August 3, 2022

Brand Development & TikTok: Expectations vs. Reality

TikTok is the new cool kid in town — especially for brands in 2022.

However… There are a couple things we are sure you don’t know. And we’re here to lay out all the details.

So you can discover how to use TikTok as a support tool for your business, build your brand on TikTok, and reap the benefits of this never-before-seen algorithm in your brand’s favor.

What is TikTok?

This is probably unnecessary at this point, but let’s start with the basics if we want to explain things right.

TikTok is a short-form content video platform that’s booming right now.Its origins come from China, specifically from its parent company: ByteDance.

According to its home page, it can be defined as “the leading destination for short-form mobile video. Our mission is to inspire creativity and bring joy.”

Now all global, TikTok has offices worldwide — including Los Angeles, New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Dubai, Mumbai, Singapore, Jakarta, Seoul, and Tokyo.

But, how did it all come together so fast?In this case, let’s use an example of what TikTok used to be.

According to Slate in 2018, TikTok’s main users were “teenagers and young people are the primary users of the app, which can loosely be described as a social network for amateur music videos (users can make their own as well as just watch everyone else’s). If you know about it at all, it might be by its former name,”

But now… It’s a whole different story.

Why do brands use TikTok?

More like… Why would any brand ignore TikTok at this stage, right?

But, jokes aside, using TikTok in different capacities is crucial for any brand development strategy.

Now, let’s talk numbers to let this idea sink.

According to Entrepreneur, “The app launched worldwide in 2017 and currently boasts 73.7 million active users with over 2 billion global downloads. All these users can potentially see your content, and your brand can earn thousands, if not millions, of impressions on the app. I heard Ocean Spray earned over 15 million impressions on the platform after creator Nathan Apodaca featured the company’s product in his videos.”

But here comes the best part…

According to Wallaroomedia, there are 5 key stats to determine why TikTok is here to stay.

And these are…

  1. Total App Downloads – The TikTok app has been downloaded over 2.6 billion times worldwide, as reported by Sensor Tower in December, 2020. In January 2021, TikTok had 62 million downloads. In Q1 of 2020, the app had 315 million downloads, which is the best quarter for any app, ever. 500 million of those come from India, 180 million from China, and 130 million from the U.S. In June of 2020, TikTok was downloaded 87 million times worldwide (with 7.5 million of those coming from the U.S.).
  1. Monthly Active Users in the United States – TikTok now has over 138 million active users in the U.S.
  1. Among U.S. over 18, TikTok brought in 22.2 million mobile unique visitors in January, 23.2 million in February and 28.8 million in March. In April, that number jumped to 39.2 million—three times the 12.6 million who used the app last April.
  1. The percentage of U.S.-based TikTok users by age: 10-19 – 32.5%, 20-29 – 29.5%, 30-39 – 16.4%, 40-49 – 13.9%, 50+ – 7.1%. This means that the TikTok user base is aging up (so get on it now!).”

Now, just for reference: These are the active user stats for each major social media platform.

Facebook – 2.9B, YouTube – 2.2B, Instagram – 1.4B, TikTok – 1.0B, Snapchat – 500M, Pinterest – 480M, Twitter – 397M.

How to build a brand on TikTok?

Building a brand on TikTok doesn’t have to be daunting, even if some big players make it seem that way.

For instance, Hootsuite explains what’s the most effective way to get started on TikTok for brands at any stage:

  1. Getting Familiar with TikTok
  2. Defining Your Target Audience
  3. Performing a Competitive Audit
  4. Setting Goals
  5. Posting Regularly
  6. Tracking Progress

Now, let’s break each one down:

First, it would be terrible to approach TikTok brand development like you’d normally approach Instagram or Facebook.

TikTok has its unique trends, features, and a very unique algorithm. Therefore, it should be treated as what it is: A different platform.

That said, the first thing to do is to get familiar with the app. Sign up for it. Consume content. Check out what other brands in your niche are doing. In fact, you can rush things up a bit by taking crash courses in the TikTok Business Learning Center here.

