With 1 billion active monthly users across 150 countries, it’s far from a secret that TikTok marketing is a barely-tapped gold-mine. The user-base is in the process of ageing up, despite the app being most popular with Gen-Zers. This provides a huge touchpoint for any brand marketing to a target audience between the ages of 3 and 60.
The short form video app isn’t just young and ‘trendy’ 😉.
Brands can attach links and commerce URLs to their content, making it easy to combine organic reach with direct traffic to e-commerce sites. With the global average daily time-spend per user sitting at 52 minutes, it computes that consumer spend via TikTok is high. So high in fact, it beats giants including Youtube, Disney+, and Netflix.
The best performing brands employ TikTok’s Flicker, Flash, Flare content marketing strategy. Here’s a quick breakdown.
Producing or interacting with reactive and low budget content. This consists of videos that participate in existing trending hashtags, sounds, memes, dances, challenges. This kind of content is ideal for frequent posting as it takes little effort and time.
Planned content geared towards setting new trends or inventing new viral challenges. This should be easily replicable so audience members can participate and posted less frequently to ensure a chance to flourish.
High quality branded campaigns including sponsored filters, hashtags and competitions that invite the audience to participate by contributing their own content. This kind of content should be primarily focussed on occasional big product launches. While influencer collaboration is essential at all levels of the content strategy, it is arguably most impactful at flare level.
From fashion houses to small businesses, when it comes to promoting e-commerce and engaging with consumers, TikTok is proving wise beyond its years. The platform currently represents a very real threat to Instagram’s sponsorship and endorsement supremacy.
Here are five brands helping themselves to a big slice of the TikTok marketing pie.
GAP – Indirect Influence
Let’s be honest, if you think of brands with their finger on the pulse of youth culture, it’s unlikely you think of GAP. The American clothing brand was a staple in the 90s and early 2000s but soon gained a reputation as painfully uncool, spiralling into irrelevancy.
However, thanks to TikTok, it seems GAP’s fortunes may have changed for the better.
Despite not having an official account, the brand has become an unlikely influencer favourite. Pieces once discarded as dated are now idolised as nostalgic relics of the ‘Y2K’ era by Gen Z influencers like Emma Chamberlain and Barbara Kristofferson. The pair were among a host of style-focussed creators to sport a ‘vintage’ brown spell-out hoodie, providing completely free TikTok marketing.
The last time the brand produced the hoodie in the brown colour-way was the early noughties. Hence, users were left desperately scrambling to source it. GAP were only too eager to oblige. They began sending out free hoodies to continue the hype, eventually reissuing the piece for limited edition pre-order to all customers.
At the time of writing, #gaphoodie has 6.6million views and counting.
But the product-focussed TikTok love doesn’t stop there for GAP. Big influencers and smaller creators alike have been sharing their devotion to their High Rise Cheeky Straight Jeans, dubbing them “the only jeans you’ll ever buy”.
This is the type of hype that many brands try to deliberately generate, with mixed results. GAP certainly has a lot to owe to the whims of big influencers, which can be risky business, quite literally.
A brand can’t thrive on two products alone…
However, in a time of economic difficulty for the high street that has led GAP to close their European outlets, it could be enough to launch their success in e-commerce.
TikTok has undoubtedly contributed momentum to a potential mainstream revival. However, it’s up to GAP’s future TikTok marketing strategy to ensure they aren’t left behind as yesterday’s trend.
Perhaps they could take inspiration from the next brand on this list?
Gymshark – Consistency is key (ish)
Gymshark are TikTok geniuses.
Focussing their efforts consistently across all content levels, the brand employs influencers at all levels to live and breathe the Gymshark lifestyle. In their average of 40 videos per month, the occasional attention-grabbing stunt offsets regular trend, dance, and challenge videos. One saw fitness pro Devon Lévesque bear-crawl 26.2 miles around New York City to raise awareness of veterans’ mental health. He did that, along a lot of his other videos, decked out entirely in Gymshark gear.
The key to Gymshark’s gain of 1.9M TikTok followers in 6 months lies in their audience knowledge. Spotting an untapped gap in cyberspace, the brand stepped up to the plate. While market leaders in activewear have been comparatively slow on the uptake, Gymshark immediately recognised the cost-effectiveness of paying influencers relative pennies to promote them to an already engaged audience.
Rather than take an overly salesy, product-focussed approach, Gymshark fosters a community atmosphere on their feed. Workout advice, motivational encouragement, humour, activewear trends, challenges, and before and after content dominate.
Always running the extra mile (physically 🏃♀️), one of the brand’s most successful tactics has been their 66 day fitness challenge. The competition giveaway required a before and after video contribution, rather than just asking followers to like or comment to be entered. This type of content is already incredibly popular on the platform and the competition meant that Gymshark had a stockpile streaming in from hopeful fitness fiends.
Gymshark’s entirely e-commerce-based operation has gelled well with the short-form video platform. Their risk-free TikTok marketing formula takes advantage of current trends that their target audience are already engaged with, while simultaneously generating further reach.
e.l.f. Cosmetics – Challenge Masters
e.l.f. Cosmetics’ strategic strengths lie in almost the opposite approach to Gymshark. Rather than tap into existing trending content, the makeup brand has risked heavy investment in flare tactics.
