In the rapidly evolving world of social media, new platforms tend to disrupt the space at an extraordinary pace. And more often than not, by the time most brands expand their social stack to capitalise on these new opportunities, they have already fallen behind their nimbler competitors significantly. Fortunately, though, this doesn’t have to be the case for you, for there are still plenty of opportunities on the rising star of social media – TikTok.
TikTok – an Emerging Market for e-Commerce
With an exponentially growing user base, TikTok managed to outperform the already well-established titans of social media, like Facebook and Twitter in just a few short years. To put things in numbers, ever since its inception in September 2016, the ByteDance platform successfully attracted a whopping 689 million users on its international service, and another 600 million on its Chinese counterpart – Douyin. And even though the two apps exist in their own separate digital landscape, it is difficult to ignore the impressive total tally of 1.28 billion active users that is about on par with Instagram’s user count…
Still, while these metrics certainly are remarkable, TikTok’s success doesn’t stop there. In February 2021, the app earned its place as the top-grossing non-gaming app worldwide, by generating a substantial monthly user spend of over $110 million. Overtaking the king of video – YouTube, ByteDance’s sensation snatched the gold medal and broke its record by almost doubling its previous year’s revenue. Highlighted by a growing number of e-Commerce partnerships including TikTok’s recent partnership with Shopify, fast-moving e-Commerce brands have an opportunity to tap into this emerging platform and grow with it.
Finding your Target Customers on TikTok
As is the case with the leading social networks, TikTok as a platform on the rise is dominated by the younger generations. That is why it is unsurprising to find that the large majority of its user base (41%) is composed of Gen Z (aged 16-24), according to Omnicore’s demographics breakdown. Still, you will also find a good portion of Millennials and even Boomers making their way onto the platform. This will give you ample lee-way when picking the most suitable audience for your e-commerce venture.
And while the app’s user base becomes more diversified, there is one key stat that tends to bring them all together – loyalty. Proof of this can be found in the same demographic data referenced above, indicating that 9 out of 10 users are happy to return to the platform daily. With an average of 52 minutes spent inside the app, TikTok offers your e-Commerce project a highly engaged audience that is ripe for the taking. Here’s a quick breakdown of the audience you can expect:
How to Reach your Customers on TikTok
Now that you are well acquainted with who’s who on the platform, you are ready to take the first steps in getting your message across. Even if you are not an expert in using organic content to drive sales to your e-commerce business, TikTok has plenty to offer in terms of direct advertising. While the options are somewhat limited in terms of flexibility, when compared with those of “traditional” social media, the platform’s formats fit the medium perfectly. A target customer on the receiving end of your advertising campaign will discover a seamless native experience, indistinguishable from regular non-commercial content. Let’s take a closer look at some of the options available for your creatives:
Top View is a premium video ad, played in full-screen with audio on that is displayed to users within five seconds of app launch. It appears in TikTok’s prime ad real-estate – the For You feed at the very top and keeps them glued to the screen for up to 60 seconds. Being the longest video format, its primary aim is to engage a potential customer from the very start. This makes it perfect for brand awareness objectives. While somewhat similar to the Brand Takeover format, Top View seamlessly transitions to an in-feed unit before displaying the landing page. Doing so allows for greater creative flexibility. Here’s how Balenciaga used Top View to their advantage:
Very much like the previous format, Brand Takeovers also appear at the start of a TikTok session. Unlike their counterpart, however, they only last a few seconds and do not transition to an in-feed unit, displaying the landing page instead. This is how Guess Jeans made the most out of their Brand Takeover campaign:
This ad unit is automatically played in the For You feed of your target customers. Like the Top View format, In-Feed Ads can last up to a minute. For optimal results however, it is best to keep them under 15 seconds. These ads auto-play with sound on and offer a native experience, with the option to queue multiple Calls-to-Action (CTAs). Doing so allows you to persuade potential customers to shop, download, or visit your website straight from TikTok. What sets them apart however is the potential for engagement. This is so, due to the possibility to like, comment, share, follow or use your ad’s music to create user-generated video content. Grover successfully managed to juggle this flexibility in their smartphone campaign below:
Similar to the engagement flexibility of In-Feed Ads, Hashtag Challenges allow your potential customers to generate video content based on the campaign theme of your e-commerce brand. This format presents a perfect opportunity to take your brand awareness campaign to the next level. With an average rate of engagement reaching 8.5%, Hashtag Challenges can prove to be a valuable tool to kickstart your e-Commerce journey on TikTok. A great example of this in action is the 2019 Chipotle #GuacDance challenge, which made major headlines, as countless users joined in by posting their own take on the dance routine. Here’s another example from Colgate:
People love personalisation, especially on TikTok and this is exactly what the Branded Effects format delivers. If your e-Commerce venture holds branding in high regard, this format is an exciting and playful way to develop better visibility. Considering that the app is built around user-generated content (UGC), providing potential customers with stickers, filters, effects, and lenses, unique to your brand is a sure-fire way to spark their desire to create. This format aims to foster UGC, especially from a younger audience like Gen Z that often resorts to such visual means of expressing themselves in their online communication. Simply put, Branded Effects give your customers the tools to create advertising for your brand completely free of charge.
While earlier we examined TikTok’s built-in advertising options, partnering with various influencers on the platform is not exactly an official part of its features. Like most other social media apps, it comes with the territory instead. In other words, to negotiate such partnerships, you will have to speak to the influencers themselves directly. Alternatively, you can skip this tedious process, by using a service like LiveReach.
This should not discourage you, however, since teaming up with popular and brand-relevant content creators can be very effective in driving sales to your e-Commerce project, regardless of its size and vertical. Such is the case of Aerie – an American Eagle spinoff brand. Despite establishing a TikTok presence only recently, Aerie managed to catapult itself to the top, with the help of some of the platform’s household names. With less than a dozen videos posted at the time, the brand garnered tens of thousands of followers just because of an influencer’s endorsement. Considering the low number of content pieces they had prior, it is pretty clear that their e-Commerce success was mainly due to an effective Influencer Marketing strategy and the same could be for you.
So now that you are well-aware of the ins and outs of how to kickstart your TikTok e-Commerce journey, are you committed to taking the first step? Take your business to the pole position it deserves: