TikTok today, is like what buying real estate in Australia was 20 years ago. For me, growing up in the South Eastern suburbs of Melbourne (Bentleigh to be specific), Brighton was where the dreamers moved. When we first moved there my parents purchased a ramshackled, nicotine stained, federation style house that needed to be knocked down. We slogged it out in that place for a solid 3 years, moved out, demolished and rebuilt. Ten years post-purchase my parents essentially flipped the place for a 10-12x return. Setting them up for the rest of their lives.
You can see where I’m going with this. TikTok is all the rage, and rightly so because the numbers are showing why the investment (like my parents in Brighton) was worth it. If you’re thinking of expanding your content strategy onto TikTok though, the last thing you want is to waste time on things that don’t work. So what do you need to focus on? Formats, content strategy, tone of voice, memes and consistency. If you want to learn more about how we’ve nailed TikTok for consumer brands, keep reading.
TikTok is, fundamentally, a short-form entertainment platform of UGC videos (User Generated Content). The Feed is for all intents, similar to Reels (yes they copied TikTok) and has the speed in the spread of content formats similar to what you’d expect on Twitter.
Originally a boom in for Gen Z, the breadth for targeting now is much more widely distributed we’re seeing the following numbers for generic audience targeting as of Jun 27, 2023:
Note: all of these numbers exclude under 17s as they’re not able to be targeted.
Clearly these are numbers that you should be turning your nose up at.
Yes, Instagram still has bigger and a more commercially minded audience, but don’t be surprised how quickly this is moving. Per AppFigures, these are the screenshots we had on the the most widely downloaded App as of May 2022.
But it won’t be here forever. Intriguingly, you can see how hard quickly attention is being reduced on-platform by the amount of creators minted overnight, from The Information & Trendpop. Talent often act as long tail signals for what happens for brands, and the per capita number of 1M+ following creator can be seen in our own roster. Back in 2020/21 it was an arms race between us and other talent agencies to sign as many people as possible. Now that the dust has settled, it’s proving harder and harder to find those “up and coming” creators.
But with the throttling of creator growth, the platform has reached a good equilibrium where more and more brands are now coming on board for organic content, influencer marketing or paid ads with TikTok For Business.
The investment by TikTok in the For Business System is significant as well for such a young platform, comparatively to Meta we find their Creator Partner and Business team far more engagement and with triple the headcount here in Australia.
This entire guide will use lingo that I think is important for you to have a grasp on, so you can understand what works on TikTok organically. This includes:
When you’re on the native app you have different content feeds you can access.
All of your discovery happens on FYP, it’s where everyone spends the bulk of their time. Accounts you follow will also appear here:
You can also view content from those you are Following or Friends if you want to keep up with what’s been going on there:
The concept of a format is something I come back to repeatedly with talent when we’re coaching them through what makes and drives their attention as a “brand”.
A format, is essentially a combination of a creative and story. Think:
There are 1000s of iterations and remixes of UGC formats that can work on TikTok, and every niche has its own style that clearly suits it. But every now and then someone will come along to that industry or niche and blow things up, reinventing the wheel on-platform. What matters is you’re unique, willing to test what works on platform and find what works.
When I talk to talent we consistently emphasise the Disney model of content creation and commercialisation. That is finding stories (or formats) that people love, doubling down on them, but also keeping the window open for the experimentation of what’s new with the market.
Whether you like it or not, you don’t do $82.7 billion (USD) in revenue without understanding the entertainment business and its commercialisation to customers.
The results we see from talent that we sign or brands that we represent creatively over sees an explosion in attention when they follow this strategy.
Memes are like the DNA of our internet culture. Think of them as these viral ideas, images, or catchphrases that spread like wildfire across the web. Richard Dawkins coined the term "meme" back in 1976 in his book "The Selfish Gene", to explain how ideas spread across generations.
Fast-forward to 2023 and thanks to platforms like Reddit, Twitter, and the OG days of Tumblr, Memes blew up. They capture feelings, jokes, and reactions in just one picture, video or GIF.
So, whether it's a dancing baby from the 90s or that iconic Kermit sipping tea, memes are the beating heart of online pop culture, connecting millions, if not billions, through shared laughter and relatable moments.
What TikTok has done, by being an inherently digital first platform, has translated memes at a far greater volume.
