How to Use TikTok: A Strategic and Best Practice Guide

Dana Davis

By: Dana Davis

Account Strategy Manager

With 76 billion monthly video views, TikTok is securing its role as a unique real-time, call-and-response creative social platform. The platform has taken advantage of our culture as trend lovers and viral video consumers.

TikTok launched an advertising process and hyperlinking capabilities for brands in early 2019, and brands quickly began to experiment.

Though it’s still a bit early for determining best practices, advertisers are now sorting out how to take advantage of this new space in a strategic way for marketing.

Consider Your Strategy

TikTok is built around communities, and because of its inclusivity of all users, the community returns the favor by participating in trends and embracing one another.

One of the best things about this new video-sharing space is that it rewards good content. Whether it’s created by popular tastemakers or first-time users, every video has the same opportunity to go viral — making it a very even playing field for brands of all sizes.

Advertisers should be taking advantage of the freedom that TikTok provides for experimentation and testing. The platform hasn’t been paid long enough for there to be specific rules about what to post and when to post. It’s the wild west of social platforms.

That being said, there are always strategic considerations, even when there is no standard:

  1. Quality over Quantity - Unlike other platforms, TikTok is free from concerns about posting schedules or cadences, giving each video an equal opportunity to go viral. One amazing video per day beats multiple average attempts.
  2. Experiment Regularly - TikTok encourages a mix of original concepts, trends, challenges and using popular sounds. You never know which type of content will resonate with your audience, experimentation is key. Never feel confined to specific content types or production levels.
  3. Celebrate Diversity - We have an incredible community of diverse segments that reinterpret and embrace trends and challenges, regardless of their origin. Give users the flexibility to repackage your content through their own unique lens.
  4. Embrace the Platform - True success comes from actively using the platform and understanding the community. Be sure to use the app as an individual, and build from there.
  5. Engage your audience - The best way to engage audiences on TikTok is to embrace the community and create a two-way conversation. Participate in trending hashtags, collaborate with popular creators and create with users using the duet or live features.

Creative Best Practices

Our previous article on TikTok reviewed the performance metrics that TikTok can measure, and outlined the creative types available for paid advertising. Continuing to that point, would be the visual guidelines needed to see good performance in the first place.

Even though it’s still too early to have a clear understanding of what makes one creative perform better than another, it’s never too early to make sure you’re optimizing your visuals for the placement and audience.

TikTok doesn’t have any patterns in performance that reveal the secret to success. There’s no right way to go viral in this new arena. However, there are some best practices to consider:

  1. Vertical - All videos should be shot (or edited) for vertical viewing – embracing the full-screen experience.
  2. Mobile-first - Shoot with your phone! Don’t worry about massive productions – our audience craves authenticity.
  3. Attention-grabbing - Start with a strong opening shot and build towards a big finish – give users a reason to stick around.
  4. Incorporate Sound - Sound is just as important as using visuals when it comes to a good TikTok video. TikTok has a library of over 20 million songs and sounds, pre-licensed to accompany your content.
  5. Use Hashtags Sparingly - Don’t go overboard using either too many or irrelevant hashtags. Be selective. Deliberate and participate in app-wide challenges.
  6. Concentrated - The ideal runtime for a TikTok video is 10-17 seconds; just enough time for perfect storytelling.
  7. Delivers a Surprise - Deliver on the reveal and give your audience a reason to come back for more.

The Greater Game

Besides finding success on the platform itself, TikTok is providing tools for reaching an even wider audience.

TikTok makes it extremely easy to download videos, so they are often compiled on YouTube, for thousands or even millions of new people to see. With YouTube videos comes Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, and Facebook, and people sharing their creations in many online spaces.

While it’s unclear what the future of TikTok for advertisers truly looks like, it is clear that brands are already beginning to reap the rewards of being brave enough to plunge into this new space.

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