TikTok is the hottest channel in B2C marketing right now but B2B companies don’t want to sleep on this opportunity. Some of the biggest B2B companies in the world are making waves on TikTok and proving the value of this platform.
More importantly, TikTok symbolises the future of content marketing as Millennials and Gen Z come of age. This future is already phasing out the old traditions of B2B marketing and companies need to re-adapt.
In this article, we look at how the top B2B brands are doing this on TikTok.
It’s easy to think of TikTok as a platform for B2C marketing and write it off from a B2B perspective. This is a big mistake. Some of the biggest names in B2B marketing are proving how effective this platform is for engaging their target audiences.
So what exactly can you expect to achieve with TikTok as a B2B company?
TikTok isn’t the hottest social platform right now because it innovated short-form video. It’s the hottest platform because user expectations are changing – and it’s the platform that best satisfies these. This is why networks like Instagram and, even, YouTube are scrambling to make their platforms more TikTok-like.
It’s important to understand that user demands are driving the shift to short-form video – and what works on TikTok. By addressing these demands now, B2B companies can make TikTok work for them and future platforms that may do an even better job of satisfying these expectations.
We’ve pinpointed seven characteristics of B2B TikTok success and picked some of our favourite examples of them in action:
Semrush has published an excellent study on the hooks of viral TikTok content – so take a look at that when you get a chance. It’s not B2B-specific but it offers some excellent insights into what people want from the platform. Crucially, it finds that happiness is the most common emotion behind popular videos on TikTok.
In fact, the study finds a huge majority of 58% of popular TikTok videos promote happiness among users. That’s more than double the percentage of popular videos that surprise users (24%).
Crucially, you’ll see negative emotions are nowhere near as powerful as positive ones on TikTok.
Bearing this in mind, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that humour is the most powerful genre for popular videos on TikTok.
Semrush finds 36.5% of the most popular TikTok videos fit nicely into the humour genre. Then, you’ve got dance (21.9%) and pets (21.3%) rounding up the top three genres of popular TikTok videos.
So what does this look like in action? Well, Semrush seems to know what it takes to go viral – head over to its TikTok account and you’ll see humour is the key theme in most of its videos. Pretty much every video is a parody of something relevant to marketing, SEO and the workplace.
@semrush Best wishes 💫 #digitalmarketing #semrush #foryoupage #skit #humor #marketing ♬ original sound – Semrush
Best wishes 💫 #digitalmarketing #semrush #foryoupage #skit #humor #marketing
Semrush never takes itself too seriously or shies away from the ridiculous with its TikTok videos. The strategy works, too. The company is regularly going viral with relevant, relatable clips that speak out to its target audience.
Building upon the idea of using humour to drive your message, getting laughs on TikTok is harder than you might think. When your audience craves positivity, you can’t punch down for the sake of a few laughs. Instead, you’ll often get better results by making fun of yourself to develop a humorous tone. Drop the ego and put yourself at the centre of the joke to get laughs while also showing humility.
Poke fun at common mistakes and issues your target audience can relate to. This is particularly effective when you portray situations your audience can see themselves in – mistakes they’ve also made in the past.
@microsoft not again microsoft fyp replyall corporatehumor microsoftoutlook ♬ Creepy Violins – Apollo Nove
not again microsoft fyp replyall corporatehumor microsoftoutlook
The more you poke fun at yourself, the better placed you’ll be to put the spotlight on others from time to time. If you joke about common workplace mishaps, you can follow tl;dv’s lead and bring others into the joke.
@tldv.io Work AI-er, not harder (inspired by Marketoonist on IG) #ai #chatgpt #ceo #aitools #artificialintelligence #chatgpt4 ♬ original sound – tldv.io – AI Meeting Recorder
Work AI-er, not harder (inspired by Marketoonist on IG) #ai #chatgpt #ceo #aitools #artificialintelligence #chatgpt4
A gentle mix of self-deprecating humour about AI tools and some comments we’ve all heard from certain CEOs hit a powerful mix of notes. The company keeps itself at the heart of its humour and makes everything relatable so it’s always in the firing line with anyone else taking some of the flak.
Authenticity is crucial on a platform like TikTok and showing the human side of your business is one of the most effective ways to achieve this. Consumers are so used to stuffy, corporate messages that it’s even more refreshing when a B2B company opens up.
On the topic of YouTube Shorts, Google says humour and relatable imperfection “can show that a brand gets their audience” and this is crucial for TikTok, too.
Take notes from Shopify that puts its team at the centre of its TikTok strategy. It uses the platform to show the people behind the brand and establish connections with relatable clips.
@shopify hi welcome to my home office #workfromhome #homeofficechallenge #workfromhomelife #myhomeoffice ♬ DEZ2FLY THE CHOSEN ONE – Dezmen Horne
hi welcome to my home office #workfromhome #homeofficechallenge #workfromhomelife #myhomeoffice
After the pandemic, most people can relate to working from home to some extent – and the challenges it poses. This particular topic is also a great indicator of how perception and reality are often worlds apart from each other. Kind of like how the corporate brand image of a company isn’t always authentic to the workplace culture behind the scenes.
By lifting the lift on the human side of their business, Shopify shows people that everyone at the company experiences the same problems they do. Its team understands these issues and finds ways to overcome them – for themselves as well as others.
