3 Valuable Lessons Marketers Can Take From TikTok

Lisa Marinelli


Let’s face it: There are times when brand videos fall a little flat. The companies creating them may have the best intentions, but they get stuck too deep in the weeds. As a result, the video concept is tedious or unnecessarily complicated, and the main message gets buried underneath flashy production or a tiring run time.

When it comes to video, less is often more. For proof, you don’t need to look any further than TikTok. Creators on the bite-sized video-sharing platform have captured the attention of nearly 690 million monthly users worldwide by keeping their videos short and sweet.

“When it comes to video, less is often more.”

TikTok is a viral-video magnet. It’s a place where a fun-loving skateboarder working at an Idaho potato factory can vibe out to Fleetwood Mac and amass more than 12 million likes.

Though certain aspects of the platform are unique to its own world, there are some TikTok lessons marketers can use to enrich their own brand videos. All you need to do is sit back, relax, and read on to unlock these three key lessons.

1. Don’t be afraid to go niche

Some companies try to cover everything across their brand videos. They formulate videos through a generalist topic lens and try to get as many people as possible to watch their content. Unfortunately, these businesses fail to recognize how critical niche ownership is in content creation.

This is where TikTok creators really shine. The platform is home to some of the most specific video niches on the Internet, and marketers can learn from how those creators operate within their niches. And there are a lot of different niche types on TikTok. Whether you specialize in face-wiggling dances, like Bella Poarch; indulge in old-timey sea shanties, like Nathan Evans; or aggressively cook pasta, like QCP, creators can specialize in pretty much anything they want.

These TikTok creators stick closely to their niche, though. Sure, it’s OK to experiment with new content ideas from time to time, as many of these TikTok creators have, but remember that your audience expects something specific from your content. If you’ve been watching The Simpsons for 20 years, and it suddenly changes its tone and takes a darker and more dramatic direction — you’ll definitely notice.

The same rule applies to any kind of brand video you’re creating. Think about it: If you suddenly pivot your brand video content without warning, you risk alienating a large part of your audience. If people flock to your videos for e-commerce insights, they likely won’t be happy if you suddenly switch to product marketing best practices.

Want to learn how to provide brand guardrails and guidance to your video concepts? Check out our post on creating a studio mandate.

Niche ownership can also help establish your brand as an expert. TikTok creator Johnny Q had no formal art training but started creating abstract art using a power drill. Maintaining consistency in that niche has led to 2.2 million followers and 42.7 million likes. He now has his own YouTube channel, where he doles out advice and provides tutorials on how to create “spin art,” and his website often sells out of art pieces he’s made.

Image courtesy of Johnny Q’s YouTube Channel.

To engage an audience, you first have to understand what makes them tick. When it comes to determining the right niche audiences for your brand videos, you need to define who you’re speaking to, what you’re saying, and why they should care.

Action Item
It’s important to know your audience before you make content for them. Take these three steps to define your niche!

2. Embrace imperfect production conditions

Your brand doesn’t have to invest in a studio-quality setup to produce great video content, especially if you’re just getting started. Sure, as marketers, we often want to put our best foot forward with fully polished products. But remember — your viewers are far more concerned with the quality of your content, not the production quality.

“Viewers are far more concerned with the quality of your content, not the production quality.”

TikTok is a shining example of content quality over production quality. Some of the most successful TikTok creators film their videos from home and simply talk to the camera. They recognize that people are more interested in their personalities than whether their video looks professional. This amateur style helps TikTok creators connect with viewers. Users often feel like they’re watching a video created by a friend rather than a top content creator or influencer.

For example, TikTok user Jesse Joseph Geneau simply goes in front of his bathroom mirror to film content. His video series titled “I Need Answers” follows him asking funny but poignant questions, like, what would happen if you got scared half to death twice, and whether someone who took care of chickens would be considered a “chicken tender.”

Image courtesy of TikTok Tular YouTube Channel.

That doesn’t mean you can get away with dropping a video that looks like it was filmed with a camcorder from 1988 — but you do have plenty of room to use tech you already have on-hand.

To get started, prioritize style over substance. Before you spend money on expensive video recording equipment, invest time and effort in investigating the true purpose of your video. Ask yourself what you’re trying to accomplish, as a brand, through the video and how you can achieve that goal.

If you’re on a tight budget, we’ve got you covered. Get started with a few of these handy resources:

3. Stick to simple narratives

The brief length of TikTok videos — anywhere from 15 seconds to a minute — can help marketers understand how to create explicit, concise brand videos. Less time on the clock to tell a story has forced TikTok creators to be very straightforward with the content they deliver. Sometimes, videos that follow a simple narrative are the most effective in relaying their message.

Focus your brand videos on one clear concept so the user can easily follow along. If you’re making a video about e-commerce tips, keep the advice unique to that sector. Don’t stray away with tips for brick-and-mortar shops. There needs to be consistent content alignment throughout your video.

Your brand videos also likely don’t have time limits, as TikTok videos do. Even so, imagine that you have only a minute to tell a story. Boiling down your brainstorming notes to a minute’s worth of content can help you quickly, efficiently get to your main point.

Finally, get rid of filler. Some brand videos use too much preamble with long intros, unnecessary montages, and side stories. Companies should take a page out of TikTok’s playbook and quickly get to the main point. If a viewer is two to three minutes into a brand video and they still don’t know what direction it’s headed, your brand probably could’ve spent a little more time making that direction clear.

Take your TikTok lessons and start creating

Now that you know some of the key factors that make TikTok videos so successful, it’s time to take those lessons and apply them to your brand videos. And remember to keep an eye on popular TikTok accounts to spot new content trends and inspiration.

Lisa Marinelli


Mailing list sign-up form

Sign up to get Wistia’s best and freshest content.

More of a social being? We’re also on Instagram and Twitter.