TikTok isn’t just for lip-syncing teens anymore. Even before the pandemic shutdowns, TikTok was the fastest-growing app in America, and brands are finally realizing the advertising opportunity. In fact, viewers who engage (share, like, or comment) on a brand’s video are 150% more likely to purchase their product or service. Even more convincing, 350% of engagers are more likely to visit the brand’s physical store, and 40% are more likely to visit the brand’s website! These are conversion opportunities you do not want to miss out on!
We recently did a deep dive into TikTok advertising strategies and have compiled a list of 11 strategies brands on TikTok can do to get started. Now, let’s take a look at some brands utilizing the platform to its fullest potential, manipulating the TikTok algorithm with SEO, and how they launch their most viral TikTok campaigns.
Table of contents
What is TikTok marketing?
Why should you use TikTok for your brand marketing strategy?
What brands are spending the most on TikTok?
What brands are crushing it on TikTok?
The most followed TikTok brands
TikTok marketing best practices
What is TikTok marketing?
TikTok marketing refers to the strategic use of the popular social media platform TikTok to promote brands and engage with potential customers through a variety of content formats. TikTok, known for its active user base and abundance of funny and viral videos, offers unique opportunities for marketers.
There are three primary areas where marketers can capitalize on TikTok:
- Paid advertisements: TikTok’s advertising platform, TikTok For Business, enables brands to run in-feed ads, create branded hashtags, and develop video effects. Although initially embraced by larger, well-known companies, even small businesses can benefit from the platform’s potential. By examining why brands of all sizes are joining TikTok, you can leverage the platform to reach a wider audience and enhance your social media presence.
- Influencer marketing: One effective approach is to collaborate with influencers who possess a deep understanding of the platform. These influencers can transform brand messages into fun content and creative videos that resonate with their engaged community. This type of marketing opens up new audiences, enhances brand awareness, and boosts engagement rates.
- Original content: While TikTok users appreciate original content, marketers need not spend hours devising the next viral trend. Often, the best-performing TikToks are those that replicate or recreate current trends. By exploring the app, identifying popular trends, and finding ways to align your brand with relatable and fun videos, you can create relevant and authentic content that resonates with your target audience.
TikTok marketing harnesses the power of this short-form video platform, utilizing influencer partnerships, original and relatable content, and paid ads to connect with potential customers, increase brand awareness, and drive engagement. By understanding the platform’s dynamics, following popular trends, and aligning your content strategy with the creative vision of TikTok, marketers can effectively tap into the platform’s engaged community and achieve high-performing results.
Why should you use TikTok for your brand marketing strategy?
TikTok is the dominant platform for short-form video content in the ever-evolving social media landscape. This is evident from the fact that a significant 53% of marketers using TikTok plan to increase their investment in 2023, showcasing its remarkable growth compared to other platforms.
While TikTok may be relatively new compared to other social media channels, its growth has been exceptional year-over-year. With 1.6 billion users worldwide in 2022, it is projected to reach 1.8 billion by the end of 2023, indicating its expanding global presence.
What sets TikTok apart is its viral video nature, where even accounts with a small following can generate millions of views for an exceptional video. This organic reach potential makes it stand out among other social media platforms. However, some accounts may experience a decline in views and user engagement due to potential shadow bans.
Contrary to the misconception that TikTok caters only to Gen-Z users, it is gaining traction across various age groups. In 2021, the percentage of TikTok users aged between 35 and 54 increased by 10%, highlighting its appeal to a broader demographic.
Given TikTok’s inherently quirky nature, successful brands must adopt a creative approach to capture their audience’s attention. A traditional ad or sponsored influencer content may not suffice on this fast-paced platform, which demands innovative and engaging types of content strategies.
Incorporating TikTok into your brand marketing strategy is crucial due to its leading position in short-form video content. The platform’s stellar growth, massive user base, diverse audience, and unparalleled viral potential make it an essential tool for brands looking to captivate audiences, expand their reach, and drive engagement in the dynamic world of social media marketing.
