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  • Writer's pictureAlyssa Puzzuoli

TikTok Advertising Guide 2020

Tiktok is a platform like no other. Not only does it give you access to thousands of videos from people all over the world, it also gives you the chance to become an internet sensation overnight. Whether you are young or old, a multinational brand, or running a small business from your bedroom, you have the chance to reach an audience like no other and to make a serious name for yourself.

However, because Tiktok is the first app of its kind, there are a lot of things to learn. From the algorithm to advertising and sponsored posts, this is uncharted territory. At the start of the year, Pluto dove headfirst into the world of TikTok. Working exclusively with our roster of TikTok influencers, we created a number of highly successful campaigns for a range of diverse clients – from Lifestyle Sports to Dublin Rape Crisis Centre. Over this time, we’ve learned just about everything there is to know about the platform and it’s growing userbase.

Here is what we’ve learned so far;

1. Know the Algorithm

When starting off on the app, don’t expect your first video to go viral instantly. TikTok’s algorithm works on an individual video basis, meaning the interactions on a single video are taken into consideration, and not the account itself. This is great for small accounts, with even as little as zero followers, as it gives everyone a level playing field when it comes to reaching viewers.

Once you’ve got the nerves out of the way, and you’ve hit the publish button, your video is shown to a small number of people in your geographical area. Depending on how it is received, it is then shared with a larger audience still within your geolocation. If your video continues to perform well, this is when your video hits the ForYouPage (FYP) of users internationally.

If you’re wondering what the algorithm considers a “positive reception” of a video, there are multiple indicators, ranging from replays, video completions, shares, comments, and likes.

And while your first video might not take off at first, the algorithm works in a mysterious way that allows even older videos to suddenly pop up on the FYP, gaining likes and sparking engagement instantly.

2. Use Hashtags

Tiktok is hugely trend-driven. Scrolling through the FYP, you can spot a variety of different trends, such as lip-sync challenges, beauty and fashion hacks, health and fitness tips, pranks, funny moments, and an endless list that will continue to see growth. Although these trends might not have much in common with one another, one thing they share is – the easier the trend, the more successful it will be and, therefore, the longer it will live on the platform.

What comes hand in hand with these fun trends, are recognisable hashtags. There are two ways to look at hashtags on TikTok; trending hashtags and custom hashtags. Trending Hashtags

Trending hashtags are already existing hashtags that have been used by a large number of users. These could have been created by other brands, or random users and have increased in popularity. Because of this, these hashtags have a higher chance of getting your video onto the FYP.

If your goal, as a brand, is to increase brand awareness and views, you should consider monitoring the Discovery page for hashtag inspiration. Here you’ll find currently popular hashtags based on your location. Using these hashtags, as well as #fyp, #foryou, and #foryoupage, are considered the best way to boost your discoverability, i.e., your chances of hitting the FYP. Custom Hashtags

However, if you are looking to start your own trend, then a custom hashtag is the way to go. Custom hashtags are a great way to reach a more defined, niche audience for your content. This can often be more challenging if you are not yet established on the app, and so working with influencers, or larger personalities on the app can drastically increase your success rate. It is extremely simple to participate in a hashtag challenge on the app – all it takes is a few clicks.

A significant advantage of creating your own hashtag is you can more precisely track the reach of your campaign. By clicking into the hashtag, TikTok shows you the number of people who viewed your hashtag, as well as the number of videos posted using the hashtag. This is a great way to promote user-generated content.

3. Use trending Sound Bites

Similarly, certain sounds on the app will be picked up better than others. Trending sounds, which again can be found on the Discovery page, have a much bigger chance of being prioritized by the algorithm.

This allows you to show a fun and personable side to your brand by incorporating well-known songs that your target audience enjoys listening to. Music is key on an app like TikTok and allows your brand to market itself positively while embracing pop culture. This will make your marketing efforts less infomercial, and more creative and engaging in the eyes of your target audience.

Associating your brand with a popular song through challenges can create positive associations in the mind of the consumers, and engage potential new customers in a fun, interactive way that hasn’t been seen before.

4. Tap into Influencer Marketing

Influencer Marketing is key when it comes to gaining reach on an app that generates millions of videos per second. As always, brands should focus on influencers who would naturally use their product, and allow the influencer to work with it in a way they feel is best for their audience – after all, they know what works for them.

TikTok is a very natural platform, and product placement when done incorrectly can look out of place and forced, so be mindful of the young audience dominating the platform. Getting a high profile TikTok personality to wear branded merch, use your product, or participate in a challenge can hugely affect a brand’s performance on the app.

5. Keep an eye out on TikTok’s Advertising Strategy

TikTok Advertising is still in its infancy and lacks features that easily allow automatic ad buying and performance measures.

Currently, the main advertising methods on the app are;

  1. In-feed ads: A sponsored button will appear just above the caption. The viewer can click this button and find out more about your business or product.

  2. Brand Take-over: A pop-up ad dominating the viewer’s screen when they open the app.

  3. Top-view: A combination of in-feed and brand takeover, top-view ads begin when the user opens the app and seamlessly transitions into an in-feed video.

  4. Brand effect: TikTok allows brands to create effects and stickers for products and brands to be used in videos.

  5. Hashtag challenge: As mentioned above, a hashtag that links directly to your brand name, product, or service.

With the app growing exponentially there is no doubt TikTok will improve this service in no time, and brands should jump on that ad space as soon as possible.

6. Always remember: Content is King

The endless app features, ranging from filters to sound effects to transitions, leaves your brand with a limitless opportunity to create eye-catching, engaging, and fun content – which is what the app is all about. With that, it is critical you cross-promote your videos across all social channels. Not only will this increase traffic to your TikTok account, but it will also allow your other socials to become more creative and engaging for your already existing followers.


On TikTok, everyone is an artist, a videographer, a comedian, an editor – they are whoever they want to be with just the click of a button. If your brand is looking to tap into a market of all ages, then get practicing your best renegade or someone else will beat you to it. Remember, be original, creative, weird, and fun. Don’t be an advertiser, be an entertainer. It’s never been easier.

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