Advertising on TikTok:

Spending Ad Dollars on Hashtags

and Challenges


Photo by Olena Yakobchuk on Shutterstock

Advertising on TikTok: Spending Ad Dollars on Hashtags and Challenges

Social media challenges – you’ve probably heard of them, or even taken part in one. Over the years, social media challenges such as planking, the ice bucket challenge, and more recently the wipe-it-down challenge and blinding lights challenge have generated buzz, drawing in millions of views.

Currently, TikTok is the most popular social media platform for many of these challenges. Predominantly used by Generation Z, who make up 60 per cent of TikTok users, this social media platform, which is owned by China-based company ByteDance, allows users to post videos up to one minute long. The app has seen over two billion downloads since its launch in 2016, making it the fastest growing social media platform, and it now has more than 800 million global users. 

The rapid growth and popularity of TikTok have made businesses turn to this relatively young platform to leverage it as an advertising tool. Popular brands such as Fenty, MAC Cosmetics, Guess, Calvin Klein, BMW, Mercedes, and others have started to advertise on TikTok, taking unconventional marketing approaches to their advertising styles on a platform that allows for diversity in creativity standards.

Asian brands are also leveraging TikTok’s popularity. Phone giant Samsung launched a viral ad campaign earlier this year to promote their Galaxy A phone. Collaborating with TikTok and the iconic Korean girl group Black Pink, Samsung inspired a hashtag and a dance challenge, #DanceAwesome, to get its product buzzing globally. With the challenge campaign in place, Samsung allowed TikTok users to create duet videos with their favourite singer from Black Pink, dancing to a catchy tune by the girl group. 

The hashtag #DanceAwesome has generated 20.5 billion views. Throughout the campaign, 4.7 million user-created videos were published on TikTok, allowing the Korean phone giant to dominate TikTok with their branding, something traditional media would never have been able to achieve. The marketing strategy that Samsung adopted was lauded by the creative community, as Samsung took a big leap by venturing into a relatively new advertising platform and targeting a younger demographic, and yet they executed their campaign successfully. Their efforts were recognised by the Design and Art Direction Awards 2020, a prestigious body that awards “only the most imaginative and well-crafted brand marketing campaigns”.

Another Asian phone brand, Honor, owned by Huawei, has seen its Malaysian chapter use TikTok to market its latest products. For example, to illustrate the strength of its Honor 9x phone, the company put out tongue-in-cheek videos of people playing ping-pong using their phone instead of a paddle, or breaking the heel of a shoe with the phone during a date. 

In addition to their low-cost yet amusing creative content, Honor Malaysia also launched a branded hashtag challenge in February this year, giving users the chance to win Honor products, and this drew in 5.9 billion views worldwide. Traditionally, drawing this kind of attention would be impossible for a marketing campaign, but the massive popularity of TikTok and its global audience have made such advertising possible. 

Advertising on platforms such as TikTok is also cost-effective in comparison to traditional channels, considering the reach businesses can achieve. While platforms such as Facebook and Instagram have more rigid frameworks for advertising campaigns, TikTok allows for flexibility and creativity in how campaigns can be created. Companies can watch their campaigns go viral through challenges, hashtags, video content, and so on. By getting their target audiences to act on their advertising campaigns, as both Samsung and Honor Malaysia did, companies can create a stronger brand identity and even loyalty, achieving their objectives through meaningful spending of their ad dollars.

As social media platforms evolve further, businesses will continue to leverage the latest trends to get their products across to their audiences, which will make the future of advertising interesting to watch.

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