Do you have TikTok nailed for 2020?


One of the fastest growing apps of 2019, TikTok is enticing brands into the fold alongside their growing user base of mainly young adults.

It all began with lip-synching app, which had grown from 90 million registered users in 2016 to over 200 million a year later. Chinese technology firm ByteDance ltd acquired it towards the end of 2017 and merged it into TikTok, another of its products, in August 2020.

The app has revived short video clips in a more interactive, collaborative way and has topped the download charts for over a year, with users captivated with short form video content from influencers, brands and their friends alike.

As with any new app, brands have been watching things unfold to best understand how to make use of it and where it fits within their overall strategy. And TikTok have only recently launched an advertising process and the capability to hyperlink for brands so we’re only just beginning to see how this could unfold as both an organic and paid-for solution.

Could TikTok be right for you? Here are some examples of who’s doing it well and key things to consider.

Sports Teams are Scoring

There’s no doubt that TikTok lends itself well to fun, light content and sports teams have been quick off the mark to use the platform as a way to connect its stars with younger audiences. Some accounts to check out.

NBA already have 6.3 million fans on the TikTok (Dec 19), a dedicated team supporting it and were quick off the mark to grow their following and content strategy for the platform. They’d previously gained popularity on Vine, the six-second video app that Twitter culled back in 2016 and they had already been the most popular brand on, which Bytedance acquired in 2017 and rebranded to TikTok in 2018.

During All-Star Weekend they amassed over 44m views on its TikTok videos. But where NBA are leveraging the platform well is engaging with audiences for user generated content. They had over 3,000 users submitting their talents to its hashtag challenge – one of the ad products and organic activities on TikTok – where users mimic each other’s videos, usually synced to the same song. NBA shared players’ talents – like Steph Curry’s dunks and this TikTok of a mascot throwing cakes in people’s faces on National Cake Day is one of their most watched at 3.2m.

But it’s also a really effective place to clip up key game moments for today’s audience as well as take advantage of the latest memes/jokes on social and provide a closer insight into players and team dynamics.

Liverpool FC were the first team in the Premiership to join TikTok in May 2019, sharing behind the scenes footage from around the club, content from the training ground and entertaining clips. Gaining 1.2m followers (Dec 2019) the channel is already proving popular.

Clips from the changing room and let’s face it a lot of dancing clips to music, match highlights and behind the scenes stuff between players (like this hug montage) all bring fans that step closer to the team.

Fashion and Beauty Brands Bossing It

Whether you take inspiration from Sephora’s approach of showing off beauty products they sell, Teen Vogue’s mix of interview, inspirational, music and fun fashion clips, or Fenty Beauty’s product displays, swatches and quick tutorials – all give you a flavour of how brands can connect with its target audience through its product range and content format.

More established brands in this space are taking note too, particularly as the app reaches a broader base of users – and will no doubt continue to do so in 2020.

MAC Cosmetics launched its first TikTok campaign, a hashtag challenge called #YouOwnIt, connected to New York Fashion Week in September and the brand had enlisted @GlitterandLazers and @SethOBrien among other influencers to respond. This resulted in 1.5billion views in six days, one of the highest to date (overall the campaign now has over 2.3billion views). Over 700 pieces of content were created using the hashtag too.

Ralph Lauren also tried the platform out during the US Open in August, linking fashion to a sporting event. It produced a series of short clips featuring Gen Z actress Diana Silvers showing off her tennis skills where she celebrated her ‘wins’ with the help of the platforms design effects. Users were encouraged to create similar videos tagged #WinningRL – all of whom were entered to win some product. Over 700 million views were generated.

A more polished version of the campaign was posted on YouTube and generated around 8000 views – highlighting perhaps the lack of mobile friendly engagement it offers in comparison.


Lots of content is about music, dance, lip-synching and comedy, a popular form of engagement on TikTok is through Hashtag Challenges. Users record themselves attempting to perform a challenge and often challenge others to do the same. These range from influencers to brands and TikTok were quick to notice an e-commerce opportunity too.

TikTok’s in-app shopping feature is called “Hashtag Challenge Plus” and allows users to browse products that are associated with a sponsored Hashtag Challenge – all without ever leaving the TikTok platform. Some of this is more about reminding users about online buying opportunities, but it does allow brands to add a revenue stream to some of its content.

Some challenges to check out….

  • Haribo Challenge: arranging hundreds of gummy bears as a crowd while Adel’s “Someone Like You” plays in the background
  • Fake Travel Challenge where users are challenged to mimic travel posts but using everyday items. So far it’s amassed 178 million views
  • Raindrop Challenge where dramatic visual effects that mimic a rain shower are used and then stopped in accordance to the beats of the music. 980 million views!
  • InMyFeelings challenge saw a host of content across platforms being created to Drake’s song – but interestingly around 5m on TikTok compared to 1.7m on Instagram.
  • InMyDenim was a challenge from Guess, who were one of the first to launch a challenge on the platform. They partnered with TikTok for the challenge, encouraging users to film themselves in interesting places while wearing Guess’ new denim line and had to overlay Bebe Rexha’s “I’m a Mess” track. It was one of the first branded challenges to go viral.
  • DanceForChange challenge from the International Fund for Agricultural Development is an account with a difference. Aiming to fight world hunger by promoting rural agriculture it users TikTok to spread awareness of its cause with informative posts and motivational videos. This challenge encouraged audiences to film themselves dancing while using the hashtag in captions. Although a really serious subject, the use of TikTok for beautifully shot videos, bright music and this challenge is really engaging and entertaining for audiences.

Still Not Sure – Some Stats….

  • TikTok (as of Dec 2019) has over 1.5 billion users
  • Over 60% of active users are 16-24s
  • Since 2018, Americans have spent over $23.1m on TikTok’s virtual currency and gross revenue globally from in-app buys is past $75m (as of late 2019)
  • There is an in-app e-commerce feature for sponsored challenges. Check out the #RaindropChallenge which has over 978m views
  • The top 50 TikTok creators have more followers than the combined populations of Mexico, Canada, the U.K, Australia and the U.S!
  • It’s the only top 5 global app not owned by Facebook