How to sell on TikTok?

September 28, 2022
TikTok, this social network of fun through short videos, saw its growth explode in France during the 1st containment in March 2020.

TikTok, this social network of fun through short videos, has seen its growth explode in France during the 1st containment in March 2020. This application is proving to be a tool that lasts over time. The question then arises: is a marketing strategy possible on this social network? Can and should we, as a brand, integrate TikTok into our social selling strategy?


I - WHAT ABOUT TIKTOK AND THE MARKETING ?


A - TIKTOK IN NUMBERS


Tiktok is a Chinese platform created in 2016 under the name Douyin, and then declined into an international version under the well-known name TikTok in 2017. TikTok is a short video sharing app where users can create, film, and share videos from 15 to 60 seconds. They have the ability to add effects, music, or even filters.


It is first and foremost an entertainment and fun platform that is very popular among 16-24 year olds. Millenials represent 41% of users. However, its population has shifted to include a larger proportion of 25-34 year olds.


As of April 2020, the application had been downloaded 2 billion times, which ranked it, as of January 2021, as the second most installed non-gaming application in the world. It currently has 800 million monthly active users.

Present in more than 150 countries and available in 75 languages, the platform ranks 9th among social networks, ahead of LinkedIn and Twitter, in terms of number of users.


TikTok has 11 million monthly users in France who spend about 1 hour a day on the platform and whose average age is 23 years. Studies show that 90% of users visit the platform several times a day, on a regular basis.


B - TIKTOK AND MARKETING  


The application is therefore growing exponentially with an audience offering the possibility of great visibility. Moreover, since the platform is still young and growing, brands that bet on TikTok will benefit from the pioneer effect since few brands have yet integrated it into their marketing strategy. Their visibility is all the better for it. With creativity and originality, companies that embark on this adventure can increase their notoriety at a phenomenal speed and with a low investment. This has been the case for publishers like The Washington Post who have accumulated over 400,000 subscribers in less than a year.


Using TikTok in your marketing strategy would allow 3 areas of improvement, including:

  1. Increase your visibility and awareness
  2. Boost your conversion rate
  3. Leveraging TikTok Ads


The application allows its users to be creative and test many things in order to break through. This is also the basis on which companies should build. Users like fun and "silly" content, they are looking for entertainment and not very high quality content. They will value fun over the seriousness of a traditional promotional campaign.

It is therefore important to know how to balance humorous content and promotion of the company, brand or product.


TikTok favors interactions with strangers in its algorithm, unlike Instagram's algorithm that pushes you to exchange mainly with your acquaintances. Thus, even accounts with few followers can explode and get an impressive number of views on a video. In the TikTok algorithm it's the content that prevails.


Creativity is a must, but other types of content stand out: those that are easy to reproduce by the general public. It is therefore important, before launching on the application, to study its personas in order to know what appeals to its target. Moreover, videos must reflect the brand's universe, and to do so, storytelling has a privileged place in the writing of videos.


According to the latest facts and figures, TikTok has become an essential platform full of opportunities for brands and companies that want to promote themselves and sell online.


II - TIKTOK FOR BUSINESS


TikTok, far from being unaware of the desire of companies to use the platform for commercial purposes, launched in June 2020 a marketing solution, called TikTok for Business, intended for brands. This solution allows companies to deploy brand content and social selling strategies, in order to gain visibility and reputation among their target audience. These strategies have the luxury of being simple and inexpensive.


The solution offered by the platform allows companies, once their personas have been defined, to target their audience for advertising and promotional campaigns according to various criteria such as gender, age, language, interests, or geolocation. The company also determines its objectives (increase traffic on its website, conversion rate, number of application installations or gain in notoriety).


Advertising and promotion on such an application can take different forms. You can create your own content on your accounts (an inexpensive option as mentioned above), opt for TikTok Ads whose formats are detailed below, or use influencers via the Creator Marketplace.


