TikTok Marketing – The potential and the pitfalls

We’ve seen the future, and its moving! TikTok is the latest in the string of social media minor reinvention that means new forms of media are becoming ever prevalent in the mainstream. But how can TikTok marketing with it’s new video trends be used effectively, sit back and look below to find out more.


TikTok has grown exponentially in the last year. It became the most downloaded free iOS app in the first half of 2018 and that was before it reached mainstream appeal! It fought to the similar position for Google Play later that year. TikTok enjoyed over 1.1 billion installs as of this March. Over 500 million people around the world use the app each month.


It has gained mainstream notoriety off the back of being in the news due to concerns over its safety in protecting younger users.  Notably in April the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology ordered the app be removed stores, after a High Court stated the app was ‘encouraging pornography and other illicit content’. Fortunately the ban lasted only days when the company vowed better monitoring of its content, and took down over 6 million videos believed to be in contravention of its T&C’s. Not a surprise as nearly 43% of the apps user base is in India.


So what is it?

TikTok has followed in the footsteps of Vine and Instagram by being a visually focused platform. It consists of short user created videos, often with a musical bent, the owner’s original app being Musical.ly, a similar lip sync only product. Typically up to 15 seconds long, although 60-second Stories-type videos are possible, it attracts much the same markets as Instagram, snapchat and Vine did in their infancy, 13-24 year olds make up the majority of users, with well over 60% of users under 30.

The one startling difference between these and TikTok is users don’t need to follow anybody. Much like YouTube or other discoverability platforms the app has algorithms and search capability to find ‘random’ interesting content based on user.


What’s the marketing potential?

In a word healthy. There is a reason marketers try and stay on top of social media development, fresh markets like TikTok have less competition and more sought after demographics than there are dwindling in others. TikTok marketing systems provides a fresh battleground for marketers to use to reach the elusive younger generation.


How can we use it?

There are 3 channels we can use for TikTok marketing.

  1. Content Creation
  2. Influencer Marketing
  3. Paid advertising

Obviously the usefulness of each depends heavily on the companies objectives, resources, brand and appeal. A combination of any mix of the three is likely the best generic solution before A/B testing and researching.


This form of TikTok marketing is likely not suitable for everyone, TikTok is, as an emerging market, very much dictated by the trends and whims of its users, and making content to please them is no easier than it has ever been. Video content can be uploaded to your own channel, or perhaps working to encourage others to make content on their channels to promote your brand. Finding a way to encourage power-users to share videos featuring or simply using your product is likely to be a great way to increase your visibility.


One of the best things about TikTok’s user-base is the whole application concept, used by real people any time, means high level camerawork and production is not necessary. This means while content planning should be as exhaustive as possible the creation of content is actually quite fast and the users are more engaged by authentic and fun videos rather than their presentation.


One viable content opportunity is the challenge. These are big in the TikTok community. Often they involve a simple premise of video creation that encourage users to participate, maybe giving their best version of a dance or other such fun, engaging activities. They are usually spread virally on the platform, and others, via hash-tag, making them easily searchable and (with the right name) memorable. Brands can either use their own channel or sway with influencers to get the tag trending. Once a challenge is launched, people can participate within 15 seconds for a quick hit of social interactivity and modestly background brand awareness.



It’s likely you’re familiar with influencer marketing, if not take a look at our blog on the subject. Standard influencer marketing techniques work on TikTok much like any other platform, such as YouTube, Twitter and Snapchat. Often the influencer will have useful ideas of how to bring relevancy to the promotion giving their followers something unique and in line with both the brand and usual content. The key to success here is setting achievable goals, and choosing the correct representative to take your product to the right people, at the right time, in the right way.

While influencer marketing can be expensive targeting those slightly above the upper echelons of the influencer powerhouses and offering free products or services can go a long way, should the influencer be a customer or correct framework for one, of what you are selling. Remember, influencer marketing is often a reciprocal relationship in which both parties should be offering to boost the profile of another, leeches are not a long-term medical strategy.



TikTok has only recently started advert implementation, mostly over the last year, but has yet to create a bespoke profit management scheme. This being said they are getting closer having started showing some ads in January.

A TikTok marketing advertising pitch deck surfaced in late 2018, giving something of an feel for what forms of dedicated advertising they would be going forward with. They are testing ads in both the US and Europe with results and plans moving forward expected in early 2020

Possible ad types include:


  • Branded Hashtag challenges
  • In-feed proprietary video
  • Lens filters for photos.
  • Brand takeovers


So as we can see TikTok is really becoming a force to be reckoned with in the social sphere, only time will tell if its ascendency will slip off and the key youth demographics will leave with the influx of older members (and marketing companies) but for now, the TikTok gold rush is very much on, start panning!

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