We have some exciting news: As of today, Sprout Social is partnering with TikTok to launch a first-of-its-kind integration. Sprout users now have the ability to schedule and publish TikTok videos, manage and reply to comments and measure how their TikTok videos are performing compared to other social networks. Learn more here.

Fourteen hours. That’s the average amount of time TikTok users spend on the app each month.

With engagement like this, the network is quickly moving away from the fringes of the social media landscape and into the center of forward-thinking brands’ strategies. Between its rapidly growing global user base and its investments in brand features, there are a number of reasons to use TikTok for marketing in 2022.

This article will outline how brands can architect successful end-to-end TikTok marketing campaigns (versus one-off experimental videos) to capitalize on this engagement. We’ll also sprinkle in examples of brands that are already working the network to their advantage and insights from a marketer who has successfully incorporated TikTok into her strategy—Meara McNitt, Social Media Director at Online Optimism, one of Sprout’s agency partners.

Why TikTok marketing campaigns are so valuable

Since its launch in 2016, TikTok (formerly Musical.ly) has grown by leaps and bounds, quickly cementing its place among established networks like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. The following list of statistics highlights some of the many implications of TikTok’s meteoric rise in popularity and why brands are increasingly jumping on the proverbial bandwagon.

How to plan, build and launch memorable TikTok marketing campaigns

Whether your TikTok campaign is organic or paid, there are three primary phases you’ll go through as you execute it—planning, building and launching. With the right approach and some targeted guidance, you’ll sail through each of these phases effortlessly.

Table showing the steps that go into the plan, build and launch phases of TikTok marketing campaigns

Phase 1: Plan your TikTok marketing campaign

The first step in any marketing campaign, regardless of channel, is to develop a strategy and plan based on research. The following tips will help you get your campaign started on the right foot.

Get to know your audience

Your TikTok analytics page can give you demographic details about your viewers. If you’re new to the network though, you may not have enough data to really draw conclusions. Consider using analytics from your other social profiles (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) to make sure you have a grasp on who makes up your audience and what they are looking for. You might also consider scoping out your peers or competitors to get a look at what they are doing and what seems to be resonating with their audiences.

“A critical lesson I’ve learned from running TikTok campaigns is to try everything,” says McNitt. “Understanding your target audience and using that information to create content that you think will work is still a good place to start.”

Being featured on the For You Page is a badge of honor among TikTokers. But for brands, getting there requires a deep understanding of what people are looking for from the app. This is a great forum to attract new followers, but creating relevant and compelling content is the first step.

Brand example: Gymshark, a workout wear brand, uses their casual and relatable brand voice on TikTok to post content that empowers their core audience—fitness buffs. They’re not trying to appeal to everyone, but people who spend time in the gym get their inside jokes and rally around the motivational videos they post.

Research trends

“While other social platforms require adaptability in order to share the latest information from your company, TikTok also requires you to stay up to date on the latest memes and trends so you can incorporate them into your content,” McNitt notes.

One way to keep current is to regularly investigate the Discover feed, represented by a magnifying glass in the app. Here, you’ll find a sampling of TikTok’s latest trends and example videos you can use for inspiration. You can also use the search bar to dig into any trending creators, videos, sounds or hashtags you run across.

Staying engaged in the app as a user and following major influencers is another best practice that helps to ensure you keep tabs on the latest trends. “Don’t scroll as the brand page—scroll as a regular consumer and keep yourself rooted in that perspective rather than an advertiser’s perspective,” McNitt advises. “Remember that the people you are marketing to are experiencing the platform the same way you do on your personal account, and they’re scrolling for leisure, not business.”

Brand example: Nando’s, a UK-based restaurant chain, is known for using trending audio that (on the surface) has little to do with food. By adding context and a healthy dose of humor, they promote their menu items while making popular audio snippets their own.

Consider trending and branded hashtags

Whether branded or trending (or a combo), hashtags can help your TikTok campaigns resonate with existing and new audiences. They help to categorize content, making it easier for creators and users alike to find what they need. TikTok hashtags are also clickable, making it super easy to fall into a rabbit hole of related content, should you wish.

Some hashtags are especially popular on the network, and are thus ripe for brands to pick up and use. Keep in mind that, with extreme popularity, these hashtags also come with heightened competition. They’re typically pretty self-explanatory, but doing a quick search can help you generate ideas to contribute to these campaigns if you’re stumped.

Some notable hashtags you might co-opt include:

  • #TikTokCringe
  • #duet
  • #TikTokDance
  • #motivation
  • #goal
  • #BehindTheScenes
  • #FlipTheSwitch
  • #lifehack
  • #LearnOnTikTok
  • #HowTo

With branded hashtags, brands can encourage users to create original content or interact with the company in specific ways designed to increased engagement.

Brand example: Levi’s, a denim-focused fashion brand, took advantage of the popularity of cleaning videos on the network (if you’re unaware, check out #CleanTok for more) with its first hashtag #CleaningHacks while also dropping a branded hashtag, #LiveInLevis. These hashtags have racked up over 5 billion and 772 million views, respectively, as of May 2022. Search through the latter tag, and you’ll find a compelling mix of user-generated content as well as branded content posted by Levi’s itself.

