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Top Brands On TikTok
TikTok’s performance in 2020 proved itself as a viable marketing tool for brands. This has meant that we’ve seen various strategies from brands on TikTok being tested on the platform in 2021: from the good, the bad, to the downright ugly.
The statement coined by TikTok for Business of ‘Make TikToks, not ads’ rings a bell here. There’s undoubtedly a clear distinction between brands that blindly advertise on the app and those that take the time to get to know its users and behaviours. You don’t ever meet a new person and win their hearts straight away. But the more you know about them, the higher chance you will. Same goes for marketing on TikTok. Hence, the key is to ‘Make TikTok’s, not ads’.
We’re going to be discussing 5 unique brand strategies on TikTok that have caught our eye and that have led with this approach.
Strategy #1: Humanise your brand
Keeping a brand’s name at the forefront of consumer’s minds is tough during the pandemic – not least when your industry is severely affected. The airline industry has been searching for cost-effective methods of maintaining their brand awareness and none has done this better than Ryanair.
The TikTok team have championed the “Make TikTok’s not Adverts’ advice, creating engaging content and developing an online personality which counteracts the corporate ‘B2C’’ marketing strategy that brands employ through alternative marketing channels. In taking this approach, Ryanair’s TikTok team has formed a “humanised” voice in which the marketing strategy seems less B2C and more C2C – almost as if through flying Ryanair, you’re doing a mate a favour.
The team have achieved this through witty TikTok videos, taking part in trends (allowing the personification of their airplanes) and via actively engaging in the comment section. One of their most popular videos is actually super simple but effective: It’s a video of one of their planes moving towards one of their plane instructors. But they overlaid the video with a viral song called ‘Walk’ by Saucy Santana that was circulating TikTok at that time and were able to drive large engagement with 5 million views and 1.2 million likes.
This video is also a high-performer and leverages a similar strategy. It marries a viral sound and text memes and has been able to boast 4.2 million views and 972.4k likes. These two things work together to fashion the anatomy of a high-performing TikTok creative. In recognising this winning combination, they were able to 1. Stop users from scrolling past the video and engage, as the sound was already familiar. And 2. They were able to speak the language of Gen Z on TikTok by incorporating text memes.
Strategy #2: Claim your space
TikTok is an extremely inclusive platform which makes the content and trends on the platform diverse, unique and ever-changing. It’s likely that my ‘for you’ page looks extremely different to yours, as the algorithm determines what content is most relevant to you depending on your activity and behaviours with certain videos and hashtags.
This poses a unique and exciting opportunity for brands – to own their niches and become thought-leaders amongst Gen Z. From food, fashion, DIY, cleaning, fitness, spirituality to mental health, there are engaged communities on TikTok for almost anything that are willing to listen and learn.
‘We’re Not Really Strangers’, a card game and platform designed to help people build more meaningful connections to everyday life, has been able to drive 2.7 million followers and 77 million likes (at the time of writing), by becoming a friendly voice and advocate for mental health and wellness on TikTok.
Their video style is organic, laid-back, and unrefined; everything that TikTok content is celebrated for. Their aesthetic fits Gen Z’s tastes and provides an authentic, ‘real-life’ feel to their content.
Over the past year or so, we have seen TikTok transition into a more ‘serious’ app with their moves towards educational content, goals to fight misinformation around COVID-19, and various other initiatives and projects.
This, in itself, uncovered an array of new popular content formats and the rise of certain hashtags such as #mentalhealth (7.2billion views), #selflove (15billion views), and the more specific hashtags such as #adhdtiktok (112.1million views). This opened up the opportunity for brands such as ‘We’re Not Really Strangers’ to really take ownership and seize this ‘mental wellness’ space.
This video boasts 10.3 million views and 2.8 million likes purely by tapping into the large community of mental health advocates and ‘wellbeing warriors’ on the app. Users on TikTok can spend hours mindlessly strolling on TikTok and so this video, positioned as a ‘mental health reminder of the day’ does a great job at interrupting their feed to focus on the present moment. It’s videos like this that have really cemented their presence on the platform and why they’ve been able to build a loyal following.
This video has also performed exceptionally well with 2.6million views and 788k likes. The caption reads: ‘how do you talk to yourself ???’ and teaches users to adjust their self-talk language in an easy-to-digest, relatable, creative, and human way. By employing certain aesthetics that signal their brand and provide a sense of familiarity to the user, they are able to further solidify their prestige on the app.