What brands are spending the most on TikTok?
Among the brands allocating substantial budgets to TikTok marketing, notable names such as Apple, Pepsi, DoorDash, and Amazon have emerged as top spenders. These high-end brands recognize the platform’s still-strong user growth and positive perception among younger demographics, allowing them to confidently advertise on the TikTok channel without fearing any adverse reactions.
TikTok’s For You algorithm provides an advantage by enabling precise targeting, bypassing any complexities associated with privacy rules like Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT). By leveraging relevant content and staying in tune with popular videos and relevant trends, these brands can effectively reach a wider audience and engage with real customers on this influential social platform. To accomplish this, they often employ dedicated social media teams to strategize and execute impactful campaigns that resonate with TikTok’s active user base.
What brands are crushing it on TikTok?
1. NoGood | @nogood.io
So there may be a little bias on this one, but we are proud to have been one of ByteDance’s first growth partners in the U.S. Since then, we have used TikTok as a platform to build our marketing community by providing in-depth insights, brand breakdowns, our top tips and tools, and giving our followers a peek into the fun we have in and out of the office. Just after hitting 100K followers, we launched our TikTok Studio, offering our services as strategists, content creators, and growth marketers to help brands build their communities, find their authentic voices, and monitor performance. If you’re looking for a partner to help scale your brand and TikTok presence through community-led growth and/or paid marketing strategies, then we’re the agency for you!
2. Chipotle | @chipotle
The popular Mexican chain has amassed over 1.7M followers and over 3.8M likes. Chipotle first found success by encouraging users to partake in the #ChipotleLidFlip Challenge, which originated from a passionate Chipotle employee and was later imitated by over 100K trying to replicate the stunt. Upon TikTok launching their Ads platform, this was one of their first Branded Hashtag Challenges where the brand also featured popular Creators, which effectively raised awareness for the official Chipotle Business Account.
The brand has shown they weren’t a one-hit-wonder either and followed up with a second Branded Hashtag Challenge. In July, they started the #GuacDance challenge, resulting in over 250K video submissions and 430M video starts in just six days. The stunt didn’t just live on the internet either, as Chipotle reported over 800K sales of guac on National Guacamole Day.
Now, Chipotle has entered the metaverse. In October 2021, Chipotle brought their Boorito Halloween event to the VR world by allowing users to visit a virtual store on Roblox. By advertising on TikTok with the hashtag #Boorito, the hashtag received over 4.2B views. Most recently, the chain re-opened their Roblox store for National Burrito Day, which they promoted with videos on TikTok.
3. Guess | @guess
While it takes some brands a bit of time and practice to figure out how to best create content and drive engagement in a new platform, Guess nailed it from the start. Their first post promoted their #InMyDenim campaign, where creators quickly changed from old, ratty clothes into stylish Guess outfits. To further promote the challenge, Guess collaborated with Bebe Rexha and her original song “I’m a mess,” which was used as the sound for most of the user-generated content (UGC), generating a deeper level of engagement with the audience. Boosted by influencers such as @ourfire and @jackjerry, videos using the hashtag have been viewed over 53.5 million times.
They later followed up with #LoveGUESS to drive another 24.1 million views. Guess seems to be as good as any brand on TikTok at finding the right influencers for their campaigns. Their #LoveGUESS post on their own channel featured popular influencers @brentrivera and @mylifeaseva. That video alone was viewed over 1 million times, with hundreds of comments about how much their viewers liked the influencers.
4. NBA | @nba
The NBA is already a massively popular brand across social media, with over 117 million followers across their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages, so it should come as no surprise that they’re among the most popular brand accounts on TikTok as well. They currently have over 15 million followers, which is among the top 5 most followed brand accounts on the platform.
The brilliance of the NBA’s social media strategy is the way they specialize content for each platform. If you want NBA news and updates, follow them on Twitter. If you want game highlights, follow them on Instagram. For TikTok however, they know people are looking for short-form content that engages them quickly, so the NBA mostly uses the platform for comedy and memes.
