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When it comes to brands on TikTok, the most popular ones seem to share some secret ingredient that makes them more watchable, engaging and relatable.
They’re not all recipes, even though some of them might guide you to make the neatest folded tortilla wraps or the creamiest baked feta pasta.
Instead, the secret sauce is their ability to create engaging content that pulls users in and keeps them entertained or informed enough to stay, and to return frequently.
Building an engaging brand on TikTok happens when you find that sweet spot between what TikTok users want to watch and the message you want to put out to market, between the content they’re craving on the platform and the story you can tell about your products or consumers.
While Gen Z, TikTok’s top demographic, is known for rejecting advertising and being turned off by marketing, brands that find the sweet spot can get in their good graces and create a greater appetite for their content (and by extension, their products and services).
The brands that are doing it best include Chipotle, Amazon and Guinness World Records, among others. How are they making it happen and building a connection with their followers?
1. Understanding the unique communication style and culture of TikTok
The best TikTok accounts recognize the difference between this platform and the way social users interact with other platforms. The best brands create content specifically for TikTok, rather than just reposting content or headlines from other platforms.
They’re intentional when creating content for TikTok and making it engaging. The Washington Post, for example, is known for its hard-hitting journalism and coverage of national and global affairs. They also have a Washington Post TikTok guy, Dave Jorgenson, who takes their traditional coverage and gives it its own flavor on TikTok, tying it in with pop culture happenings or trends within the platform.
The result? The newspaper appears to have conquered this up-and-coming digital channel, with more than one million followers interacting with their brand on the app.
2. Having a clear objective in mind
The best brands on TikTok know what they’re posting and they know why they’re posting it. They follow trends but they don’t find it necessary to engage on all of them.
Instead, they understand the purpose of their account and what they want users to take away from the content and their interactions with it.
When you’re strategizing, decide what the goal of your brand’s creative efforts will be. You only have a few seconds to grab viewers’ attention. If you’re focused on informing them or entertaining them, make that clear from the beginning.
Mountain Dew, for example, did this with the unlikely combination of John Cena and a watermelon-pink convertible. Immediately upon seeing this juxtaposition, viewers knew something fun and unusual was going to be highlighted (in this case, a million dollar sweepstakes and a new Major Melon soda flavor).
Guinness World Records has also created a unique niche, taking the informative route and participating in Learn on TikTok. Instead of only highlighting the most outlandish of records, the brand has also used their platform to highlight the science behind some records and to promote self-awareness and self-care.
3. Finding ways to connect to trends
TikTok users love a good trend and smart brands know how to create or jump on those trends and take advantage of their potential for virality.
Amazon, for one, has leveraged this concept by sharing user-generated content that’s on the app. Trends like, Things TikTok Made Me Buy, tie in perfectly with their end goal and amplify the voices of other users as opposed to pushing their brand narrative alone.
Not all brands are fortunate enough to have users creating their own on-brand challenges like, Things You Didn’t Know You Need Off of Amazon. If you’re not a retail behemoth, consider which other trends might be a fit for your brand.
For an example, Josie Lewis creates new artwork daily on her TikTok. When she shared a recent video, she called out the #asmr sounds created as she worked with her paint. Capitalizing on trends can earn greater visibility, especially when you can do it organically rather than forcing it.
4. Building relationships with influencers
Successful brands realize the immense influence TikTok users can have within their key niches. Partnering with these influencers can give brands an opportunity to amplify reach and create excitement within their communities.
Chipotle excels at creating these partnerships. For example, the #GuacDance Challenge, launched in collaboration with TikTok creators including Brent Rivera and Loren Grey, created a record-breaking digital sales day and generated 500 million impressions from 250,000 submitted fan videos.
Our latest global study on TikTok influencers revealed that they are spending between one to five hours each day on the platform, so they are on top of the latest trends and can provide insight to the companies they partner with. By building these relationships, brands can benefit from real, relatable content that feels spontaneous and creative, rather than corporate and overly branded.
When it comes to TikTok, many brands are trying to figure out the best way to jump in. The platform moves fast, and you have only seconds to capture attention before users choose whether to stay on your content or keep scrolling.
Brands may wonder whether it makes sense to jump into TikTok while the platform is still developing its ecommerce features. However, the site is already a major driver for social commerce, with almost 70 percent of content creators making purchases based on posts they’ve viewed.
By becoming part of the conversation — either through your own brand’s posts or through influencer partnerships — you give your brand a chance to capture greater awareness and engage with your target consumers in a place where they’re open to being entertained, engaged and persuaded.