Anyone who’s been paying attention over the last few years has watched TikTok gradually take over the world. The platform has gone from an obscure app with a limited user base to a thriving social media platform and a cultural force that rivals Google for user engagement. With its addictive design and outsized reach, marketers and influencers have picked up on its nearly limitless possibilities. The early naysayers have now come along and admitted that, far from a collection of dancing kids, inane stunts, and silly lip syncs, TikTok is a full-on force to be reckoned with.
Brand after brand has gotten onboard and found a way to communicate directly with their ideal audience of prospective customers. Companies find that the TikTok algorithm zeroes in so specifically on its user’s niche interests that, by the time an ad floats into a user’s feed, they’re already subtly primed to be curious and receptive to whatever the ad is offering. In fact, when placed and executed properly, it frequently takes an extra beat for users to clock that they’re even viewing an ad in the first place — the marketing content fits so cleanly into the flow of their scrolling and engagement.
Entrepreneur influencer Gary Vee emphasizes TikTok for business and brand leaders strategizing their next marketing move. “I get emails from OG real estate people all the time like ‘you know this is some bullsh*t, my business is down.’ I’m like, ‘You’re not making TikToks. You’re not posting. You still have f*ing bench ads. That’s why you’re losing … You sh*t on social — that’s where people’s attention is. You’re not making content. You still have a nice reputation, you’re getting some referrals, but you’re not as hungry anymore.”
Exploring the TikTok Creator Marketplace
The TikTok explosion is in part because of its content. The vast creator marketplace TikTok offers now hosts an unending barrage of witty, funny, educational, and highly specific stimulating short-form videos — ideal for all those in-between moments, the moments when people find themselves with a few minutes to kill on their phones, or even long stretches when users scroll to keep up with favorite creators. The platform has pioneered a highly accessible UX overlay that invites participation, cleverness, and real community building. While other platforms have given way to endless family and political drama or a curated “aspirational” aesthetic that feels false and misleading, the funny commentary and quirky trends on TikTok feel like a breath of fresh air.
Above all, TikTok has not yet succumbed to the outrage culture and negativity that drives so much of the engagement on platforms like Facebook and Twitter in particular. The nature of an on-the-fly, “self-taped,” unscripted video is to feel improvisatory and relatable. It immediately dispenses so much of the pretense endemic to other platforms. This tone and vibe factors into TikTok creator marketplace qualifications.
This is the headspace you want for your customers when they’re considering when to make a purchase. You want them eager for the possibilities a particular product provides, and you want them to feel a sense of connection with the influencer or communities it is tied to. You also want them to feel excited about how it will help them personally express themselves and enrich their lives. By centering its marketing in relevance as a casual proposition rather than part of a high-pressure bombardment of offers, TikTok is winning out in the social media sphere. The platform encourages users to digest and consider whatever you’re providing rather than guardedly throwing up their typical knee-jerk aversion.
While Facebook ads have become increasingly expensive with mixed results, TikTok offers the advantage of a “For You” page that distributes ads organically. It finds a deliberately less intrusive way to fold them in, one that’s not so grating on the user. A strong TikTok ad functions like any other piece of TikTok content while incorporating a soft sales component. Users don’t tend to feel like they’re being force-fed material they didn’t ask for — but they also don’t feel like they’re being manipulated or that the presence of the ad hasn’t been properly disclosed. So many social media spaces struggle to strike this balance in their ad programs, but TikTok does it beautifully.
TikTok vs Facebook Ads: The Nitty Gritty
If you’re wondering about a TikTok business vs. creator account, creator accounts refer to the TikTok “influencers” who can help facilitate your campaign. A TikTok content creator with a TikTok creator account will be your biggest ally. With TikTok and Facebook, because of the difference in their setup, it’s challenging to give a one-to-one comparison of exactly how ads perform across the two platforms. Because Facebook has grown oversaturated with a range of ads and content, most Facebook users have programmed themselves to identify and skip over this material. Think about your own Facebook habits. You’ve probably mastered the dance of skimming through your feed and stopping on relevant headlines or updates from friends while sidestepping as many ads as possible. Perhaps some of this content registers in the subconscious, but as a whole, you treat it much the same as junk mail or half-watched TV commercials.
