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Should You Advertise on TikTok?


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You may think of TikTok users as very young and outside of the target audience of B2B marketers, but you may want to advertise on TikTok. 

In this episode of AMP Up Your Digital Marketing, Glenn Gaudet speaks with Erica Weiss, Brand and Campaign Marketing Manager at SparkPost, an email intelligence software company. They discuss TikTok, how it’s used, who uses it, what the concerns are, and whether or not you should advertise on TikTok. 

What you’ll learn: 

  • What are the TikTok privacy concerns? 
  • What is TikTok, and how does its algorithm work? 
  • What does it look like to advertise on TikTok, how does its targeting work, and should you do it? 

TikTok has exploded over the last two years, growing to over 800 million active users worldwide, according to Oberlo. Users spend an average of 52 minutes per day on the app. Roughly 90 percent of TikTok’s user base launches the app daily, watching over 1 million videos each day. 

It’s gained so much traction that Microsoft is in talks to buy the app in the United States. 

So, should you use TikTok? Should your marketing team advertise on TikTok? And what are all the concerns with TikTok you’ve heard about in the news lately? Erica breaks all this down for us in her conversation with Glenn. 

What is TikTok? 

TikTok grew in popularity over the last year and a half, so you may not be completely familiar with it yet. 

Having said that, it is important to be aware of apps like this that are growing in popularity, even if you don’t think it’s right for you. 

TikTok is very similar to Vine. It features short-form videos with very powerful video editing capabilities built right into the platform. 

TikTok videos are typically anywhere from 15 seconds to a minute long, but people tend to binge videos on the app. 

“It started out as a lip-syncing app, so because of that, TikTok licensed a lot of music,” Erica said. “Unlike YouTube, where [videos] get taken down because there was a song in it that you weren’t allowed to use, TikTok videos have staying power because their videos are legal and use legal sound. There’s also short-form comedy, and people telling funny stories.” 

TikTok Privacy Concerns

Content on TikTok is primarily fun videos of people dancing, people acting out funny skits, and people telling funny stories, but there is a darker side to the app. 

You may have seen in the news speculation and accusations of TikTok mishandling user data

“The concern is there is something baked into the software that sends information back to the Chinese government,” Glenn said. 

While this is an accusation that’s been made of the company and is concerning for users, many American companies have privacy concerns of their own, Erica said. 

It’s no secret that some of the biggest companies and most popular platforms on earth are based in the United States and are not the most careful with user data. They’ll even tell you right in their privacy policies that they’ll sell and trade your information to other companies. This means that even if you don’t use services from a specific vendor, it could get your information from a service provider you do use. 

As users of these platforms, it’s very difficult to protect your data. But TikTok seems to get more attention for privacy issues than other vendors.  

“It’s interesting that this is coming to the forefront as it isn’t an American company,” Erica said. “We can’t just pick on it because it’s the other…It’s definitely a tricky situation.”

Should you rethink advertising on TikTok considering these concerns? Do the privacy issues on other platforms prevent you from advertising on them? This is a decision you should weigh internally. 

Should You Advertise on TikTok?

Knowing that so much of TikTok’s user base is made of younger people, you might think it makes more sense for a B2C company to advertise on TikTok rather than a B2B. 

B2C lines up better with that demographic, but that doesn’t mean a B2B company should completely write it off, Erika said.

About 41% of the app’s users are between the ages of 16 and 24 years old – but the number of adult users of TikTok in the United States grew by 5.5x in the last 18 months, according to Oberlo. 

The number of adults on the platform is rapidly growing. You could come up with some ways to advertise your B2B products and services to these adults in a way that’s in line with the app. Be creative. Stick to the theme of dance routines and funny skits when you advertise on TikTok while featuring branded materials in your videos.  

“There are specific places where users are comfortable seeing heavily branded content, such as right when you open the app. It’s called a TopView Ad,” Erica said. “It’s fun to treat an in-feed ad as an organic post that looks like a normal TikTok video, and have people interact with it there.” 

Targeting on TikTok

Facebook advertising can be very effective because Facebook does a great job of collecting data from users allowing vendors to advertise to the right audiences.

But what about TikTok? Is it comparable? 

“Just based on the research I’ve done, and just by being a TikTok user, I’d imagine that the targeting is pretty darn good,” Erica said. “Just based on my experience, on the ‘For You’ page, I get heavily targeted videos, and I learn more about myself based on this page.”

The ‘For You’ page on TikTok is a feed of videos that the app thinks the user would be interested in based on their past usage. 

Erica noted that when she was a kid, she attended a theater camp, and her ‘For You’ page on TikTok is consistently filled with musical theater content. The TikTok algorithm is based on watch time, and because she tends to watch a large majority, if not all, of these types of videos, the algorithm knows to send her more. 

“[TikTok is] able to get advertisers user insights that they wouldn’t have otherwise known,” Erica said. 

TikTok users can link accounts from Instagram and other platforms to the app, so it can get more information about users from these other platforms, which helps organizations advertising on TikTok.  

If you’d like to learn more about TikTok and see if it’s a good match for you, the best thing you can do is check it out. Download the app, see what’s on it, and see if any of the ads on there are in line with something you could do. Maybe you’ll get inspired to make a video yourself.

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