15/07/21 Jack Foster

How creators and brands are using TikTok to engage with their audiences

If you’re like me and the other 689 million active monthly users, TikTok is fastly becoming one of my most used apps. The main reason behind this is, the wizard-like algorithm that turns the cogs of the FYP (For you page), which delivers highly targeted content around my interests.

If you’re into fashion, you’ll be delivered fashion content. If you’re into Rugby, you’ll see plenty of it - and the best thing is you don’t even have to follow anyone to see the content you love - it’s the Instagram explore page on steroids. 

After doing HOURS of endless scrolling, here’s my take on how brands are best using the app to engage with their audiences, and the different tactics they are using to do so.

1. Trending Topics

As with most social platforms, the easiest way for brands to gain traction is to hop on trending topics and sounds. It's the simplest way to connect your brand with pop culture, trending hashtags makes it easy for brands and users to discover popular content alike.

For me there’s one true winner here, and it’s got to be Ryan Air. You wouldn't marry up flight tickets and meme content, but they've really made it work.

Ryan Air


2. Repurposing existing content

Repurposing popular snippets from existing content is one of the simplest methods of growing an account. It's also a great way to drive traffic towards wider channels such as Websites, YouTube, Podcasts, etc. 

Quite a sore subject, but the Euro 2020 team smashed this form of content. They combined trending sounds with highlights from the games to land over 5.5m followers throughout the tournament.

Euro 2020


The Grand Tour

The Grand Tour team share snippets from popular episodes, a great way to drive people over to Amazon Prime.


3. Employee Brands

I think that employee/personal brands are going to be a key part of many larger organisations' marketing strategies in the future. Employees have the opportunity to showcase the ‘real’ culture at a brand, show a bit of personality and give followers a true insight into the behind the scenes of their favourite brands.

It can however backfire, as Laura Orgill found out last week.

Royal Mail


4. Community Engagement

The ability to reply to comments in the form of a video response is ingenious. 

Replying to popular comments allows brands to engage with their audiences in a unique and engaging way, which is much more authentic than the copy-and-paste jobs you see plenty of brands using on Twitter.



Candy Works

Some businesses have completely thrived by continuously engaging with their communities. Candy Works, have landed 750k followers and over 18m likes from replying to comments, packing orders and showcasing behind the scenes.


5. User generated content

When it comes to UGC, there’s one standout brand I’ve found to be smashing it, and as far as I am aware they aren’t directly working with the creators - it’s mainly down to the benefits of their affiliate programme. 

Amazon’s wide range of products that scale across various niches ties in perfectly with TikTok’s algorithm. It means creators can hit their niches and cash in when users convert - the perfect storm.

Amazon Finds


Haul Trend

Another example of this is the 'Haul' trend, where users share their favourite shopping finds from specific shops and brands. Mainly used by influencers to share their latest outfits with fans.


6. Influencers

Influencers flood every social space and TikTok influencers have seen some INSANE growth. Charlie D'amelio has racked up over 120m followers on the platform and pushes various brands through sponsored content.

The main difference in TikTok is the nature of the influencer posts, the majority tie into trending songs which creates a completely different angle to the Instagram stories and posts we're all numb to.

Charlie D'amelio


7. TikTok Ad Formats

Brand Takeovers

Brand takeovers are served as soon as users open the app, they are quite intrusive and users can scroll away from the advertisement when they please. Due to the nature of the advert they come along with a premium price, but can be great for mass awareness.

Branded Hashtag Challenge

Branded hashtags are another form of advertising on the platform. It is more focused around reach rather than conversions and brands often partner up with influencers to get the 'viral' ball rolling.

Branded Effects Ads

Similar to Snapchat's brand filters, TikTok's version allows brands to overlay stickers, effects and filters over their user's content. The benefit of these is the traction they can gain on an organic scale as various users jump onto trends.

In Feed Ads

Similar to other social platforms, the 'In Feed Ads' appear between videos as users scroll. Multiple calls to actions are available to use within these to allow users to: Shop, Visit Website or Download and app. One drawback of this is how users interact with TikTok, meaning if your advert doesn't stop the scroll within the first few seconds it's long gone.

That's a wrap

Overall I think TikTok can be a powerful weapon in a brands arsenal, it allows you to push boundaries, engage with your users via exciting creative content.

As I parting gift I leave you with a TikTok I made of my dog in 2019. Peace and love.

Jack Foster

Head of Brand with over 10 years experience delivering campaigns across a range of channels including; web, social, email, print + video.