At its 2021 NewFronts presentation, TikTok dropped a simple slogan for brands looking to successfully market to its users: “Don’t make ads, make TikToks.”
Now, Becca Sawyer, the platform’s global head of small business solutions, has expanded on that catchphrase with a few practical bits of advice for companies.
“Ads that perform best don’t look or feel like ads,” she told Social Media Today. “We always reminds brands not to overthink it. TikTok is the place where authenticity and realness is not only accepted; it’s celebrated.”
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To that end, Sawyer said, brands should focus on running ads that tell a narrative about themselves and their products.
They should also not expect to simply drop ads and walk away–instead, they should engage with users and “build a community” by being “at the forefront of trends and conversation,” she said.
“Brands that show up authentically, and genuinely want to be part of the everyday conversations, will see the best results,” she said.
@kentuckyfriedchickenGet ready. @lilihayes is launching the new KFC Sandwich. (Cuz we paid her to!) #TryTheKFCSandwich #ad♬ original sound – KFC
Sawyer highlighted several campaigns she considers successful, including: an Aerie campaign with TikToker Hannah Schlenker (884.6K followers) that resulted in 130,000 signups to the brand’s “notify me” list for upcoming products; GAP’s decision to bring back a long-discontinued hoodie after it went viral on TikTok, and its plans to let TikTok users vote to decide the sweatshirt’s new color; a tongue-in-cheek KFC collaboration with Lili Hayes (4.3 million followers) that netted 208 million views; and Lala Hijabs, a company that launched in 2020 and showed off its products by joining TikTok and making organic videos that, Sawyer says, helped push it to six figures in revenue with no upfront marketing costs.
Overall, Sawyer urged, brands that want to successfully market on TikTok should also be watching a lot of TikTok, and trying to emulate top trends (presumably without crossing the often thin, thin barrier into cringey tryhard territory).
“A brand’s content should look and feel the same way as the community’s posts,” Sawyer said.