What are brands getting wrong on TikTok?

We were delighted to host Emily, a second year student at the University of Brighton, for work experience at BFBS Creative. She gave us her thoughts on why brands weren't succeeding on TikTok.

TikTok began as a social media platform where users could watch, share, and create short videos. The content varies from dancing videos and challenges to comedy skits and educational videos.

On the platform, a brand's follower count does not matter as much as on other social media, such as Instagram or Twitter.

Initially, some brands struggled to grasp this unique platform, but others are beginning to understand the value of advertising on TikTok.

Still from Little Moons TikTok

Little Moons

“Little Moons” is a perfect example of how, when done right, TikTok can be a powerful promotional platform. After the mochi ice cream balls went viral in January, with the hashtag #littlemoons boasting over 200 million views, the company's sales increased by over 2000%.

Although a lot of brands have seen success on TikTok, there have been mistakes along the way. Some brands treat the app like a traditional advertising platform. This means brands are posting videos from other social media, with no changes to fit TikTok's video style.

TikTok’s distinctive editing style means that it is clear when a brand has recycled content from Instagram or Facebook. Recycling this content looks lazy and uninspiring to a viewer, meaning they are unlikely to be interested in the brand or product.


Another area where brands repeatedly make mistakes on TikTok is influencer marketing. Working with influencers to create content is a good move on a brand's behalf. It can create buzz and credibility for a product.

However, this credibility is weakened when the partnership or brand deal with an influencer appears heavily scripted. Often the content that an influencer creates for a brand is visibly different from their typical content, meaning their followers are likely to notice this change and have less trust in the brand deal.

Influencer marketing is more likely to be successful when the brand gives the influencer freedom in terms of creating their TikTok. The video will be closer to their usual content, and therefore more trustworthy.


When trying to create a trend or a challenge on TikTok, brands often overcomplicate the video, making it less accessible to their audience. For example, when a brand creates a hashtag challenge that requires people to buy the product or to go out of your way to create a complicated video, people are less likely to participate. Brands on TikTok also seem to think that the only way to create a challenge is through a dance video, again making the video inaccessible to a wide audience.

Furthermore, a lot of the users on TikTok do not necessarily create but instead consume content, meaning these challenges are again wasted on them, especially if they are overcomplicated. By prioritising their TikTok video idea before their product sales, the brand is likely to have greater success promoting their product.

60% of TikTok’s users are aged 16-24, the average TikToker is likely to be up to date with current trends, sounds, hashtags, and challenges. It is essential Brands are on the same wavelength as their audience and are current with trends and challenges. This is another reason why simple videos are advantageous. It may take too long to create and edit a complicated video. If a brand posts a trend or a challenge that was popular a few weeks ago, that automatically makes the brand look outdated.

Although there still might be work to be done with staying quick with trends, I think brands have definitely started to learn the ropes of TikTok.