B2B Marketer’s Guide to TikTok

October 15, 2021

Topic tags

Frank Emanuele

Marketing

Meisha Bochicchio

Marketing


TikTok is the home of fun, irreverent content. With top clips such as Bella Poarch lip-syncing to Millie B and Zach King ’flying' on a Hogwarts-inspired magic broomstick, it’s no surprise TikTok is thought of as a social media phenomenon catering to young people — especially Gen Z. As such, it’s become an obvious choice for B2C brands reaching out to that demographic.

But we’re here to tell you that TikTok isn’t only for teens — or for B2C companies. To start, the 30–49 year-old age bracket accounts for 42% of all TikTok users right now, according to Statista. And data from Trust Radius indicates that in the tech world, 60% of buyers are between 25 and 39. So, there’s a good chance your audience is on the platform.

We believe the data proves that B2B brands have a place on TikTok, now and in the future. There’s a lot to get excited about with the platform, too. Users are super engaged, with micro-influencers seeing an average engagement rate of 17.96%. That’s much higher than Instagram in the same category, at just 3.86%.

Image courtesy of AdWeek.


So B2B marketers, take note! Being aware that your target demographic is at least somewhat active on TikTok and thinking about just how much engagement the platform generates is only the start. It’s high time to start using TikTok as a part of your video marketing strategy.

The perpetual rise of TikTok

You might be unsure — or a little intimidated, even — about using TikTok in your B2B marketing. We get it, but trust us when we say this is a marketing opportunity you don’t want to miss. Just look at the company’s rapid growth to see for yourself.

According to DataReportal’s Digital 2021: July Global Statshot, some 732 million active users are now on TikTok. For a bit of context, that’s an increase of 41 million active users in just six months since DataReportal’s last update in January 2021.

Image courtesy of App Annie.


TikTok owner ByteDance can, in part, thank the global lockdown for its rapid growth. Mobile analytics tracking consultancy App Annie reported that TikTok was the most downloaded app in 2020, and its audience base tripled since 2018. It’s no secret that most of us had more time on our hands in 2020 especially, and we seriously needed an injection of fun. TikTok was there to provide it.

“TikTok was the most downloaded app in 2020, and its audience base tripled since 2018.”

This growth rate is likely to continue at pace, with App Annie predicting 1.2 billion active monthly users by the end of 2021. By comparison, Facebook, the world’s biggest social media platform, currently has 2.8 billion active monthly users, while Instagram has 1.07 billion.

Put simply: Ignore TikTok’s rapid growth and risk being left behind.

5 TikTok best practices for B2B brands

TikTok is the place to go for short, snackable entertainment that’s usually light in tone. We can almost feel your resistance here. “Hmm,” you’re probably thinking. “How is that going to fit in with my brand?"

Though TikTok might not feel aligned with typical B2B messaging, marketers can reach audiences through the platform with a bit of thought, a willingness to experiment, and by following some of our tips below:

1. Be authentic

We’ll start with a tip that we share often, no matter what type of content you’re creating — be yourself and let people see you. Personal stories and relatable content are the foundations of TikTok. To be a part of this community, you need to buy into that sensibility.

“Personal stories and relatable content are the foundations of TikTok. To be a part of this community, you need to buy into that sensibility.”

“Being real is the new cultural currency as today’s influence comes from the authentic ideas and imagination of everyday people,” TikTok’s Head of US Business Marketing, Sofia Hernandez, explains. “This opens up a new opportunity for brands to take a more meaningful approach to marketing by truly connecting with our community.”

One way to be genuine? Focus on the people behind your B2B brand rather than pushing out generic corporate messaging. During the global lockdown, Austria’s Magdas Hotel created a series of clips capturing how team members spent their time in the absence of guests, with one video achieving two million views.

2. Find a niche and stick with it

For brands, as with individuals on TikTok, having a clear focus for your content is essential if you’re going to build a following. If you find a theme for your content — and consistently create within it — fans will know exactly what they’re getting when you drop into their feed.

Universal Pictures built a niche around magic to promote the fantasy movie The House with a Clock in its Walls.

Image courtesy of TikTok for Business.


The studio created the hashtag challenge #FindYourMagic, which encouraged fans to share their own tricks and illusions, attracting more than 1.3 million Creator video likes and generating over 19,000 user-generated content (UGC) clips.

Knowing your audience better than anyone else is key to coming up with compelling content. Learn how to get the insight you need to inspire your niche.

The Discover section of the TikTok app pulls together popular hashtags and other content on the platform such as sounds, transitions, and dances. But unlike trends that are over in a couple of hours on Twitter and other social networks, what’s hot on TikTok often stays trending way longer.

As a B2B marketer, this gives you time to spot and tap into trends that, on other platforms, might’ve disappeared before you’ve had the chance to react.

Australian skincare brand MyGlow2 tapped into the #oddlysatisfying trend with a clip of fake tanner being removed from someone’s foot. A weird prospect perhaps, but the video notched up over a million views in a couple of hours. Who are we to argue with that kind of success?

Image courtesy of MyGlow2 on TikTok.


If you have something to say that’s adjacent or related to popular memes or themes on TikTok, get after it! This helps you build your audience while giving followers a taste of your brand’s personality.

