What Makes TikTok Tick?

The social platform TikTok has seen unprecedented growth over the last three years, and many businesses are seeing fantastic results from marketing on TikTok. Duolingo, for example, grew its TikTok audience from basically zero to over 2 million in just 6 weeks.

Are you ready to add TikTok into your marketing mix? During the 2021 CMO Club Innovation and Inspiration Summit Sofia Hernandez, Global Head of Business Marketing for TikTok, and Cammie Dunaway, CMO of Duolingo shared their top TikTok tips.

It’s the highest ROI marketing I’ve ever done because we are not doing paid advertising on TikTok – and we’re producing with an iPhone. – Cammie Dunaway 

Lean into authenticity

  • Create content that looks and feels like a TikTok, don’t overproduce. Duolingo initially made content with a focus on high production value. After some experimentation, however, they found that content produced simply on an iPhone actually performed better on the platform.
  • Don’t be afraid to step a little outside your brand guidelines to be more real, human and authentic. TikTok is a channel about fun and entertainment. It’s not about trying to tell a controlled brand story. From Hernandez: “45% of TikTok users say they feel more connected to brands that act like them and talk to them like normal people.”
  • Consider finding someone on your team who already uses TikTok or hiring someone who is excited about the platform. For content to resonate, it needs to fit in with the TikTok aesthetic and into the culture, which might not come naturally to someone who’s not a TikTok native.

It’s all about putting your brand in the hands of consumers, not talking at people — but letting them take your brand and play with it. And that is very scary. – Sofia Hernandez

Think like a marketer, but act like a TikTok creator

  • Some of the most successful brands on TikTok have succeeded by getting TikTok users to co-create content with them. DSW had over half a million users create content by asking them to show their closets, and Jif gathered over 7 billion views by challenging users to rap with peanut butter in their mouths.
  • In addition to creating content, engaging with users is equally important. Be in the conversation. Make sure someone on your team is taking time to respond to comments on your own content and engaging with other relevant content on TikTok.
  • TikTok is known for building brand awareness, but it can also be a huge driver for sales. For example, a viral TikTok video once caused a national feta cheese shortage, and the hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt has over 9 billion views. 

I think the biggest message I would offer marketers for their bosses is this is not just an awareness play. TikTok is selling products. We’re shortening the funnel. – Sofia Hernandez