A - TIKTOK ADS


TikTok is known for its speed of evolution. Thus, what works today, may not work tomorrow. It is therefore necessary to be reactive in order to follow the trends. The marketing contents can be of different natures. There are 5 types of TikTok Ads.


1 - Top View


The Top View is a video that appears in full screen and lasts up to 60 seconds. It is the advertising format considered premium since it benefits from the best location on the application. The video appears as soon as TikTok is opened, with automatic sound and playback. It is not targeted, which makes its audience larger. It is also positioned in the first video of the subscribers' news feed.


2 - Brand Take Over


The Brand Take Over is a very short ad (3 to 5 seconds) that appears at the launch of the application. It appears in full screen to immerse the user, and can be a video but also an image. If the user clicks on it, he will be redirected to the company's website.


3 - In Feed


The In Feed ad is a video that appears in the news feed like any other video posted by a normal user. It can last up to 60 seconds and include a redirection link to the company's website. With this type of advertisement, users have the possibility to interact with the video, whether it is to comment, like or share it. It is therefore like a normal video of the application and is similar to the forms of advertising visible on other social networks. The redirect link gives the company the opportunity to grow its traffic to its sales channel.


4 - Hashtag Challenge


The Hashtag challenge allows the company to involve its subscribers in their marketing strategy. It reinforces the community's commitment to the brand. The latter proposes a challenge to users, to be carried out using the dedicated hashtag. The hashtag in question is boosted and highlighted by the TikTok algorithm for 3 to 6 days. This form of advertising plays on the virality of hashtags and challenges, allowing the company to reinforce its brand image and the feeling of belonging to a community.

The first brand to attempt this advertising was Guess. It launched #InMyDenim, encouraging people to post video or photo content exposing them in the brand's clothing.

In addition, a purchase feature can be added to the challenge, which is what Undiz proposed with the #FundizFair.

However, a hashtag challenge does not guarantee high user engagement or participation.


5 - Branded Lenses


Brand Lenses is a somewhat different way to promote your brand. TikTok for Business allows companies to create filters, stickers or other 2D, 3D, or augmented reality visuals that users of the application can integrate into their video content. This option is available for 6 days.

Pizza Hut created the red hat, emblem of its brand, as a sticker. The latter was downloadable by TikTok users to integrate it into their videos.


For TikTok Ads campaigns, a budget is required (starting at 3000$). The rates are then evolving according to the number of clicks every 1000 impressions. The rates are sometimes a brake for companies and that's why it's usually the big brands such as Universal, Guess, Undiz or even McDonald, who use it.


B - CREATOR MARKETPLACE AND INFLUENCERS


Another possible option for companies is to use influencers, and this is what TikTok's Creator Marketplace allows. Collaborating with influencers is nowadays almost indispensable for a good social selling strategy. Influencers are now part of the marketing and communication strategies of brands because consumers trust them more than the traditional ads of companies.

Working with influencers gives the company the opportunity to free up their time (as they are not creating content) and not pay out the money required for TikTok Ads.

Many companies are already playing the game, such as Undiz, which has called on Lea Elui, a major influencer on the French branch of the application.


The Creator Marketplace is a free tool for advertisers to access a catalog of the best TikTok influencers around the world. You'll find a lot of information about the influencers' statistics, data about their community, their engagement rate, or even the topics they cover. The data coming from the application itself is 100% reliable and allows you to select the influencers that best suit your vision and goals.


Moreover, in France, influencers occupy an important place in the hearts of consumers. Their engagement rate on TikTok is 20% higher than the average engagement rate worldwide. Thus, France ranks 9th in terms of the number of influencers on the platform (an influencer is someone with an account of more than 1,000 followers). More than 4% of them have more than 100,000 followers, which offers brands a wide range of possibilities.

This strategy is often thought for B2C, but B2B influencers are also a definite asset. They know their field well and have experience. They can deliver engaging, authentic content that is specially designed for the company they are working with.


