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TikTok communities are always hungry for fresh entertainment: here's how to make sure your brand is part of the conversation
Inspire Creativity. Bring Joy. Build Brands.
Entertainment is the lifeblood of TikTok: in fact, three-quarters of users engage with the platform expecting to be entertained first and foremost. This insight is important for any brand to develop a successful TikTok marketing strategy, but for none more so than brands in the media and entertainment space.
"From behind-the-scenes red-carpet interviews to exclusive unreleased content, community-driven reviews of the latest films and TV shows to riffs on popular trends, TikTok offers a whole new way to discover and enjoy entertainment," explains Stephen Naughton, TikTok's vertical lead for entertainment, audio and sport, who recently hosted the launch of TikTok’s new entertainment industry playbook at Discover: Entertainment & Media, an exclusive client-focused event at London’s Protein Studios. "It's a 24/7 virtual stage," he adds.
Treat trailers as entertainment
How to build fandom on TikTok
"Authenticity is what makes a brand go from good to great on TikTok."
— Sophie Drury, KitKat
Click here to view TikTok’s entertainment playbook, which provides best practice advice and strategic insights for media and entertainment brands.
As a full-screen, sound-on platform, TikTok presents a unique opportunity to draw audiences. Almost half of TikTok users give their full attention when watching – meaning trailers that hit the mark can be centre stage, with no distractions.
There are no hard and fast rules about their length, as best-practice can vary according to genre and target audience. "We've seen success with shorter, quicker cut-downs in the 15- to 30-second range," reveals Naughton. "However, full-length 9:16 trailers have performed well too – such as for the new Martin Scorsese movie, Killers of a Flower Moon."
Data shows that tailoring content to feel native to the platform has a measurable impact on effectiveness: according to Naughton, a 47% increase in likes, comments and shares compared to non-native equivalents, plus a 37% lift in intent and a 38% lift in favourability.
"TikTok challenges brands to behave in a way that truly engages by creating content in a social and platform-first manner," explains Byron Fitzpatrick, head of social, influencer and community at Now, one of the UK’s leading streaming platforms.
"Our tone of voice on social media aspires to be meme-first," Fitzpatrick continues. "We build for the vertical: incorporating animated text, TikTok trending music, CapCut templates, voiceovers and anything else we can find from our own personal use of TikTok."
"You have to behave differently on TikTok than on any other platform," Fitzpatrick points out. "You can't just post branded promos: no one will engage, and the algorithm will punish you. You have to create content to engage and grow your community."
Be part of the conversation
When building anticipation for a major new release, giving audiences behind-the-scenes teasers of the production can be a massive driver of the conversation. It worked wonders for the Barbie movie: behind-the-scenes shots started making waves a full year in advance, and it became the most-talked-about movie on TikTok, with over 2.2 billion views of #BarbieMovie.
"Sixty-three percent of TikTok users are looking for something new to watch or aren't sure what they want to watch, so inspiring them with a glimpse of your new show or movie, or highlighting the talent involved behind the scenes, helps satisfy this need," explains Naughton
Take people behind the scenes
Streaming brand Now aims to create engaging TikTok content that feels native to the platform
Now took to TikTok to create anticipation around the launch of new Succession episodes
Memes, trends and cultural moments around movies and shows often happen organically and are led by the community: for brands, being an authentic part of that conversation means being flexible, leaning into trends and encouraging co-creation.
"Be cognisant and reactive to trends – but ensure you do this in a timely manner," is Naughton's advice. "Some trends are evergreen on TikTok; others can have a shorter, rocket-like trajectory. Make sure it's current." For instance, Universal Pictures recently drew inspiration from the ongoing 'Wes Anderson' trend to create custom content with talent from Anderson's latest film, Asteroid City.
"Whether it's amazing mashups, professional-grade production design, or mind-blowing visual effects, the TikTok community has never had a problem finding incredible, inventive ways to tell a story," he says.
Shooting in a 9:16 aspect ratio helps content feel TikTok-native, and there are well-established tips and tricks to get the most from the platform. "Loops, transitions, and fast-paced fun and action all capture attention," adds Naughton. "And loud, distinctive audio drives added view-through rate (VTR) – as do upbeat sounds and cues."
Imitating Wes Anderson's directing style has become a common TikTok trend
Now took a twofold approach to build excitement for Succession season four on TikTok: engaging existing fans in a familiar tone of voice to drive nostalgia and fandom, while also raising awareness of the show for potential new fans.
When it comes to building momentum, the optimal amount of warm-up varies depending on the show. "If it's an existing IP [intellectual property] with big names, it's easier," reveals Now's Fitzpatrick. "You can be tactical against trailer drops and then jump on subsequent trending noise. But if the show is a lesser-known IP, you must think harder. It's best to let the show land and then work out how best to amplify a growing fandom."
Leading with talent is a sure-fire way to get engagement. People respond to faces: in fact, Naughton reveals it can double VTR compared with platform benchmarks. This is especially true when they're recognisable stars talking directly to camera, although it can be effective even for relative unknowns: compared to watching the same polished trailer you can find anywhere else, leading with people in a TikTok-native way feels more authentic.
"Seventy-eight percent of TikTok users agree you don't have to be famous or have thousands of followers already to go viral on TikTok," adds Naughton. "People come to TikTok for real human stories. If you can give a glimpse of the story with your trailer, this is where you'll see the most success."
Sources of data:
TikTok Marketing Science Creative Coding Analysis based on 3,500 TikTok ads that ran from 1/1/2021 to 10/1/2021 representing all major verticals, conducted by Kantar, 2022
Marketing Science EU Native vs Creative research 2021 conducted by Mindlab
And while scrolling the For You feed can provide quick-fix entertainment in and of itself, carefully tailored trailers can be a powerful tool – inspiring audiences to add movies and shows to their watchlist off the platform too.
"Eighty percent of TikTok users find interests they didn't know they had," continues Naughton. "The hashtag #movierecommendations has had over 10 billion views, so TikTok is a natural fit to create fandom. Brands who show up authentically are embraced by the community in ways they've never been before."
So, for entertainment brands what's the secret to creating an effective teaser campaign?
TikTok revealed its entertainment playbook for brands in July