How to Use TikTok For Brand Building
Brand Strategy >July 22, 2020

How to Use TikTok For Brand Building

July 22, 2020
Laura Harker
Freelance Writer & Editor

Brands are no strangers to using social media. From Facebook to Instagram, social media platforms are great places to target audiences and assist in your brand building. But, for your brand to get the most from social media, it needs to keep up with the latest big trends.

We’ve gone from Facebook to YouTube and then IGTV and now, we’ve arrived in the age of TikTok.

Not many brands have ventured onto TikTok just yet. However, to get one step ahead of the competition, you should consider adding it to your social media arsenal. Once you get to know the app and exactly what you can do with it, you’ll find that it’s a great help with brand building.

In order to assist the brand managers who are new to TikTok, we’ll go over the basics of the platform, explore what other brands are doing with it, and discuss how you can use it to your own brand’s advantage.

What is TikTok?

If you’re over 30, then you might not know what we are talking about. TikTok — wasn’t that a song by Kesha or something?

It’s just like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, in that it’s a social media site that brings people together. However, TikTok’s main USP is that it’s all about videos: users can upload and edit videos up to a minute long.

Source: WalkTheChat

The app is still in its infancy compared to the other social media giants, but already boasts an impressive 800 million users! When we look at who makes up this huge user pool, 56% are male while 50% of global users are under 34.

In many ways, it’s easy to compare TikTok to Instagram — as both platforms encourage users to post videos. Sure, there are other similarities: they both feature dedicated pages to help users discover who to follow and see what’s trending. While both platforms support video, only on Instagram can you also post photos.

With TikTok, it’s all about videos. While Instagram allows users to upload videos over a minute long, TikTok’s videos are a lot shorter. Each individual video is no longer than 15 seconds — although multiple clips can be edited together to create minute-long videos.

Finally, as the user base of TikTok is on average younger than Instagram, there’s also a distinct difference in each platforms’ content. On TikTok, the aim of most users is to go viral — so expect hilarious, meme-driven videos that are created to grab people’s attention. Once a user has uploaded their video, they can also add various filters as well as tracks from a huge music library.

It’s these extra edits and additions that can help videos go viral. Alternatively, videos on Instagram usually aren’t so “in-your-face” and range widely from informative and educational content to AMAs and YouTube-style shopping hauls.

Clearly, the content generated by each platform is meant to appeal to their slightly different age groups.

The Benefits of TikTok for Branding

TikTok is an incredibly popular platform at the moment and offers the following benefits:

1. Makes Cross-Promotion Easy

Cross-promotion is an easy and effective way to build continuous sales and conversions. You might be a huge success on Instagram right now, but there’s no guarantee that it will last indefinitely.

If something should happen that reduces your brand’s appeal on the platform — perhaps a negative PR incident or a reduction in post engagement — you might not be able to recover effectively without an alternative platform to lean on.

Want to keep on using Instagram while testing out TikTok? Well, thanks to the simplicity of cross-promotion on TikTok, you can!

Saving TikTok videos to your camera roll is quick and easy, meaning they are then yours to upload to any other social media platform of your choosing. In just minutes, you can post your TikTok video to your Instagram newsfeed or stories

Pro tip: If you do cross-post to your Insta feed, keep the difference in dimensions in mind. The TikTok newsfeed posts are 16:9 whereas the Instagram newsfeed posts are 4:5.

Finally, when you post your TikTok on a different platform, make sure you include a call-to-action to try to persuade users to come follow your TikTok account.

Source: Unsplash

2. You’ll Increase Exposure with a Huge Audience

We’ve already mentioned that TikTok boasts an incredible 80 million users. This is a huge audience that you can use to your own advantage and can make a massive difference in your brand awareness.

The more active users a platform has, the more people will be exposed to your brand. Even if they don’t engage with any of your content or adverts, they’ll still become familiar with your brand. As more people start to talk about your brand outside of the app, your brand awareness should increase and spread further.