5. The Washington Post | @washingtonpost
Newspapers are the most popular content medium amongst the younger generation, which makes the Washington Post a curious case of astounding success. While you might expect they’d use it for short-form news content, the channel is filled with funny, engaging videos, often “behind the scenes” type skits to let viewers get a feel for the personalities behind the articles.
The account is run by a man named Dave who brings a “dorky dad” vibe to trending memes and video formats on the platform.
This strategy has resulted in over 445K followers and has undoubtedly bought WP some goodwill and credibility among TikTok’s younger demographic.
The Washington Post makes its goal to be creative in order to attract its audience while remaining true to its function of providing timely and accurate news coverage. More recently, The Washington Post began launching in-feed ads that promote their latest articles by making funny skits about the news covered with CTAs to read more on their website. This method proves successful as they entertain their audience to keep a positive image while intriguing them to continue reading and click the link.
6. Gymshark | @gymshark
Gymshark is another example of a brand that fully understood TikTok from the get-go, built a content strategy around it, and is seeing the results to the tune of 3.5 million followers on their account – one of the highest we’ve seen that didn’t previously have the backing of a large media company.
They also understand the value of posting frequency and are sure to post at least once a day. Their content is engaging, but also motivational at the same time. Gymshark does a great job at seeing what’s trending on the platform and adapting it to their brand voice and style, partaking in many of the popular hashtags, challenges, and involving popular creators.
7. San Diego Zoo | @sandiegozoo
If there is a cheat code to making engaging social content, it’s cute animal videos. The San Diego Zoo takes full advantage of this, creating short videos that people can’t help but like and share, resulting in over 2.1 million followers.
The San Diego Zoo has also done a phenomenal job of using its account to build partnerships with other animal-friendly brands and causes. Taking advantage of specific national animal days is easy, low-hanging fruit, but they’ve also done cross-promotions with the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
To take things to the next level, the zoo pairs its cute animal content with trending TikTok sounds to stay native to the platform and tap into the cheeky humor of TikTok’s audience.
8. Red Bull | @redbull
Red Bull has been a pioneer in creating viral digital content for years, so it should come as no surprise that they’re among the most popular and successful brands on TikTok as well. Their account has over 6.6 million followers, putting them among the highest branded accounts on the platform, and videos with the #givesyouwings hashtag have been viewed over 1 billion times.
While they do an excellent job of participating in trending hashtags and challenges, a good amount of their content isn’t explicitly made for TikTok. While this is something that most brands should avoid, Red Bull succeeds by excelling at another critical aspect of TikTok – hooking people quickly with engaging content. Whether it’s an extreme stunt or someone with next-level skills, Red Bull’s videos are undeniably thumb-stopping – something all brands should consider when planning their content.
9. Spikeball | @spikeball
To those unfamiliar with the game, Spikeball describes itself on TikTok as “if volleyball and foursquare had a baby.” Their channel videos have generated over 24.3M likes, and the #spikeball videos have over 147M views.
The secret to their success starts from the fact that the game’s target audience skews younger, which aligns with the demographics of TikTok. But perhaps more importantly, a large part of TikTok’s appeal comes from people wanting to show off a bit (often ironically). Spikeball leans into this within TikTok by showcasing “highlights” of people (and dogs) playing the game and encouraging others to do the same. Though they don’t have many posted videos, each has gone viral.
10. Ryanair | @ryanair
Ryanair is an airline that offers ultra-cheap flights in Europe. Their TikTok account is an example of a brand that has taken TikTok’s trends and humor to heart. Ryanair’s TikTok shot to fame by using TikTok’s native greenscreen filter on their planes – a filter many other brands have found success with. Ryanair rode the wave of the greenscreen trend with hardly anyone realizing when they used the filter in ad content. By using this filter to further tap into popular trends, the company has gained massive popularity and now has over 1.6 million followers and more than 9.8 million likes.
