News & Insights

TikTok: What Every Brand Needs to Know About Showing Up on the Platform

By Haley Silvers

Repeating pattern of TikTok logo on phones.

The rising popularity of TikTok represents a brave new world for social media. Though the social platform launched in 2018, TikTok didn’t take off in the US until 2020, leaving everyday users, influencers, and brands alike trying to figure out how to take advantage of the formerly video-only platform during a global pandemic.

But figuring out how to navigate creating successful content on TikTok is no easy feat – especially for brands. Unlike its predecessors Facebook and Instagram, where branded content is more clean-cut, buttoned up, and aesthetically pleasing, content on TikTok is fun, un-serious, and spontaneous – which means leveraging a completely new content strategy to reach consumers.

So how can brands successfully show up on TikTok?

Use TikTok How It Wants To Be Used

TikTok is built on trends, and brands must leverage trends to give them a better chance of reaching their audience and tapping into new consumers. Trends can include music, sounds, imagery, creator types, and even content themes that TikTokers recreate and put their own spin on. Take Megababe, who leveraged the viral Tim Robinson “you sure about that” meme to question consumers who thought biker shorts were a solution for thigh chafe instead of their product, Thigh Rescue. The content earned them over 2 million views on TikTok, which is ~1,000% higher than the view rate on most of the brand’s content.

Tapping into trending creator types in support of Auntie Anne’s limited-time Snack Stadium offering, RF|Binder worked with the brand to develop a campaign that took advantage of the extreme popularity of the Football Wife creator category on TikTok, which has over 2 billion views. Creating content all about dating or being married to professional football players, the influencers drove a nearly 9% engagement rate on TikTok.

Know When To Put Paid Dollars Into Play

Having a strong paid media strategy on TikTok is all about having your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in pop culture and being ready to act on a trigger moment. Whether it’s an event, trend, or even a controversy, it’s important to know when to put paid dollars into play.

For example, one of the many reasons Megababe had so much success with their aforementioned Tim Robinson-themed TikTok post is because they put paid dollars behind timely content leveraging a trend. Similarly, the trigger for paid support can also stem from a controversy involving an influencer you’ve previously worked with, such as the Bria Jones controversy with Tarte cosmetics. At a time when TikTok users were awaiting updates from the influencer to pop up on their feed, brands like Colgate and Nair boosted their pre-existing content with Bria, knowing viewers would stop to hear what she had to say.

Tap Into Your Audience and Give Them What They Want

Leveraging TikTok trends through content is one thing, but leveraging trends to create products is a TikTok cheat code. This tactic allows brands to simultaneously insert themselves into a trending conversation, provide consumers with an easy way to test out a trend and drive an influx of social content for your brand through organic content posted by TikTokers who are trying out your product.

Think Chipotle’s introduction of the “Keithadilla” and “Fajita Quesadilla Hack” which was inspired by the menu-hack orders from influencers Keith Lee and Alexis Frost that went viral on TikTok and had consumers everywhere heading to Chipotle to try it out. Most recently, Popeyes leveraged the trending theme, Girl Dinner, which has nearly 600 million views on TikTok to inspire its new Girl Dinner combo.

As an integrated communications firm, RF|Binder works with clients daily to determine how to authentically tell their stories through social media and build a relationship with their followers. Though TikTok seems to be constantly evolving, we’ve helped our clients nail down how to do TikTok right through fun, engaging and timely content that makes the brand relatable and relevant to their audience.

Want to learn more about how to drive success for your brand on TikTok? Reach out to the team here – we would love to chat!

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