It’ll probably come as no surprise for you to hear that last year was a good year for TikTok. A very good year in fact. The social network was the most download app of 2020, and has now been downloaded over 2 billion times in total. With almost 690 million monthly active users, the platform continues to go from strength-to-strength and, unsurprisingly, more and more brands have turned their attention to the platform as they look to reach and engage news customers.
That all sounds great. And you’re probably already aware of the need to be on the platform. But, it’s easier said than done, right? We get it. So, if you’re itching to get going on TikTok, but not totally sure where to start, we’ve pulled together some examples of brands killing it on TikTok which we hope will leave you feeling super-inspired. It’s a mix of small brands and household names, but there is something to take away from each of these examples.
Okay, this is perhaps an obvious example, but hear us out, because there are definitely things your brand could learn from Ocean Spray who, along with Zoom’s shareholders and Carole Baskin’s lawyers, were one of 2020’s big winners, thanks to TikTok.
Nathan Apodaca. That name almost certainly won’t mean anything to you, but unless you were living under a rock in 2020, you’ll recognize his face. Apodaca – aka Dogg Face - was the creator of perhaps 2020’s most popular video, filming himself skating down the road, glugging on Ocean Spray Cran-Raspberry juice and vibing to Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams. It’s what the kids these days call “a mood”. And it caught fire, racking up millions of views as an early TikTok success story. Charlie Bit My Finger for Gen Z. Or something.
The only people playing it cooler than Dogg Face? Ocean Spray themselves. The juice giants were happy to let things play out organically at first, giving the meme space to grow as they timed their move. And how.
First, after hearing the backstory behind the original, they delivered Apodaca a new truck (laden with Ocean Spray, obvs.) to replace his old one that had broken down, before Chief Exec Tom Hayes jumped on his board and created his own version (and not before Fleetwood Mac’s own Mick Fleetwood had joined the platform to recreate it). It all culminated earlier this year, with Ocean Spray and Dogg Face joining forces for their Super Bowl campaign.
Everyone’s a winner then, but what’s the lesson for your brand here? Simple. Julian Wettstein, TikTok’s Head of Creator Solutions in the EU, has been with the company since it began and puts it quite simply:
“Just get on TikTok and look. Go on the app and look for your brand, see what people are saying about your brand, what they’re creating about your brand. Look at your key terms and your category”.
Whatever your brand, there will already be people talking about you and making content about you and your products on TikTok. And if they aren’t, they’ll be talking about your competitors or your sector in general. Whatever it is, they key thing is to see what it is they’re saying. Are there any common themes or trends emerging that you can leverage yourself and talk about or create similar content around?
As we said at the start, TikTok is huge now. You can’t ignore, and you can bet your competitors won’t be ignoring it, so the sooner you just get on there and see what noise there is around your brand, the better. That’s exactly what Ocean Spray did and were able to capitalize on, albeit on a grand scale – and with a video that would have been pretty hard to ignore, whether they wanted to or not.
Key Takeaway: Don’t hang about – get on TikTok ASAP, even if it’s just to understand how people are talking about your brand on the platform; the opportunities this presents may surprise you.
Oh, and that TikTok from Dogg Face? It also sent Dreams back into the charts after 43 years, proving the power of sound on TikTok, and leading us nicely onto our next example.
TikTok is the first social channel with ‘sound on’ by default. So, as you’d expect for a platform that started life as the lip-syncing app Musical.ly, sound is a pretty big deal on TikTok; an integral part of users’ videos and often a key factor between the success and failure of a TikTok.
Now, as we’ve already discussed with our pal Dogg Face and his use of Fleetwood Mac, your regular TikTok user can choose from a range of tracks and sounds, from original sounds to tracks from the biggest artists in the world. Brands? Not so much.
As TikTok’s popularity soared, there was an inevitable crackdown on the use of unlicensed music and early last summer, TikTok began to restrict the tracks brand and business could use. This meant brands are now only allowed to use tracks from TikTok’s royalty-free music library. While this is of course no different to any other social network, or even TV advert etc., it did pose brands something of a challenge. As well as removing the potential for brands to piggyback many of the trending sounds on the channel, how could they make sure their content appeared authentic and true to the platform, if they weren’t able to use what was such a massive feature of everyone else’s video?
The answer for a lot of brands? Well, rather than really on stock audio tracks which, let’s be honest, don’t pack quite the same punch or garner you as much cool kudos, why not go ahead and create your own sound?
Thus, many brands on the platform began creating their own signature tracks. Developing your own sound is a great way to start trends and go viral. Combined with an exciting hashtag challenge or other campaign activity, these TikToks have a much greater shot at going viral and reaching thousands more users than one with a regular, run-of-the-mill stock audio track.
This is something one of our own TikTok clients, hairbrush trailblazers Tangle Teezer, were able to do to great success with their original track #PowersInTheTeeth. Creating their own sound instantly elevated their content above that of other brands, while ensuring their content felt as though it deserved it’s place on users’ feeds, that Tangle Teezer’s presence on the platform was authentic and valid, rather than a contrived cash-grab.
Of course, not every brand is able to conjure up a killer track and the drop of a hat. Luckily for you, Pull has TikTok specialists working in the team (and one of them is an actual TikTok influencer!), and as such early adopters to the platform, we also have access to TikTok’s portfolio of sound creators, meaning we’re able to work with you to create a totally bespoke – and totally banging – original sound!
Key Takeaway: Sound is key to success on TikTok. Think long and hard about your brand’s characteristics and the sort of tracks that would complement it and the channel.
Want your sales to rocket by well over 1,000%? Of course you do. Want some tasty Japanese Mochi ice cream? Ah. You might be out of luck on that one. Because Little Moons – those small, soft round sticky rice dumpling formed around an ice cream filling - have taken TikTok by storm, selling out everywhere as a result.
Videos using the hashtag #LittleMoons have amassed 100 million views on the platform, and with sales of the £4.50 treats up massively across all retailers, the power and potential of TikTok for brands is clear. So how did Little Moons do it?
Well, technically, they didn’t. While they already had a TikTok account and were creating regular content, the videos that sent the brand viral were created by other users, drawn to Little Moons and mochi for it’s visually satisfying appearance and texture and the fact that (until now) UK consumers were relatively unfamiliar with the dessert. All of this was perfect for TikTok. Where Little Moons played a blinder was in how they helped fan the flames of this trend.
Already armed with their account and an understanding of the platform, Little Moons were well placed to react, ready and able to amplify the noise with a modest media spend and an in-feed ad that ran for just one day. The ad was created in line with TikTok’s “don’t make ads, make TikToks” mantra, with some ASMR-inducing directions to: ‘bite it, squish it, stretch it, love it’, while directing users to their nearest Tesco to get a piece of the action. Of course, by this point, most supermarkets had sold-out their stock, with Little Moons cunningly cultivating some major-FOMO to further increase the brand’s must-have status.
Key Takeway: Don’t make ads, make TikToks. Oh, and make sure you get your brand on the platform now, before you leave it too late.
So, there you have it. Three very different brands, all using different tactics and techniques to succeed on TikTok. If you’re not sure where to start with your brand’s own TikTok strategy, we can certainly help, whether it’s our own guide to getting started or our TikTok webinar, feel free to get in touch!
Posted 1 May 2021 by Ben Waterhouse