It's a given that B2C brands need a presence on TikTok, especially if the target market is 18-34-year-olds, but what about B2B brands? Is there an opportunity to reach target customers?
Depending on who you ask, the answer is "maybe." Not quite what you were hoping for, right? The truth is there might be an opportunity there if you think the right way and build the right strategy.
Are B2B brands on TikTok?
There are over 160 million active TikTok users in the US alone. The majority are under 34, but there are still older people using the social media platform. I don't think it's as much about TikTok users' age; many younger people are working for B2B brands. So, this isn't a discussion about age so much as it's a discussion about mindset and brand voice, and values.
Will Aitken, Head Sales Evangelist for Sales Feed, argues that you must absorb yourself in TikTok to understand how to do it well. And Sales Feed, a B2B sales newsletter by Vidyard, seems to have figured it out. With almost 70,000 followers and over 500,000 likes, the brand spends a lot of time on social media talking to sales professionals:
Our mission, each and every day is to offer actionable resources on how to get ahead in B2B sales - with some fun and humor brought along for the ride. We share ideas, stories, news, and entertainment to help you lead a better life in sales.
Now, here is something to keep in mind. Sales Feed focuses on salespeople. It isn't selling a product or service; it's educating and entertaining. Sales Feed's brand voice and values are all about educating in a light-hearted way.
Adobe is also on TikTok with 76,000 followers. But Adobe's TikTok presence is aimed at creators and small businesses that use its creative suite products, not enterprise software customers. Semrush has a sizeable TikTok following (over 12,000 followers), as does Shopify (119.7k followers) and Sprout Social (much small at a little over 1100).
The point is that B2B brands are testing the TikTok waters, and they should. – Brian Piper, director of content strategy and assessment, University of Rochester, explained it well in a CMI Institute article on the topic:
Everyone recognizes the power and effectiveness of the TikTok algorithm. Any content marketer that isn't at least exploring ways to leverage that channel is leaving revenue on the table. I'm not saying that every brand should have a channel on TikTok, but every brand should at least be thinking about how they can leverage TikTok.
Be where customers and employees are
Why should B2B brands consider TikTok? Sprout Social refers to it as a "powerful awareness driver." In all my research, awareness and networking were considered the primary reasons for brands to have a TikTok presence. When you think about it, it makes sense.
B2B brands sell to companies. But in truth, they sell to people in companies. And people spend a lot of time on social networks, whether LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok.
According to TikTok research, brands are remembered 40% more on TikTok than on other social platforms, and 73% of TikTok users said they feel a deeper connection to the brands they interact with on the platform.
There are three ways to think about these stats. First, from a customer perspective, brands have an opportunity to develop meaningful connections with their customers. This is about building a community, sharing customer stories, getting customers to share their stories (user-generated content), and having fun with the brand, the product, and the processes or strategies behind the product.
For prospective customers, it's about showing the brand's personality, sharing stories of successful customers, and showing the product or service in a way that shows its impact on their work.
And then there are the employees. I saw a couple of AT&T TikToks that showed life at AT&T. These TikToks were designed to be fun, showing people how great it would be to work at AT&T. Brands that want to attract younger people to work for them could leverage TikTok to show the fun side of work. TikToks that show the brand values, happy customers, employees building the product, or the value the product brings to a company can compel people to want to join the company.
The key is to be authentic and show your brand's values and personality while being informative and educational where it makes sense.
The biggest opportunity for B2B brands on TikTok is through relationships with creators. The creator economy is growing in B2B; it's not a B2C influencer-only world. Spend a little time on any social network, and you'll find B2B creators who are amassing large audiences.
TikTok's What's Next Report 2022 found that "Partnering with creators on TikTok boosts view-through rates for TikTok specific ads by 193%, and branded content coming from creator collabs shows a 27% higher Ad Recall."
Those results are likely primarily from B2C influencers, but the possibilities it provides in a B2B context are there.
Creators know how to tell the best stories about your product, service, or company. They spend their time working to understand what their audiences are interested in and creating content to meet those interests. By partnering with a creator on TikTok, a brand gets immediate access to the right audience and an element of authority and authenticity that come with the creator.
B2B brands have an opportunity to leverage TikTok, but it won't be easy. It wasn't that long ago that we thought Twitch could be the next branded content platform, but it hasn't happened. Is this the same path for TikTok? Twitch has always been a gamer platform. Taking it to the next level was never going to be easy. But TikTok reaches people of all ages and interests. B2C brands are doing well, so it's not as much of a reach to think B2B brands could also do well.
It comes down to recognizing the value of being there and the strategy used. It must be a continually monitored and adapted strategy to know if it will work.
I'll end with great insight from Neal Schaffer, president of PDCA Social, from the CMI article:
The other reason is that TikTok is truly impacting social media marketing, the primary place where content marketers distribute content. Even if your organization is not on TikTok, your push towards creating more Instagram Reels and potentially venturing into YouTube Shorts is thanks to TikTok's emergence and increasing impact on how we consume content.
Video is here to stay for content marketing strategies, especially on social channels. So if you're testing the waters with Instagram and YouTube, why not test TikTok?