What TikTok is, why it’s emerging as a promising eCommerce marketing tool, and how you can use it to drive Amazon traffic and increase sales for your brand.
TikTok started as a Gen Z video-sharing app—and today now emerged as a promising eCommerce marketing tool for your brand. This webinar explains what TikTok is, what’s fueling its growth, and how to get started—plus the creative ways brands are using this emerging eCommerce marketing tool to drive Amazon traffic and increase sales.
- Reach Zoomers to Boomers: Usage exploded during the pandemic, and today TikTok is multi-generational. You can get wide, affordable reach now while competition is still low.
- Capitalize on trends: Brand channels and paid in-feed ads are available, but the most successful activations are authentic, so leverage influencers and hashtag challenges.
- Pay attention to the music: Relevant, engaging, and fun music is essential to a successful TikTok campaign.
- Nab eCommerce opportunities: TikTok is primarily for brand awareness, but you can spotlight deals, do unboxing videos, and use in-feed ads for direct response activations.
Alright, good morning everyone. Thanks for joining us for our TikTok webinar. I’m really excited. It’s kind of a new thing that I’ve gotten into, especially during COVID. My nine and 11-year-old have been teaching me how to use this new platform, which is probably pretty common, I’m sure Evan will be telling us. But on the next slide, Evan if you wanna hop to, I wanna introduce you. So Evan Horowitz is the CEO and founder of creative studio Movers+Shakers. Refinery29 called them the go-to agency for brands making moves on TikTok after setting the record for the most viral campaign in history, which was elf, for elf Cosmetics. You can find them at #eyeslipsface. It’s a very catchy song.
They’ve amassed over 35 billion views for their clients, make fast growing brand channels, influencer and ad campaigns, and viral challenges. And then Evan is an Entrepreneur in Residence at Harvard Alumni Entrepreneurs and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BS in Engineering from Stanford, so he’s a pretty smart guy, and I feel a little bit less smart with my University of Texas Business degree.
But that being said, a little bit about me. I’m the co-founder and president of Pacvue. I spent 10 years at Amazon, have co-founded Pacvue, which is a SaaS platform for e-commerce. Most of you probably know us since you signed up for our webinar, but in case you don’t, we help brands with their e-commerce strategies. We integrate robust data pieces, disparate data pieces of sales, inventory and advertising. Really our bread and butter is marketing automation and optimization across Walmart, Amazon, and our latest platform, Instacart, and we provide a lot of data insights.
So today I’m really excited to talk TikTok and how brands are really starting to leverage this platform. And before Evan kicks it off, I just wanted to provide a few stats I pulled from Comscore, which is that TikTok has 52 million users. Evan correct me if I’m wrong, but let me know if you’ve heard differently, and they added 12 million unique visitors in March alone, which is crazy. And users spend a ton of time on TikTok. The average time spent per visitor on the app and website was 476 minutes for the month of March, and just for comparison, the same number was 319 minutes for Instagram. So really an up and coming platform. Brands are really starting to use it, and Evan’s gonna give us all the best practices and tips and tricks that he knows having created this great agency. So take it away.
Oh, one more thing I wanna add is please add your questions in the Chat and Q&A buttons on below, and we’ll be doing a Q&A at the end.
Yeah, we have about 40 minutes of slides to get through and then 20 minutes for questions at the end, so definitely, would love to hear questions. It helps us tailor the presentation as well as we go. Yeah, thank you. Super excited to work with you on this. This is TikTok 101. So the idea is, is for people who are just getting started on TikTok. Feel free to drop a comment in the chat box. It’s super helpful for me just like, how much TikTok experience do you have? Let’s say scale one to five, one being haven’t downloaded the app, five being you’re already running campaigns on TikTok, where are you there? That will help us calibrate. But the idea is this is 101 level, so don’t feel bad if you’re really just starting out. That’s the goal for today.
Here’s the agenda. First talking about why is everyone buzzing about TikTok? What’s this unique moment in time here that has so many people talking? We’ll do a quick primer from a marketer’s standpoint, really, what are the things you need to know about TikTok? We’ll be focusing on how is TikTok different from other platforms that you’re used to? And then we’ll talk about the success strategies for brands. There’s four main ways that brands are succeeding on TikTok, and we’ll go through each of those. And then we’ll leave you with some next steps and have plenty of time for questions. So I’m getting a lot of ones here in the chat. It looks like most people are just starting out, so that’s great…
One, but looking to get to five, so by the end…
Alright, we’ll get you to two by the end. Yeah, yeah. Cool. Oh, there’s a five here. Amazing. Okay, cool. Well, so glad to have you all here. I know we have people from all over the world calling in, super exciting. I want to just quickly do introductions. Melissa, anything else you wanna say about Pacvue?
No, we provide, especially around paid search. So if people are looking to automate their paid search strategies and optimize their ad spends across e-commerce platforms, that’s what we do, and of course, we’re really interested to hear how people are using TikTok and how we can help, so.
Yeah, yeah, it’s really interesting. I think this is a new frontier, and even by doing this webinar is sort of breaking new ground and thinking about where that overlap between TikTok, paid search and e-commerce sales on Amazon can be. So, it’s very exciting, and I know Melissa and I are… We’ve already been brewing up some ideas for campaigns that we’ll do together to move people from TikTok through the shopping cart.
So quick intro to us at Movers+Shakers. I’m the CEO here and co-founder. Movers+Shakers is a creative agency with a mission to spread joy. So everything we do, we’re trying to put a positive emotional energy out into the world, use that positive emotion to connect with consumers and drive more brand love and of course, sales. We work across digital, we do a lot of work on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and in the last year have become one of the leaders in the world on TikTok. A lot of that is because one of our unique expertise as a creative agency is using original music and dance to connect brands to culture, and this is something that we’ve been doing since we were founded.
