TikTok has quickly become one of the most popular social media platforms, especially among Gen Z.
With its short-form video format and powerful recommendation algorithm, TikTok offers a unique environment for brands to reach and engage younger audiences.
As we enter 2024, what do advertisers need to know about finding success on TikTok?
The Origins of TikTok
TikTok originated from the Chinese video-sharing app Douyin, which was launched in 2016 by ByteDance.
The following year, ByteDance introduced a version for markets outside of China called TikTok. Since then, TikTok has seen tremendous growth globally.
As of January 2023, TikTok has been downloaded over 3.7 billion times worldwide and has over 1 billion monthly active users.
TikTok's platform is based around creating and sharing 15 to 60 second videos set to music and other sounds. Its "For You" feed uses an AI recommendation system to serve each user a never-ending stream of videos tailored to their interests and engagement.
This creates an extremely addictive experience - the average user spends almost an hour per day on TikTok!
The TikTok Community
So who is using TikTok?
As a platform dominated by short-form video, it's no surprise that younger demographics flock to it.
Over 60% of TikTok's global audience is between the ages of 10 and 29. TikTok has become Gen Z's social media platform of choice, where they express themselves creatively, follow trends, and get entertained for hours on end.
But TikTok's growth has also been driven by the expansion of its audience demographics. Older Millennials and Gen X are joining the platform, enticed by TikTok's wholesome entertainment. Even seniors are hopping on board!
TikTok overall has an impressively broad appeal - its users represent a diverse range of ages, backgrounds, interests and subcultures.
Top Advertisers on TikTok
All sorts of brands, big and small, have started leveraging TikTok for advertising.
Advertising spending on TikTok rose almost three times in 2022 and is projected to hit $12 billion globally in 2023. TikTok's self-serve ads manager makes it easy for any business to get started.
Some of the top industries advertising on TikTok include CPG, retail, beauty, gaming, and entertainment. Big brands leading ad spend include Amazon, Apple, Samsung, Louis Vuitton, and McDonald's.
But niche and local businesses are also finding creative ways to effectively use TikTok for promotion.
What Makes TikTok Different
So what exactly makes TikTok such a unique platform for brands compared to other social media? There are a few key differences:
- The TikTok algorithm and "For You" feed creates an endless stream of entertaining content that users actively lean into. This level of engagement cannot be found on platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
- TikTok is extremely creator-centric. Brands that collaborate with creators and influencers tend to see high engagement and conversions.
- Video reigns supreme. Brands need to optimise for mobile video and visual storytelling. Copy and images play a secondary role.
- Ads don't interrupt the experience - they enhance it. Users expect ads to be just as fun and engaging as organic content.
- TikTok enables discovery and conversations. Users come to explore new topics and products while engaging with the community.
Key Recommendations for Advertisers in 2024
All sorts of brands, big and small, have started leveraging TikTok for advertising. So how should advertisers approach TikTok in 2024?
Here are some key recommendations:
1. Go Where Your Audience Is
- Rather than expecting your audience to come to you, meet them on TikTok where they already spend lots of time.
- Commit to having an active presence on the platform through both organic content and ads.
- Be part of popular TikTok conversations and communities related to your brand.
2. Lean Into Curiosity and Discovery
- TikTok is a place where people go to discover their next interest or obsession.
- Spark their curiosity by introducing something new and unexpected about your brand.
- Facilitate discovery of your products through educational content, demos, and recommendations.
3. Tell Unpredictable Stories
- On TikTok, typical brand storytelling structures don't resonate well.
- Experiment with fresh narratives, community-driven stories, and nonlinear story arcs.
- The more unpredictable your storytelling is, the better chance it has of engaging audiences.
4. Build Trust Over Time
- In the age of social media, trust is built through transparency and authentic connection with your audience.
- Go behind the scenes, highlight real employees, and respond to comments.
- Support larger societal goals. Consistent, long-term actions to foster trust will drive deeper loyalty.
5. Collaborate With Creators
- Creators and influencers hold major sway on TikTok.
- Identify ones who authentically align with your brand and collaborate on creative campaigns.
- But also empower everyday users to be part of your brand story by inviting user-generated content.
6. Make Entertaining Ads
- Don't disrupt the TikTok experience - enhance it with ads that are just as fun and engaging as regular posts.
- Use humour, surprise, interactivity, useful information, or inspiration to delight users rather than annoy them.
- Prioritise entertainment value above polished brand imagery.
Conclusion & Recommendations
TikTok represents an exciting new frontier for social media marketing in 2024.
For advertisers used to platforms like Facebook and Instagram, it requires a bit of a mindset shift.
But brands that embrace TikTok's unique format and culture will have an opportunity to connect with the next generation of consumers in an authentic way not possible elsewhere.
It comes down to showing up with entertaining content, embracing creativity, collaborating with the community, and building trusted relationships over time.
Author Expertise and Experience:
Philippe Dominois is co-founder and CEO of Abintus Consulting, and Head Coach at the Abintus Academy. He has over 25 years of international media experience, having worked on the media agency side, client side, and media auditing side throughout his career. Philippe has authored hundreds of articles over the years that focus on media management best practices.
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