The TikTok takeover

Social media platform TikTok is one of the largest in the world, with the mobile app overtaking Google as the world’s most visited website. The app provides endless minutes of content with endless opportunities to go viral, and companies across the globe are starting to understand the impact these 15 second videos have on audiences. So what’s trending in this space and how will brands be using TikTok in 2023?

Brands such as fast food chain Dunkin Donuts to local marketing agencies such as Explosive Social are making their presence known on TikTok, recognising its power to reach a unique and diverse audience like no other. 

TikTok is best known for its smart algorithm that is able to reach thousands on an organic level in a matter of minutes, based on the users’ interests, and the videos they have watched and engaged with. 

This means, regardless of followers, content posted on TikTok can reach an audience of millions, which is the true essence of the app. 

“The foundation of TikTok is built on a ‘content graph’, not a social graph. So, what that means is that the virality of content that is posted to TikTok is dependent on the quality of that content and not on follow, audience size, network, number of likes etc.,” says Dean Blackbeard, Australia and New Zealand Country Manager of TikTok. 

“We’ve levelled the playing fields. Every TikTok posted is measured on its own merit, allowing all brands
equal opportunity to perform on the platform.”

Now is a good time to hop on the TikTok bandwagon and start making your presence known where the chances of going viral is easier than any other platform he says. 

“We provide brands with an incomparable opportunity to access a unique and diverse audience because of the creativity, exposure and innovation TikTok offers.”

Compared to other platforms, TikTok users are known to be the most engaged, with more than half
of the users engaging with the content they view. 

Dean Blackbeard.

Wihan Meerholz, Creative Director at digital agency Tribal says that TikTok users come to the app to be entertained by the real world, not by “Netflix-style content”. 

“There is an endless supply of niche content and unique communities waiting to be engaged and a host of creative on-platform resources allowing brands to easily get started,” Dean adds.

Dean references Australia and New Zealand-based fashion brand, Hallenstein Brothers as an example of a business that has successfully used TikTok to reach its audience. The brand has amassed over 400,000 likes on the app. 

He says Hallenstein’s content feels human and native, perfectly representing the personality of
the brand as the content produced is simple, made using a mobile phone and edited through the apps editing tool. 

He also uses female-founded and B Corp certified beauty and wellness company Jeuneora as another successful example.

Focusing on its products, Jeuneora storyboards its content based on witty TikTok video concepts that are trending and effective subtitles to
drive emphasis. 

“Jeuneora has been active on TikTok since July 2021 and are seeing ongoing improvements in their return-on-ad-spend and site traffic. This is possible because they’ve done the work to build their audiences with the right sort of content. Users trust them, understand their brand and see that they’re adding value,” he says. 

Haydn Kerr, Executive Creative Director at Tribal Aotearoa and Wihan were able to successfully use TikTok in marketing for Samsung, taking advantage of the authenticity and originality of the app to reach
their audience. 

“For Samsung, TikTok is mostly about brand love and changing perception. When it comes to mobile, we are up against the world’s most valuable brand. Our main aim is to get Gen Z to open their minds to Samsung, in the knowledge that this will eventually lead to sales,” says Haydn.

So, how can brands use TikTok in 2023 to reach their audiences?

Dean says the first step is to use the business tools available for free on TikTok, as they are essentially the “gateway for brands” to reach their desired audience by understanding the platform’s nuances.

With these, brands can initiate traffic or community engagement and turn organic videos into Spark Ads, a tool created by TikTok that allows brands to create ads from organic TikToks. From there, brands can progress into a full-funnel strategy. 

“A brand’s aim should be to make TikToks, not ads. You want to connect with your audience by presenting your authentic and true self,” says Dean. 

“It’s also important to incorporate sound into your TikToks as 98 percent of users use the app with sound on.”

Wihan adds that trending sounds are best used on the app and are “the new hashtag”.

“You need to follow the community, rather than break the mould. Doing what everyone is doing makes you part of the community and doing your own take gets more eyes on you,” he adds. 

Haydn adds that keeping an eye out on what is about to be trending is very helpful because if you hop on it early enough, you’re set to get millions of views. 

Haydn Kerr.

“But it’s hard to predict what will trend, so you need to take lots of bets and produce a lot of content,” he adds. 

Using Spark Ads, a partnership between organic and paid content, brands can build real connections through native content for greater authenticity. 

Dean also says brands can see immediate advantages when they choose to be present and engage with their audience on TikTok. 

Engagement with users combined with the creative tools and the ad campaign options that TikTok has to offer drives ad campaigns with the biggest impact, he adds, and every view is an earned view.

“No viewer is forced to watch anything. Any views you get are people genuinely watching and enjoying your brand. Their brains are engaged and they’re receptive to your message. But you have to pitch it right to earn their attention,” he says. 

Most TikTok ads are known to drive strong brand recall and positive sentiment across the various views they receive, making brands on the app more memorable and perceived more positively. 

“Advertisers should pay attention to comments left by users because often they will tell you exactly the type of content that they would like to see in future posts, which serves as a great tool for content idea generation,” Dean says. 

In 2023, the platform is set to launch a new advertisement tool for businesses to use, TikTok Video Shopping Ads. 

Dean says this ad type will bring a whole new and different experience of shopping onto the platform that
is seamless and allows for a new type of content. 

“Video Shopping Ads are shoppable videos that fit seamlessly into the For You page. It’s been built to amplify product discovery, purchase intent and conversion with intent-based targeting and advanced creative functionalities,” Dean adds. 

TikTok is also working to expand its product offering for businesses through its Ads Manager Platform to allow for new and unique product tools available for businesses to use.

TikTok Academy is the latest of these new tools that provide learning opportunities to help businesses become TikTok-savvy marketers through how-to’s and key insights.

Alongside these tools, Wihan says the best way to understand the app is to simply use it and understand the algorithm as it begins to serve you relevant content. 

“Everyone’s experience is so different, that’s why we share videos with each other to identify trends and pick the ones we want the brand to be associated with,” Wihan says. 

This article was originally published in the Dec/Jan 2022/23 issue of NZ MarketingClick here to subscribe.

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About Bernadette Basagre

Bernadette is a content writer across SCG Business titles, The Register and Idealog. To get in touch with her, email [email protected].

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