There’s a new kid on the block when it comes to social media marketing, and it’s quickly surpassed its rivals as the most popular among the younger generations, aka Generation Z and, more recently, Millennials. As of 2020, TikTok is the fastest growing social platform, with 41% of its 800 million users in the 16-24 demographic spending an average of 52 minutes a day on the platform. That’s a lot of disposable income, so it makes sense that brands would want to tap into its user base and create a TikTok marketing strategy. 

Following on from our recent blog on the subject, the same goes for Instagram Reels, which is hot on TikTok’s heels, a copycat feature with the added bonus of Instagram’s whopping 1.5billion users. But how, we hear you cry? How does one leverage the powers of Instagram Reels and TikTok with solely short-form video posts? Well, as TikTok’s own business campaign proclaims:

“Don't Make Ads, Make TikToks!”

Sounds good, but what does that mean exactly? And how does that translate when it comes to Instagram Reels? To help you get the best out of your Reels and TikTok marketing strategy, we’ve gathered some top tips on how to get the best out of both platforms. So, you can spend less time trying to be “down with the kids” learning the lingo, and more time maximising your reach to a highly active Generation Z audience, and let’s face it - all of their bored Millennial / Gen X / Boomer family and friends who have caught the TikTok buzz along the way. 

1. Stay hot on hashtags and trend spotting

If there’s one element of TikTok and Instagram Reels that will be familiar to marketers active on Twitter and Instagram (and arguably Facebook and LinkedIn), it’s the power of using the right hashtags. By applying hashtags, brands can expect to:

  • Amplify the reach of their content

  • Identify competitors in the market

  • Increase their follower count

Ultimately, using the right hashtags on TikTok catalogues your content so that your clip will appear in the relevant feed and reach your target audience. Finding suitable hashtags for your post can be as easy as putting a keyword into a generator such as All Hashtag, but trending hashtags can also be found by looking through the most popular posts in the ‘Discover’ feature in TikTok and ‘Explore’ feature in Instagram Reels.

How do you know which Reels and TikTok hashtags to use? 

To avoid your content getting lost in a sea of posts, it’s important to keep your hashtags relevant and, as always, the more niche the better. For example, try to avoid the temptation to use high level hashtags like #christmas #dress or #london #event and instead use specific hashtags that relate to your clip, such as #alternativechristmas #dressoftheday #londonatnight or a designated hashtag assigned to that particular event, and so on.

Hashtag research is often an afterthought, but it’s also a great way to inform your Reels or TikTok marketing strategy. If you look out for trending hashtags and act fast enough, you can even create videos relating to these trends and include a creative and unique twist that works for your brand. There are some great hashtag finder tools out there, including TikTokHashtags.com, and those already familiar with Instagram, can use the same techniques to research hashtags for Reels. 

If you want to get your head around how hashtags work in TikTok, then check out this video:

2. Let Reels and TikTok Influencers create your content

“People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories, and magic.” Seth Godin

A sentiment that wholeheartedly applies when it comes to using brand-new platforms like TikTok. If it isn’t creative, if it isn’t “magic” – it's not going to TikTok the boxes! The best way to tap into the power of Reels and TikTok is to create a UGC (user-generated content) campaign with influencers already nailing it on the platform. 

Generation Z lives for immersion. They won’t sit at home watching broadcast TV, they prefer engaging with content that’s more active, that helps them feel involved and part of the conversation. It’s no secret that influencer marketing is an effective way to reach your target audience and gain trust faster, but expanding your strategy to encourage your existing customers to shout about their purchases is also an easy way to make sure your products are being promoted via user-generated content. 

3. Show fellow TikTokers you care about their content

Most social networks reward frequent user engagement, and comments are one of the best ways to achieve this. Even more so in TikTok, in fact comments are one of the best features. So, show TikTokers some love by latching onto a post that actively requests themed comments. TikTok also ranks its comments by the number of likes awarded by other users, so spend a little time thinking through your responses to others’ posts, and opt for something that fills the narrative between your brand, their profile, and their followers.

As for Reels, the same Instagram rules apply, engage, comment, like - care! If your business engages with relevant Reels and TikTok content, you will flag your profile to other users, and build up conversations with your potential customers. Over time, your brand will build enough presence to present itself as the leading voice in those conversations, becoming influential in its own right. 

However, when it comes to comments, always make them meaningful and relatable, and remember: nobody likes a lurker.

