15 December 2021

How entertainment-based marketing wins TikTok audiences

As interest in the short-video platform grows, here is how brand managers are finding success right now.

Over the past two years, the popular and rapidly growing short-form video platform TikTok has become a key channel for brands to catch the attention of consumers. With more than 1 billion users, TikTok—along with its unique algorithm and discoverability opportunities—helps brands engage and connect with new demographics and audiences.


TikTok is still fairly new, yet it has already become a necessary avenue to reach audiences. Thus, marketers around the globe face questions: How do I know what’s working on this platform? What is the secret sauce to making a TikTok video go viral?


At Dash Hudson, we analyzed TikTok performance of the top brands across various industries. We defined success metrics based on three tiers of follower size, and uncovered results that will provide marketers with contextual data that is relevant to their brand.


The insights at a glance:


Apparel brands were some of the first to find their footing on TikTok. When brick-and-mortar apparel shopping came to a halt in 2020, it compelled brands to showcase products in new ways that capture the attention of potential buyers. Pro tip: Hashtag participation is key. Whether using a trending hashtag or creating something new, this step is important for apparel brands to generate visibility and virality on TikTok.


  • Trendy clothing e-tailer, SHEIN has unlocked the power of user-generated content. Using the hashtag #SHEIN, consumers have the opportunity to share their shopping hauls in hopes of being featured on the brand’s TikTok page, enabling the brand to receive the highest engagement rate in its follower grouping.

  • Get creative. Coming up with new trends or unique ways to showcase your products or services is proven to resonate with followers. e.l.f. Cosmetics got its popular start on TikTok when it leveraged the power of sound. By commissioning its own branded music track and pairing it with its #eyeslipsface hashtag challenge, TikTokers contributed nearly 5 million videos reaching 8 billion views.Today, the sound is used in more than 1.4 million videos and the brand continues to create its own sounds to promote new campaigns. This is a prime example of how brands can do more than just share content — they can create thoughtful moments to share with their audiences and connect with them on a personal level.


  • The luxury industry has caught on to the value of social commerce—a growing vertical on TikTok. One of the popular TikTok trends in the luxury industry is to use short-form content to share behind-the-scenes brand access. Dior, ranking highest in terms of average number of posts per quarter, relies heavily on high-resolution behind-the-scenes videos, giving audiences a glimpse at the magic behind the creation of luxury products.


  • An entertainment-first approach has become the most effective way for brands to resonate. The direction of entertainment-based marketing allows brands to take a human approach when connecting with their key demographics, creating content that not only moves audiences emotionally, but that also converts.


How else did brands create top-performing content? Here are some of the best practices used on TikTok, according to our research:


  • Define your purpose and be authentic. First, think about why you’re showing up and what you want your audiences to receive from your platform. Once you start to create content, authenticity will be key. Consumers don’t want to see polished content that feels like an advertisement or commercial. They want relevance and they want real.


  • Build loyal partnerships. The influencers you’ve worked with up to this point are going to slide into your TikTok strategy with ease. They know this space and they already live and breathe your brand DNA. Leverage them to build out your campaigns and bring your story to life by featuring them and through branded content tags.

  • Follow the trends—fast. Jumping on trends and contributing to the conversation is one of the most important things to pay attention to when building out your TikTok marketing strategy. Trends come and go at the speed of light, so it’s crucial brands keep a close eye on what’s trending on the “For You” feed and tailor content to fit your brand voice.


  • Be the same—but different. It’s natural to expect short-form video channels to have some crossover. Be strategic when filming your content so that you can show up with originality by putting your unique brand spin on an existing trend or theme. This will allow you to participate in content your audience will love without spending a ton of extra time or resources generating ideas.


To succeed in your TikTok marketing strategy, you need to have a pulse on the top trends, tap into the power of TikTok creators, and follow analytics to guide your decision-making.