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Could TikTok be the future of B2B marketing? How B2B brands use TikTok to differentiate

April 25, 2022 - by Janice Tham
LWC Think & Lead

B2B Marketing on TikTok

By now, we are already all too familiar with TikTok’s reputation as a highly effective marketing tool for B2C companies, owing to the platform’s features that allow for collaborating and connecting with audiences.

Interestingly, while we see an increasing proportion of B2C marketing on TikTok, the same can’t be said for B2B marketing.

For the most part, TikTok as a social media platform for short-form video content just isn’t a tool that professionals in the B2B industry are highly inclined to make use of when it comes to social media marketing. This can be owed to a multitude of reasons, many of which goes back to the innate traditional and somewhat stereotypical belief that B2B marketing should uphold certain professional standards and thus can only take place on specific platforms. For instance, as the world’s largest online professional networking space, LinkedIn inherently allows for B2B networking to take place, ranking it the highest among all other social platforms in the B2B marketing sphere.

Among reasons attributed to a lack of professional standards, B2B marketers are put off by marketing on TikTok primarily because of the platform’s demographics, largely comprised of young adults who may not be as interested in branded content. However, B2B marketers shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss TikTok as a marketing tool simply because of this. In fact, multiple B2B brands have leveraged TikTok to connect with their audiences on a deeper level by focusing on niche content that is specific to their brand. For example, Adobe – by creating a simple TikTok video that calls for individuals to comment on their video by tagging a creative TikToker, creates a creative community and establishes themselves as a brand for and with people. The video gained an impressive 2.5 million views.

Image courtesy of Adobe
Image courtesy of Adobe

As seen above, Adobe establishes itself as a brand where like-minded individuals can gather to form a creative community that leverages the diverse knowledge and skills of its audience. By driving dialogue through its TikTok content, Adobe humanises its brand and ensures that its content creates value for audiences instead of being too overly branded.

Canva - a graphic design platform, has taken on a similar approach in marketing on TikTok as well. Some of the most popular posts on the brand’s account consists of tips and tricks that clients should know about as users of the platform.

Image courtesy of Canva
Image courtesy of Canva

By providing useful power user hacks and content to businesses that make use of Canva’s services, Canva establishes itself as a go-to thought leader and expert in the graphic design industry. Such useful bite-sized content not only serves as entertainment but builds brand affinity as well.

So how can brands go beyond such beliefs and instead embrace the benefits that TikTok can bring to the table? Awareness of existing misconceptions can serve as an important first step for B2B brands to better understand how and why they should use TikTok for B2B marketing.

Here are some of the misconceptions that surround B2B marketing on TikTok, as well as ways that TikTok can benefit your brand if you are looking to take your B2B marketing to the next level:

 

1.     TikTok is not a suitable platform for B2B marketing because of how unregulated it is

Tip: While it is true that TikTok faces scrutiny in the face of B2B marketing owing to a lack of regulations and guidelines, don’t be too quick to dismiss the platform as a potential avenue for B2B marketing. In fact, communications professionals should avoid viewing TikTok as a one-size-fits-all solution for their B2B marketing needs. Instead, they should understand that this merely serves as an addition to already existing marketing tools. Forward-looking B2B brands today use TikTok to showcase their brand identity and persona instead of using it to attain specific marketing leads. For this very reason, TikTok is a highly suitable platform for B2B marketing, as it serves as a way for brands to present themselves differently to their audiences.

 

2.     TikTok’s demographics largely consist of younger audiences, making it unsuitable for B2B marketing

Tip: Although TikTok has been traditionally viewed as a Gen Z phenomenon that mostly caters to younger audiences, this trend has been shifting in recent times. According to a 2021 statistical report on the demographics of U.S. TikTok users, 42% of TikTok’s active user accounts in the U.S. are aged 30-49. The same report also cited that the number of adult TikTok users in America grew 5.5 times between 2018 and 2020.

So, what does this mean for B2B businesses?

With an increasing proportion of adults turning to TikTok for their entertainment and content needs, this serves as a favourable opportunity for B2B businesses to use the platform to connect with their target demographics. Considering that TikTok’s audience base consists of millions of users across the world, B2B businesses have a large database of audiences to work and connect with. 

Furthermore, while B2B businesses tend to look towards networking with older individuals, there is certainly no harm in investing the time to curate content targeted at younger audiences. Since the goal is to enable B2B businesses to stand out from their competitors and connect with them in a uniquely authentic way, there is value in having younger people invested in what your brand has to offer.

 

3.     TikTok does not offer networking opportunities which is a core tactic in B2B marketing

Tip: Beyond specifically curated platform tools such as those designed by LinkedIn, which allow businesses to connect with other professionals, there are many ways to network effectively. When looking to expand your business’s network circle and stand out amidst other companies, consider leveraging the hashtag function on TikTok to connect with like-minded individuals or trend jacking popular audios that suit your brand tone. By including relevant hashtags and audios in your TikTok videos, professionals can easily come across your video when in search of relevant content.

 

Additional tips for B2B marketing on TikTok:

1.     Establish your brand identity by ensuring that your content is unique to your brand

2.     Beat the algorithm and stay relevant by keeping up with the latest trends and topics on TikTok

3.     Last but not least, keep an open mind!

 

While marketing on TikTok is still in its infancy, there is a lot to explore as many businesses have successfully boosted their brand presence and connected with audiences by leveraging TikTok. B2B marketing could be the next big thing if companies and brands are willing to adopt an open mind.

As social media platforms continue to evolve and adapt to the needs of their diverse base of users, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if TikTok were to introduce professional and targeted marketing tools in the near future.

Indeed, it is an exciting space to watch, as it would be interesting to see how B2B marketing can evolve beyond traditional concepts.

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