Youth Marketing 101: Should your brand be on TikTok?

Over the past year, the rise of TikTok has been by far the biggest digital trend. It was the hottest topic at last month’s YMS19 NYC, where our agenda included a keynote by Stefan Heinrich, who played a key role in its success story as Head of Global Marketing. With over a billion active users as of June 2019, the question on every marketer’s mind is how to take advantage of a giant Gen Z trend and get in front of this highly engaged young audience.

Launching a TikTok account for your brand is a big investment because it requires original content. Replicating posts from other platforms simply won’t work, as TikTok videos need to be personality-led. This means it best suits brands who have their own in-house talent, explaining why sports teams such as Bayern Munich and Liverpool FC were some of the first to get involved.

Another great example is Gymshark, the athleisure brand which has already amassed 1.2 million TikTok followers. They have a community of fitness influencers they work with regularly, who have become the stars of their TikTok account. Gymshark posts a mix of funny and motivational video content, reinterpreting their existing brand personality for the TikTok audience.

If you decide that launching a TikTok account isn’t the right move for your brand, that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of the platform’s popularity in other ways. TikTok offers a wide range of ad formats, which encourage brands to be more inventive with their advertising to appeal to its creative young user base. These include stickers, 3D/AR lenses and sponsored challenges.

One brand who achieved impressive results with a sponsored challenge was restaurant chain Chipotle, whose #GuacDance challenge received 250,000 video submissions in six days. Any marketer who has run a user-generated content campaign before will know just what an achievement this is. They tapped into the sense of fun that prevails on TikTok by asking users to post avocado-themed dance videos in celebration of National Avocado Day. To get the ball rolling, they enlisted TikTok influencers Loren Gray and Brent Rivera, and used the viral Guacamole Song by Dr Jean as a soundtrack, demonstrating a deep knowledge of teen meme culture.

While TikTok’s advertising tools are still relatively new, improving and expanding them is a clear priority for owners ByteDance. This includes making it easier for brand engagement to turn into sales. The Chinese version of TikTok, Douyin, already enables users to purchase products featured in videos and has become a home of video product reviews. While TikTok is not currently strongly associated with ecommerce, that should change as they experiment with features like the Hashtag Challenge Plus.

If Gen Z is your target market, the potential of TikTok cannot be ignored, but the key to success is determining the right strategy for your brand and your audience. If you’re not sure where to start, we recommend downloading the app, and spending some time understanding its user base, and checking out how Gen Z’s favourite brands are tackling the same challenge.

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