11. Taco Bell | @tacobell
Similar to Chipotle, Taco Bell has hooked users on their TikTok with UGC and hashtag challenges. In an effort to achieve more brand awareness and entice the public to visit their restaurants, Taco Bell partnered with Doja Cat to announce the return of their Mexican Pizza. In a video that has more than 1 million views, Doja Cat says she’s “forced to make this video for Taco Bell” but she isn’t allowed to say what it is. By teasing viewers, the comments section blew up with speculation about what the announcement might be. About a month later, Doja Cat posted on her own TikTok a video of her singing about the Mexican Pizza. This follow-up video has 8.3 million views and 160K comments, further promoting Taco Bell.
12. Duolingo | @duolingo
Now how could we forget the angry owl that shot Duolingo to become a household name? Encouraged by her managers to “go viral,” social media manager (and Gen Z extraordinaire) Zaria Parvez brought the Duolingo mascot to life through Gen Z humor, trends, and a distinct personality. The equally relatable and funny character created a new category for brands to tap into: #mascottok. By observing Duolingo’s success, many brands brought their own characters to life including Hootsuite and Sour Patch Kids. Today, Duolingo has 4.1 million followers and 77.2 million likes and is the new brand standard for experimentation, humor, and brand voice on TikTok.
13. Fortnite | @fortnite
In their first 16 posts, Fortnite amassed 2.6 million followers. The brand now sits at 8 million and may have more to do with the popularity of the game among key TikTok demographics than post quality. But with one of the highest numbers of average likes per post, Fortnite’s TikTok success can’t be ignored.
Fortnite’s content capitalizes on new game releases, tips and tricks, upcoming events, trending hashtags, and even uses its characters to take part in some of TikTok’s trending dances. By using their recognizable characters, followers can enjoy their favorite Fortnite characters taking part in native TikTok trends. It is a smart way to bring the two worlds together and play to their audience’s interests.
14. Nickelodeon | @nickelodeon
Similar to Netflix, Nickelodeon uses content from their beloved shows and brings it to life on TikTok. Nickelodeon has an astounding 12.9 million followers and with the age threshold at 13 years old, their content caters to the 32.5% of TikTok viewers under the age of 19.
Nickelodeon’s TikTok is another way their viewers can connect with some of their favorite characters and humanize the actors that bring them to life. Their content is native to the platform with trending sounds, participating in hashtag challenges, and they do a great job at fostering community by responding to comments directly and with video responses.
15. e.l.f. Cosmetics | @elfyeah
Beauty and fashion are some of the largest categories on TikTok due to their visual nature and attention-grabbing transformations. E.l.f. knew they had to go big in order to stand out. Most famously, they commissioned a song called “Eyes Lips Face” (the brand name’s acronym). e.l.f. then enlisted a team of creators to launch #EyesLipsFace, a viral dance challenge where creators would show their eyes, lips, and faces to the tune of the song. The song was catchy enough to get stuck in your head and the lyrics of it ensure that you know (and never forget) what the e.l.f. in their brand name stands for. The challenge itself was also fun because it didn’t require the use of cosmetics. This led to the brand going TikTok viral. The result – 9.2 billion views and counting.
The e.l.f. TikTok page @elfyeah sits at 502K followers and they leverage their successful in-store partnerships with other brands on the platform. e.l.f. teamed up with Dunkin’ to produce a new line of coffee and donut-inspired products which have lent themselves to iconic UGC in which both platforms can share. The partnership kicked off with beauty influencer Mikayla Nogueira in a TikTok that racked up 6 million views.
16. Netflix | @netflix
Netflix sits at an incredible 22.5 million followers with many of their video views in the millions. Many of Netflix’s TikTok videos are expertly cut from their own streaming content in ways that come off native to the platform. They also use the platform to promote upcoming releases, behind-the-scenes content, and exclusive interviews with the actors.
Netflix also has fun series including #whoworeitbest while they were promoting the hit show Selling Sunset and quick games like “Guess the Netflix show.” These types of series get users involved in the comments, increasing engagement and shareability.