My partner and our Chief Creative Officer is actually a Broadway performer and songwriter, and so you’ll see that original music and musical storytelling cuts across all of our… Not all, but a lot of our campaigns across all platforms. And so when TikTok came along, and here’s a social platform that really is premised in using original music, movement, dance to tell stories, it was very easy for Movers+Shakers to understand how to make brand successful in that environment because we were so good already at converting brands into musical storytelling.
Just to give you a couple of other examples of our work outside of TikTok, one of my favorites is this collab we did with Match.com, three-minute mini-musical film, boy meets girl, love story. If you imagine “Grease” smashed up with “La la Land,” we had over two minutes on a skip-after-five-second YouTube ad. Little Tikes, we did a really fun project for their holiday campaign, really focused on those bestselling SKUs for holiday. We re-wrote the 12 Days of Christmas into the 12 Toys of Christmas as a really catchy musical number that ran on YouTube, mainly TrueView ads.
How do you stand out in the busiest intersection in Times Square? Well, we did a bright and energetic dance routine to help this apparel brand turn a lot of heads there. And turning over to TikTok, we’re probably most famous as an agency for creating the most viral campaign in TikTok history. Which is Elf’s eyes lips face campaign, this launched last October. Just last week, we passed six billion views, so it’s a campaign that’s lasted for almost a year in terms of the momentum that it’s built. One and a half billion media impressions around this campaign and almost five million people joining in to participate in the campaign.
I’m actually gonna show you a little Sizzle video about this. Probably a lot of you have heard about this. Show you some of the pieces and how they came together.
So many things to say about that. But I think the main point is just that TikTok provides brands the opportunity to create these viral moments and really in a way that no other brand, no other platform has ever done before. And these moments that cross across social media, across digital, but also into real life, and I think it’s really important when you think about your TikTok strategy. It’s not just about your TikTok strategy, it’s about how do you use TikTok to create conversations, to create brand perspectives that ripple throughout the broader ecosystem of your market.
Cool, so we can go back a little bit more about later. Suffice it to say that our TikTok campaigns have been getting a lot of buzz in the press, both business press and consumer press. And we actually just passed 35 billion views on TikTok this week as an agency. So excited to share with you a little bit about what we’ve learned in 35 billion views and help you all on your TikTok journey.
Cool. Reminder, please do drop questions in the question box, and we’ll probably handle most of them at the end. It’s super helpful to hear from you what would be most valuable for you. So, I wanna go into next, why is everyone buzzing about TikTok? And what’s so unique about the opportunity that we have right now as marketers?
The first thing, obviously, everybody’s talking about is the unprecedented reach. The opportunity to get billions of views on a campaign has never happened before. Normally as a creative agency, we’re thrilled if we get a million views, 10 million views, 100 never happens, but we consistently on our TikTok campaigns we’re consistently able to do this to get billions of views. But more than that, it’s not just the number of views. It’s this new dimension of virality that TikTok has enabled, which is in addition to just this video going viral or that video going viral, it’s creating these viral moments where the virality first is all these people creating videos, so the top TikTok campaigns are consistently having hundreds of thousands, some of them having millions of users creating videos for your campaign, for your brand. And then all of those videos can go viral.
So, that’s how we’re getting into these billion view numbers is by having this extra dimension of virality, at Movers+Shaker we call that supercharged virality, which has just never been possible, ’cause no other platform has had either the technical ability or the cultural, the culture of everybody creating their own video to jump on a trend like TikTok, and brands absolutely now have the ability to start those trends.
Every week now almost, there’s a new brand joining the TikTok billionaires club, and I just put some of them on the slide, about half of these are our clients. It really, it goes across the category, we’re seeing every type of brand from beauty has been an early adopter, software, gaming, CPG, a lot of successful campaigns now on TikTok. And this is really an amazing moment in time that we’re super excited about, because for those of you remember when Facebook was new, when Instagram was new, and you had the opportunity for the first mover advantage.
The user base is super installed on TikTok. Melissa gave some of those crazy stats about not just the number of people on the platform, but how many minutes a day they’re spending on the platform, and there’s still a disproportionately small brand presence, so the brands that are there are getting an outside share of voice, and we’re seeing two things happen: The platform continues to grow explosively, so, the amount of users on there and the amount of minutes being spent there, has just gone… I mean 2019 it was the fastest growing social app ever. 2020 makes 2019 seem like a sleepy year in terms of the growth they’re experiencing this year, quarantine has been huge for TikTok.
And brands are now flooding onto the platform still disproportionately underrepresented compared to the amount of users and eyeballs and minutes compared to the amount of brands. So, for the next six months, when we look through the end of 2020, there’s still this opportunity for brands to be first movers. As an agency, we’ve now been playing on TikTok for over a year. It’s been crazy, the change in that when we started, there was literally, I could count with two hands, how many brands were active on TikTok, and now there’s a ton. So if you wanna be a first mover, now is the time, if you don’t, it’s good to keep an eye on, but by 2021, this is gonna be very mainstream. It’s no longer you’re gonna have that novelty factor and we won’t be doing 101s anymore.
So, I think it’s just very exciting, I think for brands that are interested in reaching this audience in an innovative way. Last thing to add there is during quarantine is an even better opportunity for brands to play interestingly enough. The fact that people come to TikTok for joy, and we’re gonna talk about this more in a minute. But the fact that TikTok has always been a light-hearted, comedic, positive place has really… I think been one of its differentiators is driven a lot of the growth during quarantine, and brands that wanna play in that positive message and provide that sort of sense of almost escapism for their clients can do really well right now.
