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Should B2B brands and marketers be on TikTok?

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4th October 2023

Let’s take a look at the world’s fastest growing social media platform

With millions of users scrolling for hours every day, TikTok is a potential goldmine for marketers.

Products, pages and people can all go viral very quickly on the platform, with everything from beauty products to backpacks, nightlights to vacuum cleaners amassing millions of views and sales.

Although TikTok’s audience is largely Gen Z (60% of its users are under 26), increasing numbers of Millennials, Boomers and Gen X-ers are jumping on the bandwagon. And with an algorithm that’s famously able to satisfy user interests with pinpoint precision, TikTok forms communities around even the most niche content.

But what does this all mean for B2B marketing? For many people in the sector, the jury’s still out on TikTok. So here’s what we think.

TikTok’s winning format

For those who remember Vine (2013-2017), TikTok’s short-form video style isn’t new. But as both Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts have come to learn, the TikTok formula isn’t easy to replicate.

What makes TikTok truly unique is the way it fosters communities and sparks virality. Through stitching and duets – just two of many tools which allow users to respond to others’ content – the app turns content into a conversation.

You don’t need an existing following to take off on TikTok. The app takes note of when content is starting to pick up and shows it to more users, driving engagement to such an extent that the app has become, for many, a hub for community connection.

TikTok is also continuously adding features to please marketers such as branded filters, opportunities for partnerships and a shopping platform where users can instantly purchase viral products.

At the core of TikTok’s unique ethos however, three fundamental elements stand out as crucial for achieving success:

Authenticity: TikTok represents a cultural move away from the polished gleam of Instagram. Its users and creators enjoy a more genuine, scrappier approach to content that helps consumers feel genuinely connected with influencers and brands.

Engagement: 73% of consumers prefer to watch a short-form video to learn about a product or service. Short form video is much more engaging, and if a user watches a video to the end they’ll see more content from that creator, quickly generating awareness and loyalty.

Inspiration: There’s HorseTok, CorporateTok and thousands more ‘Toks’ covering every topic imaginable. If your audience is using TikTok to talk about their pain points and needs, use this (and the sheer amount of viral trends taking off every day) to inspire and inform your social media strategy.

IStructE: Grabbing graduates online

You might not find the Institute of Structural Engineers (IStructE) sharing their overnight oats recipe on TikTok, but it was the ideal app to reach students in a recent campaign.

To promote its engineering programme to soon-to-be graduates, TikTok stood out as the perfect platform for a low-cost, high-impact campaign that focused on sharing authentic experiences to inspire viewers to find out more about a career in structural engineering.

The Think Tank asked engineering students to share their experiences of the industry and training in the popular “day in the life” format. With only a smartphone and a TikTok account needed to participate, this was a simple way for our client to generate a lot of content.

This campaign delivered IStructE’s core message to an audience that was ready and willing to engage with a familiar format on a familiar platform – and resulted in numerous sign ups.

The Think Tank’s top TikTok tips (say that three times fast)

TikTok is relaxed and informal. It’s a place where B2B brands can let their hair down and show off their fun side, educate people about their services or simply play around with content formats and see what sticks.

Only you (or perhaps an award-winning B2B marketing agency?) can decide if TikTok is the right platform for your brand. If you think it is, here are some of our top tips to keep in mind.

Keep it professional

  • While you want to be authentic, don’t forget who or what you’re representing. TikToks shared from a brand account should align with the brand identity and form part of a coherent strategy that’s seamless across all your chosen platforms.

Easy on the jokes

  • With so many trends to jump on, it can be easy to forget that less is more. Instead of chasing the dream of going viral, focus on trends that fit with your brand and make sure they enhance your communications.

Do your homework

  • Like any social platform, you need to put time into reading the room. Really understanding TikTok’s algorithm, how your audience engages with content and making sure you are engaging with others is the key to any effective social strategy.

The verdict: Huge potential, handle with care

Whatever you think of TikTok, it’s always worth evaluating emerging platforms and trends to see if they can benefit your brand. Remember though – no platform is a magic ticket to success and every PR or marketing campaign needs to be underpinned by planning, strategy and clear objectives.

If you need help with your next campaign, want to get started on social or even just relive your favourite Vines, you can always chat to us.

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