Commissioning the first ever original song for a TikTok campaign, “eyes, lips, face”, the brand capitalised on music as a driving force of virality. They succeeded in inserting themselves into the transformation trend format without getting lost in the crowd of the 154.5 billion strong #makeup, with the resulting anthem dubbed “the most influential campaign on TikTok” by Adweek.
A whole host of celebrities got in on the trend….
Lizzo, Reese Witherspoon, Ellen, Terry Crews and more showed their eye, lip, and face looks to the camera to the beat, unpaid. It’s ridiculously simple, but the tactic paid off so well we brought out the bullet points to list its achievements. Brace yourself:
- Most ever user generated videos in a TikTok brand campaign.
- Fastest-ever TikTok campaign to reach 1 billion views.
- First ever ad to hold the #1 trend spot on TikTok.
- First ever TikTok brand challenge with original music.
- The song hit #4 on Spotify’s Global Viral charts, and people added it to 300,000 Spotify playlists.
- 20M+ streams.
- Media coverage passed 1.5 billion impressions, including Vogue, Rolling Stone, Bustle, BuzzFeed, Vox, Adweek, and Forbes”
- Won a Shorty award (Source).
The trend was catchy, easily replicable, brand-focussed, fun, and inclusive. Although this tactic is not necessarily repeatable, it’s so high impact and low investment that it doesn’t need to be. In one swift TikTok marketing move, e.l.f familiarised at least 1 billion users with their brand values and products.
Crocs – Riding the Wave of Novelty
Another unpredictable feature, Crocs have long been the shoe we love to hate. Bulky, bright, but undeniably comfy, Gen Z are surprisingly committed to the rubber clog brand thanks to their TikTok marketing.
Crocs are oddly (but effectively) selective with their flash and flare content, using it to showcase novelty products and collaborations. The most standout have been the Balenciaga stiletto and flatform designs, slides, and sell-out limited edition collabs with Justin Beiber, Bad Bunny, Diplo, Post Malone, PALACE, Chinatown Market/The Grateful Dead, and perhaps most bizarrely, KFC.
Unbelievably, the brand even saw such demand for their Pixar Cars: The Movie kids collection to be made available in adult sizes that they complied. The line sold out faster than Lightning McQueen on race day 🚗💨
These drops have capitalised on Crocs’ existing reputation as an unconventional but practical footwear choice, taking the look to extremes by channeling trendy streetwear and cultural influences.
Demand for Crocs is up 210% on average, undoubtedly fuelled by Gen Z’s love for novelty fashion subculture.
The brand’s biggest strategic partnership has been the #ThousandDollarCrocs challenge, encouraging users to customise their Crocs with extreme bling. With sponsored endorsement from Post Malone, the campaign was an instant success, viewed 3 billion times at the time of writing.
The challenge was followed up by a custom AI filter which superimposes Crocs onto the user’s feet in TikTok videos. Dubbed #GetCrocd, videos using the filter currently carry a whopping 9.3 billion view count. No wonder the brand’s CMO, Terence Rilley, attributes part of the brand’s 20% lift year-on-year to its TikTok strategy.
Crocs’ TikTok marketing proves that a tone of voice informed by audience knowledge it the key to invested engagement.
PrettyLittleThing – Total Takeover
When it comes to social media domination, fast fashion e-tailers are unmissable. Manchester-based PrettyLittleThing are no exception, agiley and consistently employing their TikTok marketing presence to their advantage.
In June 2019 PLT were responsible for TikTok’s first ever sponsored takeover, placing their #PrettyChallenge ad at the top of every single UK user’s feed. Inspired by e.l.f, an exclusive track created by will.i.am, Lady Leshurr, Lioness, and Ms. Banks accompanied the visuals.
The trend encouraged users to share videos of outfits that bring out their confidence by harnessing the power of existing influencer relationships. Across a six day period, the campaign reached 41 million people. In total, 8.5k videos were posted to the platform featuring the song.
Like Gymshark, PLT are fans of the interactive giveaway. These encourage engagement on a level further than likes and comments by requiring users to tag friends and expand their reach.
The brand’s feed is the ultimate reflection of their identity. Content includes podcast promo, giveaways, product spotlights, influencer features, self-care tips, and body positive messages promoted by a diverse cast of models and influencers.
PLT are notoriously reactive, using their regular posting schedule to never miss a chance to participate in the latest dances. As a result, they never fail to engage. This constant presence puts the algorithm very much in their favour.
An impressive 736k followers and whopping 9.2 million likes later, PrettyLittleThing are generating a pretty little penny with their TikTok marketing formula.
I know what you’re thinking…
The TikTok marketing pie smells pretty sweet, right? Plus, with the continued growth of the platform, there’s plenty of potential to make an impact.
To snatch a tasty slice for your brand, get in touch with Digital Media Team! Email email@example.com, let’s have a chat, ay? 💬