I wanna move to just a quick primer of what TikTok is, not from a technical standpoint, but really from a CMO’s perspective. The first thing I’ll start with here is just actually this, directly from TikTok, their mission statement. Their mission is to inspire creativity and bring joy. And one of the things that makes them unique is that TikTok enables everyone to be a creator. And I think unlike a lot of organizations, TikTok very clearly is living up to its mission statement. Those of you who have spent a lot of time on the platform, I think these two key ideas, creativity and joy really do come through strongly on the platform, and let me just talk to each of them. First of all, to creativity.
I think this is one of the things that personally I love about TikTok that usually flipping through videos, it’s just constantly like, “Oh my God, I can’t believe that person did that. That’s so cool.” And that sense of inspiration and awe is one of the things that keeps people coming back, and it’s one of the things that makes people love to contribute their own content to the platform. One of the things that TikTok has done that’s very innovative is lowering the bar for creativity, making it easier for people to contribute their own videos. So if you think, if you look at Instagram, for example, where you kinda feel like you have to be on the Amalfi Coast with a glass of Pinot in order to have something that’s Instagram worthy. It can feel like that sometimes.
TikTok is the opposite of that, where it’s like, “Oh, I’m in my bedroom with my brother and I’m just gonna post a video,” or, “I’m hanging out with my kids in the car and we’re just gonna create and post a video.” And it’s not about fancy filters or polished, it’s just about authenticity and realness. And because of that, the snowball of content and the unleashing of creativity is just, we’ve never seen that before. The second piece here that’s super important to understand as a marketer is the joy aspect because TikTok is a very positive place, and I was alluding to this a minute ago. It’s very differentiated from this other social platforms.
If there’s a spectrum of seriousness of conversation, we put Twitter on one side, right? Where it’s like a lot of intense and important political discourse, news, things like that. The other side is TikTok and that’s where people really come ’cause they just wanna be entertained. They don’t wanna think too hard, they wanna smile, they wanna feel good. There’s a 16-year-old that I know who said that she goes to Instagram when she wants to feel bad about herself. She goes to TikTok when she wants to feel good about herself. And I think TikTok really does live up to that potential.
So this is really important to understand for marketers because when you’re creating content for TikTok, whether it’s organic content for your brand channel, whether it’s paid ads that you’re creating, you want to fit into this ecosystem to feel native. And I think we see too many marketers missing the mark here, where they’re not bringing that creativity or they’re not bringing that joyful storytelling. And when you miss that, you really feel awkward on TikTok. But when you hit that, you feel very natural and people are excited to engage with your brand.
We talked a little bit about this, but I wanna just emphasize that this platform is aging up faster than any platform we’ve ever seen. All the new social apps, they always start with the kids, Melissa’s kids and then they go up from there. But this platform is aging up so fast. So, in 2019, it was a Gen-Z platform. It still has a bit of that perception among marketers, but it’s now an outdated perspective. So 25-45 is the fastest growing segment on TikTok now, about half of TikTok-ers are over 25, and we see actually the 55 plus is the most engaged on TikTok.
If you look at the number of minutes per day that segment spends, although the numbers are still smaller. But my expectation is that that 45 plus segment is gonna keep growing through the end of the year. And remarkably, that the younger generation is still very much engaged because of the way TikTok’s algorithm is very good at segmenting your experience, I don’t think that we’re gonna see the older people pushing the younger people out in the same way that that’s happened quickly in other platforms.
So from a brand perspective, as Movers+Shakers, my agency, we work across social and TikTok is one of the many platforms that we work on. The first question for us is always, who’s your demo? And are they on TikTok? And now, if you’re a Gen-Z focused brand or a millennial focused brand, they’re very much on TikTok. We’re launching our first millennial campaigns in a big way right now on TikTok and that’s very exciting ’cause there’s just a ton of whitespace ’cause millennials are new to the platform in general, and there’s almost no brands who’re trying to reach them, so a lot of opportunity there, and that’s gonna continue to go up in age, I think as the year goes on.
Some Key call-outs just how this is different from other social platforms. We talked a lot about the creator mindset, the raw and unpolished, we’ve touched on as well, super important just to re-emphasize, we see a lot of brands copy paste their content from other platforms and is more polished, it’s more how they produce, it just looks awkward on TikTok, so definitely avoid that. Music and movement. Music is so key to TikTok.
When you’re creating content for TikTok, it’s different from when you create content from other platforms. If we’re making a YouTube video, often music is an afterthought where you put on a cool track in the background and the music. But when we’re doing TikTok storytelling, it very much starts with what’s the story that we’re trying to tell and what’s the music that’s gonna support telling that story, and what music will feel TikTok, so that’s very important when you’re thinking about how to communicate your brand or your product messages. And the last really key difference here between TikTok and other apps you’re used to is, the study of trends. So trends, or as marketers, we call this often challenges. These are a huge part.
I would say at least half of the conversations on TikTok is about trends, and what that means in this context is, this is where lots of people are jumping on the bandwagon to make a video along a theme. So it’s like theme and variations. If you haven’t spent much time on TikTok, this hasn’t happened a lot on other platforms, but a couple of reference points would be the Ice Bucket Challenge or the Harlem Shake challenge.
This is where everybody’s dumping buckets of ice on their head and posting their video about it, or everybody’s doing the same dance and posting their videos about that. And this is how so much of the conversation happens on TikTok where everybody’s jumping on these trends and doing a dance or telling a skit, or using a certain music or using a certain editing filter, and they go through like wildfire week by week through the platform. These are important to understand as a marketer, because if you wanna feel native in the conversation on TikTok, you wanna fit in the trends and be sensitive to them. So let me show you some examples of a few different trends so you can get an idea. This is an OG TikTok trend from early 2019, it’s a dance trend, very classic example of what a TikTok trend can look like.
