So What’s This TikTok Thing Anyway?
“So I saw this TikTok the other day…”
If you’ve been around anyone under the age of 25 in the past few years, it’s a phrase you’ve probably heard at least once. TikTok is a social media platform devoted to short-form video, and since its initial launch in 2016, it has accumulated nearly 1 billion active users. Part of what has driven the app’s success is its algorithm, which gathers information based on what you watch, what you scroll past and what you engage with in order to funnel similar content back to you. It’s what makes it so easy to spend hours upon hours scrolling through your feed – you never know what may be waiting beyond just one more swipe.
The platform isn’t without controversy, however. Issues such as content censorship and data collection have plagued the platform for years, even leading to recent congressional hearings looking into potential security concerns. Still, this didn’t stop TikTok from becoming the most downloaded app of 2022.
So, as with any social media platform with this level of visibility, the question has to be raised: should you be on TikTok to market your business?
The answer? It depends.
Types of TikTok Ads
First, let’s get into what marketing looks like on TikTok.
Like with any platform, it starts with your base content. This is what you post to your profile in order to showcase your services and what appears on viewers’ feeds when they choose to follow you. If you’re looking to get your content in front of a wider audience, however, you may want to consider paid advertising.
There’s a wide range of ways to promote yourself on TikTok, but let’s go over just a few:
- In-Feed Ads
- This is the most common type of TikTok ad. In-feed ads appear sporadically throughout the user’s For You Page (their main feed, commonly shortened to FYP). Except for a ‘sponsored’ disclaimer beneath the video’s caption and potentially an embedded link, they’re indistinguishable from the organic content that surrounds it. Viewers can like, comment and share them just as they would with any other video. In-feed ads allow for a wide reach and, if they blend in seamlessly enough, potentially much longer watch time from viewers scrolling through their FYP. They’re also the easiest type of ad to create, so they’re perfect for businesses just getting started with the platform.
- Top View Ads
- These are similar to In-Feed ads, with the major difference being that they appear as soon as the user opens the app. This has both advantages and disadvantages; on one hand, it ensures your content is being seen by the maximum number of viewers, as it’s automatically the first thing shown on their feed. On the other, users can come to expect an ad when they open the app and may become accustomed to immediately scrolling past without bothering to watch.
- Brand Takeover Ads
- Similarly to Top View ads, these immediately appear after opening TikTok, only they make less of an attempt to blend in with organic content. They last only 3 to 5 seconds and can link to both internal landing pages and external sites. Viewers are only shown one of these a day, making them the most premium (and most expensive!) ad space on the platform.
There are many more ways to promote your brand on TikTok, such as hashtag challenges, branded effects and more, but for those just looking to get their foot in the door, these are a good place to start.
Should You Be On TikTok?
Of course, all of this information is secondary to the big question: should your business even use the platform in the first place? Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Few social media audiences skew as young as TikTok’s does; as of March 2023, 32.5% of TikTok users are between the ages of 10 and 19, while another 29.5% are 20-29. If your goal is to extend your reach into the younger demographic, the platform may provide the perfect opportunity; if not, you may find your time and resources being wasted on teenagers who don’t connect with your brand.
Then there’s the issue of content itself. How do you want your business to be perceived in the social media landscape? As mentioned before, the types of ads that find the most success on TikTok are ones that blend in with the videos that surround them – the type that will engage the viewer’s attention and entice them to watch the ad before they even notice the ‘sponsored’ label. This generally means content that prioritizes substance over style with a grounded and homemade approach. Unless you’re going for a TopView ad that shows up when users are already expecting branded content, flashy and studio-quality video probably isn’t the best strategy here. TV-level advertising will immediately alert the viewer that they’re being sold to, and more often than not, they’ll scroll right on past.
For example, European airline Ryanair has gone viral multiple times with their low-effort yet high-quality videos, which tap into current humor and trends.
By using only a green screen template of a popular meme and a relatable caption, the account receives millions of views and engagements on each of their posts. This isn’t the only way to go about promoting yourself on TikTok, of course. Videos that show real people being genuine about their lives and products will always connect with audiences more than a carefully focus-tested ad. Is that a route you want to take your business down? Do you want audiences to view your brand as laid-back, informal and trendy, or are you looking to be seen as professional, polished and refined? There’s room for both sides on TikTok, but as with any advertising campaign, it’s important to discern whether the endeavor is worth the necessary resources. It takes time and effort to maintain a TikTok account; is that something that will pay off for your brand in the long run? Does the platform’s young audience and down-to-earth nature align with what you’re trying to accomplish with your business?
At the end of the day, the only one who can answer these questions is you – but that doesn’t mean we can’t help you along the way. Get in touch with us today, and we’ll help launch your brand into the social media stratosphere.