Memetic “Trends” on-platform will blow up overnight and almost die instantly, while others will go for weeks on end.
The aim of the game here is to keep yourself exploring the search element and FYP of the platform to understand those trends, then hijack them, and remix them in a way that works for your brand.
This is the hardest part of any good TikTok strategy, and often why brands hire our team. Which leads us to creativity.
The hardest part of nailing TikTok from the get-go is creativity. Creativity is a talent that you can be born with, for others it requires work. You must understand your personality to deliver a cadence that will work for you as a brand on-platform. If you think that you can bash out 5-6 pieces per week, but have never been a truly extroverted or creative person, you are setting yourself up for failure.
What matters first on TikTok is consistency, if that means you can only publish twice a week at first. Do that.
Then you need to get onto writing and planning your content.
This is where you get into the remixing. Let’s say you’ve defined your format. Now you need to write out your Hook (the line/thing/idea) that will keep people engaged in those first 3-6 seconds. If you can keep someone’s attention on-platform for greater than that, they will often watch the full video.
If you’re every stuck on where to start, consider looking at:
Here’s a process we’ve developed internally for identifying the perfect hook, and is something we discuss every Tuesday during our creative pow-wow on current accounts on the roster:
Assuming you have your concept and have filmed the video, now it’s time to edit. Your best place to do this is CapCut, not on the in-built platform editor.
Why? I asked our Creative Associate Ainsley Coote why.
CapCut is a free, all-in-one video editor that also offers advanced features such as keyframe animation, smooth slow-motion, chroma key, stabilization, audio extraction, auto-captions and text-to-speech. The app also has a community section where you can access green screen and video transition templates created by other users. CapCut was developed by ByteDance; the parent company of TikTok.
The TikTok in-app editor is actually a condensed version of CapCut, and offers a limited range of its features. The main benefits to using CapCut outside of TikTok are as follows; access to community templates, your content can be saved directly to camera roll and then shared to Reels as well, your work will always auto-save (no risk of losing a draft like when TikTok crashes), interface is more accessible, access to a wider range of features such transitions, fonts, and the ability to chop and change audio.
The CapCut interface is very accessible and straightforward to use. Basic video editing can be done easily, and if you begin to explore and test the features available on the app, you’ll pick them up fast.
Here’s a few hacks that save time:
As ByteDance owns CapCut, videos edited on this app carry an embed across to TikTok that is platform friendly. If you were to edit a video in Reels then repost it to TikTok, the algorithm supposedly picks up on the Meta embed and crushes the video. This is why CapCut templates always go viral, become trends perform well on TikTok.
There is only one thing that matters when taking an organic content strategy on any social platform and particularly for TikTok is attention. Attention is best measured on a social platform by these core metrics:
I would say that followers can often be a vanity metric, but as a brand, understanding how many followers you’re acquiring per post is a solid metric to compare against other platforms or the cost of running ads.
Really we just want to know whether we’re reaching more people and they’re engaging with us over time. A brand that’s nailing its engagement should be seeing 8% yield’s or more on TikTok.
If you can’t accept that people will be very direct to you and your brand on TikTok, with often very little filter, then this platform is not for you. We’ve been engaged by numerous brands in the past who have an idea on who their perfect demographic is or messaging they want to pursue and it just doesn’t work. You must accept the reality of what your brand is to people. Do that and consumer’s will respect it, particularly if the consumer is young.
This acceptance of brand truth creates brand salience.
Fiat’s Technicolour campaign is the perfect example of acceptance of a brand truth. It rocked the boat, but that gave Fiat a true identity. Don’t see it as a weakness, but a positive.
Now we’re into the meat and potatoes, and assuming you’ve read and understand everything we’ve discussed prior. Here’s a winning strategy that we use for organic TikTok.
Some of the best brands that we’ve seen nail TikTok and really accept brand truth’s are:
Jumping into TikTok for your business? Think of it like buying a run-down house. TikTok’s all the rage, and for good reason: the numbers show it has and will overtake Instagram. The platform has expanded beyond Gen Z, and brands are flocking to it. But what's the secret sauce for TikTok success? Formats, Content Strategy, Tone of Voice, Memes, and Consistency.
Feel free to contact Neuralle if you’re serious about launching onto TikTok.