Would you ever think that The Washington Post and Duolingo were masters at marketing their brands on TikTok? Both reign as TikTok leaders with impressive engagement numbers. They’ve figured out the not-so-secret recipe for success on the newest social media platform: equal parts education and entertainment.
As the CEO and founder of video production company Lemonlight, I’ve kept a close eye on TikTok’s trajectory. In the past year, the site has become less of a recreational playground and more of an opportunity for businesses. Consequently, I recommend recalibrating your view on testing TikTok as a space where you can reach audiences in fresh and exciting ways.
Here are a few insights to help you start navigating TikTok as a marketing medium:
1. Try both short- and long-form videos.
While shorter videos still do well on the platform, longer-form video content is tracking well, too. This can be attributed at least in part to TikTok’s algorithm changes that favor longer videos to keep viewers on the site. The trick is to offer a mix of video lengths and find the length that works for you.
2. Include text components.
On-screen text is becoming the norm on TikTok and provides two major benefits. First, it makes videos more inclusive. Second, it makes the experience of scrolling without sound easier. A recent study found that 53 percent to 78 percent of mobile video watchers prefer to keep the sound off. This habit shows the importance of captions and visual tags in your TikTok videos.
3. Partner with TikTok influencers to extend your network.
One way to enhance your TikTok presence is to invest in influencers. MAC Cosmetics did this with Saweetie to leverage her makeup content creator followers. Influencers’ user-generated content is typically regarded as more genuine than what brands offer. Just try giving the content creators you work with as much creative liberty as possible to ensure authentic results.
4. Track your metrics.
As you plan and deploy your TikTok strategy, make sure to name and track KPIs. Staying on top of your metrics will show which videos are wins and which are misses. It might take a little while to get baseline data that can inform future initiatives, but don’t give up. Too many brands forget that TikTok mastery will take time.
5. Toss out the ultra-professional, polished video concepts.
You probably didn’t expect someone in the professional video industry to recommend unpolished videos. However, TikTok isn’t the place for documentaries. (Go to YouTube for that style of video marketing.) Think fun, playful clips with a lighthearted approach instead to reach a wider audience.
6. Participate in TikTok challenges.
TikTok is all about trends. From sound challenges to dance challenges, you can always find one that could work for your brand. Alternatively, you can start your own challenge. For example, Monica Blanco joined in on the “charging up” challenge as an opportunity to double down on her brand image as a fitness influencer focused on elevating the importance of mental and physical health.
7. Limit how many times viewers see each ad.
TikTok viewers are turned off by overly promotional content. This is why TikTok allows you to vary your ad spots and their frequency. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. A few variations on the same campaign concept (using repeat footage) can be used rather than playing the same video repeatedly.
TikTok is undergoing a rapid evolutionary phase. The sooner you jump aboard, the sooner your brand can stay ahead of the curve and boost sales, engagement, and awareness.
The author, Hope Horner, is CEO and founder of Lemonlight, a video production company that produces branded video content at scale.