4. Keep things simple

On TikTok, you don’t have much video time — just 15 seconds, a minute, or three minutes — to drive home your message. With these cut-off times, it’s critical marketers are clear on the point of their clips. Focus on just one idea per video, so TikTok users can easily pick up on the content’s purpose.

Image courtesy of Pixie Lott on TikTok.


A great TikTok campaign with a simple idea came from Mastercard, a sponsor of the UEFA Champions League soccer competition. They created the biggest digital Mexican wave ever, using the hashtag #PricelessWave.

With this initiative, fans stuck at home watching the league during the pandemic could feel like they were part of the soccer community once again. The campaign scored more than 2 billion views, significantly increasing brand awareness for Mastercard.

5. Embrace the silliness

We’re not saying your B2B brand needs to have employees dancing and lip-syncing on TikTok. But by taking a lighter tone than you would with your typical corporate communications, you’ll have more chance of winning over an audience.

Even established companies like The Washington Post know how to have fun on TikTok. Rather than offering truncated updates on the news of the moment, the Post’s video producer Dave Jorgenson plays the account firmly for laughs.

Image courtesy of Washington Post TikTok.


The Post seems to be hitting the right tone with one million followers. With each fun post, the publication is building trust with the next generation of Washington Post readers.

What TikTok approaches should B2B brands avoid?

TikTok users are deeply selective about what they’ll watch. Of the brands tapping TikTok, it’s those that find new ways to engage audiences using feelings, actions, and sound that are succeeding.

The bottom line: If any content doesn’t feel right, for whatever reason, people will move on. Quickly. Typical turn-offs include:

Sales-y content

A report from Nielsen, commissioned by TikTok, found that users associated advertising on the platform as “ … more authentic, fun, genuine, honest, real and trustworthy compared to other channels.” The report also found that “43% of heavy TikTok users feel that the ‘advertising’ on TikTok blends in with the content.”

So don’t expect old-school advertisements to fly on this platform. Create promotions that connect with your audience in a creative and authentic way.

Info-heavy content

The primary reason TikTokers hit up the app is to have their spirits lifted. Nielsen’s report for TikTok also details that nearly 3 out of every 4 users who felt positive about the platform were “ … inspired, confident, and entertained while using TikTok.”

Basically, no one’s here for an intense lecture, so keep it light. That doesn’t mean you can’t get nerdy and show your excitement for your industry. Just make sure you break down your messaging into bite-size chunks.

’One-size-fits-all' content

A video that worked well on LinkedIn probably won’t find the same reception on TikTok, and the same is true for other platforms as well. If you’re going to use your existing video content for TikTok, make sure you take the time to tailor it to the platform.

That means you should consider whether the tone of your video is a natural fit (see above), but also remember there are time limits for your clips, and the orientation will likely need to be vertical, if it’s not already.

Tip
Let’s get vertical, vertical! Learn how to tell an effective story with vertical video in this handy guide.

3 examples of B2B brands embracing TikTok

So you’ve made it through best practices and approaches and now you’re ready to dive into TikTok as part of your video marketing strategy? Great! Let’s take a look at how other B2B brands have embraced the platform.

Grammarly

Grammarly, the online writing tool, creates TikTok-friendly content that helps writers avoid common writing mistakes, such as whether to use “its” or “it’s” in a sentence. But it also pokes fun at language, by making jokes about things like the occasional dropping of corporate jargon in our personal lives. Let’s circle back on that later … 

When a TikTok user @aripine created his own viral splash, featuring him dancing along to a Grammarly advert, the business got right behind the trend.

Image courtesy of @aripine on TikTok.


The team captured their own video of the dance and notched up 1.6 million views in the process.

Zoom

The video conferencing platform Zoom blew up during the pandemic, as people had no choice but to meet virtually. During the lockdown, the brand took to TikTok to offer guides for people adjusting to remote work, giving handy advice on problems such as reducing background noise and improving video quality during your calls.

Image courtesy of Zoom on TikTok.


But the company has also been quick to use TikTok to dispel myths about Zoom, too. One video dismissing a rumor that meeting hosts can hear Zoom callers, even when muted, was viewed by over 4 million people. Talk about quick and easy damage control!

Sage

Cloud-based business services provider Sage used TikTok to launch a start-up-focused hashtag challenge, #BossIt2021. The campaign invited entrepreneurs to share their experiences of starting a business during the global pandemic, with the most creative response winning a £5,000 home office makeover.

Image courtesy of Sage.


Sage’s campaign, which included all of the user-generated videos tagged #BossIt2021, received 5.2 billion views in just one week, with more than one million competition entries. Demonstrating just how effective TikTok is for engagement, the official #BossIt2021 promotional video was viewed 27.7 million times — this is a company with a follower count of 13.5K.

Get Inspired
Looking for more brands experimenting with TikTok? Check out this roundup to see how Adobe, Shopify, and more are breaking the B2B mold with clever social content.

A New Tool in Your Video Marketing Strategy

Hopefully, you’ve read all our tips above, and you’re feeling super confident in reaching B2B buyers on TikTok.

What next? We recommend you dive in and get yourself acquainted with the platform. You may not find your brand’s voice on TikTok right away, but that’s okay! Be patient and keep exploring and trying new things, and it will happen.

Experiment to find out what works, and most importantly, have fun. It’s not every day you get to create marketing content alongside viral cockatoo videos!

October 15, 2021

Topic tags

Frank Emanuele

Marketing

Meisha Bochicchio

Marketing

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