Brands across multiple industries are beginning to leverage TikTok, appealing to consumers in a new way. The app’s (predominantly Gen Z) users gravitate towards the platform for its unfiltered and relatable content. As Kory Marchisotto, chief marketing officer at Elf Cosmetics, told Vogue Business, “Younger communities are starting to look for platforms where they… [do] not have to put on their ‘Insta-face.’” 

Not surprisingly, TikTok has a steadily growing user base. The social video app has reportedly been downloaded more than 110 million times, since its US launch in August 2018 (with more than 1 billion global downloads). Brands have understandably taken notice and many are strategizing around how to make TikTok part of their marketing mix.

Examples of Successful Campaigns on TikTok

MAC Cosmetics launched a hashtag challenge called #YouOwnIt, inviting users to showcase their individuality by creating a range of videos, from makeover transformations to funny runway walks. The brand had also enlisted popular TikTok creators like @GlitterandLazers and @SethOBrien to kick off the campaign. The challenge currently has over 2.3 billion views. As Kelly Solomon, Senior VP of consumer marketing told Vogue Business, over 700 pieces of content have been created using the hashtag. While we can’t yet be sure if the challenge  has significantly impacted sales, it has certainly established brand awareness on the platform and given MAC a wealth of content to diversify to its marketing goals. 

Credit: Glitterandlazers on TikTok

Similarly, Elf Cosmetics ran a very successful hashtag challenge called #EyesLipsFace, where the brand offered winners $250 worth of products, who managed to work their e.l.f confident moves. Over a million videos were created;  the highest number of user-generated videos ever created for a TikTok campaign. The challenge went viral and even caught the attention of actress Reese Witherspoon, who also participated. NARS Cosmetics also recently kicked off a #HolidayBeat campaign, challenging users to “leave the everyday behind” and transport themselves to “the iconic Studio 54, where everyone glitters, and individuality and creativity steal the show” to the tune of Le Frek The challenge currently has 1.5 Billion views, and counting!

It’s no surprise that  nonprofits have started using TikTok too. Girls Who Code, the initiative that aims to empower young women with coding and computer science classes, partnered with the platform to launch #MarchForSisterhood: a digital march of women sharing videos and posts that represent what sisterhood means to them. The organization sees it as an opportunity to connect with a wider group of girls. As their Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Singer told Adweek,  “The #MarchForSisterhood is a moment to celebrate the transformative social movements [girls] are leading in communities all around the world, and to remind them that they are not alone. Sisterhood means having each other’s backs.”

Credit: Girls Who Code on TikTok

How do brands stand to benefit?

As a brand considering making the investment in TikTok, you will be happy to hear that Gen Z’s favorite platform is testing social, shoppable videos – just like those on Instagram. Shopping might soon become a reality on TikTok, as the option to purchase in-app is currently being developed. If this foray into social commerce becomes successful in the U.S., brands would have  ever-expanding opportunities to tap into new audiences and acquire customers. Indeed, this is likely only one of many potential changes coming, as TikTok works to perfect its ad offerings.

From sponsoring hashtag challenges to sparking user-generated content, to enrolling influencers to create buzz, brands can market to a whole new crop of consumers by becoming early adopters of TikTok. As our Senior Creative Strategist Will Leatherman says, 

“Brands have a very unique opportunity to engage and collaborate with the creative minds of the Gen-Z generation, who are looking past the picture perfect world of Instagram. Tik Tok is still in a stage where it feels fun and new, something which I personally hope it’s able to maintain, and brands can be part of shaping what the platform and its content ultimately become. With posts still mainly promoting positivity and candid self-expression, brands can  create challenges that feel native to the platform, whilst effectively helping shape this new era of social media that promotes what’s real versus the idea of perfection.”

One thing is clear: the attention is there and it’s only a matter of time until brands see higher conversions, thanks to the app’s already existing and upcoming ad products. As our Founder Permele Doyle explains, “It is still the Wild West of social media, but it’s an enormous opportunity for brands to achieve widespread reach to young audiences in fresh, fun ways. We’re incredibly excited to help our client partners figure out the best TikTok strategies.”

Now is a good time to start experimenting.

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