17. We’re Not Really Strangers | @werenotreallystrangers
With an impressive following of 4.1 million users, WNRS has both incredibly engaged followers and some standout viral posts that hit the ‘For You’ page and got tons of likes. Koreen, the creator of the WNRS card game, created WNRS to empower meaningful connections with others. Their TikTok account is different from others; they not only repost their question cards but also encourage their viewers to answer them in the comments. The TikTok algorithm uses engagement (likes, comments, shares) as a signal of quality, so for brands looking to grow and reach a broader audience, this tactic can be quite effective. The nature of the game, and therefore their TikTok content, is a nice break from the humorous skits and sometimes self-serving videos and almost feels like a breath of fresh air when it comes across your scroll. The brand encourages its TikTok community by calling users to tag their friends and interacting with words of encouragement.
18. Starface | @starface
As an up-and-coming skincare brand, Starface definitely knows how to utilize social media as they are often cross-promoting on their TikTok and Instagram. Starface makes unique “acne stickers” in the shape of stars that fit perfectly within the beauty and skincare TikTok category – specifically for Gen Z in the age of “Euphoria.” Their TikTok videos primarily consist of fun-loving UGC, trending sounds, and effects native to the TikTok platform including duets, stitches, and green screens. Their videos are colorful and trendy which greatly assist in stopping the scroll.
19. Crocs | @crocs
While a brand doesn’t necessarily strive to be the subject of low-hanging jokes, Crocs deserves a lot of credit for using this to their advantage. Their TikTok account itself is mostly used to showcase products and announce new releases, but they’ve been smart about strategic partnerships.
The biggest of which by far was the #ThousandDollarCrocs challenge, where users were encouraged to “class up” their crocs as fancy as possible. In partnership with singer Post Malone, YouTuber Adam W, and others, the campaign generated over 3 billion video views. Being a brand that doesn’t take itself so seriously can be a tremendous advantage on a creative content platform such as TikTok.
The most followed TikTok brands
The most followed TikTok brands have achieved massive success on this popular social media platform by effectively engaging their audiences with creative and diverse content. Let’s take a closer look at these brands and what makes them stand out:
1. WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.)
- With over 23 million followers, WWE is among the most followed examples of brands on TikTok.
- WWE’s TikTok content primarily features highlights from wrestling matches, providing fans with an exciting look at the action.
- The brand adds a unique twist by sharing funny moments between wrestlers and fans, participating in TikTok trends, and offering behind-the-scenes exclusives.
- WWE’s use of a distinct voiceover in many of its videos adds a unique touch to its content.
WWE diversifies its content by creatively showcasing highlights, funny content interactions, and trending content. For example, they often post wrestlers reacting to unexpected moments, providing fans with a more personal and relatable connection to their favorite stars. Their unique voiceovers in highlight videos create a consistent and recognizable brand identity on TikTok.
The key lesson from WWE’s TikTok strategy is the importance of providing a variety of content that caters to the diverse interests of your audience. By combining highlights, behind-the-scenes moments, and trend videos, WWE ensures that its TikTok page offers a well-rounded experience for fans.
@wwe FLABBERGASTED to say the least 😳🔥 #WWE #LivMorgan #DakotaKai ♬ original sound – WWE
- Overtime, a sports streaming service provider, enjoys a substantial following of about 24.5 million on TikTok.
- Their content revolves around sports commentary, highlights, and viral reposts, appealing to sports team enthusiasts.
- Overtime’s unique approach includes featuring entertaining content that may not directly relate to their brand or industry, effectively boosting audience engagement.
- They emphasize the importance of obtaining permission and giving credit when sharing third-party content.
Overtime stands out by seamlessly integrating entertaining content into its sports-focused feed. They understand that featuring funny videos or engaging content, even if not directly related to their industry, can enhance user engagement and make their feed more enjoyable.
The takeaway from Overtime’s TikTok strategy is the ability to leverage third-party content creatively to increase engagement and follower counts while maintaining a responsible approach by obtaining permission and giving credit.