Phase 2: Build your TikTok marketing campaign

Now that you’ve planned out your marketing campaign, you’re ready to start building. While there are many techniques available for branded campaigns, the following are the most useful for new and experienced TikTok marketers alike.

Use TikTok Shopping

Especially for product-based brands, TikTok Shopping features can be a great way to expose your audience to your goods, whether directly in your videos or on your profile’s product showcase tab. Choose to showcase your inventory with product tags on in-feed videos, LIVE shopping or your product showcase tab.

TikTok has already proven to be a venue where consumers are happy to spend their discretionary dollars. One study found that TikTok shoppers are 1.7 times more likely to purchase products on the network versus other social channels. Videos using the hashtag “TikTokMadeMeBuyIt” have more than 12 billion views (as of May 2022), with creators sharing everything from small impulse purchases to larger investments. This organic partnership between brands and creators is, in many ways, unique to TikTok—a phenomenon the network has coined “community commerce.”

Partner with creators and influencers

Brands teaming up with influencers is a network-agnostic practice, but on TikTok, it’s often the rule rather than the exception. And it’s not for nothing as these collaborations boost brand recall, view rates and engagement.

If you’re not sure where to start, consider diving into the TikTok Creator Marketplace, where you’ll get a directory of influencers and be able to view specifics and stats about each to find the perfect fit for your brand or product.

Brand example: For the introduction of its new Brow Microfilling Pen, Benefit Cosmetics launched a campaign aimed at increasing awareness of the product. To expand their reach, they turned to the TikTok Creator Marketplace to find Gen Z and Millennial influencers that aligned with the brand’s values. They narrowed their search by using the marketplace’s filters for age, gender and content categories. The campaign’s 22 videos (about 4.5 minutes of creator content) showcased the product’s benefits through the lens of each creator’s unique perspective. The campaign earned more than 3,500 hours of views and 1.4 million impressions.

Try out creative effects

Interesting effects have long been part of TikTok’s appeal. Some popular effects you may have seen on the network include “Duet,” “Green Screen” and “Time Warp Scan.” To make it even easier for brands and creators to apply these effects to their campaigns, TikTok recently created its Effect House, a platform where anyone can build Community Effects and make them available to other users.

When brands leverage these effects and promote them via ad campaigns, TikTok refers to them as “Branded Effects.” At the moment, only brands that have been invited to participate can take advantage of this program, but TikTok says it will expand the program soon.

Brand example: NOS, a Portugal-based communications and entertainment company, created a Christmas-themed snowglobe effect under their #OMeuNatal campaign. The brand saw more than 33 million video views and their Branded Effect garnered 36,000+ total plays.

Phase 3: Launching your TikTok marketing campaign

Once you’ve launched your TikTok marketing campaign, your work is not over. It’s important to stay on top of audience engagement and keep track of how the campaign is performing.

Engage meaningfully with your audience

If you just launch your campaign but don’t maintain its momentum by interacting with your followers, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. Be authentic, stay consistent in your brand voice and values, and humanize your account, if possible. TikTokers want to engage with real people.

If users are commenting on your videos or otherwise interacting with them, it is critical that your brand has a presence in the conversation.

Screenshot of how to reply to TikTok comments in Sprout Social

“On TikTok, you typically need to put a face to your brand, rather than relying on graphics and text,” McNitt says. “Making sure you look authentic to TikTok without being too deceptive is also key.”

Amplify user-generated content (UGC)

Another aspect of engagement comes in the form of user-generated content, often triggered by a branded hashtag campaign.

Brands can optimize on this activity by engaging with these users and sharing their content on the brand’s page. One study found that 72% of participants were more likely to trust customers’ reviews over brand-produced content. And UGC converts five times more than non-UGC.

“While it can certainly drive conversions, TikTok is a key platform for encouraging word of mouth and consumer endorsement,“ McNitt notes.

Brand example: JIF peanut butter used a branded hashtag campaign (#JifRapChallenge) and a partnership with rapper Ludacris to encourage UGC. The campaign asked JIF’s community to “Duet” a branded rap with Ludacris — with a spoonful of peanut butter in their mouths.

Measure campaign success

“Measuring conversions from TikTok campaigns can be challenging, because you might not see many direct paths of users seeing an ad, swiping up, and making a purchase,” McNitt says. “Keep in mind that this platform excels at driving brand awareness, and it will be better to watch for correlation between flight dates, views, and sales.”

As with any campaign, keeping track of its performance is critical. Getting the data you need to be nimble throughout the duration requires the right tools. With Sprout’s new TikTok integration, marketers can zoom in on the most relevant metrics to quickly analyze and optimize their video performance. Teams have the option of seeing all their TikTok metrics in one place, comparing TikTok posts against other networks’ and digging into TikTok campaign effectiveness.

Screenshot of a report in Sprout Social showing a brand's top TikTok posts by engagements

Conquer your TikTok marketing campaigns

As TikTok continues to gain popularity, brands are flocking to the network to expand their reach and engage new audiences. But the strongest social campaigns are more than one-and-done, overnight pet projects.

Ready to start or refine your TikTok marketing campaigns? Learn more about how Sprout’s TikTok integration can help you organize and grow your end-to-end video strategy across social networks with video scheduling, comment management and presentation-ready reports.