Why TikTok Should Be at the Top of Your Social Strategy

Leila Charteris, Social Media Account Exec.

As Facebook becomes increasingly ousted as a platform for middle-aged moaners and Instagram self-sabotages with a seemingly unending slew of format changes and algorithm shifts, TikTok is taking over. For users and for brands.

TikTok is the undisputed go-to social platform for the younger generations – a place where the weird and wonderful jostle with viral challenges, dance routines, trending sounds and now the presence of heavyweight, heritage luxury brands.

After years of being overlooked by the luxury market in favour of Instagram, TikTok is finally being recognised as a vital asset. Why? Because purchase power is shifting. 

A recent report finds that Gen Z is set to become one of the primary spenders in the luxury industry by 2025, accounting for 20% of net luxury spending. Add the Millennial demographic into this mix and growth spending in the luxury sector hits 180%. 

Another critical insight for luxury brands is that more than 85% of luxury purchases in 2020 were influenced by digital content or marketing efforts, meaning a presence on Gen Z-preferred platforms is vital to continued success. 

We should also consider TikTok’s ongoing thievery of search engine market share. Ofcom recently confirmed that at least 7% of adults are now using the video-sharing platform as their main source of news. And Google has started listing TikTok videos within its SERPS, placing it above YouTube for informational searches, meaning it’s an increasingly solid space for discoverability.

Interestingly, 45% of TikTok users don’t have Instagram and 60% don’t have a Twitter account, so if you want to reach them, you’ll have to join them. And when you do, you’re in prime position to capitalise on serious engagement rates: content on TikTok garners highs of as much as 25%, compared to just 1-2% on Instagram.

Engaging with users directly through a branded TikTok account is the most straightforward way of making your presence felt on the platform. Luxury brands already taking advantage of TikTok’s massive user base and making a huge success of their channels include Dior, Gucci, Burberry, Jacquemus, Selfridges, Louis Vuitton and Alice + Olivia. 

Content that does particularly well tends to pique user curiosity, focusing on exclusive backstage or behind-the-scenes footage, styling and shopping tips, or live event videos. Whatever you do, make sure your presence and what you share is natural, organic and unfiltered – nothing puts TikTok users off like glamorised, polished content. 

Tempted? Here’s how luxury brands can capitalise on this marketing goldmine.

Embrace the Challenge

TikTok has a unique culture, a core tenet of which are hashtag challenges. Playful, sponsored content that encourages participation and brand interaction, this entertaining, irreverent approach to marketing is key to appealing to Gen Z, 74% of which dislike traditional ads.

If you’re new to the concept, TikTok challenges are a campaign or trend that encourages users to film themselves recreating a specific performance, from dancing or lip syncing to demonstrating a talent or trick, and tagging the video with a specific hashtag or sound.

Brands can start their own hashtag challenge or join an existing one, enhanced perhaps by either a custom or trending sound (the creators of which should always be credited appropriately) – challenges with dedicated and identifiable audios perform better than those that don’t. 

Brands can also sponsor a paid-for hashtag for a particular campaign, inspiring TikTok users to use it for content creation with the promise of incentives and prizes. AR allows companies to create custom brand filters and lenses on the app, yet restrict use of them to those who use a specific hashtag or mention your brand.

Not only do effective challenge campaigns build brand awareness, they also encourage and collate meaningful UGC. They can be powerful motivators to get people sharing your brand, especially when coupled with an incentive like rewards, discounts or simply having their content reposted to thousands – sometimes millions – more people.

More than cringeworthy dances, brands participating in challenges are embracing a lighter, less serious and more accessible extension of their personality – a side social-oriented users are keen to see more of.

One example is Burberry’s paid-for #TBChallenge. In partnership with TikTok, the luxury fashion house invited users to recreate the Thomas Burberry Monogram Motif design using their hands, the result of which unlocked a new lens. The challenge generated more than 57 million views and 30,000 videos.

Elsewhere, luxury ski wear brand Moncler’s #monclerbubbleup challenge in association with influencer Charli D’Amelio generated 2.3 billion views, Gucci’s organic ‘Gucci Model Challenge’ generated more than 12 million views while Italian luxury brand Furla created its own branded hashtag challenge, #FurlaDance, featuring an easy-to-recreate dance routine, catchy custom audio and endorsement from popular influencers. The result? 127,000 videos and a 12.96% engagement rate.

Influencer Collaborations & Cool Credentials

Of all the forms of TikTok promotion, influencer collaborations may be the most successful. 

Not only is partnering with influencers a great route to your target consumers, but aligning with TikTok superstars can help luxury brands navigate the platform through content that will resonate with a younger generation who operate differently. 