4. Stay active and keep the content coming

Instagram’s algorithm is famous in influencer spheres for correlating post frequency with appearance on user’s feeds, which is why you’ll see many of the biggest influencers posting daily, if not several times a day. TikTok’s algorithm works in exactly the same way. Post regularly, and TikTok rewards your account with better visibility – leading to increased conversion when it comes to building your followers.

In addition to meeting the algorithmic flow of each platform, the amount of content you need to post across social media platforms directly relates to the shelf life of posts, which are:

  • Twitter  - 18 minutes

  • Instagram - 21 hours

  • Facebook - 5 hours

While no such analysis exists yet for TikTok, as a 60-second video platform, it’s likely to sit somewhere in between the shelf life of posts on Twitter and Instagram. Think of it this way, the more content you put out, the more of users’ time you’re single-handedly drawing to the platform and the easier it will be for your audience to find you.

5. Be clever with effects but don't lose clarity

Influencer Marketing Hub discovered that at least one-billion videos were viewed on TikTok on a daily basis. TikTok’s gained in popularity since then, and as you can imagine the number of videos shared every 24 hours is astronomical. It’s therefore incredibly important to do something different to stand out from the crowd, and fortunately TikTok has plenty of effects to help.

Try features in the Trending, New, Interactive, Editing, Beauty, Funny, World or Animal categories, or include a green screen effect so you can add your own backgrounds. There’s no right or wrong to which categories you use – but you must make sure they’re in line with your unique brand voice and tone. Don’t try to be cool for cool sake and drown out your content with too many filters or effects. Do what works and lean on your creative team and Generation Z insiders in the business to make it work.

6. Get to grips with Reels and TikTok ads

The younger generation are cynical about traditional advertising. It’s an interruption to the content they really want to take in. They use ad blockers online, experience “banner blindness”, and generally ignore brand messages delivered on their favoured channels – unless you’re crafty! 

TikTok has introduced a formal advertising system to make it easy to advertise on the channel. The three types of ads on TikTok are:

  1. In-feed native ads - the nearest variation to a traditional ad. You can add website links and “Order Now” buttons, but they’re skippable by users.

  2. Hashtag challenge ads - a banner ad that takes the user to a page of instructions and rules of the featured challenge. You can use it to target specific consumers.

  3. Brand takeover ads - a mix of images, GIFs, and video clips that link to a landing page or hashtag challenge.

It’s a good idea to balance the type of content you share on TikTok, based around the three pillars of communication: inform, inspire and engage. Having influencers wearing your product engage in a dance trend keeps things authentic, for example, and would be a far better choice than pulling together a staged catwalk look.

7. Leverage Millennial & Gen Z friends and colleagues

Your audience is in the office, at home or even when you are out at the pub, when social distancing allows. Sound things out with active TikTok and Reels users, whether they are in the workplace or at home. If you have Millennial and Generation Z employees, even if they don’t work in the marketing team - leverage them.  Chances are they live and breathe TikTok, so get them in the room when you’re brainstorming and ask for feedback on content or recommendations on influencers they think would suit the business. We did! Our recent Generation Z intern has been invaluable in creating these blog posts and tips for brands! CEO, Daniel Andrews points out that Gen Z are the most digitally native generation yet having been born into a world of smartphones and tablets, which also means they have higher expectations that constantly adapt as technology evolves. For brands to keep up, they need to adapt and, most importantly listen. Daniel explains:

“For us listening comes first, it’s so important - especially with Gen Z. Only by listening and understanding their needs “now” can we tailor our approach accordingly. This can be done with social listening tools, such as Meltwater or market research data like Mintel or just good old fashioned conversations. Your audience is right in front of you, so speak to employees, friends or family and listen.“

Be bold, be creative and leverage influencer UGC

Videos may be the heart of Reels and TikTok, but it’s not enough to simply transfer ads or videos built for other channels to this platform – the rules of the game are totally different.

To effectively market through these new channels, consider how the patterns of their user base may be altered from other channels, as well as your target demographic. Be consistent with content that inspires your audience, engage with leaders in the conversations you want to be part of, and target potential customers through tailored ads, effective hashtag strategy and partnerships with key influencers in your field. Follow these guidelines and you should begin to see the benefits.

Need more help with your Reels and TikTok marketing strategy? We’ve got you covered, just get in touch to find out how we can help you create your Reels and TikTok marketing strategy. We’ll also be sharing the next blog in the TikTok / Reels series very soon that focuses on how to work with Reels and TikTok influencers to generate engaging content.

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