How Brands Are Winning at TikTok

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At a recent Brand Innovators livecast event called Talking TikTok, brands open up about how they are embracing the emerging social media channel and using it to reach new audiences.

Consumers are increasingly spending time on TikTok leading more brands to enter the channel and build authentic connections with audiences spending time on the network.

At a recent Brand Innovators livecast event called Talking TikTok, brands open up about how they are embracing the emerging social media channel and using it to reach new audiences.


“TikTok’s been an incredible platform for us, most notably because it hosts a totally different audience than we’re seeing on a lot of our other platforms,” said Brandon Coleman, CMO of Dave & Busters. “It also resonates with our brand. I always believe that you should match your brand with the medium and there’s some things that some brands shouldn’t participate in. For us, TikTok’s been exceptional, it’s filled with positivity, with that winning feeling, and that’s very much where Dave & Busters plays. That’s part of our brand personality.” 


Erin Levzow, VP of Marketing Technology at Del Taco said that TikTok offers Del Taco a way to reach new consumers, but requires its own unique approach. “Content is king,” said Levzow. “What that means is that content needs to be specific to the platform and you need to be producing many different facets of content. The same thing you would put on Facebook isn't what you would put on Twitter or a website. Your content needs to be specific to your channel. The more channels you have, the more content differentiation. What works on Tik Tok, does not work on other platforms.” 


Creators drive the conversation on the TikTok platform which can help brands connect with consumers in more authentic ways. 

“The storytelling on TikTok is really sensational,” said Melissa Carnegie, Head of Community and Communications at beauty brand Cantu. “TikTok is such a creative, educational and informative platform. When we wash our hair and get ready for the day, we all have a playlist on when we’re getting ready. Music really goes hand-in-hand with hair, so TikTok was such a natural fit for our brand and our consumers to dive into.” 

Underwear brand MeUndies built is brand in the social space and knows the power of viral marketing. On TikTok the brand leans into the trends that are happening in the moment to engage with audiences. “There is an audience for just about everything, but being able to understand how to translate what you are talking about with the business and the products, making sure that it still resonates naturally is super important,” said Elyse Schaefer, Senior Growth Manager at MeUndies.

Pet collar DTC brand Halo Collar has relied on TikTok to help tell its story to pet owners.

“TikTok is one of our main platforms that I want to leverage,” said  Ken Ehrman, Founder and Managing Partner at Halo Collar. For our product we’re really trying to be the more modern version of the invisible fence. From an awareness standpoint, that’s why we partner with the D'Amelios, because we really want to get the message out there. Caesar Millan designed it but not everyone is Caesar, he’s unbelievable, but the regular person has to be able to use the technology too and that’s what the D’Amelios represent. They take Caesar’s invention and use it to have an off-leash safe life with their dogs.” 

Sandie Hawkins, GM of North America, Global Business Solutions at TikTok said that the type of content they are seeing has really matured from just a singing and dancing platform. This includes great DIY content from science and math teachers that she and her daughter love to view. Brands using the channel should understand how users are discovering content socially in order to reach people on this network.

“TikTok is different from every other platform, it’s built on a content graph and for discovery,” said Hawkins. “What makes TikTok special is that any type of content and anyone can be discovered, and anyone can also be any brand. The algorithm is working to deliver content that’s relevant to you. My “For You” page on TikTok is filled with dogs and science experiments and cooking. It’s different for everyone, and that’s what’s incredible about the community TikTok has created, all of those different elements are there for everybody who’s on the platform.” 

The new TikTok Creator Marketplace API which launched last month is designed to help brands connect with relevant influencers that are open to working on sponsored content.


“We’re building a whole marketing partner program with a focus on the companies that are enabling creators to work with brands in the best way possible,” said Oliver Silzer, Manager, Strategic Partnerships at TikTok. “I think this really speaks to the evolution of where our creative program started, kind of more in the video production space which is still doing good but also, understanding some of the needs and wants of our clients and being able to take that to the next level. It also demonstrates our commitment to our creators. Aside from making sure that our brands and partners have the opportunity to succeed, we also say that this is the perfect way for them to get even more exposure and opportunities to drive revenue for themselves.” 

Partnering with the right TikTok influencer can be as powerful as an endorsement from a sports or movie star. With TikTok, I think the influencer is really changing the new celebrity,” said My Nguyen, TikTok Creator. “I think TikTok influencers are becoming the new trendsetters and the new trailblazers. I see it everyday where traditional media is reaching out to us, you know, we were on The Doctors this week. They’re reaching out to top creators to be on mainstream because I think mainstream is really a turtle in the race, and they want a piece of the action.” 

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