Each influencer has their own niche and an in-depth understanding of what their audience will like (literally), so don’t try to be everything to everyone. Humble yourself, and learn from the experts.

A 2021 report examined the motivations behind the average young person’s influencer-related decisions. Surveying 415 participants aged 16-25, results showed one of the reasons that young people follow influencers is to find “cool and new trends.” Other reasons include “information seeking,” “companionship,” and “information sharing.” Evidently, TikTok users look to influencers for advice and guidance like they’d look to their closest friend.

For now at least, TikTok possesses a more authentic charm than other channels. Instagram is, and has been from the jump, all about curating the perfect feed. Aspirational, envy-inducing content that makes life look like a film. TikTok’s typical content – aside from challenges or campaigns – tends towards unfiltered and unedited. It’s real. And that’s something to be leveraged, especially if you can find an influencer with a genuine love for your brand.

One of the first brands to work with influencers, Prada, invited TikTok royalty Charlie D’Amelio to Milan Fashion Week, to explore backstage, interact with models and create a live experience for her audience. Not only did Prada reach 36 million post views, but it also connected with a younger user base, making them an aspirational brand for many.

Short-Form & Shoppable

Shoppable campaigns on TikTok are a critical asset for luxury brands connecting with young online audiences. TikTok’s recent Shopify integration marks a dramatic step as the social platform gears increasingly to facilitating in-app shopping.

Compelling short-form video with tappable product links is a new tech-enhanced iteration of storytelling marketing for brands. Coupled with the fact that mobile has become our main hub for entertainment, utilising TikTok’s shop features is far less resource intensive and time-consuming than building your own app from the ground up.

There’s more to come, and TikTok shopping experiences will only become more integrated and smooth, ensuring higher sales conversions. Even if luxury brands aren’t ready to buy the entire front page, it’s worth noting that shoppable campaigns can be successful across different ad formats.

Balenciaga became the first luxury fashion brand to launch a shoppable campaign using the TikTok ad format, which is the equivalent of buying TikTok’s front page for the entire day.

Guaranteeing millions of views, Balenciaga’s shoppable campaign featured a 60s video promoting shoes, bags and accessories, linked to a directly shoppable landing page.

The same content was rehashed in a Top View Lite format (limited to only 5s of content), and tested in France and the UK before being rolled out internationally after garnering impressive results: 23 million impressions, an 18% click rate and 25 million video views. 

Bitesize Educational Content is on the Rise

Ask any content marketer about fundamental content types and they will highlight education every time. TikTok provides an optimal space to publish tutorials and how-tos in fun, digestible videos that appeal to the algorithm and filter through to the right individuals.

It’s universally-acknowledged that attention spans are shrinking. TikToks are far more digestible than YouTube video so harness that benefit, prioritise your content and create short but informative videos.

Blending together education and UGC, Dyson’s Airwrap launch took TikTok by storm, rapidly becoming a viral sensation due to the copious amount of users uploading videos of them either using or reviewing the product.

Some creators even thought up new ways to use the cult-favourite tool and shared them online, hacking the device into an all-in-one styler without having to purchase additional attachments.

‘Life hacks’ like these are one of the platform’s larger niches, but more unusual and arguably unpopular interests have seen a huge upswing in tandem with TikTok’s rise.

Most of us would think of cleaning as tedious. Not on TikTok. ‘CleanTok’ swept the platform with multiple influencers finding favour in sharing tips and tricks for everything from laundry to home maintenance. Decanting and filling jars also seems to be a riveting task – this one has nearly 5 million likes.

Part of the appeal could be ASMR which is a whole other niche in itself. Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response videos have saturated the halls of the internet for years, primarily finding a home on YouTube but recently, TikTok’s ubiquitousness and bitesize content format has lent itself to broadening the category and mass-appeal for those who seek out ASMR’s signature tingling sensation. 

Something for Everyone

Despite its standing in search and social media circles, TikTok’s power is yet to be realised for many luxury brands. An intelligent, well-conceived presence should be at the forefront of your social media marketing.

Not only will an account serve as the optimum way to connect with new and younger audiences, but it will also define your brand as a frontrunner in this space: A.K.A. the centre of the internet’s attention

Luxury brands on TikTok should embrace the challenge of communicating on this new platform to be at the vanguard of trends, create high-end experiences and communicate their brand story and values with authenticity.

With a myriad of ways to join the conversation, from influencer campaigns and live content to paid advertising and shoppable features, luxury brands can capitalise on the opportunity in a way that suits their DNA.

TikTok is not just for ‘Gen Z brands’, ‘wannabe influencers’ or ‘amateur creatives’; there’s something for everyone. And if you can’t market, influence or sell in this space, hire someone who can. 

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