Of all the digital marketing strategies available, social media is among the most powerful. However, not all social media platforms are built for the same purposes or the same audiences.
While some platforms like Facebook offer a variety of features for sharing text, images, videos, and embedded content, TikTok’s approach to social media is much simpler:
On the platform, you can create, edit, share, and monetize short- and now long-form video content (up to 10 minutes) with one of the largest social media audiences available. According to studies, TikTok grew an impressive 325% in 2020 and is listed by Hubspot as having the fifth largest number of users across all social networks.
In this article, I examine several case studies of businesses, new agencies, eCommerce stores, solopreneurs, and others who are using TikTok successfully to reach new audiences, increase their brand reach, and ultimately make more money with their social media campaigns.
1. #MexicanPizzatheMusical: A Taco Bell TikTok Campaign
User-generated content is one of the best ways to expand your brand reach on TikTok and develop relationships with influencers and other creators. TikTok’s native functionality allows users to create Duets, in which one user creates a new TikTok by posting their video side-by-side with another user’s existing TikTok.
This allows brands to easily transform positive content shared by brand ambassadors into branded user-generated content that encourages new users to follow the brand, share its TikToks, and even create their own UGC in the hopes that the brand will Duet it.
Take this Duet in which TikTok influencer @victor.kunda created an engaging TikTok about the #MexicanPizzaMusical
@tacobell #duet with @victor.kunda to join in! If y’all need a last-minute replacement for #MexicanPizzaTheMusical ♬ Sad background music of piano and strings – Rinotzr
The Duet above makes little sense, however, if you don’t understand that Taco Bell announced the #MexicanPizzatheMusical in early May 2022 as part of a larger digital marketing campaign that integrated TikTok, Instagram, and other social media platforms to reach the largest audience possible.
This is important for two reasons:
- Taco Bell engaged in a longitudinal campaign that lasted several weeks, allowing the brand to create new content and brand ambassadors to provide their own duets and pro-Mexican Pizza UGC, not just once but over and over. This repetition and increased engagement over time makes the product seem more desirable and allows more time to produce the desired conversion.
- The use of a common hashtag across platforms allows others to create UGC more easily around a specific campaign and share it with the right audience. It also makes it easier for brands to discover new content being created by brand ambassadors that can be dueted, shared, or even embedded onto another social network.
But Taco Bell didn’t stop there. A final element of the #MexicanPizzatheMusical campaign was the use of celebrities, with Dolly Parton promising to star in the show.
But Dolly Parton went one step further for Taco Bell and shared a simple TikTok with the hashtag #MexicanPizza, in which she shows the audience how much she loves the entree:
@dolly1946parton Dolly is so over the moon to have her Mexican pizza from Taco Bell!!!! #DollyParton #TacoBell #MexicanPizza ♬ original sound – DollyParton1946
In this way, UGC doesn’t just focus on the comedic and entertaining musical but is primarily used to bring attention to the item for sale in a way that makes users want to engage with it. What’s strongest here is that #MexicanPizza is in both hashtags, meaning that attention is consistently pulled back to the item for sale.
The final thing Taco Bell did was postpone the show. This is an often used tactic in which a brand creates a desire and expectation and then withdraws, creating greater desire.
Now that I know I have to wait longer to see the musical, I might want to see it more — at least, that’s the marketing logic that made the Mexican Pizza the consistently trending fast food item it’s become. When you give people something and take it away, they want it more. Do it enough times, and as the Mexican Pizza shows, people will go crazy for what you have to offer.
Perhaps Taco Bell is doing the same thing with the musical. By first announcing it and postponing it, perhaps the brand hopes to create increased hype and keep people wanting to see Dolly Parton singing about her love for the Mexican Pizza.
2. Using Original Sounds for Promotions: Chipotle
TikTok allows users to generate their own sounds, which they can play during their videos. If made publically available, these sounds can also be used by others. Often, these are just snippets of songs that will dance to or lip-sync, but they can also be used as an effective promotional tool.
In this video, Chipotle introduces their “Free Queso on Mondays – Chipotle” sound as part of this video:
@chipotle 🎶🧀 don’t ask, just vibe 🧀🎶 #chipotle #queso #chipotlehack ♬ Queso on Mondays – Chipotle
The song is catchy, simple, and short enough to stick in the viewer’s mind even after scrolling to the next TikTok on their #ForYou page. It also clearly states what Chipotle is promoting: free queso from the restaurant on Mondays in June 2022.
