In 2023, retailers are aware of the ‘connected customer’, someone who is seamlessly linked via the internet, social networks and sharing tools, and who expects brands to be just as digitally enabled as they are. 

Positively, we’ve seen retail brands adopt e-commerce and social media platforms into their business operations to stay relevant. The adoption of social media marketing and advertising is encouraging when reflecting on revenue and brand awareness objectives, with some social media platforms outshining others.

The way these platforms engage customers is also evolving. Social commerce began as a system driving consumers to web pages, and then eventually to shoppable store links and product pages–but now these platforms own the entire experience from awareness to consideration to purchase and fulfillment. Social or conversational commerce now mirrors the best in-person shopping experiences with the added advantages of digital scale and deep customer intelligence.

The rise of TikTok advertising

TikTok, having been declared a ‘leading media revolution’ in 2022, has now overtaken Facebook as the most valuable social media brand. Brand Finance’s annual Global 500 contributes this to strong brand strength and its ability to draw in massive advertising sales.  

With TikTok becoming the fastest growing social media platform in the world, reaching more than 884 million adult users– it makes for  an easy case for brands to incorporate the platform into their current social media advertising campaigns. In fact, research shows over half of TikTok users “feel closer to brands they see on TikTok” which in turn can drive repeat purchases due to brand loyalty. Since the explosion of TikTok, the platform has disrupted the way consumers view, consume, and connect with brands.

Overcoming TikTok advertising challenges

While implementing TikTok into a brand’s marketing and advertising approach can be rewarding, there are some challenges that retailers first need to understand and overcome. These challenges come from TikTok’s algorithm and the type of content that resonates with its audience.

Content variation

Unlike other social media platforms, TikTok requires advertisers to have a high volume of content variation in their ads to remain relevant. Producing large quantities of varied content requires a lot of resources and time spent on the backend.

This will require brands to recognise the power in unifying marketing activities across all touchpoints to provide a seamless customer experience. A seamless customer experience is created when the same brand messaging is communicated across all social media channels. 

Cross-channel execution

Gathering data from individual channels isn’t enough. Brands need to run reachable and scalable campaigns to appeal to TikTok users. This will come by taking a ‘customer-centric’ approach, whereby customers are at the heart of every conversation.

The key is for brands to extract meaningful information across all channels and transform it into actionable insights to then engage effectively with customers.

Monitoring social comments and conversations

When retail marketing teams manually run content campaigns, it is difficult to monitor ongoing ad comments and conversations. This can be especially hard when TikTok users use the ‘stitch’ feature on the platform.

Without the ability to moderate comments, the brand’s reputation is at risk. To alleviate this, brands should be leveraging technology geared towards risk management that can analyse public discourse across social media platforms.

Reaching the ‘connected consumer’

For brands to resonate with the ‘connected consumer’, they not only need to tap into social media platforms like TikTok but offer a seamless customer experience across all channels. This stems from aligning their messaging across all platforms, to catering towards the type of content consumers are fond of, such as short-form videos, static ‘meme’ images, or gifs. 

To offer a seamless customer experience, brands need to be customer-centric and personalise the customer journey throughout online interactions. The customer must lay at the forefront of all online interactions which means brands ideally need to rely on technology that will capture the customer experience and transform customer data into actionable insights, all in one platform. Finally, marketing and care teams need to work together to deliver any experience the connected consumer wants–from education to service to purchase.

For retail brands on TikTok and other modern channels, the next step on the digital transformation journey is about more than how they can place the brand in front of customers. The next evolution is about how to proactively engage with them and meet them where they want to be met – in this case, through TikTok.

Tyler Altrup is director of CXM best practices at Sprinklr.