One of the hardest things to do on a platform like TikTok is promote and entertain at the same time. It’s difficult to do both in any format but even more challenging in short-from videos. Humour is a great way to entertain but to achieve the promotion aspect you have to deliver value quickly.
Canva is a great example of this and SaaS companies, in general, are a great source of inspiration. Canva mixes humour into short clips showing audiences how to use some of its most impressive features. This helps existing customers get more out of the product but it also introduces the tool to wider audiences.
@canva Creating your own animation in Canva is ✨very nice✨ ♬ original sound – LX News
Creating your own animation in Canva is ✨very nice✨
The videos are genuinely helpful for existing users and they also promote the product to new audiences without coming across as all that promotional.
Zoom is another software company that does an excellent job of delivering quick snippets of value in its TikTok videos. More specifically, though, we want to talk about solving your target audience’s problems in this section.
Earlier, we touched on the relatable issues many of us experienced while working at home during various stages of the pandemic. For most of us, Zoom was a central feature of working from home in recent years. By this point, who hasn’t run into difficulties with online meetings or found new ways to embarrass themselves in front of the whole office without even being there?
Zoom should understand these problems better than any company and it proves this in its TikTok strategy.
@zoom the construction noise is a paid actor 🔊🙃 #techtok #audio #zoom ♬ original sound – Zoom
the construction noise is a paid actor 🔊🙃 #techtok #audio #zoom
The company isn’t simply making parodies of issues but helping its customers to overcome them.
Whatever line of business you’re in, this is a key strategy for using TikTok to address your target audience’s problems. First, you’re showing them that you understand the challenges they face. By showing the human side of your company, you’re also showing them you go through the same struggles yourself. The key difference is, you’ve got the solutions that will help them overcome these problems, once and for all.
It’s easy to make the whole narrative about yourself on a platform like TikTok. But it’s worth taking the time to put some shine on the people most important to your business, too.
Adobe knows this and dedicates a lot of its TikTok strategy to showcasing the work and success stories of its customers. The company has a huge platform that can promote creatives but it also has the power to showcase the role its products play at the same time.
Take a look at Adobe’s TikTok account and you’ll see plenty of clips putting the shine on its customers.
@adobe Let’s spotlight the unseen. 👤 W. Kamau Bell sounds off on expanding the media’s perspective at Sundance Film Festival 2023 // @indiewire. #sundance #sundance2023 ♬ original sound – Adobe – Adobe
Let’s spotlight the unseen. 👤 W. Kamau Bell sounds off on expanding the media’s perspective at Sundance Film Festival 2023 // @indiewire. #sundance #sundance2023
The company mixes this in with clips delivering quick value – a lot like the example we looked at with Canva. You’ll also find touches of humour, the occasional pet and a solid mix of elements that make its campaign successful.
This brings us to our final point.
Some brands are pretty consistent with the tone and style of their TikTok strategy. Semrush is a perfect example of this where you’ll find most of its clips feel like they’re part of an ongoing series. Other brands, like Adobe, mix it up more and incorporate different elements into their strategy.
Shopify is another good example of this. Earlier, we looked at how the company shows the human side of its business by putting its team on centre stage. But it also makes an effort to put the shine on its customers, deliver quick snippets of value and poke fun at itself (as well as others).
You’ll find all of these elements come together on Shopify’s TikTok account.
Mixing it up can help you target multiple target audiences who may have different needs or interests. It also gives you room to experiment with approaches and refine your strategy. Eventually, you might find a very specific style that works for you (like Semrush) or you might find the ideal mix of different elements – like Shopify.
TikTok has been our focus in this article, the principles we’ve covered will define the future of B2B marketing. Right now, no other platform provides the same kind of environment for B2B companies to build these authentic connections with audiences. This will change, though. We’ll see new platforms hit the market and strike a similar tone.
We’re already seeing networks like Instagram try to implement more TikTok-like features, connections and engagement.
This is where the social web is heading – and not because it’s the latest throwaway trend. This is the future of B2B marketing because it’s what Millennials and Gen Z demand from interactions with brands.
They’re not interested in stuffy, corporate messaging. They don’t want to feel like companies are selling to them. They want authentic, meaningful interactions with brands that meet their consumer needs but also their human values and expectations.
As Millennials and Gen Z become business decision-makers, brands must meet these demands to stay relevant.
If your TikTok marketing strategy needs a lift, our video marketing team can help. Call us on 02392 830 281 or send us your details and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
James has led Vertical Leap’s PPC team since early 2012, and is responsible for ensuring the effective and efficient delivery that our customers relish. He has a wealth of experience, having managed PPC campaigns across all markets and platforms for more than 15 years, and manages a thriving team of experts.
An ecommerce specialist, he loves the data driven nature of PPC. After achieving a BEng degree in Mechanical Engineering at university, he applied his strong problem-solving and mathematical skillset to paid advertising, where he can optimise and analyse the complexities of click and conversion data. James can very quickly identify and solve any hurdles surrounding a PPC campaign to ensure quick wins, successful results and ongoing ROI.
James loves his motorbike, brewing, and camping in all weathers; but spends virtually all his weekends sailing his sea fishing boat around the Isle of Wight not managing to catch anything to feed his family.
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