With TikTok Taking Over, Here’s What Marketers Need to Know

By Jeff Bander, Head of U.S., Eye Square

For brands and advertisers, the past decade has been largely shaped by the dramatic rise in social media use and digital media outlets. From Facebook to YouTube to Instagram to Snap, marketers must quickly understand the potential return on advertising investment, as well as the nuanced best practices for each platform. Getting these strategies right can make a massive difference in long-term business outcomes: according to recent data from Insider Intelligence (formerly eMarketer), 50% of consumers find that digital advertisements which leverage their data help them to discover things that interest them; 49% say these advertisements make it easier to find the products and services that interest them the most.

Platforms that offer extensive video content like Facebook, YouTube and Instagram proved to be a natural fit for advertisers, as video collateral could be seamlessly inserted before and during popular content. However, a more recent entrant is now gaining market share, particularly among highly coveted younger audiences. According to Insider Intelligence’s 2022 forecast, TikTok will already surpass Snap and Twitter to become the third largest social network by user base in 2022.

As TikTok commands more attention from consumers throughout the world, will it offer the types of returns advertisers have come to expect from Facebook and Instagram? How can brands take advantage of this new format and increase brand awareness among Gen Z and millennial audiences?

High ROI platform

Even compared with other highly compelling social media platforms, TikTok is renowned for the way it captures and holds the attention of its users. One Forbes analyst even went as far as to refer to the platform as a digital drug of sorts,” fostering addictive behaviors among users. The result of all that attention is a highly lucrative opportunity for brands and advertisers. According to TikTok’s own research conducted by Kantar, 67% of users say ads on TikTok capture their attention — an improvement of more than 10% over competitive platforms.

Of course, the most important outcome for an advertiser is not catching the viewer’s attention, but prompting them to take action. In this regard, TikTok shines in comparison to its competitors. The same Kantar research found that a massive 93% of users have taken action after watching a TikTok video, demonstrating the tremendous potential value for advertisers that can deliver the right message at the right time.

The remarkably high efficacy of advertisements on TikTok can likely be attributed to its digitally native audience. TikTok’s primarily Gen Z user base, born between the mid-to-late 1990s and the early 2010s, grew up in a society that treats online shopping as an everyday occurrence. This young audience sees no issue with clicking directly from a TikTok video to an eCommerce site — the type of frictionless experience that leads directly to improved business outcomes.

Taking advantage of TikTok

While platforms like Facebook and Instagram introduced the concepts of social media influencers, the highly creative nature of TikTok content has brought new meaning to the term “social media celebrity.” Brands and marketers are well advised to follow the audience’s lead and try new approaches on the platform that maximize the effectiveness of their advertisements. At the same time, it’s far easier to be an organic part of this predisposed audience’s customer journey.

These four strategies can help businesses to improve the returns on their increasing TikTok investments:

  1. Explore the influencer economy: Since the launch of the platform, dozens of artists have used TikTok to land major recording deals and achieve fame beyond social media. Partnering with up-and-coming influencers can offer a low-cost opportunity to connect with specific high-value audiences. And if that influencer succeeds on the path to stardom, those early investors will see massive returns on brand awareness and sales lift.
  1. Combine platforms for stronger results: TikTok research has found that an omnichannel approach to marketing campaigns leads to tangible improvements in results. When combined with streaming video or linear TV, users report stronger feelings in terms of ad relevance and brand likeability. And, once they are on TikTok, they are predisposed to stay on the site, take action and convert to buyers.
  1. Build off emerging trends: New memes, dances and challenges emerge on a daily basis on TikTok. When brands can integrate those trends into their advertisements — without coming across as out of touch — they are able to massively increase their reach among TikTok users. Even something as simple as using the right hashtag can make a significant difference.
  2. Test ad creative in real time: The best way to understand how an ad will perform on dynamic platforms like TikTok is to test them in context. Real-time ad testing solutions provide marketers with valuable insights into how their campaigns are perceived by users, allowing them to steadily refine their messaging to improve results.

With TikTok’s ad revenue set to increase from $3.88 billion in 2021 to $11.64 billion in 2022, it’s clear that this platform will have staying power among brands, marketers and consumers themselves. By embracing best practices and leaning into the nuances of TikTok’s highly engaging platform, marketers can boost the performance of their campaigns and develop lasting loyalty for their clients.