For example, the NBA boasts an incredible 11 million followers on TikTok. One thing that their brand manager does well is that they completely separate their TikTok content from what is published on their Instagram.

Whereas the NBA’s Instagram profile is mainly basketball game highlights, its TikTok profile is used as a way to show fans behind the scenes — such as videos showcasing all the adventures their various mascots get up to.

As users abandon older forms of social media for newer ones, follower numbers are set to increase over time. For instance, only 10% of teenagers state that Facebook is their preferred form of social media — meaning that brands looking to target younger audiences might be better off focusing their efforts on the huge number of teens on TikTok.

3. A Chance to Collaborate with Local Creators

There are thousands of popular content creators based in small cities around the world who have gained over 10,000 followers, known as “micro-influencers”. Why the name? They each inhabit an extremely small niche when it comes to their location.

Collaborating with micro-influencers can be useful for small, local brands. Much like working with massive Instagram influencers, you can reach out to micro-influencers who are influential and well-known in your local area.

An example of a larger brand taking advantage of this strategy is Sony Music. During a campaign across Spain, Italy, and Argentina, the brand teamed up with 12 influencers to promote the Nicky Jam x Sch song.

Eight million users engaged with this content and around 10,300 user-generated videos were created that helped the song go viral.

Influencers often have a huge number of followers, sometimes even in the millions. This is a vast audience that you can’t ignore. Once you are able to tap into this audience, our brand awareness should go through the roof!

Source: Adobe

How to Build Your Brand with TikTok

At face value, TikTok may appear like it’s been made solely for fun and games. After all, it’s the go-to app for meme-making teens trying to go viral.

But — as the examples above show — when brands venture onto this new social media platform, they can reap the rewards.

So, how exactly can you use TikTok to help with building your brand? Here are some tips to help you make it big on this new app.

Use Analytics and Trends to Be Featured on the "For You" Page

Source: TikTok

When you sign up to TikTok, you can choose either a free profile or pay for their Pro account. It’s much better to go straight for the Pro, as it will provide you access to analytics for the app.

You’ll see insights on who is watching and sharing your videos, which can be extremely useful as there is still little known about the TikTok algorithm at the moment. But, we do know how vital it is to try and get onto the mega-popular “For You” page.

The “For You” page is just like Instagram’s “Discover” page. It shows a collection of posts from accounts that are similar to the ones a user already follows. This is a brilliant way to increase brand awareness, as TikTok is literally telling users to follow you.

Your future exposure is largely based on the performance of previous videos. So, if your very first TikTok video manages to go viral, then you’re off to a fantastic start! As soon as a new video is published, it’s shown to a small number of users. If these users like it and interact with it, then TikTok will open it up to even more people.


Your geographical location also matters. Once a video goes live, it’s usually only shown to users in the same country. This is good news for smaller brands that are trying to increase their local brand awareness.

Bigger brands might see this as a disadvantage. However, if your video does well in the initial geo-location it’s been shared to, then it will start to make its way to locations further afield. So, as long as your video is engaging, there’s no need for bigger brands to worry!

Additionally, it’s always a good idea to use hashtags and sound effects, as they both help videos go viral. Why hashtags? Adding them makes it possible for videos to show up on Discovery pages — it’s even believed that using #foryou, #foryoupage, and #fyp can increase a video’s chances of making it big on the “For You” page.

Videos can go viral at any time, even ones that were uploaded a long time ago — meaning content on TikTok has a much longer shelf life than it does on Instagram. Every video’s performance is tracked by its algorithm. So, there’s a good chance that a video from a month ago could start to gain some serious traction if it suddenly starts to perform well.

If you follow the latest trends, post regularly, and use insights from TikTok analytics to identify the kinds of content your target audience wants to see, then you’ll have a greater chance of making it onto the “For You” page — the ultimate goal for every brand, as it makes them so much more discoverable.

Make Sure All Posts Benefit Brand Awareness & Engagement

Brand awareness and engagement should always be at the forefront of your mind when creating content for TikTok.

This shouldn’t be all that difficult seeing as there are a number of TikTok features and trends that you’ll be able to jump on to help get your brand name out there.

