More than dance videos: TikTok’s ‘robust,’ quick-tailoring content & DIY-aesthetic offers brands broad reach on shoestring budget

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Getty/Urupong
Source: Getty/Urupong

Related tags tiktok Social media Marketing Advertising

Viral video-sharing app TikTok may be best known for the seemingly infinite clips of teenagers dancing to catchy songs in inconvenient places like the middle of the street or a department store aisle, but the social media platform is much more – and when used strategically can be a powerful marketing tool that won’t break the bank.

“One of things I enjoy myth busting is that what TikTok is in many people’s minds is a dance app for my 14-year-old daughter, when actually it is much, much more robust. That’s like saying Amazon is a book website. It has expanded so much farther and so quickly,”​ Garland Hill, head of growth business at TikTok, told attendees at BevNet Live! in New York City last month.

He explained that while there are plenty of TikTok videos of dances, pets or users changing their appearance with filters, it also has DIY explainer videos that cover everything from personal tax information to minor appliance repairs to personal care. It also has a wide range of usage occasions across time, geographies and other demographics. Plus, influencers (and those who are influenced) love it.

But what keeps users (and marketing messages) from getting lost in the clutter is its ability to quickly tailor content to consumers based on only a few seconds of engagement.

“It tailors pretty quickly and there is a robustness to the content that is hard to find anywhere else,”​ said Hill, who called it out as equally emotional and educational.

Making viral content on a shoestring budget

While TikTok’s reach is far, it doesn’t require as high a level of production quality or as significant a financial investment as other social media platforms – as long as messages are clear, authentic, timely and on trend.

This makes it appealing and powerful for startups with limited budgets, such as the plant-based natural recovery beverage The Plug Drink, which launched two years ago and has grown steadily 20-30% month over month, primarily online and thanks in large part to TikTok.

Company co-founder and CEO Ray Kim told BevNet Live! attendees that The Plug Drink has racked up tens of thousands of likes for multiple posts on TikTok, helping to drive brand awareness and sales, without breaking the bank by leveraging four strategies.

The first strategy is to hire and empower a fleet of social media interns who, in exchange for training and experience, can help a brand stay on top of the multiple fast-paced demands of social media and the trends that fuel engagement.

“We have 30 social media interns, and its our sixth intern class, and we love them dearly,”​ because they not only extend our human capital so that the company can divide and conquer outreach, content creation and reach out for partners, affiliates and brand ambassadors, but they are the target demographic and so they know what will resonate with potential consumers, Kim said.

'Viral comments don’t have to be about your product or brand. They can just be funny comments in different random posts'

The second strategy is to think beyond your own videos and content and to engage in the comments of other products, influencers or users who align with the brand’s value and target demographic.

“Viral comments don’t have to be about your product or brand," ​he said. "They can just be funny comments in different random posts on TikTok or a page that has a lot of traffic. And if you are one of the first commentators, you have first mover’s advantage ​[and will be seen by more viewers] to drive more traffic ultimately to our website or build our brand awareness, and the ultimately, online velocity as well​."

He further explained that organic traffic generated from viral comments leaves a user’s handle at the top of the comment section, which allows potential consumers to be exposed to content created by the company when they visit the handle.

Finally, he added, commenting on someone else’s post is  budget-friendly organic exposure and a cost-effective way for startups to gain increased exposure without a big marketing expense.

Another strategy that The Plug Drink uses is giving product to influencers with large followings and views on TikTok to increase brand awareness.

Kim explained that testimonials from influencers trying the company’s product gives their fans a better understanding and education about the product and its benefits.

Finally, Kim said, when his company invests in content creation for TikTok it cross posts it on other platforms to maximize impact and reach as well as build trust and transparency.

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