Eight ways retailers can use TikTok to create a marketing storm

By Ross Farquhar, Marketing Director at Little Moons, Europe’s leading mochi ice cream brand

TikTok has come into its own during the pandemic. The social platform has 100 million monthly active users across Europe, according to latest Kantar figures, and was the most downloaded app of 2020.  That’s perhaps unsurprising given what we’ve all been living through – our need for light relief has never been greater, and no social channel does light relief better than TikTok.  But how can it be used as a marketing tool, and what do retailers need to know about it?

At Little Moons we discovered its power when what started as a cohort of TikTok users posting videos of themselves searching for, trying and reviewing our mochi ice cream ended up in over 180m impressions and a 2,500% sales increase in Tesco.  So having gone viral and seen our business transformed overnight, I wanted to share some tips for other retail brands keen to use TikTok to create a marketing storm.

1. Find the person on your team who loves TikTok and hand them the keys

If you’re not already obsessed with the platform, you might not be the best person to take your brand on TikTok. If that’s the case, find someone on your team who is already hooked and understands what performs well. Ensure they have a good camera and a creative flair and let them take the lead on content. We simply entrusted it with our Marketing Executive and arts graduate, Charly Gillespie-Smith, and let her get on with it.  She loves TikTok so that was a good start, and quickly worked out that the content that does well is spontaneous and imperfect so there was no need for big photo shoots or months of planning.

2. Join in, don’t take over

Don’t be the person that turns up at the party and demands the DJ put on your playlist.  TikTok is a reactive platform – you succeed by getting involved in what everyone else is finding entertaining.  Embrace spontaneity and respond to what is happening around you, not what you have planned, which you may have signed off on a few months previously. TikToks work best when they are raw and respond to what’s going on at the current moment, which makes them more relevant and appealing to watch.  We’ve certainly found more success in jumping on what is already proving popular and finding our take on it.

3. Patience is a virtue

Having a presence on TikTok involves taking a completely different approach in comparison to other social media platforms and due to this it is important to remember one key piece of information – content can often take longer to take off and something you may have posted a week or so ago might suddenly take off. Be patient and don’t worry too much if you don’t enjoy immediate success.

4. Pull out your playful side

TikTok is all about creating fun, light hearted and colourful content. Expect to see your product and brand being used in a number of weird and wonderful ways. If you’re not a fan of seeing your logo redesigned or edited then give TikTok a miss. You must be ready for the brand to be interpreted in a variety of different ways. Enjoy this injection of creativity and the fresh approach being brought to the brand and build on it.

5. Perfection isn’t just unachievable, it’s undesirable

TikTok has captured the imagination of 16-34s in the last year – it now makes up 9.3% of their total video viewing – in part because it’s the antithesis of Instagram.  While Instagram is full of manicured and filtered influencers that are put up high on a pedestal, TikTok is the home of genuine, homemade entertainment.  Because of this, the content that thrives is that which is designed to give you a little lift – if it looks too perfect you’re just putting a barrier up between you and the audience.  Let loose and live a little. 

6. Follow the creatives, not the influencers

TikTok’s algorithm is unlike Instagram in that it doesn’t prioritise content from accounts with large numbers, instead it looks at posts and feeds them through to users based on their individual rate of engagement. To maximise this, identify which of your fans are the most creative and have previously shown interest in your brand and work with them to create fun and interesting content. Send them free samples and get them on board and this will see others becoming inspired to do something similar.  This approach will yield better return of investment at a fraction of the price and deliver authentic content simultaneously.

7. Use your money wisely

When something grows organically it can be tempting to leave it alone for fear of ‘commercialising’ the trend, but this can be a great opportunity to breathe oxygen into what otherwise might only have limited reach. During the height of the Little Moons buzz on TikTok, we decided to recreate the ‘going to Big Tesco to find Little Moons’ trend and supported it with a modest amount of paid spend to give the whole thing a second wave. The video received over 6 million views and inspired others to go on their own adventure in search of Little Moons.

8. Show gratitude

We are so grateful here at Little Moons for all the interesting and fun TikToks that have been created over the last three months and we are actively thanking as many of these creators as we can. Showing appreciation is important – it builds more enduring relationships, positive sentiment and, with any luck, even more good content on your behalf.

By Ross Farquhar, Marketing Director at Little Moons, Europe’s leading mochi ice cream brand

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