Advertise on Tiktok

Alongside trying to build a following, it’s also worth buying some advertisements on TikTok. Ideally, you want to aim for a brand takeover advert, which is live for one whole day.

These ads are shown to users as soon as they open the app and feature a clickable link. As they are exclusive to your chosen category, brand takeover ads can be shown to your target audience.

Grubhub was one of the first brands to take advantage of the brand takeover ads, ensuring that their brand was seen by millions of users:

So, what’s the catch? Well, they are extremely expensive — to the point where they are likely out of reach for most startups.

In June 2019, a TikTok pitch deck was leaked and it reported that these ads cost $50,000 per day. While that’s certainly a hefty price tag, each ad guarantees five million daily impressions — so there’s no wonder so many brands are justifying the huge spend.

If the brand takeover ad sounds too rich for your blood, you could try native video ads instead. These will appear between user-generated content and can be anywhere between 9 - 15 seconds long.

The only downside to these ads is that users are allowed to skip them. However, creating engaging adverts that your audience will want to see may ensure the ads are viewed in their entirety

Create Branded Face Filters and Lenses

Just like Snapchat, TikTok allows brands to create their very own face filters and lenses. These are live for 10 days and permit users to add them to their own content. An impressive 64% of users have used face filters before, as they are a creative way to mix up their videos.

Make a cool, fun filter or lens, and remember to incorporate your branding — so that when people use it in their videos, their followers will see your branding, too. This creates a ripple effect that could have thousands of users trying out your filters and lenses and spreading your branding around the platform.

You can even partner with TikTok to create 2D and 3D branded lenses. Partnering with TikTok means that the lenses will appear in the “Trending” tab for 10 days. However, this is another pricey form of promotion, as it can cost between $80,000-$120,000 depending on how complex the lens design is.

Hashtag Challenges

You have two options here: you can come up with your own hashtag and encourage followers to use it or you could participate in a current challenge that is making the rounds.

If the challenge goes viral, then hundreds of thousands of users will become familiar with your brand. Around a third of users have participated in these kinds of challenges before, making them a popular route for going viral.

One of TikTok’s best-performing brand challenges came from Chipotle, in which they encouraged fans to post videos of themselves dancing along with the hashtag #GuacDance.

Another example is the clothing line Guess. Although they may not have as many videos up as other brands, they’ve still attracted an impressive 64,000 followers. This could all be down to the very successful #InMyDenim hashtag, which they use to encourage followers to show off their Guess clothing.

Use Viral Music

Take a look at the videos with the tag #ThisIsBliss, and you’ll notice one thing: they all use the same music. This skincare brand, Bliss, created their very own piece of music for users to add to their videos alongside the hashtag, which quickly went viral.

Team up with Influencers

Just like Instagram, TikTok has its own set of extremely popular influencers. To put this into perspective, at least 40 TikTok stars have more than 10 million followers.

While you might not be able to partner with such big names, look for TikTok users that have tens of thousands of followers. It’s still worth implementing an influencer marketing strategy with these “micro-influencers”.

Take a look at Red Bull’s work with influencer C9 Keeoh for some inspiration!

Going Live

Going live is a great way to increase engagement with your fans, but keep in mind that you’ll need at least 1,000 followers to do so.

By going live, you give followers the chance to interact with you, ask questions, and get a better, more authentic feel for your brand.

Source:Unslpash

Final Thoughts

TikTok isn’t just a place for teenagers to go viral. As you can see, it’s also a platform that can benefit brands. When using the app to make creative, engaging content, you’ll find that it’s easy to get your name out there and increase brand awareness. What’s more, advertising opportunities have huge lead-generating potential.

So why not take the plunge and set up a brand profile on TikTok? Simply follow the tips outlined above to help launch your content on TikTok, and you’ll have a good chance of going viral.

Afterward, track your various metrics on the app and you’ll be able to see just how TikTok’s reach can help your brand go even further.

Brand Strategy
Brand Marketing

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