It also gives Chipotle brand ambassadors a sound they can use in their UGC videos promoting the brand and its free queso promotion. For example, @thebasedturkey released a Duet in which they further promoted the offer from Chipotle:
@thebasedturkey #duet with @chipotle ♬ Queso on Mondays – Chipotle
By creating engaging content with catchy sounds, brands on TikTok can easily and quickly engage fans with promotional content they want to duet and won’t soon forget. This is one of many ways to effectively integrate TikTok into your social media marketing strategies.
3. Offering Viewers Something to Learn: Nike
While Chipotle’s “Free Queso on Monday” TikTok directly promotes an offer from the brand, Nike does things a little bit differently. Instead of promoting their own products, they instead promote the talents and passions of athletic influencers who teach viewers:
In this TikTok from Nike, influencer @jessicamacrina teaches viewers how to “learn a fun move” with a soccer ball:
@nike @Jessica Vincent has some pro moves ⚽️! #BreakItDown #nikefootball ♬ original sound – Nike
While Nike does not actively promote itself in the video, there are elements of subtle advertising, such as the Nike swoosh logo on the ball and Jessica’s shoes. However, while the logo is present, most of the viewer’s attention is on Jessica’s tutorial.
By promoting influencers in this way, Nike can increase its brand reach while further cementing its brand culture in the minds of viewers: Nike is an athletic sports brand that encourages others to get active and learn how to have fun with sports.
While this might not immediately sell a pair of shoes or a soccer ball, it does help Nike develop a more personalized relationship with its customer base, who see that Nike is actively offering them something to learn in lieu of just promoting a simple product for purchase.
As a result, customers may be more likely to become brand ambassadors and make recurring purchases as needed while sharing Nike’s content with their TikTok followers.
4. Creating Your Own TikTok Content: HerBones.com
TikTok marketing is so great because you can use it for marketing your brand even if you are not well known.
All it takes is a great content strategy and then following best practices to ensure that your content is seen by your target audience on the platform.
While there are many best practices to consider, the most important tip is to remember to be authentic.
Thalita Ferraz, owner of a popular fashion blog HerBones.com explains, “Because my blog content is focused on fashion, I wasn’t entirely sure where to start with TikTok. But with trial and error, I realized that quick videos showing outfit ideas or even quick fashion tips did extremely well on the platform. I mixed that with posts focused on humor, and with those mixed efforts, I have a niche following that directly correlates to the readers on my blog”.
Below is an example of one of her fashion-related posts.
@hello.thalita Which one would you wear? #tiktokfashion #fashion #whattowear #styletip #fashionhacks #myoutfit #outfitchallenge #artistsoftiktok #foryoupage #foryou ♬ Like That (feat. Gucci Mane) – Doja Cat
The majority of social media users don’t have access to Pro camera equipment or huge production budgets. They create content on their phones, which actually serves to make them more authentic to who they really are.
You must take the same approach when creating your own TikTok content.
TikTok is a place for fun, entertainment, and humor. Trying to create a squeaky-clean first impression with fake smiles and staged content won’t win you any followers on the platform.
But rather, being authentic will reveal your brand’s true personality, allowing users to connect with you on a deeper level. When you can get more people to relate to you, it will build trust with your audience, which ultimately leads to more sales for your business.
Another benefit of creating your own TikToks is that they can be shared off-platform with ease. TikTok allows you to easily copy an embeddable link that can be cross-shared on other social media platforms and even across your site using many leading website builders.
This means you can use promotional TikToks to highlight products and services on landing pages while you can create more humorous, educational, or just plain silly TikTok content for your blog articles.
5) News Outlets on TikTok
While TikTok does not have a designated news platform, television news channels, newspapers, and other periodicals are using TikTok as a means of keeping audiences informed about global happenings across all available platforms. It is also used as a means of providing specialized coverage on a single news story while funneling users to other platforms.
Global News Coverage on TikTok: Sky News
Sky News, a British news organization, for example, uses TikTok to keep viewers updated about events going on in the world. For example, on June 18, 2022, Sky News revealed a snippet of an interview with Borris Johnson encouraging Eurovision to be hosted in Ukraine in 2023:
@skynews Prime Minister #BorisJohnson hopes #Ukraine will be able to host next year’s #Eurovision ♬ original sound – Sky News
Many other news organizations are also using TikTok as a platform for growing their brand. Vice, the Washington Post, and NBC News are a few other news brands that are using TikTok as a means of growing their business.
