There has been a ton of controversy over TikTok in recent weeks. Whether you agree on one side or another, it might be helpful to understand what's the deal behind the oddball-dance-ridden app that everyone is talking about. TikTok is an app where users can make short videos, doing dance challenges, lip-synching to scenes for their favorite TV shows, or acting out memes. 

What You Need to Know

According to Hootsuite, TikTok is the sixth most popular social media app, with over 800 million monthly active users, putting it just behind Instagram. It's a global app, the United States represents only five percent of Tiktok's users, but it's quickly growing. Compared to other social media sites, TikTok has a younger audience base, with 69 percent of users falling into the 13 to 24 year-old category. TikTok reaches a younger audience in the US and across the globe with advertisements and marketing campaigns. Let's face it, TikTok users are practically still in utero.

The goal of using TikTok as a marketing tool is to land your brand on TikTok’s “For You” page. The “For You” page is where marketers and users will gain the most visibility of their videos. According to Influencer Marketing Hub, 66 percent of TikTok users want brands to come across as smart and the most important qualities for users are for brands to be reliable, innovative, authentic, trendy, young, exclusive, bold, funny, and traditional. That’s a lot of credentials to fit into one 15-second video, but users and brands are doing this successfully.

Marketing on TikTok

Creating Content 

Similar to Instagram, but more video-based, TikTok is about creative and engaging content. Brands from the NBA to Crocs have found success from creating fun videos to cross-collaborating with other brands. On TikTok, content (in the form of videos) is key. It's a way to shape your brand's personality, stay relevant, and reach a younger audience. Brands and marketers can also leverage influencer marketing on TikTok, similar to Instagram with sponsored content. 


Viral Challenges

Larger brands see the most success by creating branded hashtag challenges on the platform, which brands can pay to promote. Chipotle created the #ChipotleLidFlip challenge to promote a free delivery deal, encouraging customers to flip their lid onto their bowl without using their hands. Gymshark, a trending athleisure brand, created the #handstandchallenge, encouraging users to do creative handstands to popular songs. As a marketer, you can have your brand participate in viral hashtag challenges or create your own.

In-Feed Ads

Like many other social media channels, TikTok has opened up its platform for in-feed ads. As a marketer, you can create an ad (5 to 15 seconds) and pay to have it placed in the "For You" feed of TikTok alongside user-generated content. Compared to other platforms, TikTok allows for sillier and more creative content.

Brand Takeover

Another type of ad content starts when the user opens TikTok, and a brand can "takeover" TikTok for 3 to 5 seconds (image or gif) with a full-screen ad. TikTok makes sure Brand Takeover Ads are exclusive to their category, which means TikTok makes sure that users don’t see more than one Brand Takeover per day.

Branded Lenses and Effects  

Similar to Snapchat and Instagram, brands can create 2D, 3D, and augmented reality effects for users. As a marketer, you can create a branded lense or sticker for Tiktokers to use in their videos, especially during a related hashtag challenge. 


TikTok is one of the most talked-about social media platforms right now, for obvious reasons. TikTokers create short videos shared on the platform or even uploaded to Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Users can watch TikToks or create their own, participating in a viral hashtag challenge or acting out a classic scene from a popular TV show. TikTok is a growing marketing opportunity to connect with a younger audience and define your brand's personality with engaging content. It will be interesting to monitor where this platform heads in coming months with one particular global brand hinting at an acquisition play... stay tuned.

Creating content for a new social media platform can be a large and daunting task. If you’re seeking more strategies, or even just simple help with your social media marketing plan, Ironmark is here to help you get more engagement and impact from your social media efforts.

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Written by Lynne Kingsley

Lynne Kingsley oversees the digital marketing client services team as well as the marketing strategy division for the company. Since joining the company in 2016, she has increased Ironmark’s digital presence by over 700%, establishing a new lead generation mechanism for the sales team. A certified inbound marketing professional and HubSpot agency partner, Kingsley has been helping companies transform their marketing function into fully diverse and streamlined growth engines since 2003. With agency and client-side work under her belt, Kingsley’s strategic experience spans both the B2B and B2C sectors. Prior to joining the Ironmark team, she served as in-house marketing director for several non-profit organizations. Kingsley is an honors graduate of the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University.
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