TikTok – a brand new sales channel

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Claiming more than 500 million active monthly users worldwide, ByteDance’s app TikTok is becoming increasingly attractive to brands that are looking for a new channel to interact with younger generations. How does TikTok work? How can you promote your products on the social network of choice for teenagers? Here’s everything you need to know about the most downloaded application in the world in 2018.

What is TikTok?

Named Douyin (抖音) in China, TikTok has entered the ecosystem of European and American social networks in recent months. Launched in 2016, the app specialises in the creation and sharing of short 15-second videos, allowing users to lipsync, dance, or participate in challenges. The platform makes thousands of videos available to its audience, more than half of which is made up of under 24-year-olds, based on their interests.

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Following its merger with the Musical.ly platform, which is well-known among Westerners, the Asian app is experiencing rapid growth around the world. This platform of user-generated content attracts new brands daily, who seek to promote their website and/or physical store to younger generations.

How to market your products on TikTok?

Key Opinion Leaders

“Key Opinion Leaders” (KOLs) contribute greatly to TikTok’s success. These influencers help their community of millions of subscribers discover new products every day, and can act as spokespersons for your brand and sales accelerators. If a subscriber is interested in a product, they can buy it through a shopping cart that redirects to Taobao’s e-commerce platform.

This feature is also available for brands that are already registered on the platform in large numbers.

Sponsored advertising

At the moment, advertisements are readily available on the Chinese version of TikTok. For the international version of the application, TikTok is carrying out tests in the UK and US and is making a beta version available to certain brands. Regardless of the version, brands must contact TikTok directly to purchase advertising space on the social platform. While TikTok doesn’t currently offer paid advertising via auction, this feature should be available on the platform very soon.

Users are exposed to several advertising formats at different times of their usage: when opening the application, watching a video, participating in a hashtag challenge, or when adding filters and lenses.

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Brand takeover ads

This advertising format appears in full screen when the application starts. With a maximum duration of 5 seconds, this advertising takes the form of a video, an image or a GIF. The ad can be linked to a landing page or a TikTok hashtag challenge. There is a maximum of four displays per user per day, and only one advertiser can display its ad in the selected category.

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In-feed native video ads

TikTok is also testing the advertising format where a full-screen video is inserted in the user’s newsfeed. The video lasts between 9 and 15 seconds and has a call-to-action to “Learn more” or “Download the app”.

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Sponsored hashtag challenge

The “hashtag challenge” is widely used on the TikTok platform and encourages its users to create and upload content using a hashtag. If a brand wants to launch a hashtag challenge on the platform, it can give the campaign more visibility by sponsoring the hashtag, the advertising banner will be displayed in the platform’s discovery section. When a user clicks on the ad, they are redirected to a page containing instructions to follow and participate in the challenge.

Like this, users are encouraged to participate in the challenge and engage with the brand. For the challenge to be a success, it is advisable to work with “Key Opinion Leaders” who will drive the campaign.

Among the brands that set up this type of operation, we find the UNIQLO brand that has just launched its hashtag challenge #UTPlayYourWorld. The objective? Invite subscribers to share a video in which they wear a UT T-shirt. The winners will become international ambassadors for the brand and will see their videos on social networks and UNIQLO store screens.

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Branded filters and lenses

This advertising format which is very popular on Snapchat allows brands to create a filter that users can use in their videos for up to 10 days, acting as an opportunity to increase brand and consumer engagement.

While these advertising formats aren’t currently available to all advertisers, it is important to take an interest now to make your brand known on TikTok and to put in place the right strategy interact with users and ensure that they become content creators for your brand.

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Naomi Botting

Communications Project Manager - UK/NORDICS