Using TikTok for Adventure Branding in Outdoor Recreation
This blog originally appeared on Advanced Outdoor Solutions
One of the most important things to remember in marketing is that it is always evolving and growing with the times. If you want to keep up with your target demographic or expand that demographic, you’ll need to explore new and different marketing opportunities. One of the fastest growing social media apps available currently is TikTok. One of the remarkable things about TikTok is its popularity across demographics. Its users are all ages from all regions, socioeconomic statuses, and more. By embracing new forms of advertising like TikTok, an outdoor adventure company can really hit its marketing stride—here’s a look at how and why.
The Rise of TikTok as a Marketing Tool
At the time that TikTok launched in 2017, the world had seen the rise and fall of many different social media platforms, and the arena seemed oversaturated already. However, by 2020, TikTok was already the most popular and most downloaded social media app. It was created to showcase videos between 15 seconds and three minutes long, and for creating content that was meant to be viewed as casual, in the moment, and real. It quickly gained a reputation for being the antithesis of the curated, hyper-edited photos of Instagram, and the preachy, verbose antics on Facebook (which was already seen as an “old person” app at the time). At the time of its launch, TikTok offered a huge variety of editing features, endless clips of songs and sound effects to create content around, and a unique, innovative algorithm for displaying content to different audiences. Brands that immediately gravitated towards TikTok were ones that were known for being young, hip, unfiltered, and organic.
Now, TikTok averages between 80 and 100 million American users per month, while Facebook clocks in at 302 million US users, Instagram with 138 million US users, and YouTube with 197 million US users.
TikTok’s Diverse & Vast Demographic
While TikTok may have fewer US users than other social media apps, what sets it apart from the crowd is the fact that it has such a diverse and vast demographic. The majority of users and content creators on TikTok are Gen Z; however, the “lurkers,” or TikTok audience who doesn’t actually produce content but just consumes it, range in age from elementary school children to senior citizens. 80% of TikTok users are between the ages of 16 and 34, but people who download TikTok and view its content regularly are anywhere from seven years old to 100 years old. By taking advantage of TikTok’s unique algorithm, you can get your advertisements and content in front of any audience you want to market to.
TikTok’s Unique Algorithm
Another thing that sets TikTok apart from other social media apps is its radically different algorithm. Rather than having a curated feed of users you follow, there are three different feeds that each user can scroll through:
- The feed containing content from users you have followed
- The feed containing content created specifically for you by the algorithm
- The live feed, which contains live content created by users and is curated for you by the algorithm
When you ask the TikTok team how the algorithm works, they will tell you that it shows users content based on rankings of videos created by a variety of different factors; this might include interests you claimed when you signed up, and adjustments made while you use the app and spend more time looking at some types of content over others. Other factors that influence the algorithm might be your interactions with videos you see, the types of accounts you follow, specific comments you post, and of course, the content you create. The algorithm even considers your device and account settings, such as your location, language, and phone model.
Benefits of Organic TikTok Marketing
TikTok is uniquely suited to market adventure brands, as its audience is mostly young, adventurous kids with time on their hands and money to spend. Creating content on TikTok is faster, easier, less expensive, and more creative than using similar social media apps, and you don’t need to worry as much about growing your followers or interacting with other brands. Adventure brands in particular can carve out a niche on TikTok whether they are just starting out or are fully established on other platforms. Some of the benefits specific to TikTok marketing are:
The ease with which your brand can gain visibility, popularity, and interaction
The lighthearted, casual, off the cuff style of content creation lends itself well to adventure brands
You’re already in front of a wildly captivated audience, and the short videos favored on TikTok mean that people are unlikely to skip past your video before it has finished
- It’s easier to introduce yourself to new customers, and grow your customer base organically
- It offers a useful recruiting channel, which allows companies to reach out to and recruit new staff and content creators
- It rewards authenticity and realness in a way that other marketing and social media apps do not
- It’s easy to find an audience that appreciates natural, raw, engaging content
Building a Successful Adventure Brand Account
There are a few key things to remember if you want to build a successful adventure brand account on TikTok: its organic beat algorithm, its Creator Fund, and cultivating creator partnerships. TikTok’s organic beat is a specific algorithm designed to engage users and keep them watching their screens. By creating fun, natural content, you have the chance to get your brand in front of a captive audience at the perfect moment. TikTok’s Creator Fund is a fund paid by TikTok to creators who have at least 100,000 unique, verified video views over a 30-day period. When choosing creators to award through their Creator Fund, TikTok considers the number of views the account receives, the authenticity of the views, how much engagement they get on the content they produce, and how in-line the content is with TikTok’s guidelines and terms of service. If a creator qualifies for the Creator Fund, they can be paid between two and four cents for each 1,000 views.
TikTok’s Creator Partnerships take place on their Creator Marketplace, which is described as a discovery platform that allows marketers to find TikTok creators who share their audience, values, goals, or interests so that they can forge mutually beneficial partnerships. The analytics tool makes it easier to find insights about each creator and offers information that makes it easier for like-minded creators to find each other.
Understanding Paid Peaks
TikTok’s paid peaks are essentially paid promotional campaigns that you can run on the app. If you don’t want to focus on organic marketing, or you want to grow your audience through a combination of paid and organic marketing, then paid peaks are key to your success. There are five different ways that you can use TikTok’s paid peaks:
- Brand takeover ads, which appear whenever a user opens the home page of the app. These ads are full screen and consist of a video, still image, or GIF.
- TopView, which is a video format that gets primary placement across TikTok’s algorithms and is cleverly designed to look like other videos in the users’ feeds.
- In-Feed ads, which are videos that show up in the users’ For You page and seem more like organic engagement.
- Branded hashtag challenge, which invites users to create branded content for your campaign by using a specific hashtag.
- Branded effects, which are stickers, filters, and special effects that are specific to your brand, and which users can use when creating content on the app.
Growing Your Audience
You can build your audience on TikTok in a similar way to how you would on any other social media platform. When creating content, you can leave the target audience options blank, and the algorithm will place your content in front of users it thinks will like it. You can also create custom audiences based on specific demographics you want to capture.
Data & Analysis
TikTok allows you to collect data on your advertising and analyze it to determine how you can improve your marketing strategy. It offers reporting options that are pre-built or that can be customized to your specific needs, and analytics that crunch the numbers for you and tell you how you can improve. You can also use TikTok’s Dimensions, which are related to data grouping like campaigns, ad groups, ads, placements, etc. Finally, you can use TikTok’s Metrics, which are related to each ad’s performance data and determine how much you paid for each click.