TikTok signage logo on glass building at its Culver City headquarters.
Editorial

How TikTok Is Changing the Digital Marketing Game

5 minute read
Claudia Ratterman avatar
Tick...Tick...Tick. Is time running out on your opportunity to effectively use TikTok? Not if you make wise investments.

From recent feature rollouts to off the chart viewership numbers, TikTok has eclipsed a number of social platforms in key engagement areas, such as retention rate and active collaboration features like duets and stitches.

Best-in-class brands leverage TikTok’s native tools, editing features, ad formats and ecommerce capabilities to maximize reach and facilitate purchase. In fact, 84% of the top 50 brands ranked in Gartner’s latest Social Media Benchmarks Digital IQ had a TikTok profile as of November 2021.

However, there are still many high-performing brands that are either underinvesting in their brand TikTok pages or ignoring the platform altogether. What does this mean for digital marketing leaders?

Lost Opportunities With Target Audience

First, those that overlook TikTok will miss connecting with key audiences. TikTok commands a large, hyper-engaged user base that demands marketers’ attention. The platform is investing in increasingly sophisticated commercial features, too, such as TikTok Ads Manager and objectives driven Promote feature. TikTok gives brands the ability to invest in a number of different ad formats and influencer partnerships that drive a specific call to action among a highly targeted audience.

Given this, digital marketers should assess the scope of TikTok’s growth and audience, its business tools and the competitive landscape to kick off informed discussions about the merits of investment within the marketing organization and the rest of the C-suite.

Related Article: What You Need to Know About Marketing on TikTok

Missing Out on Social Commerce Growth

Second, TikTok’s increased investment in social commerce means digital marketing leaders also risk losing out on a major monetization opportunity. According to TikTok, the hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt has more than 6.8 billion views and viral videos regularly translate to direct sales lift. One beauty brand saw more than a 600% increase in daily sales after their watermelon products went viral on the app, too. TikTok has capitalized on the success of viral products by introducing in-app ecommerce capabilities — for example, in-app store and link in bio — to enable a seamless buying experience for consumers.

As a result, digital marketers must track TikTok’s commerce features and gauge alignment with key marketing goals. Monitor ongoing legal concerns and remain transparent with users as personal data privacy remains a growing concern.

How to Leverage TikTok to Improve the Customer Journey Experience

Brands that effectively use TikTok — and other major social media channels for that matter — throughout the customer journey outperform competitors by lifting word of mouth, engaging more prospects and driving more valuable engagement with customers.

Digital marketing leaders have traditionally focused their social media efforts on brand posts, advertising and influencer marketing to improve brand awareness and consideration. However, they often fail to develop and invest in social strategies that lift customer satisfaction, loyalty and brand advocacy, missing out on opportunities to deepen customer relationships.

In order to drive value through social media successfully, brands should focus on the greater context of consumer needs and understanding how and why customers use social channels, not just what channels they use.

Learning Opportunities

Related Article: How Facebook's Thinking About Its War With TikTok

Map Social Opportunities Through the Entire Customer Journey

Brands active on TikTok typically take on three different roles: content creator, influencer partner and advertiser. Top performers across all three roles cater to the platform’s algorithm by creating informal and entertaining content.

Understanding that the predominant audience of TikTok are those looking for creativity, authenticity and collaboration will help determine the right mix of TikTok features and ad types (e.g., in-feed ads, discover page, brand takeovers and dynamic showcase ads) to further marketing campaign goals and achieve the optimal customer journey

Be Responsive and Leverage User Generated Content (UGC) in the Buy Cycle

Social media is not just a channel to push one-way messaging. It is an opportunity to earn loyalty and encourage word of mouth. In today’s more connected and social world, active advocacy is crucial for improving marketing results.

Digital marketers can use TikTok to build awareness by maximizing the reach of branded content on the platform, which is typically measured by video views. If used correctly, TikTok can help drive traffic to brand sites, social media or the landing page of a brand’s latest campaign. Audio, especially catchy songs, is a must for brands’ organic and paid videos. Likewise, hashtags can help marketers cater to niche audiences and are a key campaign visibility KPI.

UGC challenges are a great way to optimize reach and align to different steps in the customer journey. A typical challenge asks users to mimic dance moves and other actions or use AR filters, accompanied by catchy music. Digital marketers can create a challenge hashtag to monitor performance, and start by posting on brand accounts. Have influencers follow up with posts on their handles and supplement with paid ad spend to maximize reach. After all, one of the most effective ways to increase brand recognition and drive sales is to partner with platform-native influencers, whose posts typically generate higher engagement.

Don't Underestimate TikTok's Reach

From community to connection to commerce, social media’s influence is only rising in importance for marketers — and TikTok’s pace of growth as a key social platform cannot be understated. At present, it’s the platform that offers the highest potential organic reach when compared to others such as Meta or Twitter, which is significant given just how massive the decline on organic reach has been overall.

Social marketing channels can be effective in meeting marketing’s business objectives, but various pressures are being put on digital marketing leaders to ensure their brand is leveraging the appropriate channels to drive the greatest returns for your company and your customers.

About the author

Claudia Ratterman

Claudia Ratterman is a Director Analyst for Gartner for Marketers, based in Los Angeles. She has over 14 years of experience building Social Media Marketing Strategies for billion-dollar brands such as Disney, Tide, Pampers, Olay and Amgen.

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