How retailers are leveraging the power of TikTok

Rob Neander, Performance Director, Spin Brands, the go-to social media agency in London, delivering impact and expertise from day one. Clients have included: Movember, Moët & Chandon, ASUS, Google Cloud, MUJI, Pai Skincare, Califia, Merrell, and Lovehoney.

Social media has become a mainstay of retail marketing. It helps with brand awareness, differentiation, customer relationship building, and, of course, sales. But too often, retailers take a one-size-fits-all approach to social content. Cycling identical posts across multiple channels, failing to recognise the nuances in expectation between the users of each platform. And one area where this is becoming increasingly apparent is TikTok.

Built upon the draw of sound and motion, TikTok has no place for cleverly written words or carefully constructed stills. Video reigns. Building upon the instant and effortless engagement potential of the medium. And consequently, it holds huge potential for retailers. But to enjoy the benefits of the platform, you have to do things right.

What characterises the successful leveraging of TikTok for retail?

If you’re a regular online shopper, you can’t help but have noticed the phrase TIKTOK MADE ME BUY IT! All in caps, it screams at you from products as diverse as books and white goods. It has the potential to be annoying to non-TikTok shoppers. But it is also a testament to the power of the platform. So, how can you harness that power for your own business?

Maximising brand awareness

The raison d’etre of TikTok is fun. There’s no room for corporate showcasing, sales jargon, or earnest eco differentiation. TikTok is about entertainment, and presents a great opportunity to show your customers your less serious side. This can be done in a variety of ways, including:

  • User-generated content – such as #hashtag challenges.
  • The simple appeal of humour.
  • Advice sharing – what does your business do/has done that others could benefit from or do their best to avoid?
  • Working with influencer creators to leverage their expertise – whether through content creation or a brand takeover.

TikTok

Audience selection

One of the most useful features of TikTok is the ability to target your audience with a strong degree of accuracy. So, researching your target demographic before any campaign launch is integral to achieving the results you desire. But beyond that, you need to investigate what makes your audience tick, engage with them, find out what trends they’re following on the platform, explore their hashtags. Then you can build your next campaign around this information. Before launching it to the right age, gender, location, interests, and a whole range of other distinguishing features.

Creator control

In general, influencers have come under a lot of criticism in recent years. But TikTok creators are skilled in their field. And finding the right creators to work with can significantly lighten your load, helping you to increase audience engagement, improve retention, and enhance your ROI.

Trend awareness

Perhaps more than any other platform, TikTok feeds on trends. While you can work to create your own trends, it’s always useful to stay aware of the inclinations of the wider community. So far in 2022, we’ve seen glow-ups, vulnerability, dance moves, and how-tos all taking centre stage. We’ve seen responses to international or celebrity events – the Oscars is likely to be another big one. And for retailers and small businesses, we’ve seen behind the scenes and day-in-the-life videos generating notable attention. Understanding trends and working with them is a great way to get your brand seen – and to build a reputation for being current. It’s not always easy to do, but that’s where creators and agencies can help.

TikTok hasn’t always been receptive to advertisers. But while paid ads and business services are now available, the best results still come from indirect marketing, in the form of engaging content. Because if you can build that brand awareness, and begin to foster loyalty, yours is the name that will come to mind the next time your customers need to shop.