Sedge Beswick of Seen Connect: this is not the time to wonder if your brand should be on TikTok

One of the first questions clients ask me is how can they grow their Instagram following – then they promptly by demand to know why their competitors have more followers than they do. The answer is timing.

Growing accounts on an already-saturated platform is tough. When it comes to hitting the big numbers and cutting through the noise, the Instagram ship has somewhat sailed, which is one of the many reasons to get your timing right on TikTok — because despite launching back in 2016, TikTok still feels new.

Unlike Instagram and Facebook, TikTok’s algorithm is a little more changeable and sometimes head-scratchingly unpredictable, and this will continue to evolve as the audience keeps growing beyond the three billion app downloads that it hit last month.

In order to reach those users, you need to stop what you’re doing and get your brand on the platform immediately. The longer you wait, the less TikTok will reward you for early adoption and the tougher it will be to grow your audience.

Which brands do well on TikTok? As our friends on Love Island would say, they haven’t got a type. They just need to have banter. And craic. And, well, have something about them. Brands that have little or no success on other platforms can thrive on TikTok – even, in the case of Little Moons Mochi ice-creams – go completely viral and see a 700 per cent sales increase almost overnight.

What’s promising is how brands are beginning to think outside the box when it comes to TikTok’s viral trends. When the feta pasta bake recipe blew up earlier this year (admit it, you tried it, you loved it), Asda saw its opportunity, and ran with it. Rather than creating a reactive social campaign, it let the viral trend do the hard work, and integrated the hype into its e-commerce strategy instead.

That meant the much lower budget – but perfectly pitched idea of the TikTok feta pasta bake bundle. All the hard work of finding the ingredients and price-matching was done – online shoppers could try the trend for themselves with one click thanks to Asda. While the supermarket – for very little investment – engaged with an audience it might never have had reason to connect with before.

Like Instagram, there are best in class influencers. And like Instagram, there are the ones your brand should avoid. You know the ones – they’ll say yes to any brand, without archetypal alignment or validation of their audiences. Remember while content is king, authenticity is key and big reach doesn’t always mean big credibility.

And because you’re definitely wondering – as it currently stands influencer fees on TikTok are about 25% of the cost of an Instagram account with the same number of followers. With the potential for virality and new audiences significantly higher on TikTok.

Some parting advice? Whether launching with talent on TikTok or running influencer campaigns on any social platform for that matter, the same guiding brand principles apply. First, ask yourself, is this person aligned to the brand? Do we have shared values or visions?

Next, figure out how you will measure success. Different talent will deliver different results, so understanding the campaign’s objectives up front will help you match with the right talent. Sharing smart objectives and KPIs to help achieve them will really benefit everyone involved.

Finally, have you got clarity on what ROI you’re looking to achieve? Starting out on TikTok? Your internal team might not be up to speed with producing the platform’s signature video style just yet, so think about partnering with smaller talent fluent in TikTok to create platform-appropriate content without the huge production costs. Or if it is direct sales you’re looking to achieve – then establish if your brand can share sales data with your chosen agency so it can help analyse, track and optimise performance.

There has never been a better time to launch your brand on TikTok. And just like any other channel, to grow your following and to do it well takes serious graft. Once you start, an always-on strategy needs to be in place, integrated into every marketing campaign your brand does. With influencer partnerships in place to take your content to the next level – and new audiences.

Sedge Beswick is managing director of influencer marketing agency Seen Connect

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