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Technology
Taking TikTok Seriously
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by CHELSEA HINKEL

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Brand best practices to generate video views for social media success

When we published Why We’re Not on TikTok (But Still Know What It’s All About) in the fall of 2021, we advised focusing active attention as part of a smart strategy for financial and other consumer-facing brands – even if those companies weren’t going to immediately dive into proactively posting videos. “By being present and paying attention, brands are finding some of their next creators and influencers through the platform,” we observed. Further, we counseled that “tapping into some of the superfan communities provides a way for brands to get their content in front of TikTok users who may be less inclined to follow a brand directly.”

Those recommendations still ring true almost a year later – an eon by social media standards – especially the best practices around brands prioritizing active watching and cultivating a deeper understanding of social platforms. Strategies like these are foundational for all social media channels, regardless of their newness or novelty. And interestingly, it’s our commitment to active watching that has us calling for an updated assessment of TikTok and social video generally as part of brand social strategy. “The truth is, TikTok may feel intimidating at first,” says HootSuite. “But with enough guidance… it can open a fun new world.”

TikTok Takes Off

With more than one billion active users spending 19.6 hours scrolling each month, TikTok is a powerhouse and its influence is growing. Our industry monitoring reveals recent data that finds TikTok ads reach 148.5 million users aged 18 and above in the U.S. alone, through advertising and influencer campaigns. “Time spent scrolling through TikTok has been growing fast, and the app is notorious for pulling users in,” says Insider Intelligence. In 2020, TikTok whizzed past Facebook and Instagram engagement, with users spending 38.6 minutes on TikTok daily, surpassing Facebook's 34.6 minutes, despite the industry behemoth reporting peak use.

Any consumer-facing brand wanting to reach rising audiences, especially younger generations like Gen Z and Alpha, should be embracing video-forward approaches. But the bar is set high for social video, not so much in technical specs, but rather in authenticity to their brand and to the platform at the same time. “For brands to connect with consumers on TikTok, they must create content that feels native to the platform,” says Smartly’s exploration of TikTok advertising. “It’s impossible to scroll through TikTok without noticing the creative aesthetic…” A good example of this is Old Navy’s unique approach to crowdsourcing content for their next commercial.  

@thesamuelbeez #ad Made a TikTok and Old Navy literally turned it into a 🔥 commercial. What iconic Old Navy vibe did we miss? #ad #oldnavystyle ♬ original sound - Samuel Beasley

Video-Forward Tactics

On the tactics used by Old Navy for content curation or sending out a casting call to find talent like Dunkin’ recently did, brands are finding authentic ways to engage and generate buzz. “Tapping TikTok for talent purposefully makes the casting process a formal part of a campaign, rather than just something that tends to be kept behind the scenes,” said Mike Proulx, VP of research at Forrester in Ad Age’s article on TikTok casting commercials. “The irony is that the public-facing casting content might get greater reach on TikTok than the actual finished ad itself.” That’s a “risk” either brand would gladly take on, because the end result is video views.

Whether it’s leveraging audio by employing one of the current sounds or artists on TikTok or using hashtag challenges, social savvy brands understand that being in-platform and paying attention – even when you’re just watching – is critical to seizing the right moment and communicating in the right tone when you do. The ease of use of video editing and the simplicity of multiplatform sharing are further spreading the influence of the video phenomenon. That’s what we saw with FNB Community Bank’s TikTok style video shared on Instagram. Set to the tune of Nicki Minaj’s “I Get Crazy,” the bank educates viewers about the folly of leaving cash in Venmo in a fresh, funny way.  

For the latest information on creating an award-winning brand, social media, marketing and advertising and campaigns, contact us at info@adrenalineagency.com. For insights on brand best practices, be sure to visit Adrenaline’s Perspective channel and see Believe in Banking as it highlights industry inspiration and successful campaigns in financial services and beyond.


Adrenaline is an end-to-end brand experience company serving the financial industry. We move brands and businesses ahead by delivering on every aspect of their experience across digital and physical channels, from strategy through implementation. Our multi-disciplinary team works with leadership to advise on purpose, position, culture, and retail growth strategies. We create brands people love and engage audiences from employees to customers with story-led design and insights-driven marketing; and we design and build transformative brand experiences across branch networks, leading the construction and implementation of physical spaces that drive business advantage and make the brand experience real.

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