TikTok has had a massive impact on the B2C industry and its influencers, but B2B organisations should pay attention too, says IBA International’s Lois Unsworth.

Although a comparatively recent social media entrant, TikTok has already captured the attention of the world and now counts 500 million active users worldwide.

TikTok might seem a social platform for entertainment that is unrelated to B2B organisations, but as Daniela Sale, Head of Industry Telco, E-commerce & Finance, Global Business Solutions at TikTok, told WARC last year: “TikTok is fast emerging as a mighty destination for B2B brands willing to borrow from the B2C marketing rulebook and becoming an unofficial channel of choice for the next generation of entrepreneurs.” Sage, one of the largest SME financial technology organisations, has been using the platform to bring attention-grabbing news and updates to the entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses that rely on its accounting solutions.

Studies show B2B buyers’ decisions aren’t as logically driven as we might believe, so no channel should be dismissed out of hand. Associating TikTok with only B2C purposes could mean some businesses are missing out. So, bearing in mind the global influence of TikTok, let’s have a closer look at how it is possible to position B2B brands on this platform and what businesses can do to make it work.

TikTok has a wider age range than you might think

Older generations tend to dismiss the platform as being synonymous with Gen Z. But look at statistics from the Pew Research Center: 48% of its users are 18–29 and 22% are 30–49 – a much wider net than perhaps you initially thought! Consider too that 74% of 21–40 year olds are involved in making buying decisions for their companies and are already driving a digital approach to B2B selling.

These numbers clearly show there’s a lot of scope for B2B marketing to hit the more mature user – and just because the platform isn’t brimming with B2B marketers now doesn’t mean it will continue that way. Don’t forget that Facebook started out for a younger audience and has grown to be what it is today. So it’s worth starting to increase your B2B marketing efforts on TikTok now before more companies do the same, sparking user engagement, eyeballs and, over time, an increase in brand awareness.

Emotions are a powerful tool – feel the message

The medium is the message – and has been since Marshall McLuhan wrote his book in 1964. When it comes to TikTok – and any other social media platform for that matter – content for that medium is crucial. B2B content on TikTok will need to differ from more corporate social media channels such as LinkedIn and Twitter.

Looking to connect to the audience through emotion is a powerful tool for all B2B marketers. A recent LinkedIn study found when you connect to an audience’s emotions, you’re seven times more likely to drive business. To grow your account, you should start to engage with other users interested in your content – a simple comment, like or repost can increase your visibility and build stronger relations. According to TikTok, 21% of users feel more connected to brands that comment on other people’s posts. An additional 61% like it when brands participate in a trend.

With TikTok’s USP being short videos, some B2B marketers may question how they can use the platform to their advantage. Don’t discount the importance of consumer-facing social channels to authentically market environmental, social and governance messages, even for the most corporate of B2B organisations. Also, never forget the B2B customer’s customer is a consumer – B2B TikTok messages can resonate through the customer chain.

Make different connections for B2B marketing

Despite other social media platforms favouring those accounts with millions of followers, TikTok makes it easier for new users to gain followers and views from the ground up. Unlike other platforms such as Instagram and YouTube, TikTok following can be determined from a range of qualities: music choice, location, hashtag relevance, and more.

This puts B2B marketing in a prime spot on TikTok. Being able to organically grow your outreach to a relevant audience and drive engagement on a platform which is so diverse means B2B marketers can quickly connect with young, digital-savvy and interested prospects.

Are you an early adopter? There’s no time to wait

As time goes by, more B2B firms may decide to implement TikTok in their business strategy in some way. The wide audience outreach potential should encourage B2B marketers to join the most popular online platform and choose messages that may be appropriate for that audience – think employee spotlights, customer references and more.

The app is growing, and the age demographic pool increasing, so there should be no concern about your B2B organisation entering the TikTok platform. According to a recent Hootsuite blog, 79% of users globally feel TikTok content is “unique” and “different”, even when it comes to advertising. So, get your foot in the TikTok door, create a different connection with the audience and show off a new side of your brand.