What We Marketers Can Learn from TikTok

13.04.2021 Social Media Video
Eoin Dowdall
Creative Director

From being founded in 2016 to becoming the most downloaded app in 2020, it is fair to say that TikTok has seen its popularity skyrocket in recent years. In a similar fashion to its predecessors, the social media app consists of users posting and sharing content with their followers. However, what sets TikTok apart is the fact that all content is in the form of video. With a theme of setting and following different trends, the platform possesses a certain inclusivity that other social media apps haven’t quite harnessed. And this format has seen it become the 7th most popular social platform out there, with daily hours spent on it rising every year. But what characteristics can marketers take from TikTok to influence their own video marketing efforts?

Tiktok logo

Going beyond how to use social media as a video campaign platform, TikTok can be used as a rough guide to digital marketing trends altogether. Particularly popular with “Generation Z” – those born in the late 90s and afterwards – it can be used as an indicator of what appeals to this younger generation. And in doing this, it can help us foresee what will trend as time progresses.

It’s astronomical rise in popularity is a testament to the increase in online video content. Research suggests that as much as 82% of consumer internet traffic will be in the form of video by 2022. However, if we look deeper, there is much more that can be learnt from the latest platform to take the world of social media by storm. Here is what we marketers can learn from TikTok.

Finding a niche helps your video content succeed

This is a marketing tactic that existed long before TikTok was born but is still as relevant as it always has been. Discovering your niche is what will set you apart from competitors. This could be through the products that you provide, the manner in which you market them or both. Once you have deciphered what it is that makes your brand unique, this should become the core of your content strategy.

This is something that characterises just about every noteworthy TikTok user out there. The most popular accounts all have a particular trait that lets viewers know that they are in the right place. This could be in the form of practically anything. From skilful stunts from a former acrobat to 1920s themed cocktail mixing lessons to a graffiti artist’s impressions of your favourite childhood cartoon characters.

The niche is what makes these accounts so popular. So, once you have found your niche, stick to it. People have a certain dislike for unnecessary alterations. Marketing psychologists refer to this as perceptual set theory. The idea is that people go into certain situations expecting something and if they do not experience this, they will likely be disappointed or wont act in the way that you expect them to. Imagine your favourite gritty, crime TV series decided to take a light-hearted, comedic turn in its latest series. It wouldn’t quite sit right.

Like these popular TikTok accounts, your audience will address your content expecting something in particular. Make sure that you build a reputation around your unique features and give the audience what they are after.

Lego man in a unicorn costume

You don’t need a lot of money for top-quality video production

When you consider that the majority of TikTok video content has been recorded on a smartphone, it becomes clear that a big budget isn’t paramount to creating the next viral video sensation. In fact, the majority of TikTok users record nothing more than footage of themselves or their surroundings. Anyone with a smartphone and an original idea can become an internet sensation overnight. This just goes to show that grasping people’s attention isn’t down to having a large budget, but rather making the best of the budget that you have.

Creating engaging video content is all about prioritising style over substance. Make sure that your content is in the optimal formats, answers all the right questions and strikes the right tone of voice. This is what will get people talking about your brand.

For more tips on styling your video correctly read our blog on Video Design Tips and Objectives for Better Video Production.

It is true that budget can help with improving video quality, but amateur style footage also has its benefits. The casual, down-to-earth stylings of more budget video shoots adds a relatability to your video content. This helps the audience make a connection with your brand on a more personal level. Research has also shown the effectiveness of using faces in your video content, which is undoubtedly a factor in the success of the numerous influencers that can be found throughout TikTok.

Keep your video content simple

The vast majority of TikTok accounts are made up of simple and consistent content. It is not often that you encounter footage that plays with the boundaries of what is possible in video production. Typically, the social media app’s content shows no more than individuals presenting themselves and their daily activities on their accounts. And it is this simplicity that makes the app so popular.

Lady taking video on her phone

This shows that cutting out the unnecessary waffle and trimming your video down to its fundamental messaging will in fact make it more appealing. Remember that video content should be used to tell a story about your brand. People want to view brand-specific content. That is why they are following you in the first place. By overcomplicating your video content, you will in fact stray from the original messaging. So, make sure that you give them what they are after.

