TikTok and B2B may seem like chalk and cheese. But a successful TikTok account can work as a fun and important part of the attract phase in the inbound marketing flywheel.
Read on for why B2B brands can and should get on TikTok, and some handy tips and tricks to make your B2B TikTok account a success.
Totally. Many people dismiss its potential as a business opportunity because of its young audience: 26% of UK users are 18-24, and only 9.3% are 25-34 year olds. But with 3.7m active users in the UK and rising, that’s still a pretty large audience.
Plus, because TikTok is so influential in popular culture, publications will often report on viral TikToks, accounts and trends, helping you gain reach outside of the platform. Tiktoks can be great for disrupting feeds: Noisy Little Monkey gets strong engagement and reactions to the tiktoks we post on LinkedIn, probably because people aren’t used to seeing them!
Tip: The average TikTok engagement numbers are often wildly higher than other platforms. If you need a pick-me-up in your monthly reporting, it’s worth thinking about!
All that said, it’s super important to consider your brand voice and buyer personas before launching into it. Corporate TikTok… doesn’t really work. There’s very little tolerance for formal brand voices or obvious advertising.
It is possible to be more fun than usual without diluting your brand. For instance, The Washington Post is normally quite formal, but has an extremely silly TikTok identity. But do weigh up if that’s right for your brand identity. If not, consider asking your employees to join TikTok as themselves, but focus their content on what it’s like to use your software or work for your business (like this amazing example from Walmart). That way they can be informal and personal without diluting your brand voice.
Interested in getting your B2B business on TikTok? Let’s get into it.
Hear me out. You’re used to making beautifully styled, explicitly commercial advertising on other social media channels like Instagram and Facebook. That won’t fly here. If you go overly flashy and corporate on TikTok, you’ll just get skipped.
As Maurizio Pittau says, TikTok users ‘are not interested in your webinar, your whitepaper, your best practices, or your SaaS software’. Instead, they are looking for content that is ‘creative, funny, and build(s) communities'. TikTok audiences still want content that adds value, they just value different things - tiktoks they can share with their friends because they’re funny, smart or ridiculous.
This goes against normal social media best practices of trying to stand out. The more you can emulate classic TikTok styles and current trends, the more likes, shares and engagement you’ll get. If in doubt, err on the side of humour, sarcasm, and chaos!
If you do want to explicitly advertise, TikTok has some business focused advertising offerings.
The best use case of this is Sage, who launched the first B2B advertising campaign on TikTok. They used a combination of sponsored hashtags, UGC challenges for prize money, and a platform-wide brand takeover. LinkedIn has also recently launched a brand takeover and hashtag that incorporates current video & audio trends.
If you want to follow suit, here are your options:
Sponsored Hashtags - These will appear on some of the Discover pages and are supposed to encourage UGC and influencers to get involved with your campaign. They can be effective, but people will often use current, sponsored hashtags on completely unrelated content as a way of trying to trick TikTok into showing their content on the For You Page.
Boosted Content - This is where you’ve created a tiktok that you want to boost as an advert. There are two possibilities:
Lenses - These effects go over user’s videos, and often become synonymous with certain video formats, challenges or memes. They can be 2D or 3D. If they’re good, they have a lot of reach and can drive engagement.
Influencers - As with any social media, you can reach out to influencers to engage with your content. Some influencers on TikTok have millions of followers, but it’s really important to pick wisely so you’re actually reaching the personas that are relevant to your brand. For comprehensive advice on how to work with influencers, check out this talk from Natalie Lam at Digital Gaggle.
This tiktok says it in one: don’t go overboard with your video quality or staging. The more home-made your tiktok looks, the more likely a user will mistake it for content and not just skip it straight away.
If Innocent Drinks is anything to go by, the more your boss disapproves of your shoddy quality tiktok, the better it will perform. Especially if you outright acknowledge that…
Hello young people. Is this how you do the TikTok? #DownWithTheKids♬ original sound - innocent drinks
The MVP of businesses on TikTok has to be Innocent Drinks. They have high engagement and loads of shares because it’s so surprising that their main account is that ridiculous. They’re also great at creating content in reaction to their engagement, which encourages people to engage more.
You reply specifically to a comment by clicking it and creating a reaction video in response, which encourages people to comment more and drives engagement. You can see an example of this below.