@overtime I love u Jumping Jerry ❤️ #funnytattoo #tattoocheck #shoutoutot (via @Crazy Stevie Wells ♬ original sound – Overtime
3. ESPN (Entertainment and Sports Programming Network)
- ESPN, a prominent sports network, has a massive following of 36 million on TikTok.
- The network consistently posts multiple sports-related videos daily, ensuring a steady social content stream on its page.
- ESPN effectively uses TikTok’s playlist feature to organize its highest-performing videos, enhancing user experience.
ESPN maintains engagement by frequently posting diverse sports content. Their use of TikTok’s playlist feature ensures that their popular videos remain easily accessible, enhancing the overall user experience.
The key lesson from ESPN’s TikTok strategy is the importance of organization and navigation. By effectively using features like playlists, up-and-coming brands can keep their most popular content at the forefront of their TikTok page, improving user experience and visibility.
@espn THE HEAT STEAL GAME 1 IN BOSTON 🔥 #nba #basketball #miamiheat #bostonceltics ♬ original sound – ESPN
In essence, these brands creatively use TikTok to connect with their audience by offering diverse and engaging content, strengthening their presence and influence on the platform.
TikTok marketing best practices
TikTok has become a dynamic platform for marketers seeking to connect with younger, wider audiences and enhance their brand visibility. While achieving viral success may be challenging, there are effective TikTok digital marketing practices that can help your business thrive on the platform. Here are some valuable tips to consider:
1. Showcase a different side of your company
- TikTok thrives on creativity and humor. Embrace a more personal and behind-the-scenes approach to make your company appear more relatable and trustworthy to potential customers.
- Share moments that provide insight into your brand’s personality, values, and culture. It’s an opportunity to connect with your audience on a more human level.
2. Don’t be afraid to experiment
- Unlike some traditional social media platforms, TikTok has fewer established norms and best practices. Therefore, it’s a great place to experiment with social media content.
- Feel free to try out ideas that you find interesting or amusing. If it resonates with your audience, you can gauge the response by tracking social media insights, like likes, comments, and shares.
3. Engage with your audience
- TikTok offers multiple engagement options, such as challenges, duets, likes, comments, and shares. Interacting with other TikTok users can boost your brand’s presence.
- Create videos, challenges, or duets designed to encourage interactions. The more you engage with people, the more your fan base could grow and the stronger your presence becomes.
4. Creatively market your products or services
- While TikTok is primarily about entertainment, you can incorporate creative ways to market your products or services. Think about tutorials, demonstrations, and how-to content that showcases the best aspects of your offerings.
- The key is to keep it fun, engaging, and aligned with TikTok’s playful environment.
5. Collaborate with niche micro-influencers
- Influencer marketing on TikTok can be incredibly effective. However, relevance is often more critical than reach.
- Partner with niche micro-influencers who share a similar audience to your brand. Their genuine connection with their followers can be a powerful tool for your marketing efforts.
By joining TikTok as a brand, you open the door to reaching younger audiences in a playful and engaging digital environment. Success on this platform hinges on your ability to create captivating content. Be prepared to unleash your creativity, experiment with new formats, and connect with your audience in a fun and relatable way. Embracing TikTok’s sense of humor and curiosity can be a game-changer for your marketing strategy, helping you build a community of engaged followers and boost brand awareness.
As you can see from the vast array of brands, TikTok is a playground for creativity and community. While some brands rely heavily on humor and lip-syncs, others work to teach viewers about their products and brand mission and utilize storytelling to educate users. Given how much TikTok encourages authenticity, high-quality content, and entertainment, it’s up to the brands to create a unique point of view while staying true to their brand values. Users are looking to learn, be inspired, and connect with content, so brands on TikTok must give consumers a valid reason to engage with them amongst the noise. As more and more brands hop on TikTok to connect with their communities, we’ve created an all-inclusive guide for leveraging UGC for brands on TikTok to begin experimenting with.