755 million monthly users. Twice the size of the U.S. population. That’s the forecast from Insider Intelligence on how many users TikTok will reach in 2022. This would make it the third largest social media network, just behind Facebook at 2.1B monthly users, Instagram at 1.28B monthly users, and slightly ahead of both Snapchat and Twitter.
There have been thousands of startups who have successfully unlocked TikTok as an acquisition channel — either organically with their brand profile content, or via paid acquisition. Take a small company such as DrainFunnel, which helps eliminate drain clogs; they’ve reached millions of views and a staggering 2.4M likes on their branded TikTok videos. The founder takes viewers through product demonstrations, gives them a behind-the scenes look at product photography, and even answers viewer questions. A perfect example of a product-based company leveraging the power of free, organic acquisition on TikTok. Similarly, Hopper, a discount savings travel app, has found a way to promote their app, while utilizing a native TikTok touch within their videos and pushing paid spending behind it.
As TikTok continues to gain steam, it would be a huge miss to not include the platform, when building out a growth marketing strategy.
There’s no crystal ball on whether your startup should explore organic or paid acquisition, but I would argue the importance of both. The two primary advantages for creating organic content are: 1) leveraging free traffic from videos, and 2) building a brand page in the process. Why does producing organic content also impact paid acquisition? Well, when users see your paid acquisition ads and click your brand name, they’ll be directed to your TikTok profile page. Having content on your profile adds validity, social proof, and inspires engagement from those who land on there. There is a myriad of content to consider adding onto your branded TikTok pages — below are just a few ideas to help you get started:
• Founder and Staff Q&As
• Use Case Examples
• Trend and Viral Replies/Reactions
• Product Explainers
• Answering Viewer Comments/Questions
• Behind the Scenes Opportunities
Inspiration and ideas can also be drawn from competitors or other brand profiles. You can likely save dozens of hours by seeing what already works with other pages, and taking pieces from the best.
I typically recommend testing the same creative assets across all social channels as a best practice. Time and again, I’ve seen assets made for non-TikTok channels perform poorly on TikTok. This means that ideation, styling and asset production has increasingly needed to be specific to TikTok. It makes sense — TikTok content is structured differently from other social channels. Some of the attributes to videos posted on TikTok include:
• 9:16 and < 20s
• Often with a background track playing
• Text overlays to emphasize points
• Play to trends (more on this below)
• Very lo-fi (not production studio quality)
If there’s one major takeaway from the bullets above, it’s the fourth bullet: play to trends. On any given week, there are a handful of trends which are buzzing and taking TikTok by storm, often popularized by larger influencers and made widespread by thousands of others performing their take on it. This can include everything from TikTok duets, to videos featuring a specific track. By emphasizing creative direction and focusing on popular trends, you’ll naturally hit the rest of the attributes such as creating the video in 9:16, including a background track, etc.
One major advantage TikTok has against other paid social channels is that the CPMs (cost per thousand impressions) are significantly lower. With that huge upside comes a caveat; creative will fatigue more rapidly, since the videos are getting served at a faster rate. If you plan to run a successful TikTok campaign, be ready to continuously add new content to the mix.
What’s TikTok without Charli D’Amelio, Noah Beck and the various other power figures raking in millions of views? While that’s hard to imagine when thinking about how to incorporate influencers to your TikTok strategy, remember you don’t need a Charli D’Amelio with millions of views, to be successful.
Instead leverage TikTok’s Creator Marketplace, which has made it frictionless to discover influencers from all types of categories, styles, regions and following counts. You can typically work with smaller influencers (<50,000 followers) at a rate of $100–300 per video, and oftentimes, that’s all you need. To double down on influencer content, leverage TikTok’s Spark Ads which allow advertisers to boost influencer posts and put media budget behind the organic content. This works particularly well on TikTok, because ads then look native to the platform.
As a nascent platform, TikTok is a creative ground for experimenting when it comes to ever-changing campaign formats and features, all being rolled out on a frequent basis. This means you should test everything as it becomes available.
Two of the latest campaign features made available in early 2022, are auto-targeting and “App Profiles.” With auto targeting, TikTok removes the complexity and time of having to test a myriad of interest layers. Instead, the campaign set on auto-targeting finds the best combination of interest settings to target. This can be paired with “App Profiles”, which sends users to an App Store-like screen before actually sending them to the App Store. The idea behind this is to increase the signal on the platform, so TikTok can target higher propensity users who will be more likely to download the app after seeing the real App Store page.
Some of the best practices from other major paid social channels still apply to TikTok. Tactics such as broad targeting and “Lowest Cost” bidding where a bid cap isn’t added, have been successful for many advertisers. If you see something working on Facebook or Snapchat, don’t shy away from trying that tactic on TikTok.
Bottom line: TikTok isn’t just becoming a huge force in paid acquisition — it is a huge force. As you start devising a growth marketing strategy for 2022 and beyond, including TikTok as a part of that long-term planning, will have you ahead of the competition who might be coming after you.
How does a founder implement a growth framework to scale to their first million dollars in revenue?