“How can our brand monetize TikTok?” That’s been the biggest question on every marketer’s lips since the platform’s swell in popularity. Though the platform didn’t jump into the advertising fray immediately, it has begun to develop processes to woo more businesses to its portal.
A September 2021 article from The New York Times discusses TikTok’s move to connect content creators with brands. Essentially, TikTok is trying to streamline and formalize a process that, until now, has been happening organically. Thus far, only about half of the most widely known corporations have tested the TikTok waters. However, it’s only a matter of time before all organizations realize that TikTok isn’t the next Vine. It’s here to stay — and ready to provide real value to marketers who learn how to maximize its short-form video content setup.
Yet many marketing teams remain reluctant to even talk about TikTok, let alone bake it into their plans. This is due to a couple of misconceptions. First, marketers assume they’ll be expected to take full creative control over their TikTok video campaigns if they’re working with existing content creators. They don’t realize that popular content producers have developed signature content that aligns with their audiences. As such, they need to be given as much creative liberty as possible so that their sponsored content remains authentic. In other words, marketers needn’t (and shouldn’t) expect to micromanage the journey.
Another misunderstanding about TikTok is that ads must be traditional to be successful. Not so. Content creators go viral on TikTok when they produce casual, authentic content that isn’t overproduced.
Lastly, it can be tough for seasoned marketing professionals to wrap their heads around the unusual nature of this new social media giant. As a result, many are posting just a few videos before giving up. They’re not allowing the time to find and cultivate an audience, and too many are trying to overlay ultra-professional, polished videos onto the platform and wondering why they’re getting no results.
Diving Into the TikTok Universe
If you still feel a little uncomfortable at the notion of stepping away from classic marketing best practices to showcase your brand on TikTok, try these strategies to get started.
1. Let TikTok play matchmaker.
Rather than trying to find content creators that you think will be a good fit for your company, let TikTok’s algorithms do the hard work. TikTok has been widely praised for being surprisingly accurate in bringing together businesses and creators.
One caveat: You may not personally see the link between your brand and TikTok’s recommended content creators. Give the process a shot anyway. TikTok has a strong track record for linking up seemingly dissimilar parties. You can always end your relationship with a content creator down the road if the matchmaking doesn’t pan out.
2. Give content creators wide berths.
It can be highly challenging to hand over the reins to a content creator. This is particularly true if you don’t quite “get” the creator’s essence. However, you need to trust that the creator you choose will do your product or service justice.
Obviously, you can offer up some parameters. Just don’t try to water down the content creator’s natural vibe. Putting too many restraints in place will make the creator’s audience feel less connected with each video.
3. Measure everything.
Just as you would for any type of marketing campaign, keep track of TikTok metrics. You can choose any metrics you want, like follower evolution, viewer engagement, or hashtag growth. Pick a few key performance indicators and track them carefully.
Your goal should be to form a baseline for your sponsored content. As you try different content types and work with multiple content creators, pay attention to what small differences do to your results. Then, make informed tweaks moving forward.
4. Limit how many times the same audiences see your ads.
TikTok viewers can be highly discerning and impatient. They’re turned off by promotional content that they see again and again. Don’t risk frustrating them. Use TikTok’s new feature to limit the number of times a spot airs.
Of course, you don’t have to reinvent all your video content. Publishing a couple of variations on the same campaign concept can work well in lieu of showing one video until everyone’s tired of it.
Right now, we’re all in the experimental phase when it comes to TikTok marketing. That’s actually a good place to be. Not only will you get to flex your innovation muscles, but you’ll also have an opportunity to help your brand stand out. Really, one of the biggest risks in using TikTok is not taking a risk at all.
Hope Horner is CEO and founder of Lemonlight Video Production, a company that produces branded video content at scale. Hope is a three-time entrepreneur who has been featured in Inc., Entrepreneur, Forbes, and other publications highlighting her successes in the Silicon Beach community over the past decade.