TikTok has changed the game for marketers around the world but, let’s be honest, TikTok marketing is no walk in the park. Some brands have shot to fame thanks to successful TikTok marketing campaigns, while others have embarrassed themselves by completely misunderstanding the culture of the platform.
What we’re trying to say is: just because you’re good at marketing elsewhere, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get TikTok right straight away.
If you’re over the age of 20, have never seen your phone’s screen time report and wanted to throw up, or don’t consider yourself ‘very online’, this is the article for you. We’ll explain the biggest TikTok mistakes you need to be aware of in order to avoid a ‘how do you do, fellow kids?’ moment. (If you don’t understand that reference, you definitely need to read this article!) Plus, we’ll share our best tips for creating TikTok content that actually reaches and resonates with your target audience. So, let’s dive in.
Mistake 1: You’re weeks late on trends
While immediately jumping on the latest TikTok trends can be a great way to gain views, increase brand awareness, and promote your content, being late to the game looks bad for your business. TikTok trends are extremely fast moving – by the time you see a trend on your Discovery page, it probably only has 3-4 days left before it’s over-saturated and people get bored of it. After this, if you create content relating to this trend your brand will come across as a lazy copycat rather than a source of new and unique content.
We get it – every one of your TikTok posts may need to go through multiple levels of approval before it can be pushed live, but if this is making you late to trends there’s not much point trying to jump on them at all. It just makes you look out of touch and as though you’re trying too hard. Not a good look.
This leads us on to our next major mistake…
Mistake 2: You’re blindly jumping on trends that aren’t relevant to you
While TikTok’s algorithm rewards users who use trending sounds and hashtags, this is no reason to try to be a part of every single trend. In fact, aiming to participate in every single video trend or dance challenge is a sure way to spread your social media management team too thin and ensure none of your videos perform well. Plus, trying to weigh in on every irrelevant trend can feel unnatural and make your business look like you’re trying too hard – a one way ticket to cringe today’s social media landscape.
Instead of trying to make TikTok content for every new trend that pops up on your FYP, carefully consider your resources, business objectives, and the types of content that has previously performed best on social media platforms. Make sure your content creation is actually relevant to your brand’s goals and target audience. Additionally, carefully choose the trends to participate in that make it most likely your content will be seen by potential customers.
Mistake 3: You’re not starting your own trends
If you want your brand to truly stand out, it’s not enough to just copy other TikTok creators and brands, you need to carve out your own path by creating trends and challenges. These are a great way to inspire user generated content and get your hashtags to go viral as other people in the TikTok community replicate and engage with your trends.
But how do you create campaigns that spark trends in a way that feels organic and not forced or – dare we say it – cheugy? Let’s look at some examples.
In 2020, EA took over the TikTok platform with their #PlayWithLife campaign promoting The Sims franchise. Using branded effects, EA encouraged TikTok users to show off their outfits with the iconic Sims ‘Plumbob’ floating over their heads. With 16.1 billion views, the hashtag encouraged the TikTok community to get creative, generating huge amounts of social media visibility for the brand.
Another example of a brand creating their own successful campaigns is Simmons, the 150-year-old mattress brand. You might not expect such an old brand selling something as boring as mattresses to see major success on social platforms, but their #Snoozzzapalooza challenge gained substantial popularity across the TikTok app during the Covid-19 pandemic. This successful campaign was executed using TikTok influencer marketing – the influencers posted videos of them dancing on their beds, capitalising on TikTok users’ love of dance challenges to create a viral moment.
What can we learn from these TikTok campaigns? First of all, you don’t need to have a super exciting product to go viral on TikTok – even a mattress company can do it! Secondly, partnering with the right TikTok influencers can be an essential part of your strategy to kickstart your campaign and get people excited about participating in your trend. Finally, encouraging TikTok creators to have fun and put their own unique spin on your trend is extremely powerful. If your trend or challenge leaves room for individuals’ creativity, this is a great way to encourage TikTok users to get involved.
Mistake 4: Your content is overly promotional
‘But we’re here to promote our products,’ we hear you say. ‘The content IS promotional!’
Yes, but TikTok does things differently. In general, today’s younger generation are especially wary of being aggressively sold to. There’s a reason that so-called ‘de-influencers’ have popped up on the platform telling audiences what not to buy!
If you’re making TikTok content to promote your products, it’s important that you consider how to appeal to audiences who are tired of regular adverts and suspicious of adverts disguised as regular content. A regular video showing off your products is unlikely to perform well; a promotional video poorly disguised may perform even worse.
