Using TikTok as an Organic Digital Marketing Tool and Brands that are KILLING it as First Adopters

Author: Vittoria Rabito

Note: This blog was intended to be released before COVID-19 swept our nation. Since then, TikTok has gone from a commonly-used app amongst teens and tweens to EXPLODING across millions of households full of folks looking for a laugh and some fun during this difficult time of isolation. Here’s our updated take on our original blog (written by our superstar intern, Ryerson Journalism School (almost) grad, Vittoria Rabito, and edited by Arnold Street Media, Inc. founder, Emily Silverman). 


As of March 2020, TikTok has become one of the most downloaded apps of all time, with over one billion users. Marketing agencies and businesses are desperately trying to understand how they can use the video-sharing app to increase their profit. The complicated task is that until very recently, TikTok’s target audience ranged from around 13-24. For brands, this can be seen as a difficult nut to crack, since the “ideal” e-commerce shopper is between 25-40 yrs old. 

Enter COVID-19, the strangest experience most of us have ever had to endure in our lifetimes. Our days of aggressive hustle and bustle have morphed into endless video chats, video streaming, social media browsing, and of course, boredom shopping. Not only are a new wave of TikTok users entering the scene, but they are older, have more money and have an infinite amount of time to spend aimlessly watching engaging content on TikTok. Really, this is a marketer’s dream.

So what is TikTok (for us old folks that are late to the party)?

The app, which started as a Chinese social network, gained popularity with Generation Z and has now become a place for teenagers around the world to create, edit and add music to short videos. This gives each user an opportunity to be silly, express creativity and establish their own personal brand. 

Tik Tok stemmed from an app called Musically that was used for uploading short videos where users would lip-sync to famous pop songs. Users can create videos from 15 to 60 seconds, with songs and filters allowing for customization. Much like YouTube content, creators have gained popularity by showcasing their skills (dancing, singing, comedy routines, fashion or beauty routines, etc..), started fun and interactive challenges, and ultimately curated audiences who look forward to their ongoing delivery of content. TikTok also curates content based on the types of videos you watch and engage with. 

Brands Making The Most Of TIK TOK

What’s great about TikTok, is that as long as you are consistent and engaging, organic content is proving to be a great way to raise brand awareness and stay connected with your audience. While digital ads are definitely on the rise for this platform, here are 2 brands that have established themselves organically on TikTok and are killing it! 


On National Avocado Day, Chipotle posted a famous meme about guacamole while using “The Guacamole song”. It advertised free guac, driving customers to their stores across North America. This spread like wildfire as it was not only clever and funny but seriously, who doesn’t love free guac?! 


The NBA’s TikTok account has proved to be a slam dunk with 5.1 million followers.  This account shares highlights, funny memes and inspirational videos. It gives them a chance to show a lighter side of themselves and gives the audience a behind the scenes aspect to the game. For example, this TikTok on the NBA’s page shows a gorilla mascot doing tricks and slams dunks in a highlight reel customized with music and filters. This is also an incredible way for NBA fans to stay engaged and connected with their favourite players during this time of social distancing. 

What’s Next for Marketers

Thus far, brands that have been advertising organically on TikTok are brands targeting the 13-25 market. With an influx of followers, brands can start reaching larger audiences and target groups that were unfamiliar with the platform until recently. 

In order to gain a following and create brand awareness organically on TikTok, followers need to be entertained. Engage in the conversation by using hashtags and responding to comments. It’s one of the easiest ways to get feedback from your audience and understand what they like and want. Create content that is out of the box and fun. Don’t be afraid of getting creative and showing a goofy side of your brand. TikTok is all about laughing and having fun (and we could all use a dose of that right about now, am I right?!) 

If you’re interested in exploring TikTok for your brand, feel free to reach out to us for tips, tricks, social strategy or social media management. If you’re interested in utilizing TikTok for paid ads, stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog: How to Advertise on TikTok – A Marketing Guide for Beginners.