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Trend Apr 27, 2020 6 min read

The essential brand marketing guide to TikTok

All aboard the TikTok train. Read about how to leverage this new social media app and successfully market your brand.

what is tiktok

Since social distancing began, TikTok’s popularity has skyrocketed across all ages, eliminating preconceived notions it was only a ‘Gen-Z app’ and making the time ripe for campaign experimentation. 

Key takeaways 

  • While products that go viral on TikTok can lead to sudden spikes in sales, brands and retailers shouldn’t be too focused on that conversion as a metric of success. Instead, marketers should focus on the opportunity TikTok presents to reach a wider audience without the need for paid advertisements. The popularity of the ‘For You’ page means that organic growth is easy to achieve on the app when brands post consistent and on-trend content.
  • For those looking to capitalize on advertising on the app, these are currently the four types available: sponsored hashtag challenges, home screen takeovers, branded lenses and auto-play vertical videos. 
  • TikTok might not seem relevant to your brand now, but it will eventually turn into another staple social platform your brand needs to have a presence on. Currently, user activity on TikTok is high, making it the best time to experiment with different forms of short video content and figure out what works best to engage an audience.

While the app is still evolving, it’s the perfect time to start planning your content strategy, especially in regards to advertising. Find out how fashion and beauty brands and retailers are using the platform right now to get inspired on how to plan your future content.

Learn more about how EDITED data can transform your processes to compete in today’s market. 

How does TikTok work?

TikTok is Gen-Z’s favorite social video app that allows users to upload short videos to the platform under 60 seconds long, with 15 seconds being the most common time-frame that the app automatically defaults to on the recording screen.

In contrast to Instagram, users tend to scroll through the ‘For You’ page (similar to the explore feature on Instagram) rather than clicking on to the ‘Following’ tab. Getting onto the ‘For You’ page gives the potential for videos to go viral and is a good indicator of what challenges and sounds are currently popular.

Users can choose from a wide variety of sounds and song snippets to use with the option to add filters, effects and text to their video afterwards. The stop/start function also allows users to create fun transitions, which are currently popular on the app.

How are fashion brands making a presence on the app

Challenges

Crocs joined TikTok after noticing that its shoe was going viral due to the #shavingcreamchallenge. To keep momentum up, they created their own challenge inspired by the ‘thousand dollar Crocs‘ lyric in Post Malone’s song. Within 24 hours, Crocs saw an 18% increase in followers on the app.

Ralph Lauren, a sponsor of the US Open Tennis Championship, launched a #WinningIRL campaign with actress Diana Silver, encouraging users to create their own videos using the ‘Clap’ sound.

In summer 2019, Uniqlo executed the first TikTok multi-market campaign. The challenge was created specifically for the app, encouraging users to showcase their creativity wearing Uniqlo items. The winning videos were used for the brand’s own content with the hashtag generating over 700 million views. However, Uniqlo hasn’t kept up its presence on the app since, which has left the brand under the 10k following mark.

Campaigns

While shooting campaigns, boohoo captured additional content with the Hembrow sisters, getting them to perform the TikTok popular song Say So by Doja Cat for a video.

How-To

A popular trend on TikTok at the moment is DIY tie-dye. ASOS created a video showing its followers how to tie-dye a pair of Nike socks. The retailer also posted an informative video showing the correct way to lace Vans.

Introduce the team

A fun way to kick-off your TikTok channel is by introducing the team. ASOS filmed a voice over video to the tune of ‘Friends’, which went viral on the app, seeing over 400k views. NA-KD also introduced its social team by using the popular #weirdthenwave challenge.

Styling

ASOS has been creating its own styling videos using transition effects. These include ‘What I Wear For’ videos, which have seen over 10k views.

Behind-the-scenes

Missguided has seen success in posting behind-the-scenes content, taking its followers behind the camera on shoot days. In particular, one of its most popular posts was a BTS clip from a festival shoot, which garnered over 156k views and 19k likes.

New-in drops

ASOS has seen a good response from its sneaker videos, where the retailer showcases new drops in an unboxing style video.

Timeline of brands/retailers joining:

  • 2017: Old Navy
  • 2018: Gymshark, PrettyLittleThing, Missguided
  • Jan-Jul 2019: ASOS, boohoo, Fashion Nova, Nasty Gal, NA-KD, I Saw It First, River Island and SHEIN
  • Aug-Dec 2019: Superdry, Selfridges, Zalando, boohooMAN and Topshop/Topman
  • Feb 2020: New Look, Nike, PacSun, Lulu’s, MissPap, Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana
  • Mar 2020: Revolve, In The Style, Saint Laurent, Urban Outfitters

What about beauty retailers? 

