Insights / Social

PUBLISHED: May 12, 2021 5 min read

3 Reasons Why TikTok Excels at Growing Brands’ Awareness + Engagement

Maggie Hayes

Maggie Hayes

Influencer Project Manager

TikTok has definitely arrived. With the most Apple and Android app store downloads worldwide, TikTok was the fastest-growing app of 2020.

And, while TikTok may sound like just another social media platform with a unicorn moment, it’s actually a performance-driven entertainment platform that’s changing how people of all ages consume and engage online.

Clever, informative, captivating bursts of video content are precisely what you’ll find on TikTok. From short, niche lessons to crazy, attention-grabbing moments, successful TikTok content is just plain interesting. Instead of only connecting with friends or providing some aspirational scrolling potential, TikTok allows users to build high-quality entertainment together.

“We’re all just kind of going through it all together — and we happen to be documenting it all on TikTok.”


Brands have opportunities to go viral on TikTok by creating premium content that hooks viewers’ attention and entertains them enough to engage. Gone are the days of just regurgitating your brand message into a static image. TikTok’s savvy user base is fine being sold to… but ONLY if they’re getting entertainment value from the process as well.

There are plenty of misconceptions floating around about TikTok and we’re here to clear them up.

TikTok isn’t …

TikTok Feeds

#1. TikTok isn’t Instagram.

At first glance, TikTok videos and Instagram’s Explore page or Reels may appear identical. But they’re divergent — enough to serve a holistic marketing strategy in two distinct ways. TikTok serves videos to users who aren’t followers but have similar interests using AI. Instagram doesn’t do this.

Beyond music options, video length, and other technical differences, TikTok and Instagram bring unique strengths to the organic content and paid advertising table.

TikTok’s engagement is the highest of any social platform — 15-18% on average.

And its most successful marketing objective is brand awareness. TikTok advertising rests on brands and influencers creating high-quality entertainment content and using various paid media strategies to amplify their message.

Opportunities include:

Branded Takeover Ads
These appear when users first open the app. The ad prompts users to click a CTA that redirects to a landing page and holds them captive until they’ve watched a certain amount.

Hashtag Challenge
Share on your own brand page or collaborate with influencers to create viral organic content. Or create sponsored content that appears as a banner on the Discover page.

TikTok Shoppable Ads: The Hashtag Challenge Plus
Brands can create new product content, connect it to a hashtag, and use the new “Shop Now” feature.

Branded TikTok Stickers
Shareable brand stickers can spread across the platform.

In-Feed Ads
There’s CPC, CPM, and CPV tracking for in-feed advertising.

These differences also change influencer vetting and paid media amplification. Thinking that you’ll just carry over your current Instagram strategy won’t achieve the high engagement rate or other strengths that you’re ultimately there to take advantage of.

#2. TikTok isn’t just a copycat social platform.

It’s an entertainment and content platform first. While TikTok appears to live in the realm of other social networking sites, its exploding popularity is due to its exceptional entertainment value. Your brand can leverage this by creating high-quality content and disseminating it strategically.

TikTok is built for user engagement.

Its vertical format and user interface grab and hold attention. The home feed, a cousin to Instagram’s Explore page, shows users high-performing content from trending songs, hashtags, and challenges. This content can inspire users’ content, and a relatively unknown individual or brand can often go viral because of the For You page algorithmic curation.

The self-perpetuating cycle of trending dances, songs, challenges, and educational lessons inspires even more content for users to create and consume. Instead of just following influencers, users join in, riff off one another, and create content themselves.

TikTok users using the digital app.

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3. TikTok isn’t just for Gen Z.

TikTok has grown far beyond its early days of just dance challenges and funny fail videos. It’s now an education platform for a wide range of industries — especially healthcare, beauty, fitness, wellness, DIY hacks, cooking, and more.

And with this increasing range of content, user demographics are growing as well. No longer just for teenagers, there’s now entertaining content for everyone on TikTok. More than 44% of current users are aged 25-44, and that trend is growing.

As more consumers learn about the uniqueness of TikTok’s offerings and as user content continues to grow, TikTok will have unlimited potential to expand into any demographic who’s using a smartphone.

Chart showing TikTok graphics

Today, brands within the following verticals must have an actionable, performance-based TikTok strategy to stay relevant in their industry and support their business growth.

  • Fashion
  • Food + Beverage
  • Health + Fitness
  • Beauty
  • Home + Family
  • Technology

But ultimately, TikTok is expanding the ways that brands, content creators, and consumers can engage and entertain. Not just another social platform, TikTok is different and marketers need to understand how in order to successfully utilize this channel.

Does your brand have a holistic social strategy to support the changing space and stay aligned with your audiences and business goals?

Our social, influencer, and content marketing teams work together to take advantage of the earned, paid, and owned media capabilities that align with emerging platforms content norms to tie directly to clients’ business outcomes. If you’re interested in learning more about our TikTok influencer, content creation, paid media, or strategy development, please reach out.