Is TikTok Worth It Long-Term? Here's How Brands Broaden Their Reach On This Controversial App.
Updated: Jul 23
According to The New York Times, TikTok is "rewriting the world." This video-based application has grown its database exponentially during the COVID-19 crisis, reaching around 250 million active monthly users. Because of its broad reach and ease in creating content, the platform has been labeled as a powerful tool for content marketing and brand storytelling. Small companies such as local boutiques to national brands such as Grubhub and Pepsi are investing in its advertisement capabilities. Let's break down five ways businesses reach new customers on TikTok:
Branded hashtags: Having a branded hashtag seems to be the most popular approach to TikTok. Companies create campaigns with a hashtag so that users are encouraged to join. "Not only do these videos appear in the normal feed, but branded hashtags are also available in the Trending section of the Discover tab. A user can click on it and then is brought to a Challenge Page with a brief description of how to participate." Rexona, also known as the #RexonaChallenge from Russia, racked up 92.9 million views in 156,000 user-generated videos engaging in the challenge. The idea behind the campaign was to promote product awareness among a younger Russian audience.
Brand takeover: As soon as a user opens the app, there is a short video, usually 5 to 15 seconds long, with a link to the page that the brand would like users to visit. The app reserves this brand takeover for one company a day, but guarantees around five million views. The company Lysol took advantage of the brand takeover function and launched the #HealthyHabits6Step challenge. The brand takeover included a branded hashtag as well as an “easy dance” to promote cleanliness.
In-feed video: Through in-feed videos, companies of all sizes create organic content that users can interact with once seen on their feeds. Businesses can promote the video on TikTok and pay a fee to reach more of their target audience. Rock and Rags, a fashion boutique in Illinois, used TikTok to significantly engage with new shoppers through in-feed videos that turned into more significant trends. Its latest trend was recreating a scene from the movie, Mamma Mia, which showcased their new swimsuit line.
Branded lenses: Branded lenses are filters created by companies that add a variety of effects to users' videos. These lenses are generated to allow users to interact with the campaign individually. For example, Pepsi India has a filter and branded hashtag called the #SwagStepChallenge. Most videos have the same filter applied, which displays the Pepsi symbol and a message.
Partnering with Influencers: Brands have partnered with TikTok influencers to promote their hashtags or products. At times creators require contracts through TikTok, especially if the user is well-known, commonly recognized as "verified." Maybelline recently launched its #MaybeItsMaybelline campaign utilizing their famous sound bite, "maybe she's born with it." The company partnered with well-known TikTok influencers such as Avani, NikkieTutorials, and Ellie Zeiler to promote their hashtag and create content around Maybelline's latest products.
Recent headlines bring into question the ethics behind advertising on TikTok. The Chinese company ByteDance owns this social platform. Users have recently deleted the application from their phones over alleged concerns that U.S. user data might be reaching the Chinese government.
Data collection continues to be a national and global security concern in the tech age. India has gone so far as to ban TikTok in its country. The buzz around banning the platform has many companies questioning whether they should have a presence on the app due to the fear that the U.S. government might intervene, or that their private information could end up in the wrong hands.
Regardless of users' limited privacy, TikTok continues to grow with advertisements still on the rise. Nevertheless, in the eyes of public relations professionals, this application might not be a good fit for more long-term branding strategies.
Let us know your thoughts on the recent TikTok controversy and if you think this application is here to stay.
TikTok security concerns: