TikTok - Users, Videos and Brands.

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TikTok Best Practices

Engaging the audience through hashtag challenges, tapping into influencers or creators, leveraging a catchy song, image, or meme, and showing the lighter side of the brand appear to be some of the best practices for effectively executing a marketing campaign on TikTok.

Engage Audience Through Challenges

Tap Into Influencers/Creators

Leverage a Catchy Song, Image, or Meme

  • The successful TikTok campaigns of Chipotle, San Diego Zoo, and E.l.f Beauty suggest that using a catchy song, image, or meme in a TikTok campaign is one practice marketers should give serious consideration to.
  • Chipotle's #GuacDance challenge is a very good example of how a brand can leverage a popular or catchy song or meme in promoting its own product. For this challenge, Chipotle used the viral music video of The Guacamole Song, which was perfect for TikTok as it was both musical and silly. As previously mentioned, this challenge is the best-performing branded challenge on the platform to date.
  • The catchy song or image can be original, like in the case of E.l.f Beauty's #eyeslipface campaign on TikTok. An original song that has well-timed sound cues that users can pout or wink to was composed for the campaign, which, in turn, generated 1.6 billion video starts in just over seven days.

Show the Lighter Side of the Brand

  • The effective TikTok campaigns of NBA, The Washington Post, and NBC's Stay Tuned suggest that brands benefit from showing their lighter side on the platform.
  • NBA, which has 5.1 million followers on the platform, was able to make its athletes appear more relatable by posting motivational, funny, or more personal videos of these athletes. Videos of athletes dancing or "working out dramatically to music" and of team mascots doing basketball tricks are some examples of the videos NBA posts on TikTok.
  • While it offers highlights in its Instagram account and news in its Twitter account, NBA offers memes, motivation, and comedy in its TikTok account.
  • The Washington Post may be the serious news organization that it is, but on TikTok, it shows its lighter side by posting "post comedic behind-the-scenes videos and skits about the newsroom." It tailors its posts to the younger audience that TikTok serves by posting funny and pleasant videos. This strategy has proven effective, as the news organization now has over 200,000 followers on TikTok.

Research Strategy

We initially checked if best practices for executing a marketing campaign on TikTok are readily available in the public domain, but quickly found that they are not. While some articles, including one published by The Drum, offer tips, the tips are not substantiated with facts or data. As a workaround, we looked for examples of successful or viral marketing campaigns on TikTok, and examined what these campaigns have in common.
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TikTok Successful Brands

TikTok is a Chinese iOS and Android social media video app for creating and sharing short lip-sync, comedy, and talent videos, most of TikTok's users are the young generation who are less than 24 years. In this research we identify some top brands which have been hugely successful using the platform, we identified five brands, the National Basketball Association, Chipotle, Guess, The Washington Post and The San Diego Zoo. The research focuses on the different campaigns and citing examples of the content while highlight their successes.

National Basketball Association (NBA).

  • National Basketball Association is a men's professional basketball league in North America, composed of 30 teams. It is one of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada, and is widely considered to be the premier men's professional basketball league in the world.
  • The NBA has a humongous fan base of 5.1 million on the platform. Its core content is a mixture of NBA games highlights with music montages and inspirational quotes from its professional athletes, both past and present.
  • The NBA's TikTok account takes a different angle from its Instagram which is purely basketball games and highlights. It rather shades a lighter side of the organization, for instance they often share videos of players practicing and working out to music, dancing on the court or adventures of team mascots.


  • Chipotle, a popular American restaurant chain — which specializes in tacos and Mission-style burritos.
  • Chipotle has over 55,000 fans on TikTok. They post a wide range of posts which use music, memes amongst other references to distinguish and highlight their menu items.
  • Their most successful campaign on the platform was to celebrate #oneyearofTikTok, a video posed on their account showed tortilla chips propped around a bowl of guacamole with the award-winning hit song from English singer Adele — "Someone Like You" overlaying the clip. The sound bite features Adele's audience singing back to her, which makes one feel as though the chips are actually singing to the guacamole.

The Washington Post

  • The Washington Post is a major American daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C. It has the largest circulation in the Washington metropolitan area.
  • The Washington Post was one of TikTok's earliest brand adopters now more than 120 videos for the account, amassing 220,000 followers and more than 7.5 million "hearts," or likes, the Post is certainly getting it right with TikTok. Steering away from the investigative or serious content that comes with news agencies social media accounts, The Wshington Post. But in reality, The Washington Post uses its account to post comedic behind-the-scenes videos and skits about the newsroom. The videos fit in perfectly with the platform since most of its users are of young generation — "Gen - Z", since these videos are funny, musical, and embrace some of TikTok's weirdest special effects they resonate highly with this target audience which has clicked with it perfectly.
  • In one campaign, the news team discusses at The Washington Post chooses to discuss and analyze The Bachelorette instead of the Democratic Debates.


  • Guess is an American clothing brand and retailer. In addition to clothing for both men and women, Guess markets other fashion accessories such as watches, jewelry, perfumes, and shoes.
  • Even though Guess only has 35,000 and just three posts the elite fashion company launched the #InMyDenim hashtag challenge, which was the first promoted hashtag challenge on TikTok in the U.S. and the official launch of the app's U.S. brand partnerships program, it ran from September 1st to September 6th. Guess promoted the hashtag challenge with the support of popular content influencers who are popular on the platform.
  • The #InMyDenim challenge, encouraged users to film themselves in unique, exciting and interesting places while wearing Guess' new denim line and also had to overlay Bebe Rexha's "I'm A Mess."
  • The main focus of this campaign was to demonstrate how a challenge on a highly-visual platform like TikTok could quickly spread product-based awareness and help in marketing and increase sales.
  • Here is one of the response of the campaign.

San Diego Zoo

  • The San Diego Zoo is a zoo in Balboa Park, San Diego, California, housing more than 3,500 animals of more than 650 species and subspecies.
  • The San Diego Zoo has a simple strategy for it's TikTok account and it is the perfect fit for its existing stock of content. The brand uses puns, pop culture references, hashtags and the sound tracking feature brought from TikTok’s predecessor Musical.ly, the feature allows members of the platform to lip-synch to their favorite songs.
  • The account uses mixture of hashtags. They recently posted a Duet with Monterey Aquarium, a split-screen option wherein both accounts soundtrack concurrent video—a brilliant use of a feature meant for lip synch competitions. The post entertained while boosting each account’s profile to followers.
  • Their key concept and goal is to entertain and nothing more: The Zoo doesn't sell or retail any tickets, events or membership, they just let in the viewers in on the action in a humorous and approachable way.