Strategy #3: A learning curve
Lionsgate have been on a learning curve during their TikTok experience. Specialising in long form content (their actual films), the account’s first attempt was to use TikTok as a supportive platform, showcasing behind-the-scenes style videos of their films and interview sets with no context whatsoever. Gaining roughly 600 likes or less, this strategy was ineffective.
Things began to change when the team truly adopted the “make tiktoks” strategy. In November 2020, the team edited the bear trap scene from their horror film “Saw”; replacing a video of JigSaw with the viral TikTok video, “I ain’t never seen two pretty best friends” and attracting 3,000+ likes.
This month, Lionsgate continued its success, amending a scene from La La Land with a viral Brent Faiyaz Tiktok remix and adding captions describing Sebastian as “Valid”. Gaining over 800k likes and comments asking for the creator to be given a raise, Lionsgate is finally learning what it takes to be successful on the platform.
Analysing these results, we can see what works well and what doesn’t. The original content and clips from behind-the-scenes of films that they previously posted lacked humour, context and relatability. This hampered the success of the video due to a lack of purpose behind each TikTok – almost as if Lionsgate were simply making content for the sake of making content.
Whilst the Saw video incorporated humour and played to a viral TikTok trend, allowing the content to blend in organically to the platform, it took a while to deliver the joke – potentially why the video never surpassed 4k likes. Attention spans are short on TikTok and amongst Gen Z, and that’s what Lionsgate is learning.
In the La La Land TikTok, the joke lands early (tick). Furthermore, captions using Gen Z slang to describe the character’s shoes as “tapped” (bad) and then the character as “valid” (good) once he starts dancing enables the content to be relatable and familiar to this young audience on the app. Ultimately, they are speaking their audience’s language (another tick). Similarly to Ryanair, Lionsgate is learning that to be successful on TikTok, brands need to personify their brand, and ‘get down with the kids’ so to speak, by speaking the language of the audience they want to dominate.
Strategy #4: Educating your audience and "de-tabooing" a topic
In 2006, Daniel Craig became a symbol of the “ideal man” when he stood up tall, muscles rippling, in Casino Royale. But what stood out about this scene was Craig’s hairless body. Since then, Manscaping has become increasingly popular – with more and more men experimenting with this new trend.
Despite increasing demand, Mancscaped had two key challenges to overcome. Firstly, despite growing popularity, the topic of manscaping continued to be a taboo subject. Secondly, knowledge around the industry was minimal and consumers needed to learn why they should buy Manscaped products.
Manscaped achieved this through TikTok, using humorous and short videos to educate their consumers about their product. Through entertaining their audience, creating “TikToks, not adverts”, the brand gained a large following of 300k+ individuals.
Across their paid adverts, they surpassed 151M+ impressions with a click through rate of 0.45% and conversion rate of 0.6%. They also have a central figure throughout all of their content, giving their profile the ‘brand stamp’ it needs so that users can automatically identify within a few seconds of watching their videos that it’s a ‘manscaped’ TikTok.
This video is one of their higher performers with 2.5million views and over 250k likes. By providing insight into the world of Manscaped on TikTok through fun and snappy clips generated the much-needed hype and intrigue around the brand and their content, compelling users to come back and watch more. Getting users to watch one of your videos is one thing, but getting to come back is another – if you can do this, you’ve cracked the TikTok code.
This video has also performed exceptionally well with 2million views and 392k+ likes. They leverage the native TikTok feature called ‘duets’ here to blend in with the TikTok feed and captioned it: “POV: you’re asked to come on stage at the local library’s talent show”. The term ‘POV’ is common TikTok terminology adopted by users across the TikTok universe and helps position Manscaped as TikTok-friendly and a brand who is dedicated to learning and embracing the nuances of the platform and its users.
So, there you have it: our top 4 picks of the 4 unrivalled marketing strategies from top brands on TikTok right now. We always have our eyes peeled for new brands making waves on the platform, whether that is by using our industry-leading TikTok analytics tool, Bytesights, to discover emerging trends and strategies or having daily creative brainstorms with new clients, if you’d like to find out how we can utilise these insights for your brand, get in touch today.
If you’d like to learn more from our TikTok experts, we also have a weekly TikTok trends newsletter where we share the biggest trends of the week and how you can leverage them. To receive this straight to your inbox, you can sign up here.