Beyond the China Crisis: A Look at TikTok’s Latest Platform Developments
Chase Koeneke | Associate Creative Director

In the event you’ve tuned out of the news for a few weeks — and who could blame you —  TikTok has been in the headlines just a smidge lately. The Trump administration is discussing a ban of the popular social media app in the U.S., fearing the data being gathered will be funneled to the Chinese government. There’s also been discussion about Microsoft purchasing TikTok’s U.S. operations as a compromise, but thus far no final determination has been made. 

But life goes on. TikTok — the surging social media giant where people dance, mouth song lyrics and entertain — goes on. 

The social media platform’s Creative Lab hosted Part II of its Masterclass: Small Business Edition webinar series on July 21. Ashley Pham, TikTok’s Product Marketing Lead, joined as a presenter along with Creative Strategist Lead Joshua Hilliard to share expert advice. As a social media coordinator here at Elasticity, I attended as they discussed best practices, common errors to prevent, and successful ads. 


Here’s what we learned:

A Growing Audience

Once it launched in 2018, its demographic was mostly Gen-Z users, but other generations are jumping on board. Easy access to making video without much experience or pricey tools has been a selling point for wider audiences. This generation tends to be an audience who may not exist on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc, and TikTok has helped to bridge that gap. While having a target audience is ideal, it’s suggested to not narrow it too much on this platform. 


The Algorithm 

The TikTok algorithm is unique in comparison to other popular platforms because it uses a content graph instead of a social graph. So, what are the differences? Well, a content graph considers quality content in order to have a well-performing video. While a social graph primarily involves how much engagement your post receives. To sum it up, a major way to scale up your success on TikTok is to prioritize creativity. 

And since we’re on the subject of the creative realm, it’s crucial to know what tools are available. We’ve listed a few resources to produce an effective campaign and to meet your goal: 


Video Templates

Video templates are integrated so that you can easily build your video ad. This feature allows you to mix your own videos and images with on-screen music and effects. It’s perfect for quick creative projects and on-the-fly client requests.

Here are a few features that come with it:

  • Add Your Own Images
  • Logos & Text options
  • Video Templates
  • Copyrighted music library
  • Vertical & Horizontal Templates


Smart Video

This AI-powered tool combines clips, images, music, text, effects, and filters to create a flawless campaign. With artificial intelligence, it analyzes your added assets such as your videos or photos, to form various versions of your ad.


Smart Video Soundtrack

Music is a key component of TikTok’s video ads and campaigns as TikTok is continuing to have a massive influence on music that reaches mainstream popularity. The rhythm, melody, harmony, and general song choice for your videos have a lasting impact on consumers and helps build a stronger brand image on the platform. 

Are you unsure about what’s the best music to use for an ad? Don’t sweat it, smart video soundtrack can add their suggested song with plenty of genres to choose from including rock, country, pop, ambient, dance, and other styles. 

Smart Video Soundtrack offers two ways to add music to your videos:

  • System soundtrack: The system will automatically select the appropriate music from the music library for you.
  • Custom soundtrack: Upload your own audio files, or select from our library of available soundtracks, without worrying about copyright issues.


Automated Creative Optimization

This feature automatically blends all your creative assets and selects the best performing one. Here’s how TikTok describes the process: 

“With ‘Automated Creative Optimization’, you can upload images or videos, write some ad text, and select your call-to-action (CTA) buttons. Our system will then automatically combine your creative assets into multiple ads for your campaign. These ads get continuously explored, evaluated, and optimized to find the optimal combination of variables. The system will then present the best creative to your target audience based on the tested combinations.”


In-Feed Video Ads

This is a great trick for advertisers to connect with the community through informative and exciting videos. In-feed video ads are full-screen 60-second videos that auto-play to users the same as regular Tik Tok content. You’ll also have the option to choose from three objectives: awareness, consideration, and conversion to help get your content in front of the right people. 


Here are a few additional takeaways from the experts in the webinar:

  • Vertical ads have a 25% increase of 6 seconds VTR view-through-rate. It’s an important metric to measure the number of completed views, divided by its initial impressions. When choosing a horizontal ad, you might not be taking advantage of the full-screen visual. 
  • Sound and sync play an important role in keeping your audience’s attention without looking away. The way it “syncs” refers to how well your music and sound come together.
  • Short and focused ads perform very well. Videos that give the key message within the first 3 seconds have a 63% higher click-through-rate.
  • Strong call-to-actions make up 50% of the videos with the highest click-through-rate. Integrate it into the content itself for a powerful combo, along with your CTA button. A greater sense of urgency has a better performance. 


Although trends are constantly evolving, it’ll be interesting to see how TikTok For Business expands. Will they continue to enhance the app’s creative features and bring a more diverse audience? Only time will tell, but now could be the right time to explore any ad or campaign opportunities. Who knows, you could stumble upon a new community with loyal followers and consumers. Your next big campaign could be just a “Savage” dance away.

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