How to communicate authentically on TikTok
At TikTok, we aim to inspire creativity and spark joy among our community of more than one billion people around the world who come to TikTok every month to be entertained. But what impact do these emotions have on brands on the platform?
To explore this topic, Flamingo Group, our research partner, in collaboration with GroupM, who helped shape the direction of the research, studied what drives joy on TikTok and how brands can leverage these feel-good vibes. The result was our Authenticity, Happiness and Joy study which, among other things, revealed that authenticity is a key factor in successful TikTok content, and that brands who embrace this benefit from improved performance. So how exactly can brands embrace authenticity? Read on to learn just that, and tune in all month for more content and actionable takeaways from our Authenticity Research.
People come to TikTok for an emotional uplift
On TikTok, authenticity is associated with feelings of creativity, inspiration, uniqueness, and joy. In fact, 48% of TikTok users see the platform as joyful compared to 30% for social media platforms. And whilst TikTok can be either high or low energy, it always leaves users feeling emotionally uplifted, with 73% of users feeling positive after watching authentic TikTok content.
Brands are also benefitting from TikTok's ability to lift moods; 56% of respondents admitted to feeling more positive about a brand after seeing it on TikTok. And the 'creative authenticity' that underpins content on TikTok is often transferred to perceptions of advertising on our platform, with ads on TikTok more likely to be seen as 'Creative' and 'Original' than the combined average of ads on social media channels. And this generates trust towards brands, with half of TikTok users admitting they trust brands that advertise on the platform.
Communicating authentically on TikTok
So, we know that authentic content lifts users' spirits, but how can your brand establish an authentic tone? In a nutshell, authenticity means to play a more human role in the TikTok community. Here's how you do that:
Understand your consumer's purpose
If you start by asking users to buy your products, the truth is, they're probably not going to stick around for very long. Within seconds, it becomes clear that you're here to sell, whereas your audience is here to be inspired and have their spirits lifted. When planning your content, think about the reason your consumers are coming to the platform and work this into your creative.
Contribute to your community
Once you've understood your consumer's purpose, you can start thinking about creating content for them, rather than your brand. If you're giving your community something, they're more likely to engage with you. So what can you teach your audience? If you're a homeware brand, leverage your knowledge of interior design and share it with your community; DIY brands can share their hacks for putting up a shelf or building that tricky bedframe. Food brands can dive into #FoodTok with some inspiration for tonight's dinner plans. While this won't always explicitly promote your products, you'll be building a relationship with your audience and giving them a reason to like, comment or follow. Interestingly, 38% of users said that a brand feels authentic when teaching them something. So when you do talk about your products, do it through an educational lens and show your users how the product can benefit them.
Stay true to your values
Start thinking how you'll contribute to your community and work this into your content strategy. If your first few TikToks are helpful tutorials, but they're followed by an influx of promotional posts, you'll lose your audiences' attention quicker than you gained it. Identify what content works for your audience and run with it. There's always a number of trends you can get involved with, and this is a great way of approaching new audiences, but if you're using these trends to actively promote your products, users will see through this and be less likely to engage.
Show your original, high-energy self
42% of respondents said authentic TikToks help them express themselves in the most original way possible, without worrying what people think, and the study showed they're much more likely to engage with brands who are more original. You don't need to worry about having the perfect lighting and ensuring every hair is in place; the TikTok community is inspired by those who show up as they are. And emotional uplift is increased when you're bringing enthusiasm to your content. So, whether you're encouraging your community to get involved in a trend, or checking out your latest tutorial, a little energy goes a long way in encouraging participation.
Be more you
As we mentioned before, authenticity means to play a more human role on TikTok. So for starters, use your voice; TikTok is a sound-on platform and you've got a story to tell, so let them hear you! Don't forget to choose a sound from our library as your backing track, as this can help make your content more impactful. You'll also want to look straight at the camera and talk directly to your audience. You don't need a studio with multiple cameras - shooting from your bedroom wearing your every day clothes works just fine. Being imperfect on TikTok creates intimacy between brands and their audiences and builds a relationship driven by respect and understanding. It also gives brands a licence to be vulnerable. So, when you're talking about your brand, don't be afraid to discuss the lows as well as the highs.
Once you've understood the role your brand has to play on TikTok, and how you go about creating content, you'll find it much easier to give your community what they want. And this will work wonders when it comes to increasing your following on the platform and building relationships with your audience. Once you've built up an authentic profile, you can start running In-Feed Ads to further boost your content and find a bigger audience. In your ads, you can speak directly about your products, and if your target audience wants to know more about your brand, they can visit your profile where they'll find a flurry of original, authentic and joyful content.
1. “Understanding Authenticity, Happiness and Joy” conducted in Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK by Flamingo Group.