Retailers hoping to reach millennial and Generation Z customers with organic, sponsored content (that resonates!) should look no further than TikTok. Despite being the new kid on the social media block, TikTok has become the fastest-growing platform in the world, with 800 million active users. The nature of the app and the popularity of its influencers make it an ideal venue for sponsored content to be shared virally, sending engagements and sales leads through the roof.
For instance, Mattel recently deployed TikTok influencers in the #unowhoyouare campaign, promoting its card game UNO. The hashtag has more than 1 million views, and Mattel reported that UNO sales in May were up 116 percent year-over-year.
Is your brand ready to start using TikTok? It only takes a few steps.
1. Understand the algorithm.
The secret sauce on TikTok is the "For You" page, an endless video feed which may be more effective than any other platform’s discovery feature in keeping users engaged by serving them new and relevant content. Users don’t even need to follow anyone to get going — once they’ve started sharing and clicking, TikTok caters this feed to their interests. Retailers can potentially reach desired users by tying brand and influencer posts into popular trends or challenges through the use of songs and hashtags.
2. Find the right influencers.
TikTok offers many advertising options and, while branded takeovers and in-feed sponsored videos might be a familiar and safe place to start, look to influencer marketing for more success and impact. The endless feed and algorithmic suggestions make it possible for any user, regardless of their follower count, to be discovered by others with similar tastes. In the case of sponsored content, these other users could become new customers. Micro-influencers, known on Instagram and Snapchat for having strong engagement rates and loyal followings, can become even more powerful on TikTok if they know how to participate in the discourse and take advantage of the algorithm.
3. Let the creators create.
Even if you’ve used influencers on other platforms, you’ll want to adjust your strategy slightly for TikTok. Rather than handing your influencers pre-determined messaging for a sponsored video, give them a product, slogan or challenge and allow them more creative control. Content is more authentic on TikTok, so buttoned up sponsored posts that play well on Instagram will likely stand out on TikTok, but not in a good way! Your influencers know their followers and the app’s culture best — if you let them find creative, funny and subtle ways to work branded messaging into ongoing trends, the engagements and leads will follow.
4. Encourage participation.
If your influencers pick the right trend to join in on or build one of TikTok’s famous challenges into their post, you’ll likely see a flood of everyday users participating. When an influencer inspires others to jump on the bandwagon, your brand image, slogan or hashtag has the potential to be viewed by thousands of additional users, many of whom are likely in your target audience who could become customers.
Even though consumers are spending a record amount of time on their phones, it can be hard to break through with traditional sponsored content. TikTok has already displayed tremendous potential as a tool for driving awareness and sales, particularly among younger audiences. For retailers looking to quickly and effectively meet potential buyers where they already are, engaging with influencers on TikTok could be the key to viral success.
Justin Kline is co-founder of Markerly, an influencer marketing technology partner and platform working with some of the largest consumer brands in the world.