So you get the idea, same music, same choreography, and the same idea of choreography, but everybody makes it their own, whether it’s the prep school version or the ballet class version. And last example, this is an example of a branded trend, this is the Eyes. Lips. Face. Challenge that we created for e.l.f. Cosmetics. So, understanding the trends and following them is a great way to make your brand feel native on the platform.
Evan, I gotta ask a question.
How long does it take those people in the t-shirts to make that video?
People spend hours. Do your kids make videos or do they just watch?
They make videos, but those are super fancy videos. That’s like…
Yeah. Well, there’s definitely level. Most people spend 30 to 60 minutes on average on a TikTok. Some of them are obviously quicker, but many TikToks is hours and hours and hours and hours of time, people are very committed to them. And that’s part of what the magic of it is, one, that you would be inspired to do that, and then two, that as a consumer and just a viewer you get to see that and you get to be entertained by that.
That’s like a social investment of making that video, I could just see how that’s a… That’s crazy.
And a lot of these people are becoming famous and making careers out of it too, which is so cool. Yeah. And a lot of that creativity is now available for brands, just to bring this back to a marketing perspective, we hire a lot of those creators who do just amazing things, whether it’s stunts, like that guy who levitates. It’s interesting, that same guy, he’s doing this thing where you have rice on a tray and you throw it up and then the rice is actually shaping letters and you can spell words out of rice that he literally throws up and then throws in slow-mo. He can write your brand’s word in that. We love hiring these niche creators who do these things as influencers, whether it’s just to do influencer posts or to create creative for our ads. There’s just an incredible opportunity for brands to tap into this level of creative storytelling. Yeah.
Yeah, yeah. Okay. So four main ways that brands are entering TikTok and succeeding, and we wanna give you some pointers on each of these. And then… Yeah, and then we’ll move into questions. So definitely, if you haven’t been writing your questions in, drop them in the question box. So, four ways for brands to play on TikTok, brand channels, obviously just having your own organic page. Influencer campaigns, traditional ads which TikTok calls their in-feed ads, and then these big viral hashtag challenges.
So one, two, and three are all structured the same as what you’re used to on other platforms. Four is totally new, so I’ll spend a little bit more time on that. But I wanna show you how these work, and mainly focus on how they’re different from other platforms. If you wanna go deeper on this later, Movers+Shakers offers a TikTok tool and webinar where we start with this, and then we really go a lot deeper in each of the four different ways. One thing too, I know a lot of direct response and performance-focused marketers are on the call today. So, number three here, the in-feed ads, is your main friend there. If you’re really trying to drive click-throughs conversions, this is the only way that really you can have consistent click-outs on TikTok. One, two and four are much more top-of-funnel brand awareness campaigns.
So that’s, I think, an important frame just to go into this with. TikTok is gradually adding more opportunity to click-out from organic posts and from influencer posts, but it’s very limited, most of that is still in beta. So, for you who really are focused on shopping cart, Insta… Sorry, in-feed ads is the place to really focus. That said, for any brand that has a Instagram page and doesn’t think an Instagram page is optional, I think by 2021 your TikTok page is not gonna be perceived as optional anymore.
Although a lot of CMOs are asking me right now, do they need to have a TikTok page, pretty soon for brands of any significant size, the answer is gonna be no longer, “Do you have a page?” but, “Just how good is your TikTok presence?” Something that, again, if you wanna get started early, while the barrier to entry is low, organic brand content is not at all penalized compared to organic people content. That opportunity is now. I don’t know how long that window will be open. Second thing to say is, post regularly. It does require a commitment here. I see a lot of brands post five times, 10 times on TikTok, they didn’t go viral, they give up if it doesn’t work for them.
The TikTok algorithm is very extreme, so it’s different from many others, for example, Instagram. Instagram, you post, you know about how many people see your posts ’cause it’s basically your followers and your follower count’s pretty consistent. On TikTok, followers is only a small part of the algorithm for organic, so that’s why you have a lot of people on their first post or their third posts, they’ll get a million views.
We actually started a brand channel recently where two of our first three posts got a million views with zero followers, so that’s absolutely possible on TikTok, which is amazing. That’s very rare, I wouldn’t expect that, which is my other point, which is the flip side of this opportunity for crazy virality is that most… The algorithm drives most posts just into the ground, they don’t get a lot of exposure. And that’s fine, that’s normal. Any of the top TikTok creators who are very successful influencers, they will tell you that it’s the same for them, that’s why many of them are posting five-plus times a day, because you just have to keep going and spinning the wheel.
So as a brand, you really wanna just keep posting, just creating good content, and some of it… And we’re often not good at predicting which ones for the brand channels that we’re creating, some of it will go viral, and others will just help you build your following over time. We do recommend daily content on your brand channel, it’s the norm for serious brands on TikTok. It’s a lot, but fortunately the production value is lower than you’re used to, probably for other channels.
But that’s totally fine, we run a lot of brand channels right now, and that works really well. The other thing we talked about is what are trends, integrating your brand into trends is a great hack to help you grow your channel faster, for two reasons. One is the algorithm preferences things that are trending, and two is that it helps you get that cool factor. Because when you jump on a trend, you really… You come across as a brand that gets it, that’s fun, that understands the conversation. A couple of other tips just for making content perform well, I have this in the brand channel section, but this is the same exact guidance that we do when we look at creating ad units.
