When you think of TikTok, what comes to mind?

Perhaps it’s a hilariously entertaining video you’ve shared to friends, a fitness challenge you’ve tried, a favourite restaurant you’ve discovered or an amazing product you’ve bought through recommendations?

The truth is, TikTok is quickly becoming one of the world’s most culturally and commercially influential platforms. Shopping, fashion and retail are BIG on TikTok and when we say big, we mean huge – with over 3.8 billion views for the hashtag #tiktokmademebuyit globally.

The communities engaging with #tiktokmademebuyit are powerful. They have launched brands, spawned movements; they’ve invented, co-created and sold out products, all in record time.

With our inclusive mission to inspire creativity and bring joy, TikTok holds multi-generational appeal for audiences throughout the world. Our engaging, interactive environment is the perfect place for brands to connect with their audiences in a way that feels real.

Now, we all know that in July brands start to think about how to tackle the fast approaching Christmas period. So to support brands looking to plan their retail spend effectively, we have some tips on how to capitalise on what’s hot on TikTok and connect with our community.

Firstly, it’s all about a vibe.

Let’s talk about what a ‘vibe’ is? For the TikTok community a vibe is something that is hot on our platform, happening now and gaining momentum. Vibes are authentic to our communities and are at the forefront of culture. As they are behavioural observations, brands are able to capitalise on a vibe and take the opportunity to connect with the diverse subcultures on our platform by showing up like our community does on TikTok.

We’re seeing a range of exciting vibes happening on TikTok right now, that are particularly relevant for retail brands. These vibes are creating multiple, innovative ways to connect authentically to our community on TikTok and drive real business results. Here are my three favourite vibes for retailers right now:

  1. Reinventing the catalogue

Remember the days of reading a retail catalogue and planning what you were going to shop for? Well, this is happening again, except now on TikTok. Our community is saying goodbye to flicking through pages, and hello to scrolling – disrupting the traditional catalogue and using TikTok as one of their key sources to discover new products; and innovatively sharing their latest purchases.

Our ever entertaining user-generated content on TikTok creates an atmosphere of authentic discovery. The constantly refreshed For You feed is tailored to personal preference, allowing people to spontaneously discover new products – so a new favourite brand is always only a scroll away. These constant surprises keep people coming back to the platform, and encourage them to learn more about our brands.

We’re seeing this play our right now, with our community going wild for the Levi Wedgie. Every day we’re seeing more and more posts about the Levi Wedgie Fit jeans, with user-generated content driving product awareness and interaction. Our community is posting about everything from the benefits and reviews of the product, to where they wear it in public.

To get involved in the action, all brands need to do is show up on the platform authentically, post regularly about your various products and encourage product-centric conversation by connecting with our community of TikTok creators. By doing this, you’ll connect with our audience when they are looking to discover new things.

2. Turning co-workers into creators

Putting human faces to a business is a powerful tool for brands. We’ve seen this happening for decades with celebrities used for large-scale campaigns. However, on Tiktok, this is happening differently with a really unique spin.

Every day people like you and me are creating magic on TikTok by just being authentic and embracing creativity. On our platform, creativity is king and our creators have the keys to the kingdom, as they can connect meaningfully with our diverse communities and subcultures. Try searching for your business on TikTok and see what conversations are already taking place. It’s not just your consumers who are talking about you; some of our most popular organic TikTok’s come from employees. This is what we’re calling co-worker creators.

Empower your co-workers and harness these voices of trust to connect to consumers on TikTok – this is a major vibe. The content shared can be varied, from sneak peeks, to behind-the-scenes or even day-in-the-life themes. Innovative brands take this a step further and incentivise their staff to join in the fun, using informed advocates to educate rather than just influence. We know brand safety and correct messaging is essential, so it’s wise to provide co-worker creators with guidelines, but make sure they can still let their personality and creativity shine.

Big brands in the US such as Dunkin Donuts are already doing this with the business encouraging their employees to create content while they are working and their people are sharing these videos on their personal TikTok accounts. Locally, Culture Kings regularly features their staff in their content, positioning the team as experts on their products and intune with the community!

3. Community commerce

Community is at the heart of TikTok and brands are inviting the TikTok community into their world and engaging in a two-way conversation with their audiences. Whether they are participating in trending hashtags, launching creative challenges, collaborating with popular creators, or creating with others using the duets – brands are challenging traditional perceptions of marketing.

The TikTok community has truly transformed the consumer journey from a linear path to purchase to an ecosystem of engagement that sparks action in the moment.  This is the power of community commerce, where a community connects and creates content focused on a specific brand and product they love.  From feta cheese to supermarket skincare, all it takes is one TikTok to clear shelves across the world.

Take Maybelline for example, with the hashtag #maybellinelashsensational receiving over 10 million views, their Lashblast mascara went viral within the beauty community. Creative and exciting user-generated videos on TikTok drove awareness and purchase of the product.

While this is being driven by the community, brands can leverage this and develop a creator-led approach by engaging top talent to build content that is both true to the platform and their community. Expand your reach, build trust and credibility, and have some fun with someone who’s a good fit for your brand. This will authenticity deliver brand messages, creating ongoing engagement between real people; which can drive a real-world shift in demand as we have seen.

TikTok is all about community and connection. I hope you try these three vibes for your brand and let the magic unfold.

Brett Armstrong is general manager TikTok For Business Australia and New Zealand.