TikTok has unveiled a global brand marketing strategy to build on its rise in usage engagement with higher ad sales and more customers. 

The TikTok for Business platform advises brands: “Don’t make ads. Make TikToks.” It acts as a self-serve system that provides marketers tools to be “creative storytellers” and “meaningfully engage with the TikTok community”.

In selected regions, including the UK, TikTok is also testing a platform called Creator Marketplace, where brands can discover and partner content creators on paid brand promotions, with TikTok serving as an intermediary and offering administrative support if necessary.

Campaign understands that creative agencies have been using the Creator Marketplace platform, although it is designed presently to be used by individual creators. TikTok does not currently have a partnership scheme in the style of Snapchat, which launched a Creative Partners Program with select agencies in 2018. However, there is on ongoing education initiative in which TikTok provides training to creative agencies on how to use tools on the platform.

The move follows the Ofcom Online Nation report, released yesterday (Wednesday), that showed interest in TikTok was continuing to surge in the UK even before this year’s coronavirus pandemic boosted social media usage generally. TikTok more than doubled its reach among adults in the UK between January and April (by 5.4 million to 12.9 million), Ofcom said, citing Comscore data.

While its reach remains small relative to Facebook and Instagram, TikTok said brands have found success over the past year because “of their ability to creativity engage and connect with users through feelings, actions and sounds”.

The most popular ad formats on TikTok are the hashtag challenge, with users creating organic content based on a theme, and brands can pay to have priority listings on them. There are also home-page takeovers bought on a daily basis, in-feed video spots and banner slots on TikTok’s Discover page.

Stuart Flint, head of Europe, global business solutions, at TikTok, said: “We’ve seen more and more brands embrace the unique and creative ways the TikTok community expresses themselves through video. The experience is real, light-hearted and fun, and as we’ve seen over the course of these dynamic times, users and brands have the ability to make a meaningful and positive impact on their communities.”