C - THE SHOPIFY PARTNERSHIP


TikTok continues to develop marketing tools for advertisers and with this in mind, the partnership with Shopify was born this February 23, to make native ads on TikTok.

This partnership allows TikTok Ads to be created and published from the Shopify app, and users can purchase the products from the platform at the same time. The videos created are displayed in the TikTok app's feed and include call-to-actions and a redirection link to the sales channel. An advertising credit of 82€ can even be granted when opening a professional TikTok account.

With this partnership, TikTok wants to increase its advertising revenue and demonstrate that TikTok Ads are indeed effective, especially with its tracking pixel, and subsequently increase sales for merchants. The tracking pixel offers the opportunity to identify new customers gained through TikTok Ads.

For Shopify, this partnership was an obvious choice due to "the increasing intertwining of e-commerce and social networks" (Emilie Benoit-Verney, Country Manager France of Shopify).


D - TIKTOK SHOP SELLER UNIVERSITY


The TikTok Shop Seller University is a training portal for sellers. This project of tutorials provided by the application is not yet effective in France but it is only a matter of time before it appears on the market in France. The time that separates us from seeing the catalogs of brands in the application is getting shorter. Companies will be able to sell their products via TikTok affiliation.


III - ANALYSIS AND MONITORING OF KPI


Deploying efforts and using the different possible marketing solutions on the application should not be done without follow-up. As with any strategy, it is important to see the scope of the strategy, measure its effects, effectiveness, and if necessary, improve and optimize it based on the results obtained.


TikTok for Business provides some tools to do this.


In the "Overview" tab you will have the first data such as the number of views of your videos, your profile and the number of subscribers, on a weekly and monthly basis. This initial information will give you an indication of your performance trends.


In the second tab, "Content", you will see the number of videos posted over the last 7 days, as well as their performance. By analyzing what the videos that worked have in common (a theme, a hashtag, a format etc.), you can identify what you should focus on in the future.


The last tab, the "Followers" tab, will give you the opportunity to understand the behavior of your subscribers. You will find your growth rate over the last week, the distribution of your subscribers according to various criteria such as their geographical area, their activity or their gender. You will be able to retarget the right people if this is not the case and therefore rethink your strategy and maybe even your personas. This tab will also offer you an analysis of your subscribers' activity, which will allow you to know when they are most active, and therefore give you indications on when to publish your content.


TikTok for Business allows you to track different types of KPIs and indicators. They can be metric (number of impressions, number of clicks, engagement rate, conversion rate, cost of conversion) or behavioral (what your subscribers watch as videos, the hashtags these videos include, when they connect etc.).


In its toolbox, TikTok for Business also allows you to measure your advertising campaigns in real time. To do this, you have access to an analytics dashboard to track the performance of your ads and segment your audience. You can also download statistical reports with the tracking of the different metrics mentioned above.


These Key Performance Indicators will allow you to adjust the campaigns and their storytelling to refine your strategy on the platform.



One of the advantages of this application is its virality. Everything goes very fast and the impacts are resounding. Recently, books have seen a spike in sales in the United States thanks to #BookTok, which consists of filming oneself before and after reading a book, a video in which the readers are in tears after reading the book. This trend has gone viral and the hashtag in question has over 5.8 billion views today. Sadness sells and this was already confirmed in November 2020 when users of the app filmed themselves after watching a Netflix short film ("If Anything Happens I Love You") not being able to hold back their tears.  


Emile Coddens, has also experienced the power of TikTok. Young winemaker of 23 years, he made videos explaining his job, which fascinated the Internet users. "On TikTok, I show and popularize the world of wine so that it is accessible to all" he says.

Thus, beyond even the sale on TikTok, this application can give visibility to all sorts of things, such as the little-known trades of the vine, making this application an essential and undeniable tool of marketing and communication strategies.