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TikTok Marketing 101: A Guide for Beginners

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A Chinese owned app is on the rise: With more than half a billion downloads worldwide, the video platform has gained much attention and popularity- especially from teenagers. So, what is TikTok all about and how could companies benefit from its features?

TikTok, in China also known as Douyin, is a Chinese owned video portal for lip synchronization of music videos and countless other short videos of all kinds. It also acts as a social network. The app emerged from the short video platform Musical.ly. TikTok’s parent company, Beijing Bytedance Technology, bought Mucical.ly in November 2017 for around 800 million US-Dollar and integrated this platform including its 100 million users into their new App in August 2018. TikTok was born.

In the meantime TikTok has evolved into the fastest growing mobile app in the world. With an estimated 45.8 million downloads TikTok has also been the most frequently downloaded iPhone app in the first quarter of 2018. With this large number of downloads the lip synching app outpaced market-leading competitors like Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and Facebook. 

What’s the fuss all about?

On TikTok users can see other users music clips, they can film and edit short videos themselves and they can add special effects and filters to their clips (just like on Instagram and Snapchat). After merging with the app Musical.ly, they also put a bigger emphasis on entertainment, comedy and vlogs. This way the app is competing with big video platforms like YouTube or vimeo.

In order to see the videos users are not required to sign up, unless they want to film clips themselves, follow other users and interact with them.

To help with recording your own clip, TikTok has integrated a complete tool that is very easy to use. Most of the videos only last up to 15 seconds and have a big emphasis on the underlaid sound. The homepage shows the most popular videos and you can “swipe through” them- just like on Instagram. Different hashtags and so called internet challenges facilitate searching for and following your favourite interpreters and clips. 

Digital Marketing on TikTok

Since the official minimum age is 13 years and the majority of users are under the age of 23, TikTok offers great potential to target younger audience profiles. Not too many companies seem to be active on TikTok although the user base and intensity of use is enormous. The fast-moving content and the special editing of TikTok’s short videos seduce you to stay on the app for hours. You always want to see what’s next.

What is crucial for marketing efforts on TikTok is, above all, dealing with the platform itself and the target group in order to adjust one’s content to their interests and needs. Since TikTok is a very fast-moving platform and the selection of content is very large, companies have to react very quickly. Keyword here: real-time-marketing.

A branded TikTok account can especially pay off for companies whose products or services are relevant  for a young target group. Consumer electronics, products from the fitness and food industry as well as beauty and fashion sector are in line with the current trend.

Cooperating with influencers on TikTok can also be very useful. The fashion brand Guess for example was one of the first Western companies to start a sponsored TikTok Challenge under the hashtag #InMyDenim. In the end, an incredible 30 million videos were posted under this hashtag, proving the campaign to be massive context.

In this context, increasing brand awareness also means increasing sales for the company. As the popularity of a brand is particularly important in the purchase decision-making process among young consumers.

But what about data privacy on TikTok? 

Well, unfortunately there is a snag! This Chinese owned company raised concerns about surveillance of TikTok’s young user base. In the past, Musical.ly has had privacy issues because the app illegally collected personal information from children. As a result, TikTok got a fine and has been actively working on brand safety ever since. Explicit videos and comments are still a problem on the platform. Also, the content in hashtag challenges linked to a brand is very hard to monitor.

It’s also important to keep in mind that in general TikTok is growing and gaining attention, but the user base in DACH countries is rather small at the moment. Over here, teenagers still tend to use other social networks.

But as the saying goes: Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Thinking about including TikTok into your marketing mix? Get in touch with us now! We’re happy to advise you whether advertising on TikTok would be an option for your company.

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