TikTok began seriously exploring its advertising potential in 2019. At the time, the ads were actually expensive and prioritized companies who wanted to invest substantial marketing dollars. Now that TikTok has rolled out an advertising auction marketplace, the platform has made itself a feasible outlet for small businesses and companies who would prefer to allot a smaller portion of the overall marketing budget. TikTok provides many of the advantages of Facebook’s advertising auction marketplace. The platform targets users of a specific demographic whose interests match the products or services of your business.
Similar to Facebook’s advertising auction marketplace, TikTok allows marketers to start advertising with small budgets that target users with specific demographics and interests.
Because TikTok, in many respects, is still the new kid on the block, you’ll have less competition for coveted ad spots amid a lower volume of ads overall. It costs less money to engage your audience, and you’ll make a stronger impression when you do. How much do TikTok ads cost? TikTok’s CPM is about $1, with $2 to $3 for conversions and $5 for 10000 remarketing impressions. On Facebook, as a general rule, you can expect to pay as much as 20 times more for each of these.
However, it’s important to note that Facebook does offer the advantage of mature and scrupulously gathered data that allows you to target users with a high degree of specificity and accuracy. Because TikTok is in the process of amassing its data, it can’t yet guarantee the same volume of conversions. For businesses currently advertising through Facebook and other channels, if you are seeing a predictable and measurable degree of success, it wouldn’t make sense to jump ship. A worthwhile approach might be to allot a certain amount of money to spend on a TikTok ad campaign to gradually phase-in TikTok marketing alongside your current go-to platforms. From here, you can monitor how your ads perform and eventually dial in the correct ratio of TikTok to Facebook ads. At the end of the day, you’re working toward conversions, and you want to isolate a strategy that will give you the best and highest returns.
TikTok Ads vs. Facebook Ads: Some Potential Struggles
Like all marketing tools, TikTok doesn’t come without its own set of challenges and considerations, which will vary from business to business. Your company will have to go through a period of slight trial and error to find the kind of content that resonates and best conveys the strengths of your brand. You’ll be testing for the type of offers that most entice your audience and experimenting with the best ways to relay them. Maybe your brand benefits from an influencer or authority speaking directly to the camera and vouching for your offerings. On the other hand, you might want your spokesperson to be more of an “everyperson” figure who describes how they stumbled upon your product or service and used it to solve an especially vexing problem. Or perhaps your ads would do best to feature a montage of compelling clips and visuals forming an emotional picture of how your brand will elevate a user’s life.
The possibilities and opportunities are endless, but you’ll need to build in some time to try a few and find a formula that works for you. Remember that on the other side of your ad content, you’ll be directing users to a landing page that further involves them in your brand narrative. This page must compel them to complete a purchase and its design will likewise require time and effort to hone and master.
The strategies you deploy on TikTok will be much different than those on other spaces. Unlike traditional digital campaigns that get a lot of mileage from a set of ads you can reimplement or repurpose several times over, anticipate your TikTok content getting stale fast. The app is infused with new user-generated content on a daily basis, and if users find themselves repeatedly encountering the same video for weeks on end, it will become a bit of a joke, like an old ad on the street that never changes, season after season.
TikTok moves fast. You want to be sure you have the resources in place to continue producing new, creative content — a marketing engine that works quickly and stays fresh to keep pace with the patterns of the moment. You might consider looking into the TikTok Creative Exchange, an offering sponsored by TikTok that allows you to partner with creative experts who directly specialize in creating relevant brand videos.
Outlook for the Future
Just as Facebook seems to have risen and peaked over the course of a decade, there’s no telling what the digital space will look like ten to twenty years from now — whether or not VR really will be at the forefront of how we interact and live our lives, or whether we’ll see people consciously start moving away from their current online immersion.
Whatever the case, TikTok is the resource of the moment for corralling an audience of consumers who are looking for your wares and are interested in engaging in an immediate way and even spending their money in a similar fashion. Many businesses have begun to scale their TikTok ad spending beyond that of their Facebook budget. Agencies and internal marketing departments are finding more and more ways to have fun and communicate brand identities with zany, rapid-fire, off-the-wall videos — or even more serious, contemplative, and straightforward videos all geared to cultivate support for your brand.
If you’re new to TikTok or video content creation, now is the time to get on board and start exploring the medium as a way to reach your buyers and invite more people to discover who you are and what you’re about. Even if TikTok doesn’t take precedence as your reigning advertising outlet, the prominence of video and short-form content is here to stay. We may not know the form it will take several years down the line, but it has cemented itself in the minds of the public so much that we businesses have propelled ourselves into a newly transformed phase of our marketing makeup.