Croud recently hosted a TikTok take-off: Creators, creative and performance success breakfast event at The Drum Labs to explore how brands can maximise opportunities across the TikTok platform.
Below is a roundup of the key takeaways from the event, starting with TikTok’s meteoric rise, to how brands of all sizes can launch a TikTok plan, work with creators, and drive performance on the platform.
The rise of TikTok
The rise of TikTok was borne out of a strange time in our lives, as we were deep in the pandemic with isolation boredom running rife. It was also a time of great uncertainty and challenge for our industry, with marketers trying to make the best of what was a new dynamic in the digital media landscape.
The growth of TikTok as a platform is unprecedented and its name is now firmly placed within the global media lexicon. To give some context as to the potential of this rapidly growing platform, Google, the platform synonymous for search, recently shared that 40% of young people are using TikTok or Instagram to search for places to eat, not Google maps. This is a brand new behaviour, somewhat inconceivable a few years ago, that we need to take into account.
With TikTok shaking up the landscape, another aspect to consider is that since the start of paid social media – effectively 15 years ago with the launch of Facebook ads – we’ve continued to bucket every walled garden with a specific purpose under the brand of ‘social media’. Croud’s Head of Display, Video & Social, Anthony Macro, suggests that homogenising the purpose of each, and the context in which users are coming to them has done us a disservice. Whereas programmatic advertising often refers to context as a key component of value, paid social is not. Breaking it down – Snap positions itself as a camera-first app, and the once dominant platform, Facebook, has become best associated with a thriving marketplace. With each platform having developed over time, we need to think about how users engage with them, and therefore look at them through that lens, remembering that TikTok is positioned as an entertainment platform first.
According to Macro, brands should draw a line in the sand and imagine re-entering the media landscape as it is. Think about what a media plan would look like without any preconceived notion of how things have performed before.
Historic performance and benchmarks are clearly important, but there may be a comfortability with the way we’ve started producing assets and what we know the platform will produce, versus where people are spending their time, where things are going, and how you’d think about that differently if you were to start from scratch today.
Building a successful launch plan
According to Emily Smith, Paid Social Account Director at Croud, diversification is much more valuable than it has ever been. Advertising on Meta is more expensive than it used to be, and the cost of impressions has risen sharply over the last few years. It’s therefore important to know where to expand to bring down costs to drive cost effective reach.
This is only exacerbated by the fact that people are moving away from using Facebook, so platforms like TikTok have a space to grow into. TikTok is a new type of platform and a lot of its success can be attributed to its unique positioning in the market.
What this means for advertisers:
- TikTok is trusted as a source of information – this is true especially for Gen Z, so brands need to make sure their content actually provides value and is informative.
- Built for entertainment with product discovery as a natural byproduct – people come to TikTok to be entertained so it’s useful to look at trending hashtags to ensure content is relevant to your audience.
- Values authentic content and creators – perhaps most importantly, native, creator led content that looks like it belongs on the platform is always going to be best, and is essential for successful paid campaigns.
Success on TikTok relies on three core pillars:
Audience centric strategy
This approach involves gradual audience building through a tailored, full-funnel account structure. On TikTok it’s good to have an organic presence first, both to test out content to see what’s working and to build a baseline of credibility. This is especially important as much of TikTok’s reach is unduplicated, so advertisers need to prime the target audience before driving performance.
You can then use native, engaging ad content to drive traffic to your website which builds up retargeting pools of TikTok users who are more likely to convert in the later stages.
Then it’s time to gather signals. By feeding the algorithm the correct data signals, you can ensure that auto-optimisation becomes more effective over time. This then facilitates conversion, meaning you can optimise directly towards your conversion goals.
As the industry shifts increasingly towards automation, advertisers need to ensure that they’re feeding the algorithm a high volume of quality signals. When the algorithm has sufficient data to work with, spend is optimised more effectively. This makes cost per acquisitions (CPAs) more efficient, leading to more conversions, and therefore more data to feed back so this starts the cycle again.
The last, and most important point, is making sure we are launching entertaining creative that is native to the platform and relevant to the audience. TikTok, more so than other platforms, requires really native ads in order to work.
Creative strategy for brands
TikTok is an exciting platform – but for brands it can be hard to know where to start. It’s important not to simply rehash what you’re posting on Instagram and just push products, but instead create content that’s ownable and authentic to you, but most critically, that it’s done in the playful ‘TikTok way’.
In short: Don’t Make Ads. Make TikToks.
Amy Butterworth, Creative Strategist at VERB Brands, says there are many ways you can approach content creation, and brands often end up using a mixture of ways:
Creating organic moments
Firstly it’s about making a splash with creative, sharing authentic content that connects with your target audience and proves to them your brand knows what it’s doing on the platform.
Smaller brands or brands just starting out can use the TikTok Creative Suite, or create ‘lo-fi’ content – which is when you should really start to think about narrative more, who are you talking to, why are you talking about it, and why will your audience care.
For example, M&S create all of their TikToks from the perspective of Percy Pig, jumping on trends and hashtags in an agile way by using this popular character and responding to what’s happening. This isn’t particularly high quality content, but it drives brilliant results. Luxury brands are also having success with the platform such as Dior’s playful TikToks with Cara Delavine where she makes faces to promote their new eyeliner, and Balenciaga jumping on a popular trend by throwing neon slime onto the ground which then turns into one of their shoes
Think of creators as your superpower! They really understand the platform and their audience, so think about who is the right creator for your brand to work with. As creators already have strong communities, brands can leverage this and drive deep engagement – on average TikToks with creators drive +75% higher clickthrough rate than benchmark, and +139% video completion rate versus benchmark.
Once you’ve nailed your organic content and have great creator content too, paid content is an important part of the strategy. Another key point to stress however is not to focus on just paid or organic content, but post a combination of both, as this has the potential to accelerate results for your brand on TikTok. Audiences want to know that brands ‘get’ TikTok, and are there to have fun – not to simply push products.
Using TikTok to drive performance
TikTok is built around discovery, meaning that anything can go viral. This is down to the way the algorithm learns and optimises towards viewing habits which then serves future content. A few years ago, the platform was seen as a big awareness player and traffic driver, so the brands leveraging this success TikTok has, and who tackle the three key pillars of TikTok: Commerce, Community and Entertainment – are really seeing success.
An example of this is the viral hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt. 71% of users agree that TikTok inspired them to shop even when they weren’t looking to do so, and this comes down to the algorithm learning not only viewing habits, but purchasing habits too. This hashtag has racked up a mighty 2.5 billion views, with many brands using this, and the unique algorithm, to their advantage.
As mentioned previously, organic and paid go hand in hand, and one paid feature that really helps to bridge the gap between paid and organic is the Spark Ads feature, which boosts or ‘sparks’ organic content that exists on the platform.
Video shopping ads are another highly successful format to use, built to amplify product discovery. Personalised by user interactions, these video ads are hyper relevant, fully automated, smart functionalities shown across the ‘for you page’. Leveraging this new feature is highly recommended, with results such as 46% average increase in return on ad spend, and 92% campaign performance uplift so far.
If you’d like to learn more about this feature,or about our TikTok take-off turnkey solution, please get in touch with our team to discuss how we can help.