Social Media, Thoughts

TikTok for Luxury Brands: getting noticed and building an audience

Reading time: 6 min

Analysts expect daily TikTok users to number 1.8bn by the end of 2022. Bloomberg expects its revenues to climb to $12bn in 2022, up from $4.6bn in 2021 and $1.9bn in 2020. A GWI survey (from 2020) discovered that 31% of TikTok users are more likely to buy a premium brand than the average social media user.

We provided an extensive look at how luxury brands use TikTok and the opportunities presented by the app a couple of years ago. In this article focused on TikTok in its current form, we consider:

  • How TikTok still does it differently from other social media platforms and how this benefits your brand
  • How brands can get noticed and start to build an audience initially on TikTok
  • 7 ways to build on your early TikTok momentum

Normal metrics don’t apply on TikTok

Follower count on TikTok is important but, if you create an amazing piece of content, millions of people could get into their feeds even if your account is brand new.

This is because of how differently TikTok works from other social media platforms.

When you open the app, TikTok shows new videos from creators you like first, according to Samuel Chen of Canadian PR firm FullIntel. After that, you see a mixture of videos that have got over 10,000 views and videos from popular creators you don’t follow.

Next, you see videos from brand-new users. In fact, if you spend 10 minutes on TikTok, you’ll see content from new creators for three of those minutes. Better still, TikTok shows new creator videos to users it believes will be interested in the subject matter based on their viewing histories. These are the two key reasons why TikTok newbies are more likely to create breakout viral hits.

Many creators believe that TikTok understands its audience and the content it hosts better than other social media platforms. Every time creators upload a video, the algorithm parses and classifies it according to the subject matter discussed, keywords used on captions, hashtags, sounds, and other effects.

How does a brand get initially noticed on TikTok?

TikTok tests its new creators from the start. They’ll show you early videos to 300-500 users the system believes would be interested in your video.

For example, it’ll show make-up video tutorials to people who have watched and engaged with this type of content many times before. With your early videos, you need to be careful to use relevant hashtags and target a pre-existing niche. If you don’t, the algorithm may not place your content in users’ feeds because it doesn’t understand it well enough.

You’ll score points every time your video is viewed at least 90% of the way through. You’ll score even more if your video is looped (watched again by the same user). The more points you score, the more people will see your videos in their feeds.

Although brands and creators can upload videos up to 10 minutes in length, the attention spans of younger Millennials and Gen Zers, the demographics using TikTok the most, are short. In 2022, TikTok encouraged creators to focus on creating 7 second videos featuring trending audio clips and lots of on-screen captions because they got very high engagement.

Luxury brands launching on TikTok looking for an audience should bear this in mind as they start to build their tribe of followers. Users are much more likely to watch a seven-second video in full. Each time that happens, you score quality points meaning your video will be placed in a greater number of users’ video feeds.

7 ways to build on your early TikTok momentum

Once you’ve uploaded your first few videos, won your first followers and started to see increasing engagement, consider taking some of the following seven steps to build on your initial success.

TikTok may favour videos with trending audio

You can find out which music is playing on a video by tapping the button at the very right bottom corner of your mobile. You’ll go to a new page that shows you the name of the track, thumbnails of other videos using the track and the number of tracks. You can add the track to your favourites on the app.

When you create content (press the “plus” button near the bottom middle of your screen), select the “Add sound” option to use the track. Many creators believe that adding trending music increases the number of users seeing your video in their feeds.

Put lots of captions onto your video as well as subtitles

Important early on is making sure users watch your videos from start to finish. One way to do this is to grab viewers’ attention by adding descriptive captions to your video.

85% of social media videos on all platforms are watched with the sound off. Although TikTok does not say how many of its users do the same, including subtitles can increase engagement as well as accessibility.

Subtitles (called closed captions in North America) were designed for people with hearing impairments to watch TV. Surprisingly, 70% of Gen Zers tell researchers that they switch subtitles on even if their TV sound has not been muted.