Challenges

Many beauty brands joined the platform when they noticed a sudden spike in sales, finding success from products being featured in viral challenges on the app. For Too Faced, its Lip Injection Gloss began to see sell outs, despite having launched six years prior. The brand then created its own #TFDamnGirl challenge for the launch of its new mascara.

Similarly, Marc Anthony saw an unexpected 60% boost in sales, which led to the discovery of the trend on TikTok. The brand created the #StrictlyCurls and #DreamBigVolume Challenge to further encourage user participation with its products.

Although not shared on its own page, MAC Cosmetics ran one of TikTok’s most successful campaigns with the #YouOwnIt content, garnering over 2 billion views. The campaign launched during NYFW and featured 18 influencers who posted paid content on their own platforms. While the campaign was a huge success, MAC Cosmetics could have utilized more of the content on its own page to further connect with its audience and grow its own channel.

Other viral products on the app include The Ordinary’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution and the Freck freckle pen. Products that have instant before/after results, or are visually enticing when used, are two key attributes to a product going viral.

Close-up/swatches

Swatches are already popular within the beauty community and also work well on TikTok. Benefit regularly posts close-ups of its products. This type of video coincides well with the launch of beauty products to help create buzz.

Tutorials

Fenty Beauty has used its Fenty house members to create consistent makeup tutorials for its channel. It’s important for brands not to re-use content that they have created for other platforms, but create original content to popular sounds on the app.

Makeup hacks

Sephora posted a ‘Milk Makeup’ beauty hack, mixing powder with moisturizer and adding its own ASMR sound for extra effect. Fenty Beauty also posted a ‘how to stay matte all day’ hack using its own products. Both posts received over 60k likes, indicating that followers were saving the video to refer back to later.

Behind-the-scenes

Morphe often post extra content surrounding its meet and greet events with influencers, as well as a behind the scenes look at its own offices.

Timeline of brands/retailers joining:

  • 2017: Fenty Beauty and Sephora
  • 2018: LookFantastic
  • Jan-Jul 2019: TooFaced
  • Aug-Dec 2019: Kylie Cosmetics, Morphe, NYX Cosmetics UK, ELF Cosmetics, Benefit, EOS and Colorpop Cosmetics
  • Jan 2020: Cult Beauty and Huda Beauty Shop
  • Mar 2020: Revolve, In The Style, Saint Laurent, Urban Outfitters and The Ordinary

Adapting to COVID-19

Educational

Although posted late last year, now is a great time for beauty brands and retailers to encourage customers to use their virtual try-on AR tools to help customers get comfortable with purchasing online.

Showcasing employees

With many companies working remotely and having no access to content studios, social teams are stepping up from working behind-the-scenes to filming in front of the camera. 

Influencer collaborations

Retailers and brands are leaning on influencers more heavily than ever to create content. Both boohoo and Ulta Beauty put out an open call for applications to be TikTok ambassadors, following the success of the Fenty Beauty content house. 

EDITED user? Login to read our report on the best ways to leverage the power of influencers on TikTok and what success campaigns look like. 

TikTok Tips

1. Keep an eye on popular challenges and hashtags

Use the Discover tab on the app to keep up-to-date with trending hashtags and challenges, as well as scrolling through the ‘For You’ page to get a grasp of popular sounds. Staying on top of trends that you can participate in is important for relevancy, increasing your chance of going viral.

2. Encourage user participation

Challenges are the most popular videos on TikTok. Brands should consider creating their own that users can easily join in on and pin their challenge so it remains at the top of the page.

3. Don’t repurpose content

Content should be specifically created to suit the style of the app. Re-publishing video content intended for other platforms, such as highly editorial campaigns doesn’t see great results. Think of creative ways to make your videos snappy, engaging, fun and informative.

4. Go Pro

Make sure that you switch your account to Pro so that you can analyze how your videos performed and gain a stronger understanding of your follower demographics.

5. Measuring success 

While we have learned that products going viral on TikTok can lead to sudden spikes in sales, brands and retailers shouldn’t be too focused on conversions as a metric of success. As the platform continues to evolve, marketers should be focusing on the opportunity TikTok presents to reach a new and wider set of eyes without the need for paid advertisements. The popularity of the ‘For You’ page means that organic growth is easy to achieve on the app when brands post consistent and on-trend content.

6. Advertising

If brands and retailers do want to advertise, there are currently four types of advertising available on the platform:

  • Sponsored hashtag challenges
  • Home screen takeovers
  • Branded lenses
  • Auto-play vertical videos

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