Will TikTok replace all video platforms

TikTok marketing for brands and companies

Contents of our white paper TikTok marketing for brands and companies:

What is TikTok and what can TikTok do?

TikTok statistics

TikTok content

The two TikTok news feeds

Types of TikTok accounts

TikTok Marketing - Ad Formats

TikTok ads: all key figures at a glance

TikTok Creator, Influencer & Celebrities

Problems and challenges for TikTok


More about this in the online course with Jan Firsching.

TikTok is now not only very popular with its users, brands and companies also have the Chinese social network on their agenda.

The development of the hype around TikTok as a marketing channel is reminiscent of the Snapchat hype from 2015 and 2016. TikTok is not understood. It was similar with Snapchat.

If you want to use TikTok for your company, the first step is to understand the channel. What is the appeal of TikTok? Which features are popular and which bind people to TikTok? Which elements make TikTok stand out and what differentiate it from other social networks such as Instagram?

What is TikTok and what can TikTok do?

TikTok is part of the most successful start-up in the world: Bytedance. Bytedance is rated higher than Uber and thus the necessary budget for the takeover of musical.ly and the large-scale marketing campaign was not a problem.

The Chinese counterpart of TikTok is Douyin. The features are almost identical and the majority of the active users of TikTok or Douyin come from China.

It is interesting that TikTok is the first social network that is also successful outside of China. This is also one of the reasons that TikTok has grown faster than any other social network.

This is TikTok

If you had to describe TikTok, then it would be a combination of different social networks.

Music plays an important role on TikTok, which can be attributed to the acquisition of musical.ly. Lip Syny videos in various forms have made musical.ly and in some cases TikTok big. Lip Sync has changed over time on TikTok. It is still an important element, but no longer the unique selling point or the most widely used content format.

But TikTok is also Vine, which can be seen from the video's auto-loops.

Stickers play an important role on Twitch, YouTube and in Asian messaging apps such as WeChat and Line and are also used to monetize the platforms. Paid stickers are also available on TikTok.

Like Instagram, TikTok stands for a high level of commitment. Here one has certainly also oriented itself towards the success of Instagram and accordingly given likes and follower numbers great weight. While Instagram is developing differently and would like to give likes less importance, TikTok continues to focus clearly on public likes.

Perhaps the most important element of TikTok is vertical videos. The triumph of vertical videos was triggered by Snapchat and perfected by Instagram. Like Snapchat and Instagram, TikTok is a mobile only network.

So you can call TikTok a mixture of musical.ly, Vine, Twitch, YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram. In addition, TikTok has managed to bind people to you quickly and to establish a long retention period.

The interest in TikTok is growing steadily

The level of interest in TikTok can be seen, for example, on Google Trends. The development is clear.

In the screenshot you can see the interest in TikTok on YouTube. YouTube? TikTok also plays an important role in other social networks. There are many TikTok tutorials and best of compilations on YouTube. There are individual channels that only publish content from TikTok.

Added to this is the relevance of YouTube as a search engine.

Before we take a detailed look at the use of TikTok in Germany, let's take a look at the prevalence in the USA.

The US has been dominated by Facebook and Google for years. Twitter and Snapchat have found their place, but social networks from other countries usually have a very difficult time.

TikTok statistics

TikTok has over 30 million active users in the US (as of October 2019). This number alone shows the international influence and success of TikTok.

The growth in the US is also impressive. Within two years, TikTok has grown from 2.5 million to 30 million users.

The USA and the social networks from the USA are setting trends that we then also see in Germany with a time lag. Now China is the trendsetter with TikTok.

In Germany, TikTok has 5.5 million active users (as of November 2019). This means that the use of TikTok in Germany is more intensive than in France, Italy, Spain and also just ahead of Great Britain.

But not only the user numbers are interesting for companies that want to spread TikTok Marketing. The length of stay is an important factor. In Germany it's 50 minutes every day.

These 50 minutes are either missing from other apps or people are spending more and more time on social networks. Both are certainly the case and therefore it is not surprising that Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat are closely monitoring what TikTok is doing.

Both the number of users, the statistics around TikTok and the interest in search engines underpin the relevance of TikTok.

TikTok Marketing Strategy… wait a second

A targeted and up-to-date social media strategy is mandatory for brands and companies. Developing a strategy for TikTok without having used the channel privately and dealt with the content, however, is wasted time.

Creative, diverse and different: TikTok content

The first step is to use TikTok privately. The consumption of content is very important in order to understand the social network first. What is the content? What are the differences between the short videos and other networks and what features are there?

TikTok relies 100% on vertical videos. These videos are selected for the TikTok feed by an AI.

Furthermore, TikTok is a global social network. You will see a lot of content that does not come from Germany.

The vertical videos are provided with music and TikTok also has its own charts showing the currently most popular songs. An important factor because the selected song has a great influence on the distribution of your own videos. Songs that are currently used often achieve a greater reach.

The two TikTok feeds

TikTok Marketing, or the distribution of the content, takes place in two different news feeds.

TikTok "For You" feed

An important point that specifically the "For you" feed is the great strength of TikTok.

Most social networks are based on the follower principle. People have to follow other accounts and so the news feeds fill up with the published content.

This is of course also available on TikTok. In TikTok's “For You” feed, people can directly consume content without having to follow other accounts. You don't even need your own TikTok account to watch TikTok videos for hours.

The "For You" feed is very important for marketing on TikTok. This is where the content is distributed and this is where people become aware of TikTok profiles, interact with the content and maybe also follow the profile.

There are more and more videos on TikTok that are optimized for the "For You" feed. What is meant is that the videos and the address are aimed at people who do not yet follow an account. Instead of targeting the followers as usual with Instagram and Twitter, here the people who are not yet following their own account are addressed.

TikTok Creator try to land in the "For You" area in order to build up their accounts. Videos with the hashtag # fürdich have 30 billion views (as of December 2019). #foryoupage has over 620 billion views.

TikTok “Following” feed

TikTok's second feed only shows content from profiles that people follow. The order is determined by an algorithm and is not chronological.

The division into two feeds means that content can also be played in both feeds. If you follow a company or a creator on TikTok, videos will continue to be played in the “For You” feed.

This creates reach and interactions in both feeds. An advantage, but also a double competition.

This is how the TikTok search works

As with Instagram Explore, the TikTok search is a central element of TikTok.

Under Discover you can find current hashtag challenges, for example, which TikTok sorts according to region, topicality and relevance. The list is very extensive and is an important source of content and inspiration for companies to create their own TikTok videos.

In the TikTok Discover area, it makes sense to search for relevant hashtags that you have identified in advance for your own company and within the framework of the content strategy. Not only can you find other related hashtags on TikTok, but you also get an overview of content-related TikTok accounts, popular videos and sounds.

Unlike Instagram Explore, however, no TikTok videos are played directly. The challenges and popular hashtags are in the foreground in the TikTok search.

With the TikTok Challenges you can also see directly which relevant creators have already produced videos. If you deal with TikTok, the search or the discover area should be used regularly for new trends and inspiration.

TikTok hashtags

Searching for hashtags is just as relevant on TikTok as it is on Instagram. Firstly, it is about the identification of relevant hashtags, trendy content and creators.

Anyone who has done their homework on Instagram will quickly get to grips with hashtags on TikTok and can use them efficiently for their own TikTok marketing. Many hashtags are identical, but there are also specific hashtags that are only used on TikTok.

In addition, as a brand or company, you should also take part in challenges and produce content for challenges. Of course, the right hashtags should not be missing.

In combination with thematic and branded hashtags, TikTok Challenges are an interesting combination for increasing your own visibility.

Types of TikTok accounts

As in other social networks, there are different types of accounts on TikTok.

There are accounts for companies, private users, verified accounts and creator accounts, the so-called pro accounts.

