Despite its uncertain future, TikTok remains a powerful platform for brands to reach and engage with a young, diverse and highly-engaged audience.
Its emphasis on short-form videos has made the app a go-to for creating, viewing and sharing content. In fact, in the United States alone, nearly half of the population actively uses the app every month. As brands recognize the immense potential of TikTok as a PR tool, they are increasingly leveraging its popularity to reach a wider audience.
TikTok's algorithm prioritizes engaging content, which means brands need to create compelling videos that attract and retain viewers, leading to increased engagement and brand awareness.
PR professionals looking to create compelling videos should take note of three things that contribute to successful TikTok content:
- Embrace Creativity and Authenticity: Brands should be open to exploring unconventional ways to showcase their products or services in a way that is visually engaging, entertaining and relatable to their target audience. Take, for instance, Duolingo’s TikTok saga that features its mascot.
- Make it Brief: TikTok is all about easily digestible content that captures attention quickly. Brands should aim to create videos between 15 to 60 seconds in length. Getting the message across quickly and ensuring the content is visually engaging from the start is essential. Attention-grabbing intros, innovative editing and creative use of music and sound effects can help achieve this. Ulta paired a 15-second in-store video with a trending audio to generate more than 51,000 views.
- Engage with Users: TikTok is a social platform, and successful brands on the platform embrace this by actively engaging with their audience. Responding to comments and messages and sharing user-generated content on the brand's official account can build a sense of community around the brand and create a more engaged and loyal following. Skincare brand EOS, for instance, has a reputation for responding directly to its 1 million TikTok followers.
"At BDG, we see comments as the primary engagement metric that [overperforms] on TikTok," says Wesley Bonner, Senior Vice President at Bustle Digital Group. "It seems users who are conservative with [what] they share or engage with on other platforms are more open to commenting on TikTok videos. That level of interaction allows us to pull out insights into what our audience is most interested in seeing, or not seeing, from our accounts."
TikTok's algorithm learns users' tastes and preferences, which means brands can personalize content to their target audience, resulting in a more engaged audience.
"Niche communities are prominent on TikTok, and the advanced algorithm contributes to users finding the communities who are creating content that they are most interested in," Bonner says. TikTok's algorithm allows brands to target their audience more effectively by understanding what their audience is interested in seeing.
Bonner believes that TikTok is in a “sweet spot right now where users are happy with the experience in the app, so it will be interesting to see what evolution takes place and when. I think we’ll see a lot of updates with ad formats as shopability continues to be a primary use of the platform by brands.”
Brands can currently use the platform's features, such as "Shop Now" buttons and "Link in Bio" options, to direct users to their websites, which can help increase brand awareness and ultimately drive sales.
Aaron Bisman, Vice President, audience development at Sesame Workshop, believes that TikTok has changed the format of the content we consume. "Vertical video is the new normal," he says. Bisman adds that TikTok has "changed our expectations. We expect to be surprised and endlessly entertained by what a platform serves us."
TikTok is also a valuable tool for brands to find and create user-generated content for their PR campaigns, resulting in authentic and engaging content that resonates with their target audiences.
TikTok videos have a high potential for virality, which means brands can reach a larger audience and increase brand awareness quickly. For example, the NBA boasts many viral videos that highlight the personality of its players. A video of the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetekoumpo’s spirited reaction to a last-second shot has 467,000 views to date.
Bonner notes that "everyday users can experience substantial performance on videos whether they have a large following or not."
As the platform continues to evolve, it presents an exciting opportunity for brands to leverage its popularity and reach their target audiences in new and creative ways. With the right approach and strategy, TikTok can be a powerful tool for brands looking to enhance their PR campaigns and connect with their audience more meaningfully.
Tai Nichols is event content manager for PRNEWS. Follow her: @SathiyyahN