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TikTok may have started as a fun app with teenagers doing viral dances, but the most downloaded app of 2021 has turned into a powerful marketing tool for brands that have learned how to harness the app. Absolutely anyone or any product has the potential of going viral because TikTok's algorithm rewards creative content.
Once the TikTok community is behind a brand, there is no stopping the momentum. The platform has become the new shopping destination for beauty products with the hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt, taking on an entirely new meaning for brands that have experienced a viral TikTok moment. Some resources claim that searches for a brand or product can increase upwards of 400% in a few days.
As of this year, the platform has consistently remained the most downloaded app in the world. Primarily the habitat of Gen Z, the app boasts one billion active monthly users worldwide and is expected to reach 1.8 billion by the end of 2022.
Doe Lashes was founded by Gen Z entrepreneur Jason Wong in 2019, building a $15 million business with a $500 investment. The brand has successfully tapped the power of TikTok without overthinking content creation in an attempt to create the elusive viral moment. They deploy an organic test-and-learn strategy backed by an “anything goes” creative process. Wong said, "We just throw a hundred things at a wall, see what sticks, and make more of the stuff that sticks."
Through this experimentation, they've discovered that specific behind-the-scenes videos showing how Doe Lashes are designed and manufactured, and videos that demonstrate funny and unconventional uses for the lashes, perform really well. With this knowledge and complete creative freedom, the brand filmed a video using chopsticks to apply lashes one at a time, and Wong said "people went crazy over it."
As with all social apps, there comes the point where the platform needs to focus on monetization. In 2020, the app rolled out TikTok Business, allowing select brands to run ads, including Doe Lashes. Wong thought, "Hell yeah, I'm going to leverage the heck out of that."
But, he said the ad format didn't work for them. "We tried repurposing our organic content that was doing really well into ads, which didn't work. User behavior just wasn't primed for paid ads. On TikTok, an ad looks like an ad, and people immediately swipe past it. Right now, even if ads were free for us, our organic content would still perform better from a marketing standpoint."
Wong believes TikTok is probably one of the best channels for marketing beauty today. "Before TikTok, YouTube was the platform of choice for learning about makeup, but beauty vloggers make their videos anywhere between three and 20 minutes long. The longer the video, the more ad revenue they would drive."
According to recent Pew research, YouTube remains the most popular platform among US teens, with 95% saying they use the site. However, TikTok is gaining ground, with 67% of the coveted demographic between the ages of 13 and 17 using the app.
He said, "Younger people have shorter attention spans; they want to learn how to apply their eyeliner in 60 seconds. TikTok is great for that, and for discovery. I know creators with 500 followers who have a TikTok viewed 900,000 times. That doesn't happen on YouTube."
The not-so-secret sauce of TikTok is its strategically designed algorithm which recommends content by ranking videos based on a combination of factors that assess users' interests. The virality of the platform has become addictive, sucking users in an average 24.5 hours a month, surpassing YouTube in terms of monthly time spent on the platform last year.
The Gen Z consumer rewards content is rooted in authenticity. TikTok has become the palate cleanser to the picture-perfect posts Instagram served up to the millennial cohort. Beauty brands that embrace the imperfect, organic nature of TikTok will continue to reap the benefits.
Grabbing a piece of the TikTok action requires being nimble and moving fast. If you’re struggling with bandwidth or don’t know where to start, consider utilizing a digital platform to build a team. MarketerHire partners with brands to find the perfect talent fit for your marketing needs.