How Can Brands Use TikTok?

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[Originally published on the Dash Hudson blog.]

First things first, TikTok is not going away. It’s not a fad and it’s not just for 12 year olds. TikTok has amassed 800 million monthly users with 1.5 billion app downloads since its launch, and is growing at a rate that’s making other social media platforms green with envy.

How you’ll feel after making your first TikTok.

Key Stats

Before we get into how brands are using TikTok, let’s get some context via a few need-to-know figures.

  • TikTok has 800 million monthly users.
  • The app has been downloaded at least 1.5 billion times.
  • TikTokkers open the app on average 8 times a day.
  • 60% of TikTok users are Gen Z.
  • TikTok users spend an average 52 minutes on the app each day.
  • TikTokkers ages range from 13–30.
  • 83% of users have created a video.
  • The majority of content is created in-app using native tools.

Top Brands on TikTok

The early bird catches the worm. Brands who take a leap and start testing early on in a new platform’s growth can often ride the hype wave, learn the tricks of the trade, and grow in a less crowded environment.

The brands with the biggest followings include… Flighthouse with 22m followers, The NBA with 6.6m, Nickelodeon with 5.6m, and Redbull with 3.7m. Interestingly, the NBA was an Instagram Stories pioneer, getting in early on the BTS trend and using the ephemeral nature of Stories to its advantage.

Beauty Brands

Fenty Beauty

Fenty Beauty was the best social media brand launch of all time. So it’s no surprise that the team took the rise of TikTok in stride, and quickly grew a following of over 300K. The Fenty Beauty team creates TikTok-first content, on-the-fly and always on point.

Kylie Cosmetics

We understand the Kardashian-Jenner allure. Where they will go, fans will follow. Kylie Cosmetics is one of the first of the family brands to be on TikTok, and you don’t need us to tell you, it’s going well. Following in the footsteps of a successful Instagram Stories strategy.

Sephora

Sephora is another brand that has taken the dive straight into the TikTok ocean of good vibes. Like many other brands, Sephora has a winning formula of product + personality, which results in engaging content that fans of the retailer love. Familiar faces bring viewers on a journey, and create a more meaningful connection through the content.

e.l.f. Cosmetics

e.l.f cosmetics’ #eyeslipsface challenge took TikTok by storm in late 2019, and has been hailed as one of the best TikTok launches to date. What began as a giveaway quickly snowballed into one of the biggest viral beauty moments of the year, with TikTokkers and celebrities jumping on the bandwagon. There were over 2.8 million videos with the #eyeslipsface hashtag, which amassed more than 4 billion views.

Publishing & Media Brands

Cosmopolitan

Cosmopolitan posts a mix of hilarious in-the-office content which frankly, we love, as well as articles. Cosmopolitan has somehow managed to embrace the don’t-take-yourself-too-seriously nature of TikTok while still promoting content and staying on brand.

Radio Disney

TikTok is arguably the perfect channel for Radio Disney. Music? Check. Teen audience? Check. Dance trends? Check. When Radio Disney goes viral on TikTok, it really goes viral, the above video was viewed nearly 5 million times.

Automotive Brands

Mercedes-Benz

We love seeing huge, established, household-name brands branching out into new channels. And Mercedes-Benz is just that.

BMW Motorsport

From race wins to the Mentos challenge, BMW was one of the first automotive brands on TikTok.

Haircare Brands

Bleach London

Bleach London has nailed its TikTok strategy. The brand is all about bright colours, oddly satisfying hair clips (we can’t stop watching the comb-in-dye videos), and ASMR.

Food & Beverage Brands

Chipotle

If you needed persuading that TikTok has no rules and that it’s all about what your audience cares about/will engage with, this video of guacamole being made was viewed 3 million times.

Redbull

Redbull has always taken a unique approach when it comes to the types of content it produces (watching Felix Baumgartner jump from space down to Earth was one of the coolest things we’ve ever seen) and the brand’s TikTok feed is a myriad of daredevil challenges and people doing extraordinary things. The engagement metrics speak for themselves.

Fashion Brands

Pretty Little Thing

Pretty Little Thing has been experimenting and honing its TikTok strategy since the beginning, proving that it knows its audience, where they hang out (on TikTok and Instagram), and what kinds of content they like to see. Unsurprisingly, content that performs well for Pretty Little Thing is lo-fi, funny, and relevant when it comes to TikTok trends.

Gymshark

Gymshark is activewear royalty on social media. The brand has always taken an agile approach to social media — they get it. It’s a fitness-meets-comedy feast for the eyes on the brand’s TikTok account.

Guess

Guess is winning the hearts of its younger audience on TikTok. Being present where its audience is already spending a considerable amount of time and creating fun, engaging content is creating a new stream of growth. This new creative outlet is bringing fans further into the world of Guess.

Takeaways

TikTok is not, we repeat, is not Instagram Stories. They are not the same. TikTok has the loveable comedic feel that, those of us in the room who are old enough to remember, Vine had. It’s not about a polished, perfect piece of content (but your splicing and transitions better be tight), it’s about creating content that people are going to resonate with, laugh at, share, and recreate themselves. TikTokkers love to take an idea and put their own creative stamp on it.

We’re not seeing hyper-curated feeds. Post-production happens in-app, and we’re not seeing tons of ads. What we’re seeing is the most engaging content being surfaced first. This is a type of algorithm we’re all used to, except for the fact that the content that is most engaging on TikTok is not what you’d expect, given what we’ve learned from other channels.

TikTok is all about relevance. Trends can sweep through the platform in a matter of hours, and it’s up to brand marketers to decide what is and isn’t right for them to jump on board with fast. Sure, we’re used to social media being fast, always-on and reactive — but this reality reaches new heights on TikTok.

The brands who are winning on TikTok are the brands that are using it. They’re the brands that took the leap, downloaded the app, tried it out, learned from their results, and are having fun.

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