Those people in turn create and share videos of them unboxing or using the same product. It creates a feedback loop of sorts that can be awesome for the brand when content is positive—and less so, obviously, when negative.
While TikTok is becoming a powerful tool for shopping, with almost half of the users purchasing a product after seeing it advertised, promoted or reviewed, the speed at which the algorithm adapts to our choices can be a double-edged sword for brands. Personalization might keep you scrolling, but it might also create a dangerous info loop that limits one's ability to find new ideas, brands or products. And for every “TikTok made me buy it” video, there can also be an angry product complaint or review.
As a result, the FYP algorithm can be a boon or bust for brands and products. What makes TikTok cool for users actually makes it tricky for marketers to understand or participate organically. The randomness of it is perplexing. It’s hard to explain how the skincare product Cetaphil skin cleanser became a thing after one skincare influencer highlighted it as part of his evening ablutions; or similarly, the size-inclusive fashion brand Universal Standard, the cleaning tool Scrub Daddy, and—yes—Bissell’s Little Green machine.
Products can take off without brands controlling the narrative, which means brand managers need to keep an eye on it from a conversation perspective and understand what people are saying. If they're saying negative things, make sure to also be looking at it outside of TikTok and thinking about the full brand conversation.
TikTok can drive purchase and engagement, but can also present specific platform challenges. Here are a few tips for marketers to keep in mind:
Don’t dismiss the platform
Even if TikTok isn’t where you want your brand to be active right now, keep an eye on it. Monitor mentions and content, and remember that automated tools might fail to bring trending conversations to light. Be sure that you’re weighing any TikTok chatter against other brand mentions and communities.
Find and connect with your community
Beyond macro-influencers and micro-influencers is the true fandom in your community of people who truly live for your brand. Invest in nurturing and amplifying these relationships and creators.
Bring that authenticity to your social presence
TikTok works because it is authentic and top-performing content finds ways to spark creativity, laughter, or inspiration. Why? Because the content is true to the community it appeals to. Ensure that your brand messaging is doing the same.
Foster connections in the comments section
Brands can also help create a community by fostering that connection in the comments section: Acknowledge what people are saying, reward them with discounts and thank them for being a part of the brand community.
Don't forget your social 101s
If someone's saying great things about your brand, recognize it and help them feel honored to be a part of that community. Also look into ways to repurpose or bring them into the marketing fold even further.
TikTok is transforming what we used to call “online communities,” and more than ever, community members are constantly evolving in groups that might exist only in a specific moment. Members come and go faster than ever in the history of communities. How will this impact the brand experience? Only time will tell, but if a social media feed can get me to fork over $150 on a carpet and upholstery cleaner before I even had a pet, it should definitely be respected.