New research sheds light on how the most successful marketing campaigns work on the social media platform TikTok.

The report, launched by TikTok itself, is based on research and analysis carried out by Kantar and looks specifically at the use of user-generated content (UGC), in particular Hashtag Challenges, in which brands ask people to perform a certain task and then tag the brand using a hashtag. The most popular of these challenges can go viral.

The Power of TikTok report reveals that the most successful challenges are viewed more times than other prime-time ads. And while the platform is often seen as being used overwhelmingly by the very young, Kantar researchers found that 67% of people globally who see ads on TikTok are aged over 25.

Researchers combined interviews with marketers around the world, with an analysis of 60 branded Hashtag Challenges, and demographic data from the Kantar TGI Global Quickview 2020. The findings, say the authors, highlight the value of TikTok to brands and the factors that underpin the most successful campaigns on the platform.

TikTok generates engagement on a huge scale, they report, with some Hashtag Challenges viewed more times than major sporting and cultural events – for example, the authors point out that River Island’s #GlowingOut campaign was viewed as many times as Andy Murray winning the Wimbledon final in 2013.

TikTok campaigns can also result in real-world behaviour, the report says, with consumers being encouraged into stores and onto websites. Researchers found that, of those who visited the River Island website as a result of the brand’s #GlowingOut campaign on TikTok, 90% were new users.

Branded Hashtag Challenges are especially effective at helping brands stand out in crowded marketing periods, like Halloween, Christmas or Black Friday, the report says.

One key to success is for brands to harness the “inherent creativity of the platform in their marketing through partnerships with its Creator community”; in this way, brands can make the most use of the features on the platform such as always-on sound, say the authors.

Launching the report during the Kantar Talks digital conference, Andrew Nelson, Social Media Insight Director at Kantar, suggested that “we can expect to see brands creating longer-term branded hashtag challenges, not just the one-off splashes” – with users “putting their own spin” on a brand narrative.

“This could also be a way of merging brand building engagement with short-term performance tactics, utilising the ‘Shop Now’ feature around promotions,” he added.

“It’s a bit of ‘bothism’ – your own [central] branded hashtag challenge, and off that iterations around specific information. There’s a willingness to participate in brand activity on TikTok that just isn’t seen on other platforms.”  

Sourced from Kantar, WARC