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The key for marketers is to harness ‘community commerce’, as viral content on TikTok rapidly drives global product demand
Inspire Creativity. Bring Joy. Build Brands.
For marketers, the ‘golden quarter’ can be the most wonderful time of year. Packed full of promotional events and festive shopping occasions, it’s a critical opportunity in the retail calendar to drive up sales and build relationships with consumers actively looking to splash out.
For much the same reason, though, it can be tough to be heard against the clamour of the competition. Marketers need to find a way to stay relevant and stand out, even more so as the cost-of-living crisis looks set to leave consumers with less to spend this festive season, and brands’ likewise have to rein in spending.
Leveraging entertainment platforms like TikTok can be an invaluable way of cutting through the noise that surrounds heavy shopping seasons, given one in three users globally want commerce to be more entertaining.
Because TikTok serves up personalised content of entertaining inspiration, discovery and information, the community on TikTok is actively engaged with what lands in their For You feed, and that includes products or shopping content. Rather than a passive experience, in which viewers mindlessly scroll through content, TikTok users are actively engaged on the app, proactively seeking out content that resonates with them and using the platform as a source of inspiration and information.
In fact, no less than a quarter of users say they have gone on to purchase a product that they’ve seen while on the platform. And that only increases at this time of year. According to 2020 shopping behaviour research by Walnut Unlimited, 79% of users said that TikTok had played a role in their purchases and gifts over the holiday season.
These collaborations lend brand content significant credibility. In fact, according to analysis by TikTok’s Marketing Science team, there was a 112% uplift in two-second view rates for ad content made alongside a creator, and 27% higher recall for this content too. It also generated a 93% increase in engagement.
“Finally, being entertaining and thinking natively for TikTok is key to community commerce,” says Koucheksarai. “Utilising creative tropes like overlays, transitions and text-to-speech in TikTok can help to land your ad creative effectively with audiences, driving inspiration and participation. Working with creators, or even TikTok Creative Marketing Partners, are great ways to address this creative opportunity if you need help.”
If they follow these steps, brand teams will already be in with a far better chance of gaining traction on the entertainment platform. But they can also accelerate these efforts even further by making use of a number of commerce-specific tools that TikTok has developed. These include Video Shopping Ads, the platform’s newest ad solution – currently in open beta – which allows brands to “supercharge their ecommerce campaigns in one simplified buying tool available in TikTok Ads Manager”, explains Koucheksarai. Here, advertisers can serve personalised product recommendations based on a user's interactions and automatically target users based on where they are on their purchase journey.
Engage both large and niche communities
How to drive sales on TikTok in the festive season
So, how can marketers optimise their brand performance on the platform this Christmas?
“To get the most out of TikTok this festive season, marketers need to harness the power of a new kind of shopping culture – community commerce,” advises Niusha Koucheksarai, head of brand partnerships for the UK at TikTok. “TikTok lives at the intersection of commerce, entertainment and community, where a single piece of content can quickly go viral and create demand globally.
“To do this, marketers should think about engaging relevant audiences from both large and niche communities on TikTok to discover passionate, leaned-in audiences.”
At this time of year in particular, that means getting involved in trending conversations, communities and hashtags. #ChristmasTok, for instance, already has over a billion views, as users indulge in content that features cosy Christmas jumpers, hot chocolate, baking and plenty of well-known brand names too. For brands, these trends can either be identified organically by discovering relevant conversations happening around hashtags on the platform, or by using TikTok’s Creative Radar tool.
Collaborating with TikTok creators should be another key part of any marketer’s TikTok toolkit, says Koucheksarai. “They are trusted voices within their respective communities, and by working with a diverse range of creators who align with your brand and vision, you can connect more authentically with relevant audiences.”
“Being entertaining and thinking natively for TikTok is key to community commerce.”
— Niusha Koucheksarai, TikTok
More detailed guidance on creative, performance and activation planning is available in TikTok's 'The Marketers Guide to Retail and E-Commerce' - available to download here
Create platform hype
When beauty brand Wonderskin wanted to build awareness of its signature lip stain, it used Video Shopping Ads to run a series of native tutorial style ads that featured Product Cards, to promote different colours of the product. When users clicked through they were taken to a Dynamic Destination, which automatically selects the most suitable in-app destination or landing page determined by a user’s intent to buy. Wonderskin was able to specifically target audiences interested in beauty and make-up, and increased return on ad spend (ROAS) by 46% as a result.
Another option is to craft a strong in-feed ad strategy that integrates seamlessly into users’ For You page, and can be optimised for a range of performance goals. For vintage women’s fashion brand Motel Rocks, for example, a key goal was to create a full-funnel strategy taking users all the way from inspiration to purchase. To do this, the brand used visual product-led assets in TikTok-first ads that ran in the For You feed. The result was a 1,186% increase in complete payments.
At Chelsea FC, meanwhile, the plan was to use bespoke TikTok content to deepen brand relationships with its community online. To complement this, the football club used the platform's follower acquisition tool, Community Interaction, to target new audiences and drive interest in its content. The result was a 45% increase in followers and a 179% uplift in downloads of its app.
In short, although there are many different ways in which marketers can utilise TikTok this Christmas to drive engagement, awareness and – ultimately – sales, the key is just to get started.
“There are opportunities to connect with audiences throughout their whole Cyber Month journey – from finding inspiration, to shopping together, to delivery and unboxing, which are all popular content categories on the platform,” Koucheksarai says. “Brands should look to create platform hype – using countdown stickers, exclusive drops or sharing behind-the-scenes looks to create connection, excitement and favourability with communities.”