How to make it on TikTok; tips and tricks from Guinness World Records

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

Hey Honey provide some key takeaways for making content excel on TikTok.

TikTok has very specific hashtag challenges released every day and the videos that are relevant to these are the ones that the algorithm favours. The key to success on the platform is to tie your content into these challenges. If you’re an entertainment brand, you surely have backlogs of content in your archives that you can post with a relevant hashtag. Trending videos will then appear on the #ForYou page, so most creators always tag. But on a daily basis, TikTok releases a meme-worthy dance routine, singalong or comedy sketch dubs that a brand can tie their existing content into. More recently, TikTok was where the viral trend, the #bottlecapchallenge, started that saw celebrities like Jason Statham and Ryan Reynolds creating content around the hashtag.

A brand that has done this with excellent grandeur is Guinness World Records. At Hey Honey, we held an event about TikTok in November last year, which Dan Thorne, social media manager of Guinness World Records attended and then went away to absolutely smash his brand’s TikTok page. Six months later and 2.8 million followers-up, Guinness World Records is now the third most followed brand on the platform and is the perfect case study for entertainment brands looking to launch on TikTok. Here’s some advice on how to succeed on the platform.

Make every second count

This is TikTok’s slogan and it’s really important. 15 seconds is not a long time to capture, engage and spark a reaction with a young audience. The users on TikTok typically range from 13-18 years old and they are on the platform for one reason only - to be entertained.

Dan Thorne from Guinness World Records had this to say: “Keep things authentic - not too many cuts and not too slick and polished. Also content themes that are as universal as possible, since it’s (mostly) about humans doing something fun, creative and interesting. We’re fortunate in that we have a wealth of short, snackable content that’s perfect for channels like TikTok, so there’s no end of really interesting user generated content submitted by our amazing record holders as evidence.”

How to get a longer than 30-second retention rate on your TikToks

It’s all in the story. If you’re a brand and putting out a sales message you can count on the content to perform terribly. These kids don’t want to be sold to, TikTok is their TV.

Dan Thorne, social media manager at Guinness World Records, said : “There doesn’t seem to be a tried and tested formula about what works on the platform yet, in terms of duration. In most cases, it seems to be the short 10-15 secs long content that performs well and gets surfaced on the ‘For You’ recommended feed.

“But in some cases we’re seeing good engagement on content that’s a minute long, with audience retention going beyond the 30 second mark for videos that have a compelling reason to stick around such as soundbites that tell a story, especially one with a positive message. Take the longest legs record holder, Ekaterina Lisina; her talk on overcoming bullying at school, or something equally compelling, like a man putting on 260 t-shirts.”

Always value the creators

The creators are the most important people on TikTok, because the users are also the creators.

Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram have attracted too many passive content consumers instead of encouraging more content creators and true engagement. Whereas TikTok encourages everyone to be a creator and its easy-to-use content formats, hashtag challenges, routines and comedy sketches have made it so that TikTok is the only social platform that can really claim that ‘Content is King’ and mean it.

From an advertising and marketing point of view, this could be catastrophic for TikTok because it’s the end user that brands pay millions to reach. But by valuing the creators first and foremost, the platform sets itself up to enjoy a long, healthy and profitable life ahead.

If you’re going to start a branded hashtag challenge that users can get involved with, then it must be innovative and flexible enough for creators to make it on their own. The one thing creators value most is autonomy with their creativity. They want to take a brand challenge and make it theirs so that it fits with their audience - they won’t be tied down by strict guidelines and an uptight brand brief.

We spoke to Tim van der Wiel, founder of GoSpooky, a mobile-first creative agency who has worked with brands like Buyern FC and HEMA in The Netherlands. He said: “The impact creators – or influencers – have on their TikTok following is undeniable. The platform’s direction is quite literally determined by the content posted by creators. A single post can easily be the start of a new viral hype. Raising awareness for issues or brands is therefore a very real possibility for creators. In addition, it’s quite difficult for brands to successfully position themselves on the platform – brands need creators to grow.”

He added: “Brands must give users full creative freedom to do what they want to do. For example, when you give them a challenge to participate in, make sure you give them enough space for their own interpretations.”

Be subtle about your brand challenges

Brand sponsored content does the worst on a popular creator’s platform than the creator’s original content. This is true on every single social media platform, which is why the #ad era is dying a slow but painful death. Endorsements have become inauthentic and most influencers don’t even care about - or would even use - the product they are endorsing.

We’re over the moon that this is shifting the industry towards a more authentic content creation era and TikTok is pioneering the way for this change.

How to measure success on TikTok

The analytics of the platform are still in their infancy with impressions and reach remaining the most applicable metrics for success. But we know that that won’t cut it in this metrics-driven world where Instagram, Facebook and YouTube boast much more sophisticated metrics. This means brands might have to take a more qualitative view on how well their content is performing.

This is how GWR measures success according to Dan Thorne: “The tone of the comments is especially important for us – we tend to attract some cynical comments from our older Facebook fans and YouTube subscribers, but younger users on TikTok and PopJam tend to engage in a much more positive, excited way. It’s all about inspiration and maintaining that sense of wonder about the world and the people in it. That’s what we’re all about as a brand. Those infinitely sharable surprise and delight moments that can be a little quirky and fun. TikTok’s also all about celebrating differences and inclusivity, which fits well with us as a company.”

All in all, the platform is still young but the opportunity is great. More brands have launched on the platform this quarter than ever before but there’s still a lot of scope for content to perform well and most importantly, organically.

Chris Adams, CEO at Hey Honey.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.