Sam Makad is a business consultant. He helps small & medium enterprises to grow their businesses and overall ROI. You can follow Sam on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.
This article aims to provide a brief overview of the TikTok Advertising platform, and the key steps to take to create a successful campaign.
Within just 6 years, short-form video platform TikTok has quietly amassed an audience of over 1.5 billion, putting it at par with giants like Google and Facebook, having already outstripped the likes of Reddit and Twitter.
It remained the most downloaded app in 2021 with nearly 660 million downloads, bringing the total to 3 billion downloads, with users, on an average spending 10.85 minutes per session.
While a majority of the users are in it for the endless stream of funny and engaging short-form video content, the app remains the top destination for consumer spending, with $2.3 billion spent on it in 2021 alone.
This, coupled with the fact that a bulk of its users are millennials and Gen Z, make it indispensable for brands, businesses, marketers, and emerging artists alike.
The app has courted controversy throughout its existence, from accusations of having ties to the Chinese Communist Party, to various concerns pertaining to its addictive nature and the type of content it promotes. While its future still remains uncertain, for the time-being, however, it represents a treasure-trove of engaged audiences, data, and marketing potential, just waiting to be tapped.
For businesses and marketers, TikTok has unleashed its potential with the launch of its advertising platform, which comes equipped with stellar formats, effective tracking systems, and targeting options that are second-to-none.
In the right hands, TikTok Advertising can be an absolute gold-mine, akin to Google Adwords in the early-2000s, and in this article we aim to provide a brief primer on the same.
Understanding the platform & it’s users
Before you launch your first campaign, it is essential to get a feel for the platform by creating an account and exploring its depths yourself. On a brief recent excursion, here are some facts and statistics that we have since uncovered,
Casual, Laid-Back Consumers - Most TikTok users are aged between 16 to 34 years, and are thus only looking to consume entertaining, and engaging content.
The most popular content on the platform happens to be simple, funny, and engaging bits by top creators on the platform, with seemingly no important fact or information being conveyed. Highly Engaged - Despite being laid-back for the most part, the community on TikTok is often its biggest strength.
In recent years, TikTok has given rise to a number of different viral challenges that have infiltrated other platforms and the mainstream media. With the right approach, TikTok users can be coerced into various viral activities that trigger chain reactions.
Low Attention Span - Social media users, and traffic generated from social media is known to be fickle in general, but TikTok takes it a step further. Being one of the early pioneers of short-form content, it catered towards falling attention spans, and thus, content that fails to grasp and attract attention immediately will be inevitably lost into the endless oblivion of social media content.
Longer & more serious videos gaining popularity - while YouTube and Facebook have started getting-in on the short-form videos trend, TikTok has been treading on their turf.
While content was restricted to 60 seconds before, it was recently increased to 3 minutes to allow for a wider range of formats. Beyond this, there is increasing popularity of content across niches, more precisely, pertaining to finance in recent months, signaling a shift in the broader trend on the platform.
Important steps for successful TikTok advertising campaigns
While there is no shortage of guides on setting up an ad using TikTok’s fairly user-friendly and intuitive interface, creating an ad that stands out and yields the desired results still remains an evolving art. Based on extensive trials and testing, here are some tips and best practices to get you started.
1. Set your goals
TikTok can help attain a wide range of marketing objectives, whether it is to spread awareness for your brand, build your TikTok, or other social media presence, or generate clicks, leads, and sales, everything remains possible, and within reach.
You can launch multiple campaigns, creatives, and zones aimed at different objectives, but it is essential to clearly define the objectives. This helps while tracking results, and optimizing the campaign in pursuit of one single goal, instead of achieving everything, everywhere, all at once.
2. Define your target audience
TikTok’s users are comprised of a broad range of demographics from all over the world, with varying interests. To make the most of your ad dollars, the first step is to perfectly define your target audience, their age, gender, interests, intent, and more.
This remains fairly standard for almost all marketing and advertising endeavors, but remains crucial to see the right engagement on a fickle platform like TikTok. Having such a clearly defined target audience can further enhance the profitability of your campaign, given the platform’s extensive targeting capabilities.
3. Choose the right format
Ad formats on the platform come in different shapes and sizes, and even though all of them contain a video, image, text, and a call-to-action, their effects, duration, and the resulting impact on click throughs, sales, and conversions vary drastically.
Not all formats suit all audiences, content, or products and services being promoted. Here are the most popular formats available on the platform,
- In-Feed Native Video - These are unskippable ads placed within a user’s feed, that can last up to 60 seconds.
- TopView - Appearing as full-screen videos when the app opens up, this is by far the most intrusive format, but just as effective when it comes to click-through-rates.
- Branded Takeover Ads - Users can see only one of these per day, and are thus quite expensive, but if you’re going for brand awareness and leaving an impact, there are few others that can beat the effectiveness of this format.
- Branded Hashtag Challenge - Adding virality to advertising campaigns, this format essentially encourages users to create and share content based on the branded hashtag, resulting in far reach, and an impactful presence for brands and businesses.
4. Use humor - even if it is not usually part of your brand
As discussed earlier, most TikTok users are casual consumers of entertaining and engaging content, and if anything ads are a source of annoyance for the community.
With this, it makes great sense to work on advertising content that doesn’t seem out of place with other video content on the platform, while striving to entertain and add value to users.
Creating humorous and engaging content for TikTok advertising is by no means an easy task, especially since most of its users have already become accustomed to creative content by professional and amateur creators.
In this case, a great option would be to engage some of the top creators on TikTok to help craft your content strategy for the campaign.
5. Track, tweak & optimize
No matter how much time and effort is invested into an advertising campaign on TikTok, it is unlikely to become a success right away. Successful campaigns often take extensive tracking, analytics, and optimization based on the treasure-trove of data being generated.
Optimization is far from a one-time event, and is something that remains essential for as long as the campaign remains live.
TikTok offers a powerful tool in this regard, and while it involves a learning curve, it is intuitive, and fairly simple to understand with a bit of initial effort.
With the variety of ad formats, different targeting options, niches, topics, hashtags, and demographics, there is a lot of data that needs to be scooped through, before arriving at the perfect mix that yields consistent leads and conversions.
6. The trend is your friend
The one thing that sets TikTok apart from other social media sites is the level of site-wide engagement that the site manages to drive on a regular basis.
Take the viral challenges that transcended the platform this year alone, while dangerous and controversial, it witnessed the involvement of millions, getting billions of impressions in a matter of days.
As a brand, staying on top of such trends, and making effective use of hashtags, ad content, and targeting can yield phenomenal results.
The reach and firepower of your advertising budget stands to be multiplied many times over when matched with the organic reach of a viral hashtag campaign. Here again, professional creators and influencers can help you out.
Leaving aside the broader uncertainties that continue to hound the platform in the geopolitical front, TikTok’s user base and unique positioning in the digital economy leave it perfectly poised for a gold rush of advertising dollars over the coming years.
The platform has done wonders, not just when it comes to attracting and retaining its audiences, but with its robust marketing and advertising offerings, aimed at unlocking the substantial commercial value that remains in-store across its user base.
These are undeniably exciting times for social media marketing, and it remains to be seen what further disruptive products and solutions are offered by TikTok for advertisers in the years ahead. The landing pages, branded hashtags, and takeovers were merely teasers for what the company still has in store.
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