Promotional feature

How can brands best engage with audiences on TikTok?

Two men wearing jazzy sunglasses stare into the camera while sipping cocktails

Authenticity is key.

Brands need to be authentic to successfully appeal to TikTok’s discerning users. TikTok’s recent ‘Authenticity, Happiness and Joy’ research, conducted by Flamingo Group in collaboration with GroupM (1), found that authentic content left 73% of users feeling positive and emotionally uplifted afterwards. But how can brands promote their authenticity? Listening, showing up as yourself and being imperfect is a good place to start…

The research explored the emotional impact on users after watching authentic TikTok content, and showed that authenticity on the platform is associated with feelings of creativity, inspiration and uniqueness. It found that 56% of users feel more positive about a brand after seeing it on TikTok and that ads on the platform are more ‘creative’ and ‘original’ than other digital platforms on average. In addition, 48% of TikTok users see the platform as ‘joyful’ compared to 30% for other digital or social media platforms.

TikTok’s ability to lift moods is also being reflected onto brands. The ‘creative authenticity’ that underpins content on TikTok gets transferred to perceptions of advertising, generating brand trust, with half of TikTok users admitting they trust brands that advertise on the platform.

“At TikTok, we aim to inspire creativity and spark joy among our community of more than one billion people around the world who come to TikTok every month to be entertained,” says Isobel Sita-Lumsden, Head of B2B Marketing Europe at TikTok. “We know that authentic content lifts users’ spirits, but how can your brand establish an authentic tone? In a nutshell, authenticity means to play a more human role in the TikTok community.”

Here are five tips from TikTok on how brands can achieve this human, authentic tone:

Skip the hard sell
This audience is on TikTok to be inspired and have their spirits lifted. If brands start by asking users to buy products, the truth is they’re probably not going to stick around for very long. Consider the reason your consumers are coming to the platform and work this into the creative content.

Engage with your community
The community is more likely to engage if they’re being given something that’s been created for them. What can you teach your audience? Leverage your brand knowledge and share inspiration. While this won’t always explicitly promote products, it’s about building a relationship and giving your audience a reason to like, comment or follow. Over a third – 38% – of TikTok users said a brand feels authentic when teaching them something, so show users how your products can benefit them.

Find trends that align with your values
When you’ve understood how to contribute to your community, work this into your content strategy. Identify what content works for your audience and run with it. Get involved with trends as a way of approaching new audiences. But again, don’t only use these trends to actively promote your products – users will see right through it and be less likely to engage. If your first few TikToks are helpful tutorials followed by an influx of promotional posts, you’ll lose the audience’s attention quicker than you gained it.

Come as you are
The TikTok study found that 42% of respondents feel the platform allows them to express themselves in the most original way possible, without worrying what people think. They are much more likely to engage with brands who do the same. Don’t worry about having the perfect lighting; the TikTok community is inspired by those who show up as they are. By bringing enthusiasm and energy to your branded content, emotional uplift is increased and you’re more likely to encourage participation.

Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable
Authenticity means to play a more human role on TikTok. Being imperfect on TikTok creates intimacy between brands and their audiences, and builds a relationship driven by respect and understanding. It also gives brands a licence to be vulnerable. When talking about your brand and the story you want to tell, use your voice, utilise the backing track features and sounds for more impact, and speak openly and honestly about the lows as well as the highs.

By understanding the role your brand can play on TikTok, and how to go about creating authentic content, it becomes much easier to give your community what they want, which will work wonders when it comes to increasing followers and building relationships with your audience.

“Once you’ve built up an authentic profile, you can start running In-Feed Ads to further boost your content and find a bigger audience,” adds Isobel. “In your ads, you can speak directly about your products, and if your target audience wants to know more about your brand, they can visit your profile where they’ll find a flurry of original, authentic and joyful content.” 

1. TikTok Marketing Science Understanding Authenticity, Happiness and Joy in Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK, conducted by Flamingo Group.

Read more about TikTok for business here – you'll find inspiration, success stories and what's trending on TikTok. 


Start Your Free 30-Day Free Trial

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to, plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events.

Become a subscriber


Don’t miss your daily fix of breaking news, latest work, advice and commentary.

register free