Use hashtags to join the conversation

Users can search for videos on topics of interest by using hashtags. Using hashtags can drive views of your content up on TikTok and encourage more users to follow you.

There are many websites that allow you to search for the most popular hashtags. For example, videos tagged with “#makeup” have been viewed over 27.3 billion times reports TikTokHashtags.

These sites often also give more niche hashtag suggestions to refine the type of viewer you want to discover your content.

Unboxing videos are popular and increase view times

Unboxing videos, when a creator removes the packaging from an item they’ve bought or are reviewing for the first time, are wildly popular on YouTube.

According to Vogue Business, users search for similar videos on TikTok. There has been 44.3bn views of such videos since 2018 and is one of the most popular hashtags used in posts on the platform.

Work with influencers to grow your TikTok tribe

Influencers on TikTok can drive up follower numbers from content creators whose target audiences closely match yours.

TikTok engagement rates, the measure of how many likes, comments, shares and views your influencer content gets, are much higher on TikTok. The average engagement rate on TikTok for mega-influencers is 4.96% and 17.96% for micro-influencers. In comparison, Instagram’s engagement rate is much lower at 1.21% for mega-influencers and 3.86% for micro-influencers.

The best way to search for suitable influencers is to search for content creators that regularly use relevant hashtags. Check through a sample of their content to make sure it’s consistent with your brand values. Alternatively, contact the team at VERB Brands who have over a decade’s experience partnering luxury brands with influencers that deliver results.

Source: TikTok @creedfragrance

Encourage greater user engagement with challenges

Setting your target audience a challenge:

  • Builds loyalty toward your brand from existing followers
  • Creates a buzz among users who may not be aware of you
  • Delivers significant volumes of wonderfully low-fi user-generated content (UGC).

TikTok “branded hashtag campaigns” (a chargeable service) aim to help brand content go viral. An ASOS branded hashtag campaign asking users to show off their top 3 outfits over a 3 week period amassed 1.2billion views.

Different types of advertising

In addition to its branded hashtag campaigns, TikTok offers six other options. You can purchase:

  • Ads to appear between videos
  • Skippable ads that last up to 60 seconds when users open the app
  • Unskippable ads lasting 5 seconds when users open the app
  • Booster campaigns to promote existing posts
  • Branded effects which give users assets they can play with like stickers and games.

Measured by cost per 1,000 impressions (CPM), TikTok is expensive with a starting price of $10 (minimum campaign spend of $500). This compares to $7.19 for Facebook, $7.91 for Instagram and $6.46 for Twitter. The average cost per click is $1, three times more expensive than Twitter, about the same price as Facebook and more than three times cheaper than Instagram.

TikTok Shops allows you to sell products without users leaving their app. Transaction fees are 5% of order value, reduced to 1.8% for the first 90 days. You can pay influencers commissions from products you sell as a form of reward although there have been press reports recently (here’s one in the FT) suggesting that influencers are turning away from this.

Building your audience on TikTok with VERB Brands

Done correctly, TikTok delivers millions of viewers to your brand content so long as the videos you create are rated highly by users. Unlike other social media platforms, TikTok doesn’t seem to have altered its algorithm (yet!) to force brands to buy ad campaigns by restricting the exposure of their content to their organic followers.

Some of the world’s premium luxury brands have built significant followings on TikTok, the biggest of which is Gucci’s 2.2m followers. At VERB Brands, we like TikTok – it’s lo-fi, followers do actually see your content (if it’s good enough), content creation costs are low and engagement rates compare very well to other social media platforms. For up-and-coming luxury brands looking for mass exposure, you should strongly consider TikTok an opportunity.

Please drop us a line through our contact form to create a strategy to launch you on TikTok or, if you already have one, build follower numbers, engagement levels and partner you with the right influencers. We’d love to start supporting you on this journey!