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TikTok Marketing, Viral Dances, and Reaching Your Future Customers

Kevin Lund

If there’s one thing we didn’t know we needed during a once-in-a-generation global pandemic, it’s Dalgona coffee. And baked feta pasta. And biting into the side of an apple juice bottle for the apple crunch sound effect.

If any of that feels a bit strange—and it should—it’s because content creation is changing. Mobile devices and high-speed internet have turned everyday people into binge-worthy content kings and queens. For better and for worse.

TikTok is a force of nature not only from the velocity and volume of content created on the platform, but also because of the massive audience that powers it. Studies show that 90% of TikTok users use the app daily, and the average user spends close to an hour every day perusing content that pops up in there.

Needless to say, content marketers and brands have their work cut out for them if they want to break through all that noise. But where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Why even bother?

Most brands are on the fence about TikTok—mostly because it’s still relatively new on the scene. They’re also skeptical because TikTok’s demographics skew young. The kind of young that grew up reading bedtime stories on iPads and laptop screens. In fact, 66% of its users are younger than 30 (and 41% are in that window between 16 and 24).

For brands that target this audience already, TikTok should be a no-brainer. But what about brands that don’t necessarily target this younger spread? It boils down to two things:

  • There’s little competition (so far). Because TikTok’s only recently launched its ad platform, there’s still ample opportunity for brands to get on there and to do it well. But the tides are changing. As personalized ads start taking over TikTok, expect more brands to dive in to see how far their marketing dollars can go.
  • It doesn’t feel salesy. Most TikTok ads show up right in a user’s social feed, resembling regular posts. Unlike Facebook or YouTube, where you can tell from the get-go that you’re about to sit through 5 or 15 seconds of something intrusive, TikTok ads typically look and feel like they’re regular content you’re consuming anyway. Short, humorous, clever. It’s the kind of stuff people typically want to engage with anyway.

It’s that last bit that should make content marketers salivate. Short, humorous, clever. Engaging content. Depending on your niche, these are the kinds of terms that could describe the bulk of your content marketing output anyway. After all, content marketing today is built on a bedrock of authentic conversations.

OK, so you’re convinced. TikTok marketing is for you.

Now … where do you start?

Own your voice

The only thing daily newspapers and Charlie Sheen have in common is that they’re empirically not cool anymore.

Until 2019 anyway. That’s when The Washington Post decided to go all-in on TikTok marketing. It was a bold move for a stodgy old brand—and one you wouldn’t have seen coming a mile away.

But instead of talking about the joys of newspapers or the ins and outs of the industry, WaPo’s marketing team used TikTok to make short, self-aware, humorous content. And in doing so, they were able to tap into a whole new market that otherwise would’ve passed them by.

For brands starting out on TikTok, there has to be an understanding of what the nonnegotiables are. Not just in terms of what the brand’s values and anchors are. The voice and tone matters, too. Funny is good—but what’s forced? Clever is good—but what’s cringey? Consistent and relevant content is better than creative-but-confusing content.

The rules of content marketing engagement still apply. As you create your content, look carefully at the available data. Learn what kinds of content your target audience engages with. Explore trending hashtags. Figure out when people are most active on TikTok. Breaking your marketing efforts down to these details optimizes the work you’re doing.

And once you’ve gotten the hang of making your organic posts look good, it’s time to take the plunge.


Dive into the advertising waters

You can only go so far without putting money behind your content marketing engine. On TikTok, there are a few critical ways to get started with paid marketing for your brand.

First, there’s influencer marketing. Think of influencer marketing like taking a piggyback ride—but with prospects and customers in the rafters, trying to see if you can keep up with their demands. Studies show that TikTok leads the social media platform fray when it comes to user engagement. Influencers have a lot to do with it.

Tapping into the reach and clout of other major players on the platform doesn’t just score style points for brand awareness. It’s also one of the fastest ways to drive results for social campaigns. TikTok takes away some of the legwork. Their Creator Marketplace allows brands to see audience and engagement metrics associated with specific influencers and brands. If you’re worried about the return on investment of any sort of partnership on the platform, some of that guesswork is gone.

Second, there’s hashtag marketing. Often if you’re in the platform, you’ll notice TikTok points out hashtags that are trending in the world at that moment. If you create a video and use that hashtag, you’re giving your content a chance to reach a broader audience.

But if you’re already doing SEO research for your digital content, double down with the hashtags you choose. Choose terms that are broad enough that your audience could find it on their own and specific enough that people who are actively searching for your niche can find you. Or do both. A good hashtag strategy impacts how discoverable your content is.

Third, there’s advertising. Like other platforms, TikTok allows users to test their mettle across different kinds of ads. They offer five kinds of ads in particular:

  • In-feed ads
  • Branded hashtags
  • Top view ads
  • Branded effects
  • Brand takeover

Most of the ads you’ll see on a TikTok feed are in-feed ads. Brands tend to choose this route because they’re the least intrusive. The content looks and feels like it already belongs on a user’s feed as they scroll. If it’s creative enough, why shouldn’t they watch?

Depending on how deep you want to go with audience targeting, advertising on TikTok can surface lookalike audiences or tap into even more custom audiences. The choice is ultimately up to you.

Be like Lady Gaga

Here’s the elephant in the room. Your core audience may not be on TikTok. And that’s very possible. Remember the data from earlier? A large chunk of active TikTok users are members of Generation Z. For financial firms and other industries, thinking strategically about content marketing might feel foolish. And forget about serving paid ads. Money down the drain, you’d think.

But the economy and currency of TikTok marketing is all about brand awareness. The currency is awareness. Think about WaPo’s strategy. They’re not necessarily reaching people who’ll subscribe today. Rather, they’re reaching people who may consider subscribing in the future.

Financial content marketing should also keep the future in mind. While young adults and folks fresh out of college may not be the safest bets for budgeting your marketing efforts today, getting stuck in their heads like the hook from a Lady Gaga single can make all the difference in the future.

Sometimes brands need support to think strategically and execute on social media channels like TikTok. Whether it’s developing the content production process or churning out the catchy content that keeps audiences tuning in for more, the right content marketing team can mean everything.

That’s where we come in.

At T3, we help financial companies of all types use content marketing to stay top-of-mind everywhere online. Learn more about how we help brands like yours create value today. For tomorrow.

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