The same philosophy, whether you’re creating organic or paid content, integrating into trends, we talked about that, super effective. Vertical, I would hope that goes without saying, but often we see advertisers ignore that unpolished. This is where copy-pasting your Instagram posts or ads doesn’t often work and can make you look super awkward or like an interloper on TikTok. It’s that unpolished, raw, authentic vibe, doesn’t mean that it wasn’t very thought-out, but just from an editing and production standpoint, you wanted to fit natively into that TikTok ecosystem.
And then music, we’ve talked about how important that is. And yes, as a brand you need to have a license to the music you’re using. Okay. A second way to play on TikTok as a brand is influencer campaigns, and this can be a great test and learn, especially if you just wanna dip your toe in the water on TikTok. The main call-out here is to use TikTok native creators. One of the mistakes that we see a lot of brands making, when we start talking to them is they’re like, “Oh, well, we have these creators that we love on YouTube, Twitch, wherever else, and oh, they have a TikTok now, so we’re hiring them to do some TikToks.”
In general, the best TikTok creators really grew up on TikTok because as we’ve been talking about, the vibe on TikTok is just so different, it’s hard for brands to understand and it’s hard for creators to understand. So we see a lot of people struggle to make that translation from success on another platform to TikTok. On the other hand, people who grew up on TikTok and are just great at it, and that’s why they’re successful, are amazing collaborators for brands, they tend to be producing better performing content, and also tend to have much lower cost structures or less pay expectations because the platform is just less mature than Facebook, YouTube, Instagram.
So, great value and we love working with up and coming creators who are emerging, doing amazing content, and can be quite affordable and excited, genuinely excited to have a brand deal. The Creator Marketplace is a searchable database that you can get access to through TikTok. I think it’s creatormarketplace.tiktok.com. It’s a great place to start just looking for influencers.
The call-out I would say there is that a lot of influencers, probably most are actually not in the database just because of certain requirements that TikTok asks in order to join, so not everybody chooses to do that, but it’s a great place to start looking for TikTok-ers and you can see all their stats and stuff. Okay. So, third way for brands to play on TikTok and the most interesting, if you’re a performance focused marketer is the in-feed ads.
Again, most of the other… Well, pretty much all the other ways to engage on TikTok are very much top-of-funnel campaigns, we’ll get to the hashtag challenges in a minute, but these are not… Those big viral challenges are not designed to drive sales, they’re designed to drive brand awareness, brand love, that kind of thing. But the in-feed ad is basically TikTok’s version of your basic Snap ad or your Instagram story ad, it comes up between organic content, and just like those other platforms it allows a click-out to a landing page, to the app store, that kind of thing.
I think the key difference is this just is a much earlier stage of maturity in terms of a platform perspective, the amount of targeting is much more limited than they’re used to on other platforms, the amount of tracking third-party integrations is much more limited, so that’s just… You need to know that if you wanna play here, you’re just gonna have to be having your hands tied a bit from what you’re used to on other platforms in exchange for the access to this very fast-growing audience, and that’s a trade-off that every brand needs to make it that’s worth it to them.
But in general, the pricing on TikTok for ads is much lower than what it would be on other platforms, just because that’s where it is in the supply and demand curve. So I think it is very interesting to explore, and we see a lot of brands having quite a bit of success here. From a creative agency perspective, which we are, the main call-out here that I would give you, is that the creative must feel native. Same things we talked about on the brand channel section, about how to make your creative feel like it fits authentically into the platform, it’s just so important.
And we see a lot of ads just jump out and really they… You’re flipping through your feed, you’re flipping then, Ad! And it’s just, that’s not how you wanna come across as an advertiser on the platform, but that’s why it’s important to learn the norms. I’m actually gonna show you a few examples of some good ad creative that we really like. This one comes from Bumble. This picks up on a very classic TikTok storytelling style, where little text bubbles appear in time with the beats of the music and you point to those text bubbles, and that’s how you make the points of your story. Gazillions of TikTok videos have been created with this storytelling norm, and Bumble saw that and created their own version, and that’s why it feels super native to TikTok.
So, great organic content with the CTA at the end. Great TikTok ad. This is from Walmart, and they hired these two well-known creators to help make this video, that really leans into music. We’ve hired those guys before, they’re awesome. Another app, this is from Earnin. Those very simple talking to the camera ads can do very well in TikTok. But again, it’s the feel of it, it feels very much like, “Oh, it’s just this lady who made a TikTok,” right, and I think that’s part of why it’s so good. Cool. So that’s the intro to the traditional ad. And then the fourth and final way for brands to play on TikTok, which is the most revolutionary, is the big viral hashtag challenge. These are these billion view campaigns that are getting all the headlines. Here’s a few examples. Three of these are ours. I also added Mucinex in here because I just think it’s a great example of… If Mucinex can do a big viral billionaire hashtag challenge, probably any brand can, if a cold medicine can do it, right? And this was great actually.
I wouldn’t have believed that it was possible, but it was a great campaign. I do think it’s, for brands that wanna make this huge splash, this is pretty… You’ve never been able to do this before. Never before have you been able to have hundreds of thousands, or millions of people, literally create an ad for you as part of your campaign. And to create those pop culture moments like we did with e.l.f.
Again, it is a branding play, so we always get asked, “How much sales did the e.l.f. Campaign drive?” And while e.l.f. Did have an incredible quarter, and a lot of the analysts credited TikTok for a big part of that, there’s not a lot of direct click-outs that are… Almost none that are coming from a campaign like this. So it’s important to understand that going in, and this is really about creating that cultural conversation around your brand. A few things to think about when you’re creating virality on TikTok, and this is something that one day we’ll write many books about, but just to start out here, you need to be super clear about what you’re asking people to do, and I think that’s one big… It’s one of the first pitfalls that people come to when they’re asking us for help crafting their virality on TikTok. You’re used to making your videos for other platforms where you have your 10 talking points, you get to script it out and you get to do the edit super carefully.
