TikTok 101: What I Learned in TikTok University

TikTok 101: What I Learned in TikTok University | Green Loop Marketing | Marketing Agency in Indianapolis

Confession: I’m a 30-something who is wildly intimidated by TikTok. I love consuming the content, but when it comes to the idea of actually trying to make a TikTok, I find myself struck by paralysis. 

As a marketer, however, I know the value of learning the platform where the cool kids are congregating. That’s why I was quick to register for TikTok’s Creative Agency Partnerships (CAP) University. The six-class series covered the merits of the platform and how brands can authentically and successfully find their place there. Here are the biggest “aha!” moments and takeaways from my time spent in the virtual classroom.

Find your TikTok

Have you ever heard someone talking about hanging out on #foodtok, #historytok, or #insert-any-other-interest-or-topic-here-tok? 

TikTok users have driven the platform toward community hubs affectionately called #toks. These communities, or groups of content creators, are simply formed through the use of a hashtag, but they typically go a lot deeper. Almost every #tok has top influencers who help to shape the culture of that community. That means the expected style, approaches, and ways of communicating in videos shared within that #tok.

What does this mean for marketers?

In order for a brand to show up authentically, they should investigate not only what #tok community they belong to but what #toks their followers/customers/potential customers are hanging out, as well. Take time to consume content and follow members of these communities in order to produce the most effective content.

It’s all about the audio

70% of TikTok users say sound is an important part of the experience. That’s why the platform views itself as a sound-on platform, and audio is likely more important here than any other platform. Even YouTube makes it easy to consume videos without ever touching the volume button. Audio, however, is what makes the TikTok experience. 

Keeping track of trending audio–whether it’s music, sound bites, or some other type of audio effect–is important for engaging in the community and culture of the app. The downside is the trends move fast, meaning you have to be ready to jump on a trend when it strikes. 

The other option? Thinking in original sound bites. Users embrace original songs, jingles, and other catchy audio–but it has to feel fun, cool, and interesting to take off.

Still not sure about audio? Here are a few stats that might just change your mind:

  • 62% of users are more curious about a brand if the brand features a song in their content
  • 58% of users are more likely to talk about a brand if they feature a song they like in their content
  • 68% of users say they remember the brand better if they feature a song or catchy audio
  • 58% of users say they feel a strong connection to the brand based on the audio they use

Suaaaaaaveeeee @mngnzls #remix #suave #mona #elalfa

♬ The Gadget ft. Mona Gonzales Suave – The Gadget

Think in collaboration

Remixes, stitches, question responses–all are tools of the TikTok toolbox that allow users to collaborate with each other and create new content. 

Collaboration is a cornerstone of the platform, and brands are expected to participate: 78% of users agree the best brands are those that feel like they’re sharing ideas and working together with users.

One successful way brands have taken advantage of this is through challenge-style content–videos that do things like invite users to add on to a rap, see how many Goldfish crackers they hold in their hand, etc. As people participate in the challenges, the original brand video is shared far and wide.

But the platform also awards creativity in any form. The options are quite possibly endless.


“Best Peanut Butter, that’s Jif.” We’re here for all the compliments in @justinbernardez_ JifRapChallenge, with @ludacrisdtp. 🙌

♬ original sound – Jif


Skip the high production

Think you need to bring out the full production team to make a TikTok? Think again. 

65% of users think that brands that use videos that look too professional feel out of place on the platform. 

This means taking existing video content and trying to fit it into a TikTok-sized package won’t work. Instead, you need a TikTok first approach.

The easiest way to dip your toes into the platform is to carve out time when you’re shooting videos for TikTok-specific content as a companion to larger video campaigns. As you get going, spend more time focusing on TikTok content as their own separate piece of your content puzzle.

Dr. Pepper frequently runs with this approach. Check out their high production, traditional ad with Lil’ Sweet:

And how they use Lil’ Sweet on TikTok:


Lil’ Sweet feels a lil’ nostalgic for this classic Dr Pepper flavor #berriesandcream #lilsweet #fyp

♬ original sound – Dr Pepper


Doing the #DeserveADrPepperDuet #Contest ? That deserves a Dr Pepper! See Terms; Ends 3/31

♬ The One You Deserve – Lil’ Sweet

Get weird

Ever wanted to run with a wild and crazy idea? This is the place.

According to the TikTok team, Entertainment is one of the four core principles of the platform (alongside Community, Sound, and Co-Creation). People are looking for fun, new, informational, and surprising content. And the best part? The pace of the platform means that if something flops it likely won’t be remembered (unless, of course, you manage to do something offensive and inappropriate).

Probably most weird and crazy brand on the platform? Duolingo, which has made a name for itself with offbeat, sometimes downright unhinged content with their mascot.


this dumpy is literally a single mom who works 2 jobs #Duolingo #fgoogletranslate #DuaLipa #Dulapeep #Dualingo #comedy #trend #twerkit_twerkit

♬ Brujeria – ✿

How do you stay on top of it all? 

The best way to get in tune with what’s happening on TikTok is to actually get on it! Here is their  team’s advice for how to stay on top of the trends:

  • Watch 10 videos or around 30 minutes of TikTok content a day
  • Check in with the TikTok Creative Center, which gives you an overview of top trending songs, creators, hashtags, and more
  • Follow the TikTok team for content around trends via their account, @letsgrouphug

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