How to Get a Brand on TikTok

UNIT9’s Jaclyn Siu and Annabel Holmes give a rundown on how brands can develop an authentic presence while staying true to the platform’s content creator roots. Originally published on LBB Online.


TikTok is hogging all the headlines at the moment. And not just because of Trump’s insistence on finding a new owner. Thanks to the platform’s new developments and features, alongside its unrivalled ability to engage young audiences, it’s rapidly become a hot topic amongst marketers too.

A platform that clearly has its finger on the cultural pulse, TikTok has over 800-million highly engaged users who are passionate about creative expression and content creation. An average of over 71-minutes per user are spent in the app every day, and the platform boasts an incredible 185+ billion average monthly video views.

So it’s clear that TikTok is more than your average social media platform. Instead, think of it as a global destination for entertainment. Put like this, it’s no wonder brands are keen to use the platform as a marketing channel. But with TikTok having its own very unique culture, how can brands develop an authentic presence while staying true to the platform’s content creator roots? Well, as one of TikTok’s eight chosen ‘Global Effects Partners’, we’ve learnt a thing or two lately about how to make this happen. So let us shed some light:

Branded Hashtags

Branded (ie — sponsored) Hashtags are TikTok’s branded ad offering. Even though they’re still in their infancy, they’re proving to be a powerful tool, already clocking up view-counts in the hundreds of millions. Hashtag challenges turn any branded TikTok content into a two-way experience: users are not just passively watching a commercial that they’re waiting to skip, but incentivised to engage with the brand and create their own content.

Capitalising on the platform’s immense draw as a place for users to get involved in amusing challenges, Branded Hashtags help users share and spread any challenge that becomes a popular trend, while also making challenge-related content much more discoverable. By starting a dialogue with consumers and encouraging them to engage with a brand, hashtag challenges pair beautifully with Branded Effects to round off visual storytelling.

Branded Effects

TikTok’s ‘Branded Effect’ offering is particularly exciting. In short, TikTok’s Branded Effects is the platform’s answer to social AR. It allows brands to integrate a branded message into an AR effect so that users can create brand-related shareables and conversations. Branded Effects can be split into four distinct categories:

2D Effects are flat visual images or animations that can be located either in the foreground or background with basic tracking capabilities — perfect for a simple branded TikTok activation.

2D Pro allows for more complex tracking and facial recognition so that users can virtually try on products, like lipstick for example, to stimulate purchase.

3D Effects can be tracked to a flat surface and by nature have more structural details and textures. This offering fosters deeper interactivity with the world, making it an ideal option for product trials or bringing brand characters to life.

Branded Scans is an all-new image recognition feature that can activate AR triggers via unique real-world objects to open-up the possibilities for transforming any object, logo or shape into an entry point for an AR experience.

Branded Effects can be made even more fun and memorable with intuitive gestures, adding yet another layer of interaction to the effect. There are 27 face and hand gestures that accompany 2D, 2D Pro and 3D Branded Effects, with even more coming down the development pipeline. These can be used to start and stop Effects, or even unlock multiple layers within one Effect.

Creator Marketplace

As if highly engaging Branded Effects weren’t enough, campaigns can be even more deeply integrated into the platform by using TikTok’s Creator Marketplace. This offering connects advertisers and creators on an intuitive and easy-to-use platform, allowing brands to leverage native creators that can amplify campaigns on the platform.

Creator Marketplace lets brands search and discover the best-suited creators for their campaigns while assembling lists based on key filters such as location, content types, followers and audience demographics. The tool also helps marketers learn more about each TikTok creator by viewing their background, sample work and performance metrics.

The Full Ecosystem

From full-screen takeovers and in-feed videos to branded hashtag challenges and AR effects, the TikTok ecosystem has matured into a fully-fledged marketing channel. Although all these features have their place and time to shine in different campaigns, AR is the one to watch.

AR’s ability to give people fun, irreverent and creative ways to interact with brands, be it through virtual product trial or graphical flourishes, has turned the medium into an effective marketing channel for quite some time already. But with lockdown giving the world an even greater hunger for virtual experiences, AR’s time has truly come. And TikTok’s new features are set to help the channel grow even stronger.

By Jaclyn Siu and Annabel Holmes, UNIT9

Originally published at on 17th September 2020.

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