Focused Coverage and Sales Funnels: Malcontent News
Other news agencies are using TikTok to provide more specialized reporting that would be difficult, if not impossible, to discover via television news or other sources.
For example, Malcontent News offers very focused news coverage of specific global events as they are occurring. On June 17, 2022, they continued their daily coverage of the Russo-Ukrainian War with a discussion of a cholera outbreak in Mariupol, Ukraine:
@malcontentnews 17JUN22 #russia #ukraine #war #invasion #warupdate #donbas #mariupol #Cholera #cleanwater #factsvsmyth #illness #occupation #newsgranddaddy ♬ original sound – 🟣 Ｍａｌｃｏｎｔｅｎｔ Ｎｅｗｓ 🟣
Such focused news coverage allows brands like Malcontent to reach a very segmented niche audience. It also allows these agencies to use TikTok as a part of their sales funnels where they can be funneled onto other platforms via a link to a reference landing page in the bio of the account, as seen in the image below:
Once you click on the link, you’re brought to a page that includes links to other social media platforms the creator is using, any available resources, Patreon accounts, and even places where people can donate to a specific cause or group of people, as seen in the image below for Malcontent News’s linktr.ee:
Users can find the information they most want by visiting this landing page. Often news agencies and others using TikTok as a sales funnel will give some information about a topic in their TikToks and then encourage a viewer to go to the bio, click the link, and locate a particular source. In the case of Malcontent, on-the-ground military analysis is often performed in the TikTok videos based on daily reports that are often dozens of pages long and can be purchased as part of a Patreon plan.
The host tells you at the beginning of each daily updated video that that’s where he’s gathering his information and where users should go if they want to know more. By doing this, he effectively offers viewers something for free which is of particular value to them while also integrating a sales funnel into his TikTok content in a natural and helpful way.
This can be a very effective way to maintain brand ambassadors, go viral, and reach new audiences.
6. How Non-Profits Use TikTok: San Diego Zoo
Non-profit organizations can use TikTok to grow their brand and reach new audiences in the same as solopreneurs, enterprise businesses, and news organizations. The key is always to create fun, unique, engaging content that others want to like, duet, and integrate into their own TikTok content.
Take the San Diego Zoo, which creates some of the most adorable TikToks around. Just try to take a look at Lucas the Red Panada without smiling:
@sandiegozoo Lucas is the ☀️ #animals #sunshine #sandiegozoo #redpanda ♬ Be the Sunshine – Gilderoy Dauterive
But the San Diego Zoo also uses TikTok to help teach their over 2 million followers all sorts of facts about the animals they care for. In this way, they’re not just creating duet-worthy content; they’re educating the public and creating genuine interest in the natural world outside of TikTok. In this TikTok, you get to learn about flamingos:
@sandiegozoo Hang with the stinky ‘mingos #animals #sandiegozoo #wildlife #flamingo ♬ original sound – San Diego Zoo
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If you’re thinking of adding TikTok to your social media marketing strategy, you’re on the right track. As outlined in this article, there are many different successful ways of using the platform.
- Taco Bell chose to create a duet in which TikTok influencer @victor.kunda created an engaging TikTok about the #MexicanPizzaMusical
- Chipotle choose to create a song to coincide directly with their free queso on Monday promotion that’s both catchy and clever.
- Nike chooses to highlight @jessicamacrina to teach users how to “learn a fun move” with a soccer ball.
- Her Bones, a popular beauty and fashion blog, elected to have the founder create their own TikTok content to showcase outfit ideas and inspiration.
- News Outlets Sky News and Malcontent provide 24 hours coverage of current events.
- Nonprofit San Diego Zoo chooses to highlight its animals to give users an idea of what goes on at the zoo on a day-to-day basis.
Love it or hate it, TikTok is becoming extremely hard for anyone to ignore. The platform has the potential to help businesses of all sizes, news organizations, and non-profits reach larger audiences faster than ever, which means there’s no better time to start marketing your business on TikTok and increasing your brand reach.
Are you ready to start using TikTok to grow your business? Share your thoughts in the comments below!___