How to make a product placement work on Tik Tok

How to make a product placement work on Tik Tok

As a young upstart, Tik Tok’s 22 per cent of UK internet users may be dwarfed by the likes of Instagram and Facebook but what interests brands is time spent ‘in app’. On this count, its 14 million UK users are far more engaged than other platforms. Average time in app for Instagram is 143 seconds while Tik Tok boasts 317 seconds. And there is real value for brands in such engagement levels.

But if you want to place a product that not only reaches and engages but also coverts Tik Tok users, here are some dos and don’ts.

Drew Benvie, CEO & Founder of Battenhall, has run highly successful campaigns for NHS England to encourage 16-24 year olds to comply with covid lockdowns last year via Tik Tok and for Cambridge University to increase student applications from British Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities.

Katie Buckett, Co-Founder of One Fifty Consultancy, has created viral campaigns for brands on Tik Tok and other platforms, including a short video for Toby Carvery Restaurants that generated 1.2 million Tik Tok views.

Adam Clyne, CEO of Coolr and a former COO of LADBible group, has created numerous Tik Tok campaigns and Coolr is an Official Creative Partner of the platform. Last year, Coolr launched Burger King’s Tik Tok channel and was part of the team that launched Pepsi’s global channel.

These are their tips for generating reach, engagement and conversion on Tik Tok:

DOS:

  • Get on Tik Tok now. Adam says, “This is a moment of explosive growth of users and reach and it won’t last forever. So the brands that get on early will capture the audience and keep them whereas those that sit on the fence will struggle when the algorithm inevitably changes and the focus on paid reach grows.”
  • Treat it as PR. Drew says, “The biggest opportunity is to consider a Tik Tok product placement as PR rather than advertising.”
  • Relax on ‘quality’. “Tik Tok is not a polished platform. So ask yourself: are you comfortable as a brand with the type of content and quality on Tik Tok?” says Katie, pointing to her agency’s viral work for Toby Carvery as an example. “Highly polished content like automotive ads is jarring and so reach and engagement drops off.”
  • Fight for authenticity. Drew’s agency has created a charter, a Statement of Authenticity. “We work by it and ask creators or influencers to sign it and work to it,” he says.
  • Spend time on the platform. “It’s very user-generated and authentic. Unless you spend time on Tik Tok it’s very difficult to understand that,” says Katie.
  • Find a relevant influencer. “The easiest way is to place a product is to find out who is influential. But it is essential to offer a collaboration to the right person, with a relevant and authentic voice,” says Drew.
  • Post in batches. Katie says, “How often you post is not the same as other platforms. We find batches of content are most effective, with warm-up content posted Wednesday to Friday and the strongest content at weekends, when people spend more time in app.”
  • Support organic with paid. “If you are successful, remember to boost your content with ads,” says Drew. Adam agrees and adds, “While the organic reach is inevitably strong at the moment I would not really recommend leaving its performance to chance. Going viral should never be a brand’s strategy.”

DON’TS:

  • Check industry regulations. “If you’re in a regulated industry, there is no age gating on Tik Tok, so don’t go there,” says Katie.
  • You don't need to pay influencers if you make your offer irresistible. Drew says, “If you work with an influencer, the secret to success is to offer them a product that is so compelling that they want to share it with their audience. It is very normal for influencers to have a price. But given that authenticity is so key, if you have to pay a lot, it won’t be authentic.”
  • Don’t create ads. “Brands forget”, says Katie, “why people are on Tik Tok. It’s an entertainment platform. So brands need to understand that people are there to be entertained and want familiar content. If you use content that works on Facebook or Instagram, 95 per cent of the time, that doesn’t work.” Adam agrees, saying, “Don’t make ads – make TikToks! It is a content-rich environment and there is definitely a place for brands to play a role and be part of the conversation but it is important that the content feels native and authentic to the platform and what users want from it.”
  • Watch out for fake accounts. Don’t work with an influencer without doing your research, advises Drew. “Brands have to make sure they are not paying a fake account to promote content. It will lead to failure.”
  • Avoid overt selling. Adam says,Consumers on TikTok are happy to interact with brands and their content – but the brands must give some added value to the community, either through entertainment or education. The brands that are overtly trying to sell maybe won’t see the same kind of ROI at the moment. But brands who get it right can and will see huge returns on their investment.”
  • Don’t be a lookalike. Adam advises, “The platform is still so new, so it is tempting to try and copy brands that are doing it well – but it is important for a brand to find who they are, have a distinctive creative approach and ‘ownable’ tone of voice for TikTok.”