So often brands concern themselves with hitting the right numbers. Following algorithms rather than audience preferences. In doing so, they tend to see a drop off in interaction. What people really want to experience when viewing video content is emotional value. And an enticing narrative is far more likely to whip up digital hype than another stale segment of visual media that is attempting to do too much at once. Keep it simple and stick to your story.

For more tips on how to keep your content relevant, read our blog on how to go about Storytelling in Video.

The value of audience inclusivity

This is a factor of digital marketing that is fast becoming an essential feature for creating a loyal brand community. These days customers want to feel both valued and included by their favourite companies. This is commonly achieved through actions like actively responding in comments sections or mentioning a customer in your latest podcast. And inclusivity is as key to the most popular TikTok accounts as it is to typical video marketing strategies.

One signifier of this is the introduction of “Challenges” onto the social media platform. “Challenges” consist of an individual setting a trend, creating a hashtag and having followers re-enact it on their own accounts. In doing so, they are toppling the first in a long line of dominoes that will ultimately lead each participant back to their page. It is a means of sourcing user-generated content from those that have the strongest connection with your company, as well as creating new leads. If you can create your own brand-specific challenge, that is excellent. But there is more to take from TikTok’s “Challenges” feature.

Audiences love to feel part of something. And by carrying out TikTok challenges, customers themselves become part of the trend. This reflects the extent to which individuals appreciate becoming part of the community that surrounds their favourite brands. Inclusivity creates a stronger sense of your brand’s appreciation for the audience’s worth and builds a greater impression of relatability between customer and company. This is a vital factor in the modern age of digital marketing.

Videos don’t have to be long

Originally only allowing for 15 second video segments, TikTok now allows for 60-second videos to be uploaded onto the platform. Whilst the playtimes on TikTok have gotten longer, the average run time of TikTok’s 100 most popular videos is just 16 seconds. And this aligns with the fact that general online video content has also become more condensed over time.

Research suggests that the optimal marketing video length now lies under 2 minutes in length. People are starting to value content that can be consumed quickly and on-the-go, fitting it around their busy lifestyles. Much of this being a trend is also due to humans’ shortening attention spans. Individuals now consume content at an incredible rate, so if you don’t grab their attention quickly, there is every chance that you won’t grab it at all. Make sure that your videos don’t overrun, otherwise your audience will be less likely to engage with them. As TikTok has shown, the Gen Z population are more easily enticed by condensed video marketing content.

Commuters on their phones during a train journey

This isn’t to say that every piece of video content that you release should be concise. Some will benefit from longer run times and more in-depth narratives. If one were to be producing a piece of hero content to fit their Hero, Hub, Hygiene content model, for example.

The power of online influencers

TikTok as a platform is rife with influencers. Influencers are considered by many marketers to be the fastest growing customer acquisition method in the context of digital marketing. As one of the freshest social media platforms, TikTok has become an absolute hotbed of activity for social influencers. Whether they are wearing the latest designer clothes, using top-of-the-line gadgets or travelling to the most in-fashion locations, they are perceived to live a life that their followers envy. So, it is no wonder that they are used as a facet for outlining and exacerbating the desirability of a product.

They are fast becoming an authority on all manner of subjects within the online world. In fact, 70% of YouTube subscribers trust influencers over traditional celebrity personalities. This goes to show the colossal influence that influencers have over those that appreciate the value of their content. And this sense of authority on a particular subject can be an invaluable tool to wield.

Many marketing psychological theories stipulate that authority is one of the greatest factors in convincing a customer to invest in your brand. This is one of the reasons that influential figures within a field are commonly used for video testimonials. If people respect the individual that they are listening to, then they are more likely to take what they say as gospel. And many of these influential figures now come in the form of influencers on TikTok, making them a valuable asset in a video marketing context.

For more information on how to take inspiration from TikTok or utilise it as a marketing platform, drop us a line.

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