Before you read this article, check out our article on a brief history of TikTok.

TikTok has quickly risen to popularity and become one of the most popular video-sharing apps on the market. While TikTok started out as a fun and easy way for teens to make memes and lip-sync/dance videos, it has quickly caught the attention of brands and become a viable marketing tool for brands and businesses.

Before we dive into some case studies of brands using TikTok, it’s important to understand the TikTok demographic. TikTok has over 800 million active users worldwide and over 1 million videos viewed every day. According to a study by Hootsuite, 27% of TikTok users are between the ages of 13 to 17, while 42% are between 18 and 24. This makes TikTok the ideal platform for brands that are targeting a younger audience. TikTok also possesses several features like “Duet”, “Original sound” and hashtags which all play a part in promoting trends and getting content to go viral.

With that being said, let’s now cover some brands that have successfully used TikTok as an effective marketing tool.

Chipotle

America’s very own fast-casual Mexican restaurant chain, Chipotle, is a prime example of a brand who’s fully embraced TikTok as part of their marketing strategy. Their first venture on the platform was the #ChipotleLidFlip challenge, which started in May 2019 at the start of summer break, where students, who form a large part of the TikTok demographic, would be spending more time on the platform. Chipotle partnered with YouTube personality David Dobrik, who posted a video of himself flipping the lid of a burrito bowl before sealing it and challenging others to do the same. 

The real reason for this campaign was to generate interest in digital ordering via Chipotle’s website and mobile app. Chipotle was offering free deliveries for all digital orders in celebration of Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican holiday that falls on 5th May every year, and the #ChipotleLidFlip was an experiment by Chipotle’s marketing team. With the hashtag garnering 230 million views at the time, Chipotle became fully invested in TikTok – and followed up with the #GuacDance challenge on 31st July 2019 (National Avocado Day). The six-day challenge encouraged users to post videos of themselves dancing to “The Guacamole Song” by Dr. Jean, a popular meme at the time, and also promoted digital ordering by offering a free serving of guacamole for any purchase made through their website/mobile app. The results were undeniable – with 250,000 video submissions and over 800,000 sides of free guac served at Chipotle. 

So what can we learn from Chipotle here? First, be opportunistic – back then, TikTok was still relatively new and most businesses had little to no experience navigating the TikTok space. Chipotle took a gamble on TikTok with no guarantee of success, which turned out to be a good sales and marketing decision. Second, take full advantage of the TikTok platform. The #GuacDance challenge would not have been possible without TikTok’s native audio/video syncing features. By getting creative and jumping onto topical and relevant trends, Chipotle was able to generate multiple successful campaigns that have attracted a large following and establish a strong online presence.

World Health Organisation (WHO)

In an effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO partnered with TikTok to launch their #SafeHands challenge campaign in an effort to more people to wash their hands thoroughly and practice good hygiene. The challenge was issued by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who posted a step-by-step handwashing instructional video and he called on more people to post videos of themselves washing their hands thoroughly.

While there is no objective way to compare the numbers for the “SafeHands” hashtag between Twitter, Instagram and TikTok – from a viewer’s perspective, the content produced on TikTok was certainly far more engaging. TikTok creators took full advantage of TikTok’s extensive music library, “Duet” and lip-sync features to produce a variety of creative renditions of the #SafeHands challenge, with the hashtag having 5.4 billion views to date. Just like Chipotle, WHO took full advantage of the “challenge” format, and by addressing the topical subject of personal hygiene during a pandemic, they managed to make full use of TikTok’s trend-seeking online community to spread an important message in a fun and engaging way.

The Music Industry

Say what you want about lip-sync and dance videos on TikTok – love them or hate them, it’s hard to deny how catchy and compelling they can be. TikTok works closely with record labels to license their music and has several features that make it easy to sync video with audio – which makes it an ideal platform for the music industry to market and advertise new music.

On 10 May 2019, the song “Dance Monkey” by Australian artist Tones And I was released (listen here – chances are, you’ve heard it before). The song reportedly had no marketing budget, but Tones And I gained traction after going on tour and getting signed to Sony Music. As the “Dance Monkey” became more popular, it became a popular trend on TikTok to dance/lip-sync to the catchy beat of the song, which was aptly dubbed the #monkeydancechallenge. Today, “Dance Monkey” has accumulated 7.4 million views on TikTok and topped multiple charts in various countries around the globe.

Lip-sync and dance videos on TikTok have certainly impacted the way some artists compose music. Music journalist Ryan Bassil noted the phenomenon of so-called “TikTok-friendly songs” like Drake’s “Toosie Slides” and Justin Bieber’s “Yummy”, which both feature music videos with a catchy and easy-to-follow dance sequence (the lyrics to “Toosie Slides” even give dance instructions like “right foot up, left foot slide … left foot up, right foot slide”). On TikTok, there are currently 5.4 million videos that use “Toosie Slide” and 4.5 million videos that use “Yummy”, and both songs have made it to the top of Billboard’s “Hot 100” chart. While it’s true that both artists were popular prior to TikTok, an argument can be made that TikTok is an important tool for music artists to gain fans and increase their popularity amongst a younger audience.

Conclusion

We hope that you have a better understanding of how TikTok works and gained some insights into using the platform in your marketing campaign. Stay tuned for more to come on TikTok!

Interested in other media marketing articles? Check out these articles!

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