Second stop would be defining your target audience.

Sure, we all want to reach our ideal customers on any platform. But demographics, age groups, and content here are a bit different.

See, assuming that TikTok is only for teens would be a mistake. The 20-30 age group is growing relentlessly on the platform, and as things stand today, it’s still an experiment.

That said… Research, research, research. A great tool to set you up on the right track is Statista. There you can find everything from audiences, age groups, or even which subgroups related to brand-similar interests you can find.

This will help you brainstorm your brand’s next move. Which should be… Performing a competitive audit. Or, in other words, stalking your competitors. Understanding what’s been working for them could help you define the dos and don’ts you want to follow.

What kind of trends they are looking for. How their brand is reacting to it. How consumers are engaging with their content. It’s all there. And that’s worth a binge-watch.

Now, setting goals is a different story.

Your brand shouldn’t fall into the false expectation trap that social media sells.

Sure — going viral is possible. But don’t beat yourself if it doesn’t happen overnight.

That’s why your goals should always align with your business objectives… So whether you plan to reach a new audience, improve your brand development process, or even promote a new product, you can tackle any challenge with a logical framework.

And you know what they say…

Practice makes perfect. If you want your brand development strategy to work, you need to post regularly.

Making a content calendar—and sticking to it—is key for any decent social media strategy. As a marketer, you know this, so we won’t mince words to explain what you already know.

And last but not least… Tracking your brand’s progress.

Every small step forward should be celebrated — there’s no small win. A win is a win. Therefore, analytics will help you determine whether you’re on the right track, or if you should go back to the drawing board to fix or tweak your strategy.

But how does the TikTok algorithm work, anyways?

That’s something that leaves every marketer scratching their head. But we’ll do our best to explain it.

We are sure you’ve found yourself scrolling through TikTok and then noticing that a whole hour just went by. It happens. In fact, it happens a lot at Curastory’s headquarters.

And that explains how insanely powerful and accurate TikTok’s algorithm is.

According to Sproutsocial, TikTok’s algorithm works based on several factors, like:

“User interactions and behavioral signals:

  • Video likes and shares
  • Accounts followed
  • Comments posted
  • Content created
  • Videos completed
  • Favorited videos

TikTok uses this information to understand the types of videos you like to watch and the creators whose content you enjoy. That means it’s more likely to recommend videos similar to the ones you’ve watched and interacted with before.

Video information for content discoverability

The information on the video itself, such as captions, hashtags and sounds also helps TikTok understand how to rank the content. This is mainly because it uses the information to understand what the content is all about so it can decide when to display it on users’ For You pages.

TikTok also looks at the device and account settings of each user to optimize for performance. 

The main information it looks at are:

  • Country settings
  • Language preferences
  • Device type
  • Category selection”

Examples of brands using TikTok the right way:

One of our favorite sections at Curastory is showing other brands great at creating killer content. And that’s precisely what’s next!

  1. Chipotle

Chipotle knows how to throw some sauce into their content. 1.7 million followers say so.

By giving pro-tips and hacks on how to order their products the right way, they achieve to inspire consumers to engage and buy their burritos, nachos, and everything tasty in between.

Who else got hungry?

2. NBA

For basketball fans, or sports fans in general, this is a must follow.

The NBA was one of the earliest adopters of TikTok, staying consistent with their content across all platforms.

And what’s best to just post relevant content to engage your fans?

We’d say: Nothing.

Also, shoutout to King James.

And shoutout to you, too

Yeah, that’s right! Brand partners mean the world to us, and that’s why we work hard to create insightful content that supports their brand development journey.

Got questions? We have answers! Reach out to us if you wish to get in touch or ask more questions about building your brand with TikTok. 

Our team will be happy to help. Until next time!

– The Curastory Team

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Referrals are a significant part of a creator’s growth journey, and at Curastory, we are all about empowering and enabling creators to grow as much as they allow themselves to.
Referrals are a significant part of a creator’s growth journey, and at Curastory, we are all about empowering and enabling creators to grow as much as they allow themselves to.