When you’re asking creators to create your video, you can only ask them for one thing, really. Like, it has to be super clear what you’re asking them to do. At the same time, you don’t wanna be too directive because you need to allow room for creativity. That’s why people wanna make their video, because they get to express themselves. They get to bring their own personality to it. So this is a balance that we manage very closely between being clear about what we’re asking for, but also inviting creativity.
Appropriate brand integration is essential. It’s easy to make something cool that goes viral. It’s not easy, but it’s easier. But if it doesn’t carry your brand message, then you wasted your money. Speaking of money, just so you know these campaigns are mid to high six figures typically to create. Most of that is the media buy with TikTok. There is a way that we’re pioneering to do it organically where you don’t need to do the media buy, it’s sort of in the low six figures, but the billionaire view campaigns, that’s the investment that you’re looking at.
And then the music, I think we’ve talked about this, but when we create virality on TikTok, we almost always write original music because that allows us to craft second by second exactly how that music is going for those 15 seconds to carry the brand message and create virality. So that’s a branded challenge. Before we go to Q&A, I wanted to pivot back to Amazon and a specific thing that’s happening soon, Prime Day. Melissa can you jump on here?
Yeah. First of all, this is amazing content, and thank you so much for providing your point of view. It’s just exciting, like uncharted territory. Prime Day, as most people know this year, it’s a very different year, first of all, if I had to summarize what everyone is feeling right now, it’s uncertainty from a brand perspective of how they should be planning. Prime Day for Amazon is usually a July kind of a holiday or event that’s been pushed into the fall, likely October.
And when I ask my clients, “What are you doing for Prime Day?” They’re like, very… Especially CPG is kind of like, “I don’t know.” [chuckle] It’s a very uncertain time for everyone, and so that to me seems like TikTok would be a great platform for this. For awareness exposure, to think about how you can kind of leverage this platform. When I was talking to one of my clients, they were talking about how they recently leveraged the TikTok platform because they were bringing a new product to market, and it was crunchy, as a food product and TikTok is one of the few, maybe only, platform that starts with sound on. Is that right? Like, I don’t know. They didn’t choose Instagram…
TikTok is always sound on, yeah. It’s awkward in meetings. Just be careful when you open TikTok in a meeting, because it’s always the sound on.
Exactly, yeah. So they purposely picked TikTok because they wanted to really provide that crunchy part of their product, and so TikTok was really a great platform for that. But you know these are just some ideas around how you might be thinking about these holidays or events or launching new products, even, for e-commerce, which is to promote upcoming deals, unbox exclusives, in-feed direct response ads… I mean these are just ideas, but Evan is the king, and I would recommend anyone that wants to think about this to brainstorm around how you can leverage this platform. A lot of questions we’re getting is around how do you drive direct response, which it sounds like ads are kind of the way to do that.
But I do foresee this platform as something that people will be looking to more and more, especially just the growth of it, the aging up of it, the newness of it and how brands are really leveraging it. So the other thing I wanted to mention, it’s actually one of the questions about something around how retailers are leveraging it as well, and one of the ones that I thought would be an interesting one to look at…
We’ll provide a bunch of… We’ll provide the recording of this afterwards and then a lot of resources, but Kroger’s transform your dorm back to school campaign last year is one example I found of kind of a way a retailer was leveraging it, and it was a hashtag challenge plus feature that focused back to school. It encouraged college students to show off their decorated dorm rooms, and when users tapped on the Sponsored hashtag they were led to a separate in-app explorer tab showcasing Kroger’s products and direct links to its e-commerce channel. So I predict seeing more and more of those things happening. You know this year for back to school is super weird. We have no idea. I think that kids will be half in school and half at home, and so I think TikTok would be a great platform to expose how everyday living is gonna happen.
What are products that you need at your house, things like that. So anyway, super exciting. Let’s head into the Q&A. There’s lots of great questions. I think that we’ve got 43 minutes of content and now way more questions, so we’ll just get through what we can, but Evan how about if I can feed some of these to you, since trends change so quickly on this platform, is it worth trying to create video matching a theme or better to try to create your own theme?
So, the only way you’re gonna start your own trend is by really intentionally doing that, which like I said, You know that’s a six-figure project to take on. Otherwise, you just wanna and this is… If you have the 99% of your approach, It’s just fitting into the conversation in the native way. So we look at trends happening on different levels, there’s very specific trends, here this week, gone next week.
In general, for your paid content, you’re probably not gonna lean into those as much, ’cause you want your creative to be a little more evergreen, but for organic content, like when we’re creating brand channels, then absolutely. We wanna lean into those moment-to-moment trends, and that makes you just look super cool on TikTok and that helps drive your likes and followers up quite a bit. But for your creative that you’re making for your ads, you want to lean into trends, not in a sense of a specific trend of this week, but more in terms of the trends of the norms of how stories are told on TikTok.
So if we go back to the Bumble example that we showed a couple minutes ago, with the text bubbles that popped up in time with the beats and people pointing to those text bubbles, that’s a story telling norm on TikTok. So we call that a sort of trend, and Bumble knew that and they used that way, that norm to tell their story, and so it feels very TikTok. So when we look at a creative and we say, “Oh, that feels TikTok” or that doesn’t feel TikTok”, that’s a lot of what we’re thinking is; are you following one of these norms of telling stories on TikTok?
Another classic TikTok norm is a transition video, where you have your before and your after, and in the middle, when the music has a beat drop, there’s a transition and all of a sudden you’re different, right? So before you eat your lunch, after you eat lunch. Before you do your make-up, after you do your make-up, in time with the beat drop. So you really wanna be following those sort of storytelling norms regardless of the type of content.