In the TikTok Pro account you have access to TikTok Analytics. This includes information on the published content such as views and playback time, statistics on your own followers and demographic information.

Some accounts can now also store links to their own website in their profile. Otherwise, in addition to a profile picture and a short description, only Instagram and YouTube accounts can be linked.

In Germany in particular, the option of adding a link in the profile is important, as it can be used to link an imprint, for example. Without the link, many companies write the link to the imprint in the description text, which of course cannot be clicked.

If you call up a TiTok account, the number of followers, the total number of generated likes and the accounts that the profile follows are displayed.

TikTok ad formats and hashtag challenges

TikTok marketing is still in its infancy. But there are more and more brands and companies that create their own accounts, publish content and run campaigns on TikTok.

There are various options for marketing on TikTok.

One of the most exciting options is hashtag challenges. Hashtag challenges come in two forms. The hashtag Challenge Plus has additional options and is especially suitable for communicating several products.

What is a TikTok Hashtag Challenge?

A hashtag challenge on TikTok focuses on user-generated content. Hashtag Challenges are available as an ad product for brands and companies, but also from TikTok itself.

The structure usually focuses on a start video and various videos from influencers on TikTok. A topic or task is presented and TikTok users are encouraged to imitate the challenge.

The "imitation" creates valuable user-generated content and the campaign / hashtag challenge spreads in the TikTok feeds. In this way, companies not only generate reach, views and interactions, they spread their message organically.

A hashtag challenge can be discovered by users in several ways and in different areas of TikTok. In addition to the feeds, the discover page is an integral part of a hashtag challenge.

There are five ways for users to enter a hashtag challenge. The previously mentioned Discover area is the starting point for all search queries on Tikok and is therefore a highly used feature. The placement of a hashtag challenge therefore attracts a lot of attention.

If users create a video for the hashtag challenge, this video contains a note which also leads other users directly to the hashtag challenge.

Combinations of hashtag challenges with other ad formats are also possible. For example, directly when starting the app or in the form of a video ad in the “For You” feed.

Hashtag challenges have a limited duration. During the runtime, however, the visibility is very high. In addition to the visibility, the content created by the participants is the big plus point of a hashtag challenge. While user-generated content is declining on other social networks, the situation is completely different on TikTok.

More ad formats on TikTok

TikTok will continue to expand its ad platform and a self-service tool will also be released in the near future.

There will be more targeting options, a TikTok Pixel and more ad formats. This is currently still a long way off.

Nevertheless, TikTok offers various ad formats that can be booked directly through TikTok.

TikTok Branded Effects

A branded effect works very similarly on TikTok to other AR marketing formats on Snapchat, YouTube and Instagram.

In addition to animated objects, face filters are also possible. The filters are developed directly by TikTok and implemented in 2D and 3D.

The runtime of a branded effect on TikTok is ten days. It is interesting that the AR effect is also visible in the TikTok camera.

TikTok In-Feed Video

In-feed video ads are likely to become TikTok's most successful and widely used ad format.

As the name suggests, these are video ads that are displayed in the “For You” feed. The duration of the videos is between five and 15 seconds. Whereby five seconds is a bit too short. Especially when you think of the creativity on TikTok.

The videos have a CTA button, which is usually provided with a link to the website.

In-feed ads can be seen more and more often on TikTok in Germany as well. The frequency has nothing to do with that of Facebook. Should TikTok publish its self-service tool, this will change quickly.

Then it will also show how attractive TikTok is as an advertising platform for a large number of companies.

TikTok Brand Takeover

A brand takeover campaign starts when TikTok is opened and is either a static image or a gif that is displayed for a maximum of five seconds.

With a brand takeover, people can be made aware of hashtag challenges or taken to websites. Since the format is very prominent, the costs are correspondingly high. Bran Takeovers will not become a format for a large number of companies and are more geared towards international companies and large-scale campaigns.

TikTok Top View Ads

Top View ads are not available in this form on Facebook and Instagram. The ad format appears when you open the TikTok app.

The format attracts a lot of attention, of course. TikTok should and will only be able to use the format in a very targeted manner, since the user experience suffers greatly if the wrong selection is made and the frequency is too high.

In contrast to the brand takeover format, top view ads are geared towards video performance. They're like a combination of an in-feed video ad and a brand takeover.

TikTok ad manager self-service

Like Facebook, TikTok will also publish its own ad manager. In the future, companies will be able to independently create and book advertisements here.

The creation of an advertising campaign on TikTok takes just a few steps. First, the ad goal, budget and duration are defined.

Then, depending on the defined goal, links and creative are stored.

Since the TikTok ad manager is still in the rollout and only a few can access it, campaigns are currently being processed directly via a partner manager at TikTok.

Ads on TikTok: All key figures at a glance

Depending on the ad format, TikTok provides various key figures.

In the following overview you can see which key figures are issued for TikTok Marketing. It is clear that the respective format has an influence on the key figures.

TikTok has three key figures for video views.Once the total number of video views, then video views longer than three seconds and video views over ten seconds. These are important metrics if you want to compare the performance of video content with other social networks.

Creator, Influencer & Celebrities on TikTok

As in other social networks, especially Instagram and YouTube, influencers and content creators also play an important role on TikTok.

There are different types of influencers. However, this does not mean the differences in content and subject matter. There is a new type of creator on TikTok who have set up their accounts on TikTok. They know the platform inside and out and use network-specific features for almost all of their content.

Then we have YouTube and Instagrammers, for example, who have now also discovered TikTok for themselves and benefit from their reach in other networks and are now growing quickly on TikTok.

Third, we have celebrities who, like they do on Instagram, want to benefit from the hype surrounding TikTok.

Learn from TikTok Creatorn

From the point of view of brands and companies, the TikTok Creators are certainly the most relevant. At least when it comes to campaigns and hashtag challenges. You bring a lot of knowledge about the platform and produce content that is precisely tailored to TikTok.

The other two parties can do this too, but not with the perfection and creativity of the "TikToker".

For example, if you are planning a TikTok Hashtag Challenge, then it makes sense to work with TikTok Creatorn and less with celebrities. Although TikTok is increasingly taking place in the mainstream, the understanding of the platform and the relationship with the community are much more pronounced at TikTok Creatorn.

With TikTok, influencer marketing has definitely received another exciting channel. A lot of experience that a company has gained on Instagram, for example, can also be used on TikTok. The special features and unique selling points of TikTok must, however, be taken into account.

More and more creators are focusing specifically on TikTok. There can be influencers with millions of followers on TikTok who only have a few thousand followers on Instagram. For campaigns on TikTok this is not a problem at all.

As always, of course, the person and the content produced must fit in with your own company. The reach and the number of followers are secondary.

Problems and challenges for TikTok

The numbers around TikTok are impressive and TikTok Marketing offers many interesting and new opportunities. But TikTok is also under criticism and has to prove that it can keep up with the activities and measures of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube on topics such as brand safety, hate speech and Co.

Since the users of TikTok are often very young, particularly high requirements apply here when it comes to protecting their own users.

But also topics such as data protection, data security, data use and the way the TikTok algorithm works in the “For You” feed are construction sites for TikTok.

TikTok has already received fines running into the millions for illegally collecting user data. The problem has been resolved, but the critical voices are justifiably far from silencing.

There are always reports about how TikTok filters content in the feed. This is perfectly normal for a social network. But if content from disabled people is deliberately not displayed or displayed less often, then this leads to anything but a good picture. Here, too, TikTok has announced changes and has already implemented them. How “good” these adjustments really are will only show in the near future.

The competition behind you

Of course, TikTok will also feel increasingly exposed to competition from Instagram and YouTube. You could say the closed season for TikTok is over. Instagram and YouTube will not stand idly by as TikTok continues to grow and grow. Since the conditions for brands and companies on YouTube and Instagram / Facebook are much better, this is a disadvantage of TikTok, which must be eliminated relatively quickly, or at least reduced in size.