Reply to @booopawoop YES♬ original sound - louise 🌾
A screenshot of Costa Coffee's TikTok content
As a comparison, when Costa first joined TikTok, they used similar imagery but different audios, which is counterintuitive to the TikTok norms. Their style was also similar to the Innocent Drinks account only more polished and cringeworthy.
The reactions to Costa Coffee's TikTok content...
Clearly it didn’t work, because they’ve now cottoned on and started doing more classic TikTok style content.
Costa Coffee's more authentic looking TikTok
Hello young people. Is this how you do the TikTok? #DownWithTheKids♬ original sound - innocent drinks
Accept the fact that pre-teens are probably going to rinse you. It’s just how TikTok works.
There are a few ways around this - many older tiktok users will explicitly acknowledge this, and brands can do the same. Innocent also did this well: their first tiktok explicitly joked that they were nailing being “down with the kids”, which by being funny and self-aware in its acknowledgment that they would get it wrong, got it right. The more explicitly self-aware you can be, the better!
Be careful of pandering. TikTok users will call out shallow attempts at marking events like Pride Month in a bland, corporate way. But, if you get it right they will praise and publicise you for it.
If you want to acknowledge or focus on an issue or event that involves a marginalised identity, your best bet is to pay an influencer of that identity to advise you, or take over your account for a day.
Similarly to The Washington Post, Sweet and Nice Ice Cream have chosen one (silly & funny) person to be the main face of their tiktok account. Even if you have a team supporting them, it might be worth choosing one or two people to be the main characters on your account. Give people behind the scenes content of what it’s like to work at your company. Extra points if you use a popular format & sound… full marks to Procreate for this example below.
Don’t be afraid to use your tiktoks in other places. Instagram has brought in Reels - a carbon copy of TikTok - with mixed success. Most of the content is just people uploading tiktoks, so don’t be afraid to just repost your tiktoks as reels by downloading the finished video from the app. More tips for repurposing content can be found on this blog here!
It’s normal for users to create challenges and for people to try and copy them. Try creating songs to duet, dances to learn, or hard-to-do stunts for people to try that relate to your offering. If you’re not getting much engagement, try turning it into a competition with some prize money for the winning entry!
The tiktok above, other than being a total bop, succinctly lists some of the regular cardinal mistakes older people commit when using the app. For instance, even as a brand, don’t give a long description in your bio! The vaguer you can be, the better.
It’s also really important to caption all your videos. Tiktok users will sometimes scroll with the sound off, which would mean skipping anything without captions. Plus, it’s really important for accessibility, and the disabled and neuro-diverse communities are refreshingly front and centre in many TikTok communities.
Tag most of your videos with #fyp or #fypシ, as that signals that the content is suitable for the For You page. As for the description, if in doubt, under explain. Embrace chaos.
A screenshot of the Discover section on TikTok
Be reactive! The quicker you can jump on the latest trend or sound, the more likely it is to pick up on the For You Page and go viral. Jumping on a trend from a month ago probably won’t get you anywhere and might just be embarrassing. To view what’s current, just go to the Discover section and look at the trending hashtags.
You can get a sense of current video formats just by scrolling enough. Because of how TikTok specifies content, it’s important that your feed is similar to what your ideal customers are seeing. This can be a great persona exercise: get a new TikTok account and try to use it like your chosen buyer persona. What do they find funny? What do they search for and who do they follow? Once you’ve done this, it will be far easier to know who to emulate and what trends to pick up.
B2B professionals often want to be better at their job. Don’t be afraid to share knowledge by remaking your blogs as “tips” videos. As you can see from the examples below, these still follow usual TikTok formats but provide helpful information relevant to the account's audience.
TikTok isn’t like Instagram - your content reaches lots more people than just your followers. Because of the way the For You Page works, viral tiktoks can increase your followers tenfold in a single afternoon. Keep putting out good content, and if it’s not working, try something else.
Tiktok is not the place for long-form content, it’s not possible. If you have lots of content to deliver on a particular topic, do a series, where each point is its own tiktok. Just make sure to signpost pt.2, pt.3 etc, and consider asking users to follow for pt.2!
And that’s all, folks! TikTok is still the newest kid on the social media block, so we’re all still learning. If you want tips on how to manage the rest of your social media, you can download the free guide below!
Saving clients from bad marketing and design is Andy's MO. He writes helpful blog content on all sorts of marketing topics so that you get the advice you need to take your job by storm.
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