From dance challenges to lip sync videos, TikTok has united the world through the shared culture of the internet. In just a few years, the short video platform has achieved immense popularity. With approximately 1 billion users, TikTok already rivals the giants of the first era of social media: In 2007, three years after it launched, Facebook had 20 million users; around the same point in its life cycle, in 2009, Twitter had 18 million.
As online platforms have grown faster and larger, so has interest from brands that seek to monetize users’ attention. But whereas older platforms—Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube—now have established usage patterns (and advertising value), TikTok presents a new challenge for companies. In a society that’s full of distractions and always online, how do you grab somebody’s attention? Better yet, how do you keep your customers engaged, not only as consumers but as unpaid champions for your brand?
After spending 20+ hours watching brand interactions on TikTok (yes, it’s extremely addictive), it’s clear there isn’t one formula for success. Instead, companies have capitalized on the viral video platform with a blend of personality, authenticity, entertainment, and music. While advertisers can’t follow a precise recipe, there are some approaches that seem to work, and companies might remix these strategies to build their own brands. These are a few organizations that have figured out what makes people tick on TikTok: