Don’t Make Ads…Make TikToks

March 18, 2022

Content , Creative ,


Since the launch of TikTok’s rebrand in August 2018, it has become one of the most used and engaging social media platforms in the world.

With over 1 billion monthly users and an average user session time of 10.85 minutes, TikTok has fundamentally changed conceptions around how content is created and consumed.

The first difference-maker that stands TikTok apart from the rest is its algorithm. Unlike other social platforms, TikTok’s algorithm is focused on content, rather than social connections. A user’s feed is unique to them, meaning the platform does not take long to discover what its users want to engage in.

As Isobel Sita-Lumsden (head of B2B marketing Europe at TikTok) highlights ‘because the content on a user’s For You Page is tailored to their likes and interests, they enjoy the time they spend on the app.” This was reinforced by TikTok’s ‘2021 Audience Research’ revealing consumers felt 14% happier during and after using the app.

It comes as no surprise, therefore, that TikTok’s average user session of 10.85 minutes is over double that of the next best platform, Pinterest (5.06 minutes). By placing content at its core, rather than social connections, TikTok has revolutionised the way in which platforms seek to engage their users.

Beyond the algorithm

The power of TikTok goes far further than just its algorithm. It has also changed perceptions about the way in which content is created and shared. Adrian Mulryan (TikTok global partnerships lead for WPP) states  ‘the age of over-polished content is done with now, the power is in the community and you need to be part of that community in order to tap into that power and reach.’

The authenticity and creativity of the content on the platform is what makes this community truly unique. The consumers create content that reflects them and engage with content that resonates with their character. As users share and engage this content, it rises from the micro-scale to the macro-scale. It is the power of this community that drives trends and drives culture.

The hashtags #EduTok has amassed over 138 billion views since its inception, #EasyRecipe has accumulated over 11 billion views and #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt has over 6 billion views. How brands interact with this community, will enable them to become a part of that culture.

“For brands looking to engage with the TikTok community, remember that they’re here seeking joy, happiness and creativity,” says Sita-Lumsden. “Tap into that by getting involved in trends, chatting to users in the comments and being authentic. If you’re doing that, people will stick around to find out more about your brand.”

Harnessing the power of community

A case and point to emphasise this was the Marks & Spencer ‘Percy Pig’ campaign. With the retailer suffering financially, it produced a TikTok of a Percy Pig mascot doing the widely trending oceanspray dance. The results were staggering with M&S announcing pre-tax annual profits of £500 million after its strongest Christmas ever.

Market analysts attributed the remarkable financial turnaround to M&S having ‘used the creative capability of TikTok to reach a younger demographic’, amassing 50,000 followers on the platform along the way. To corroborate M&S’s success, 54% of users stated they recalled branded content after using the platform, with brand performance doubling when they engaged with TikTok creators to produce content.

Harnessing the power of this community can be of huge benefit to companies and really hammers home the point…don’t make ads, make TikTok’s.

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