily browse and click through to product links to make purchases. Another possibility for brands is to create a shopping tab. By syncing a product catalogue with an e-commerce provider like Shopify or BigCommerce, brands can create a shopping tab which leads users to an in-app storefront they can browse, without having to leave the app. Kylie Cosmetics was one of the first brands to make use of this, and countless others have since followed suit. 

4) Make entertaining ads that feel authentic

TikTok provides the most entertaining ads, according to Kantar's 2021 Media Reactions Report, finding users are most positive about the ads they see on TikTok compared to other platforms. This is partly because the platform offers a range of creative formats for brands. TopView Ads is the ad format users prefer the most when compared to ads on other social platforms, according to the Kantar findings, because ads are played directly after a user opens the platform. This is an effective way to create user engagement, as brands can grab user attention immediately.

Alternatively, In-Feed Ads weave seamlessly into other content in a user’s ‘For You’ page. Brands can embed a video ad into users’ feeds, and ensure it looks and feels more like native content, which allows marketers to share more authentic-feeling ads with users. TikTok has also more recently expanded In-Feed Ads with the Collection Ads feature, which shows product cards alongside the ad, enabling users to easily click on through to the product on the company’s website. 

5) Leverage the power of the community with UGC

Professionally produced advertising content has its place on TikTok, but user-generated content [UGC] is also invaluable for brands, with consumers’ videos a prime source of inspiration. Bazaarvoice’s research found 62% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase if UGC is available, and companies such as Boots UK have built their TikTok presence around it, featuring content from customers who share tutorials, product reviews and advice, as well as creative, witty and more relatable content. This is an effective social commerce strategy as it encourages users to engage and share content within the community, helping to build a brand’s presence and reputation.

The power of the community also stretches beyond the daily user, with influencer marketing an effective way to engage users, especially on TikTok. Last year, 68% of marketers noted they were planning to use the platform for influencer marketing, compared to just 16% the year prior. One outfit that’s really focused on this is men’s skincare brand Bulldog, which has partnered with popular TikTok Creators to create light-hearted and funny ads that resonate well with the TikTok community due to their relatable, authentic nature. 

By curating a brand voice, leveraging advertising and UGC, and taking advantage of all the e-commerce solutions TikTok offers, brands can follow in the footsteps of others already shining on TikTok and tap into the social commerce opportunity to drive brand awareness, community engagement and, ultimately, sales.