Let’s talk about TikTok. You may love it, you may hate it, or you may just be confused. This video app grew to popularity in early 2020 and had its fair share of controversy. But there’s no doubt about it—TikTok is one of the most-used mobile apps ever. It’s addictively fun, with an algorithm that can predict exactly what kind of video you’ll most enjoy.
But does that mean you need a TikTok account, and most importantly, do you need to advertise there? You might be surprised at our answer.
Does Your Brand Need a TikTok Account?
Many brands want to be seen in all the right places. They want to go viral. And what better place to be seen than the most popular video app around? But before you jump on the TikTok bandwagon, we’re here to tell you it’s not as promising as it appears to be.
For starters, TikTok focuses on current trends, Internet memes, and visual content. If you don’t post daily on TikTok, your account usually doesn’t perform well. To keep up with trends while trying to relate it back to your business would be time consuming and yield little results. Unless you’re a well-known brand like Chipotle, Duolingo, or The Washington Post, TikTok is not the best advertising space for you.
Should You Advertise on TikTok?
We spoke to Genius Monkey COO Travis Champ about the ins-and-outs of advertising on TikTok, Snapchat, and other mediums. According to Champ, TikTok is mostly intended for larger, well-known brands where their offerings are already known. TikTok ads mainly push branding, and their shorter video lengths don’t lend enough time to convey important concepts like what a brand offers or what their unique selling proposition is.
Champ said, “On TikTok or Snapchat, you may be wasting your money by just trying to be trendy and have a cool or hip video. These platforms are more of a branding play—they’re less about the brands and the offerings and more about being relevant, which helps promote your branding—and we’re all about branding—but this is a different kind of branding.” These popular apps are better suited for advertisers who are highly recognizable.
We’ve put together more pros and cons of advertising on Snapchat, TikTok, or any similar social media platform:
The Pros of Advertising on TikTok
Your creative side will be fully activated
You’ll need to keep up with current trends and songs (most TikTok videos perform well because of the music picked). The creative side can be unlocked by constantly being pushed to create, create, create. Many users suggest posting daily, if not more, to achieve TikTok success.
You can utilize fun features, like Snapchat GeoFilters
When Genius Monkey used Snapchat, we’d create a unique Snapchat GeoFilter each time we attended a speaking engagement, summit, or conference. With those location filters, users at the event could swipe through and use our custom filter on their Snapchats. This created a fun and custom experience that helped expose our logo, our name, and our overall brand.
In the end, this definitely was no means to a great base advertising plan. It worked with the display and video campaigns we ran to help push a broader and more fun multi-channel reach.
The Cons of Advertising on TikTok
Your logo is not super prominent or noticeable
If you’re not a household name brand, you want people to learn more about your brand and see what your logo and name are all about. A TikTok ad doesn’t cater to “traditional” advertising—TikTok relies on humor, dancing, sketch comedy, influencers, models, and more. According to Champ, “If you go with a display ad instead, for example, your logo is more prominent, it’s much more targetable, and you’re hitting people anywhere they’re online, whereas with TikTok and Snapchat, you’re hitting them only when they’re on those platforms. You’re not diversifying those placements.”
You only have 9-15 seconds to explain your brand
According to Propelrr, “If you’re aiming to market on TikTok, you will not be able to post ads that are simply in the form of static graphics . . . you will always have to produce videos, and that may come as a strain on your budgets. Even a 15-second video can’t be as easily produced alone versus if you had a team that can produce videos for you.”
You may need to rely on influencers or popular figures, which can run up your costs
Most TikTok or Snapchat ads feature a person, celebrity, or face in the frame. Brands can’t rely on graphics or just plain photos. Most popular TikTok videos feature a social media influencer—someone recognizable who can promote your product or service. But those influencers will run up your budget and may be hard to secure.
You’ll need to keep up with Internet trends, dances, and memes
The goal with TikTok is to stay relevant, fun, and eye-catching. You’re not running an evergreen campaign on TikTok or Snapchat, so you’d need to run a new ad every week and keep up with what’s trending the next week. Whereas with online video or really any other marketing medium, you can run a campaign that’s got an offer that’s good for a month or more.
Where Should You Advertise Instead?
Your best bet is to stick with display or digital video ad campaigns and then, and only then, if you have a ton of money to spare, maybe look at these channels. Champ said the biggest difference between advertising on TikTok and advertising online is that when you advertise online, if a user decides to skip your video at the 5- or 6-second mark, you don’t pay for that ad impression. On TikTok or Snapchat, you’re paying for that ad impression no matter what.
“If you were to run a 6- or 9- second video spot,” Champ said, “the user loses the ability to skip that video, so you pay no matter what, which is why we recommend the longer 15- or 30-second spots.”
With regular online video, which would include Facebook and Instagram, you get more targeting and tracking capabilities, and with online video you get YouTube, news, sports and the whole gamut—you hit users everywhere they are instead of those particular platforms, at a much cheaper rate.
So before you jump onto the latest TikTok dance trend or try to write new jokes for Snapchat, consider using your ad dollars in a better way. Turn to Genius Monkey for all the inside knowledge on programmatic advertising, digital marketing, and more.