This is where influencer marketing can be very useful. Working with TikTok influencers can help you to get your products in front of an existing or new audience without coming across as overly promotional. With the right influencer, you can tap into an already-engaged audience that are likely to be interested in your products. And don’t worry, you don’t have to cough up the extra cash for the biggest names in TikTok influencer marketing. Micro influencers (influencers with 10,000–100,000 followers, usually in a specific niche) are especially useful for reaching your target market.
Finding a balance between promoting your products but avoiding it seeming like an advert is tricky. One example of a brand that has done it successfully is NYX Cosmetics with the annoyingly catchy #ButterGlossPop challenge. NYX partnered with TikTok influencers to initiate the trend which shows TikTok users applying their NYX lipgloss. Showing off the product but still remaining fun enough to get 11.4 billion views on the hashtag, this shows how influencer campaigns can be invaluable for brands trying to get TikTok marketing right.
Mistake 5: Your content is too polished
One mistake that will make your content stick out like a sore thumb on TikTok for all the wrong reasons is posting overly polished videos. What do we mean by this? In short, your TikTok ads should look nothing like your TV ads. They should look like they were filmed on a phone (even if they weren’t) and should feel natural, casual, and informal. TikTok users want to see authentic content – they don’t want to see a super polished advert for your brand, they want to see casual, real, behind-the-scenes videos.
Have you ever noticed how many TikTok influencers and YouTube content creators start their videos by visibly adjusting their camera? It’s not just because they can’t be bothered to edit this out – it makes the video feel more informal and natural. This is key for influencer marketing: an influencer who sets up their camera by the bathroom sink and talks about their skincare routine is more likely to engage an audience on TikTok than one speaking into a camera in the studio. Ever heard of parasocial relationships? The most engaging influencers make their TikTok videos feel like a FaceTime with a friend rather than watching an advert produced by a big studio team.
Here’s an important caveat. Just because you don’t want your TikTok influencer campaigns to look like they were produced in a studio doesn’t mean you should neglect production value entirely. In fact, good sound quality is absolutely essential for creating successful and high converting campaigns on TikTok. We’re just saying that your TikTok ads and influencer marketing efforts should appear casual and authentic, even if they were filmed on a super expensive camera or with the help of an expert video production team.
Mistake 6: You’re simply repurposing videos from other platforms
Sure, trying to reuse your videos from your other social platforms like Instagram and YouTube may seem like a quick and easy way to kickstart your TikTok journey, but hold your horses.
As TikTok marketing specialists know, each of the social platforms has its own vibe, culture, and oh-so-subtle unwritten rules. What works on Instagram or Twitter might make TikTokkers cringe and swipe without a backwards glance. Plus, if people have seen your content somewhere else, they won’t exactly be doing backflips of excitement when they see it again on TikTok.
One of the telltale signs of repurposed content that you absolutely need to avoid is horizontal or square videos. TikTok is an entirely vertical video sharing app – a square or horizontal video will immediately look out of place. It’s not just that it immediately exposes your content as having originated on another platform; it also looks lazy. Make sure that if you do find yourself repurposing video from other paid media and social campaigns you always convert it into vertical video.
Other embarrassing slip ups that expose your TikTok content as unoriginal include using the wrong language, such as telling people to ‘subscribe’ instead of ‘follow’. Just being aware of some of the language and terms used on TikTok can help you ensure your campaign execution doesn’t flop. Here are some key terms you need to know:
- For You Page (FYP): The main feed on TikTok where users discover new videos tailored to their interests.
- Duet: A feature that allows users to create a split-screen video with another user’s content.
- Stitch: Similar to a duet, but users can use a specific portion of another user’s video to create a new video.
- POV: Point of View. Often used in captions to set the context for a video from a specific perspective.
TikTok marketing offers vast potential for brands of all types and sizes to make their mark with creative organic content and effective in-feed ads. However, simply understanding how to use TikTok features like hashtags and sounds isn’t enough – any brand using TikTok needs to understand that this social media platform rewards authenticity and creative content above all else. With these common TikTok marketing mistakes in mind, you can sidestep the cringeworthy pitfalls that make your brand look out of touch and instead launch a creative strategy that is designed to succeed.
Still feeling confused about TikTok marketing? You need a TikTok marketing agency. Here at Perspective Pictures, we’re a video production and TikTok agency that creates high-performing short form video for TikTok and Instagram Reels. With a proven track record of creating winning social media content for leading global brands, we’ll work our magic on your TikTok profile and help you navigate TikTok ads and trends for success.
Want to find out more about our services and kickstart your next social advertising campaign? Contact us today.