Awesome, and so here’s another question, which is: Have you seen an optimal video length that works best? Should marketers use up the full 60 seconds or aim for shorter, shorter the better?
Yeah, definitely don’t do 60 seconds, that would only be recommended in specific ninja cases, but I think most TikToks are in the 10 to 15 second range, and that’s typically what we target. It is the sort of thing where if you have great creative, you can stretch it a little bit longer, but you do wanna make sure you’re holding people’s attention. One of the things that drives organic virality is completion rate, so it’s always better to cut your organic post a little bit shorter to make sure that people get through them, ’cause if they loop them, that’s a great signal to the algorithms that people really like that video.
This is definitely driving my son’s continued ADD for sure.
Sorry about that.
Subject for later. Okay, so you talked a little bit about this, but can you go over the TikTok algorithm a little bit more?
Sure. So the TikTok algorithm is very interesting, and it’s most similar to the YouTube algorithm. Because on YouTube, YouTube is always recommending things that it thinks you like, whether you’ve ever watched a video from that person before, or that brand before, and that’s how TikTok works. So TikTok, when you just create an app fresh, it starts to show you a smattering of successful content. And very quickly it starts to figure out what you like, so within hours, it’s really starting to funnel you into certain tracks that it can tell that you like because you watch them, you engage with them.
You either watched it to completion, you clicked “like”, you clicked through to the profile page. So it’s very interesting because no two people’s Tiktok experience is the same. And if you grab someone else’s phone and you look at their TikTok, it’s gonna feel like it’s a totally different app. ‘Cause while one person has lots of cat videos and DIY crafts on their feed, the other person has a lot of NASCAR and DIY cars. Or the other guy has all these baseball content or sports content, because TikTok’s figured out that you like that.
Crazy. The ultimate personalization. Okay, so how do you take your video from only being seen by a small audience to that vitality level?
Yeah, well, I think we’re talking organic here, so it’s about following the TikTok story-telling norms, first of all, so it feels TikTok. Jumping on to trends or doing things that are part of what’s happening right now in the conversation, so that it feels very relevant to people. The music is essential, that the music is really supporting the story-telling that you’re doing. These are all factors that go into it. That said, don’t get discouraged if this video doesn’t go viral, ’cause most don’t… So that’s why consistency is important, that’s why we create daily content for all of our brand channels. Because you do really just need to keep spinning the wheel.
Maybe you need that rice-throwing guy too.
Yeah. Yeah, yeah. He’s amazing. Yeah. But even with influencer campaigns, a lot of times we’ll hire an amazing influencer and that particular video just won’t go viral. But sometimes it’s because we forced the brand in there too hard, so that’s something that we try to work with on sponsored content, but yeah, any influencer on TikTok will tell you, you just never know.
Yeah, I can see this being challenging for luxury brands with TikTok hosting more unpolished lower budget campaigns. How have you seen luxury brands effectively and authentically use TikTok?
Yeah, it’s a great question. We do a lot of work in beauty as well, with a lot of beauty brands have a very polished and curated aesthetic, so they have a similar challenge. You really need to find the sweet spot between what’s authentic for your brand and what’s gonna feel authentic on TikTok. And it’s not gonna look like anything you’ve ever done before, and it’s gonna cause a lot, a lot, of discomfort inside your company. That’s what we’ve seen when we’ve done this with a lot of brands now, that’s the path through, and sometimes you’ll end up pulling the plug and aborting because you just can’t stomach it.
Just doesn’t feel right for your brand in the end or your management, other times, like we’re working with a prestige brand in beauty space right now, and their creative team was sort of having fits when we first started showing them what we were thinking and now just with more education and understanding the beauty conversation on TikTok and what that looks like, and how other brands have successfully made that jump, now they’re really excited about it, but it was an evolution, and there’s certainly compromises, figuring out how much do you wanna lean into that raw authenticity and how much do you not want to.
So I think for a luxury brand, that’s gonna be the road ahead of you, and a lot of that is gonna be an internal… First there’s the creative strategy part, which we spend a lot of time thinking about with their clients, and then there’s the internal management conversations to just see like, are we okay with stretching the brand in this new way.
Yeah, that is totally true. From a non-expert point of view, one of the things I like about luxury and TikTok is that you see people using these products in everyday life, which is kind of like… This is how… It’s almost like when you go to a new house and you see the furniture in… And it’s like, This is how I’d live in that house, It’s kind of the same thing to me where it’s like I actually see that person carrying that Louis Vuitton bag where ever she’s going to the grocery store… I don’t know, to me, it seems… But it is the biggest issue we face is in e-commerce all the time, which is just the internal battle, of the brand teams having certain idea, and it’s constant education, which I’m sure you’re constantly doing and why you need to bring in experts like Evan to talk to your teams about this because that is the transformation that we continuously have to do in this industry.
And there’s levels of that, it’s not like you just need to be totally look like the teenagers filmed their content. There’s definitely dials there that we dial very carefully.
Our audience trends kinda heavy CPG usually, and so one of the questions is, you mentioned retailers leveraging TikTok, which CPG brands have you seen create best in-class TikTok content, maybe that’s kind of hard to answer, but what do you… You mentioned Mucinex which is like, ultimate…
They did a great challenge. I haven’t looked at the organic content, but they did a great viral challenge. One brand channel that I love that we create is the elf cosmetics brand channel, it’s @elfyeah. So check that out. Who else in CPG can I point to?
