A TikTok VP breaks down the 3 main topics his team discusses with brands including how to avoid being awkward on the platform

  • Blake Chandlee, TikTok's vice president of global business solutions, shared the three main topics his team discusses with brands in an interview at Business Insider's Global Trends festival on Tuesday.
  • Chandlee said that brands typically ask about how to strike the right tone and be 'authentic' on TikTok, how to measure sales driven by TikTok ads, and how they can ensure ads are appearing in a brand safe environment on the app.
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As TikTok has grown from a social-media newcomer to a video powerhouse with 100 million US users, its conversations with brands have also matured. 

"It's gone from [brands] being a year and a half ago, 'Should we be there and what is this thing?', to as it's grown and it's diversified its audience and certainly diversified content, now it's, 'Ok we need to be here,'" said Blake Chandlee, TikTok's vice president of global business solutions. He was speaking with Business Insider's senior media editor Nathan McAlone at the Business Insider Global Trends Festival on Tuesday.

TikTok launched its suite of advertising tools out of beta in July with an eye toward courting small and mid-sized businesses. But historically its primary tools for marketers, including a self-serve ad platform and creator marketplace, have mostly drawn in test budgets from brands. 

But TikTok may begin to win larger budgets as its user base and ad tools continue to expand.

And brands are asking TikTok's global business solutions team specific questions about its marketing capabilities as they consider investing in the platform, Chandlee said. 

Here are the three main topics that come up for TikTok as it pitches itself to brands, according to Chandlee:

1. How to strike the right tone and be 'authentic' on TikTok

Brands want to appear authentic on TikTok at a time when social-media users are gravitating toward less-polished, more realistic content.

"Users expect brands to be authentic in this platform, and when they're not, it feels awkward," Chandlee said. "This is a conversation we have with brands all over the world every day. They have to rethink a little bit about the way they think about creativity [and] how you have a voice on this platform. Authenticity is such a key part of it."

While influencer marketing is one approach that companies have used to strike the right tone on TikTok, brands are also building their own accounts on the app. 

F'real Foods, a milkshake brand that sells beverages at thousands of gas stations and convenience stores in the US and Canada, was already blowing up on TikTok when its marketing team downloaded the app last year. 

"Our president mentioned that his daughter had seen people posting about F'real on TikTok," Alec Ledbetter, an associate consumer-marketing manager at the company, previously told Business Insider. "That was a marketer's dream. We needed to have our own TikTok for the F'real brand and essentially amplify this wave of virality that they're already engaging in."

2. Moving beyond clicks to understand the performance of TikTok ads

In order to win larger budgets from marketers, companies like Facebook and Google have built sophisticated attribution tools for brands to understand how their platforms are driving sales. 

Because TikTok's ad tools are still in their infancy, its attribution abilities are more limited, according to marketers. 

"I put Snapchat and TikTok almost into the same bucket," Paul Marobella, chairman and CEO of Havas Creative North America, told Business Insider in an interview in April. "To get real investment from a brand like Coca-Cola, you have to provide metrics and analytics. They're not going to invest deeply in the platform unless they understand what's happening with their content."

Brands are regularly asking TikTok to share more information on how the company can track its impact on sales, Chandlee said. 

"How do we understand the impact that [TikTok's] having, not just on views and clicks and things like that, but on my business," Chandlee said. "We're working across the board with brands in every market to help them understand the impact we're having on sales."

3. Brand safety

The third category that comes up often in conversations with marketers is brand safety, Chandlee said. 

"We work closely with brands on helping them to understand how we view [brand safety]. The kind of tools we put in place. The process. The partnerships we have in order to not only keep brands safe but more importantly to keep our community safe, which is a number one priority for TikTok."

TikTok recently announced a partnership with the content-measurement company OpenSlate to use its content ratings to determine whether ads are being served in a "brand safe environment." The company also recently gave a tour of its transparency and accountability center to around 70 to 80 brands and agencies, Chandlee said. 

The tour helped marketers "walk through exactly how we think about safety on the platform and security on the platform," he said. 

For more stories on how brands are testing out TikTok as a marketing tool, read these other Business Insider posts:

  • Dunkin's TikTok marketing strategy includes paying employees to post videos at work and it's part of a growing trend: Some retailers have begun asking employees to post TikTok videos at work as a way to offer a brand-safe look into life at the company.
  • A teeth-whitening brand studied TikTok's algorithm to decide which influencers to hire and ended up gaining 100,000 followers in a week: HiSmile hired TikTok stars from the Hype House and Sway LA to create a wave of attention-grabbing videos on the social app.
  • A milkshake brand blew up on TikTok, and its 460,000 followers have changed how it approaches marketing and its target audience: With 460,000 TikTok followers, the milkshake maker F'real has built a large following on TikTok.
  • CASE STUDY: TikTok ads have been 300% more efficient than Instagram ones in getting new users for fintech startup Tally: As more adults sign up for TikTok, fintech brands are using influencer videos and its self-serve ad platform to advertise on the platform.

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