Project Description


September 2021

Creative Corner

Richard Ross
Richard RossCopywriter

Is B2B ready for TikTok?

Over the last year or so, I’ve become addicted to TikTok. Maybe it’s the full-screen video, maybe it’s the endless stream of bitesize content, maybe it’s the algorithm’s uncanny ability to dig up the perfect topic or trend at the right time. Whatever it is, it’s killing what’s left of my attention span, and I’m loving every second of it.

With hundreds of millions of users around the world, a lot of B2C brands have tried to capitalise on TikTok’s popularity. The content is very hit and miss, but there’s some genuinely creative, inspiring, engaging stuff going around.

Naturally then, as a B2B copywriter, I’m wondering if B2B is ready to join the fray.

TikTok? Seriously?

Of course, there’s a lot of sensible arguments you could make against B2B brands getting involved. The first has to be the question of relevant audiences. Most TikTok users are under 25. Potential customers and key decision makers within B2B are generally going to be older than this. So, if it’s a question of driving sales, TikTok probably isn’t your first port of call.

There’s also the stumbling block of why people use TikTok in the first place. Fundamentally, people are there to be entertained. Attempts to crowbar B2B ads or brand awareness content into a user’s feed could easily be seen as an irritating disruption rather than a genuine opportunity for engagement. Platforms like LinkedIn make themselves a more natural home for B2B marketing as people are already there for work rather than play.

Another issue is whether B2B brands would commit to the content. When it comes to TikTok, you can’t just repurpose stuff or do it half-heartedly. TikTok videos are bound up in such a unique pace, feel, style and sense of humour. Brands have to be flexible enough to fit in, and good content would need real planning and thought behind it, not to mention picking the right creative team or agency. You need people who just get it.

Yes, seriously

Despite these problems, TikTok could present some real opportunities for B2B.

Yes, its demographics are heavily skewed towards younger users, but the user base is set to age in the coming years as the app gets more widely adopted. More relevant audiences could join, making for more opportunities to connect. In the meantime, there could be untapped potential in terms of B2B employer branding. If done well, TikTok videos could be a hugely effective way to reach out to younger employees or prospective hires.

On top of that, the fact that people primarily use TikTok to switch off or have a laugh doesn’t necessarily mean the door is closed to effective advertising. As I mentioned earlier, there’s lots of great B2C content already floating around on TikTok, and the variety of creative tools on the app allow for so many ways to bring content to life. Though I think TikTok suits brand awareness and engagement more than direct selling, there are always exceptions to the rule.

Educational and ‘day in the life’ videos are also very popular genres on TikTok, which could present further opportunities for B2B brands. Take for example @thep00lguy, a professional pool cleaner who’s racked up millions of followers…showing people how to clean pools. Sometimes it’s as simple as that. Fun, personal, authentic content is key.

If you want a proper B2B example, look no further than Adobe. Of course, being a company that makes creative tools, they’re well placed to create good content themselves, but they do an excellent job of using the medium to its fullest while jumping on existing trends in a way that doesn’t feel awkward or forced.

Some final thoughts

Although TikTok started to gain traction back in 2018, a lot of brands are only just getting started, even the B2C crowd. It feels like it’ll be a while — even years —before B2B brands have a strong presence on TikTok, but there are real reasons to believe it could be a useful platform despite its association with younger demographics.

Try some other stories from our copy team: Setting the tone in B2B or Find your funny bone

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