You had a Pepsi visual in your deck, did you… Have you checked out their…
They did a hashtag challenge. I haven’t seen their organic stuff, Red Bull does really good, they have an amazing TikTok channel but it’s not a strategy that you can reproduce, they just have all the people jumping off cliffs and sell that kind of stuff, but they’re one of the most viewed and that’s a good example of breaking the norm, they actually do repurpose their Instagram content, but it works because they’ve done in a way that it still feels very organic.
Another question is, How much should my brand budget… How much should my brand budget to create a custom song sound for a campaign? You kinda went over this a little bit, but if you don’t have budget, what are alternative options to use from the TikTok media library with licensing requirements?
Yeah, so music and music rights is a huge part of… We spend a lot of time working through that. When we’re creating a big viral challenge, like I mentioned, we almost always want to write original music for that because when you’re gonna invest that level of budget in a campaign, it would be a mistake to not, and our music creation process from strategy to end, you’re looking at somewhere in the five figures.
For organic presence or for ads, when we’re just creating one-off posts or consistent, always on organic channel, you’re not gonna create original music for most of those, so we have gotten really clever using the TikTok commercially licensed library, which brands have access to, but really like finding a subset of that that’s right for the brand, and it’s right for TikTok, that’s gonna feel very authentic, and then of course help tell this given story with this post that we’re making. And we also bring in a lot of royalty-free music, where we go to third party sources, again, we curate it really down to what’s gonna feel very TikTok and also feel right for this particular brand that we’re working with.
Okay, so here’s a question, which I don’t even know what it means that you do, has tagging, #FYP actually help get your TikTok shown? I don’t even know what that means. What does that mean?
FYP stands for For You Page, which is the main page on TikTok where when you just open the app, that’s where you are and just flipping through content that the algorithm is recommending for you, so there’s been this myth for a long time that if you tag #FYP or #ForYou, that it will help your content get shown there, and that’s not true, and if you look at any of the top influencers, they’re certainly not using that tactic.
Got it. And how important are captions versus having a hook on the screen, this is someone that knows what they’re talking about, which I don’t, so… [chuckle]
Captions are interesting on TikTok, totally different. And same thing with hashtags, totally different from Instagram, let’s say, very different. TikTok is a visual platform, it’s about the video, for sure, so people read your caption maybe later if they bother to stick around and watch your video. So the hook on the video is absolutely the most important. I was speaking on a panel yesterday with the top TikTok creator, and he mentioned how like the first second or even half second of his video, he thinks a lot about that and he’ll often give away the punch line in order to create that visual intrigue that then draws you in. So definitely focus on the visual hook and caption would be secondary.
Awesome, alright, well, last question, the elephant in the room is just around the controversy that we’ve been hearing in the industry, do you have any thoughts or what are people saying about the restrictions that might be coming down the pipe?
Yeah, well. I think two things, one is, I don’t know if restrictions are coming down the pipe or not… There was one off hand remark by Secretary Pompeo, hard to know if anybody should take that seriously, although clearly there’s been a lot of buzz because of it. And the other thing, just in terms of the subject matter, is it’s important to know that TikTok… There’s never been any evidence that there’s been wrongdoing by TikTok, or any data privacy issues, that any other app hasn’t also experienced.
So they have, certainly, had their share of bumps in the road, but the normal ones that your Facebook’s and Google’s and LinkedIn’s have had as well. So this all stems from just it being a Chinese… Having a Chinese parent company. So if that’s a non-starter for your brand, then TikTok’s not a place that you wanna play right now. If you’re okay with TikTok having a Chinese parent company, then, I think it would make sense to be on TikTok, because that’s where so many of their rivals are. Though, I think, if there were data to the contrary of any sort of wrongdoing, we’d reevaluate it, but that’s kind of how we see it.
And then last, last question, what’s your favorite campaign that you’ve created, besides Eyes, Lips, Face?
Yeah, I really like our… So many. I love our Scooby Doo movie campaign that we made. So the Scooby Doo movie came out a couple of months ago, and we worked with Warner Brothers to help promote that, and we created a viral Scooby-Doo dance. If you look at #ScoobDance on TikTok, you’ll see it. It was fun, because we actually worked with a creator who had just become famous because she was… There was this dance called The Renegade that was the biggest dance sensation.
So you’ve heard of it, I’m sure your kids did it. And then, she became discovered… She actually created The Renegade dance and didn’t get credit for it, and she, literally, in a day, became super famous on the platform. And the next week, we invited her to choreograph the Scooby Doo dance, which was her first big brand deal after becoming discovered, and that was really cool for her. It was great, for us, from a campaign perspective, because the press had a huge amount of pick-up on it, and consumers in the app loved that she was getting her big brand deal. And so many people joined the challenge, and so many of them credited her, Jalaiah Harmon is her name, so many of them, in their caption, they credited her for coining off the choreography ’cause of this. And I think it speaks to the ethos of the platform, it’s about giving credit, it’s about this positivity, and people are really excited for her and to give her credit, and that was great for the brand campaign, obviously. So…
That’s a great story, and you have a great story, given your background, your partner’s background with the music, it’s just a perfect marriage.
So I am sure a lot of people are gonna be contacting you. Your information is here, [email protected], right, that’s the best way to get a hold of you. You’re gonna be hiring even more people, I’m sure, after today. So thanks so much for…
My pleasure. I just wanted to also mention that Melissa and I are working on some Prime Day campaigns together and a couple other, really, innovative crossovers between Amazon and TikTok, so if your brand is interested in being considered for our beta testing there, we’d be interested to talk to you about that.
Awesome. Thanks, everyone. Really appreciate it. We’ll send out the recording and lots of resources for you, and I really appreciate you helping to educate this community. It’s a very… It’s a great community, e-commerce brand marketers, curious about this platform. So thank you so much. I’m sure you’ll have a lot of 201 sign-ups for sure.