How Your E-Commerce Brand Can Leverage Trends and Thrive on TikTok

May 2, 2022
by Jeff Pearlman

Going viral isn’t based on luck or being in the right place at the right time. Well, sometimes it is. But, that’s not necessarily a strategy that your e-commerce brand can bank on, nor one that we would recommend. Viral content offers entertainment value, it’s highly relatable and it typically evokes an emotional response. It also takes an in-depth understanding of your target audience and how your brand aligns with their values and needs. After all, it’s tough to elicit an emotional response with relatable, entertaining content if you have no idea who you’re making it for.

But, that’s enough about viral content because, fortunately, you don’t have to worry about going viral (the chances of going viral are around 1,000,000 to 1, anyway). However, your e-commerce brand can absolutely leverage viral trends to increase brand awareness, affinity and relevancy.

For e-commerce brands, this is no easy feat and many brands are a little too internally focused to make it work. Leveraging any viral trend is similar to creating the original trend itself in the sense that you must have valuable insight into your target audience and a true understanding of how your brand can resonate with the trend. Authenticity is key - especially when you consider that 90% of consumers say they’re looking for exactly that when deciding what brands they’ll support. Some brands simply try too hard to fit in where they don’t belong and social media users are quicker than ever to call them out and eliminate them from their consideration set.

From TikTok dance trends to cultural trends and beyond, let’s explore how your e-commerce brand can leverage trends on TikTok and win.

how to leverage trends and thrive on TikTok

Trend Identification

First and foremost, you have to be able to identify a trend, preferably before it stops trending. There’s nothing worse for an e-commerce brand than to be caught hopping on the trend train when it left the station a month ago. 

From hashtags like #trendalert (with 400.6M views and counting), transitions, dances, sounds, your #fyp (For You Page) and the Discover tab, there are a variety of ways to keep your brand on the pulse of what’s trending on TikTok. Spend time inside the platform to get an understanding of what’s working, what isn’t and whether or not other brands and your competitors are jumping on the bandwagon (or trendwagon, as it were). Consider it time well spent as you look to gain a solid understanding of how to make these trends come to life for your own brand. TikTok creators are masters of the platform, they understand how to make bespoke content for TikTok and TikTok alone, which is vital to success on the platform. As the old adage goes, "success leaves clues," and you can learn a lot from these creators. Now you can continue your search for trends off the platform, after all, TikTok isn’t necessarily the only place you’ll find worthy trends for your brand to leverage.

Step outside the social realm and take a look at what’s trending culturally. Whether it’s a hit series on TV (think: Squid Game, Bridgerton and This Is Us), the creation and fascination of online properties (think: metaverse, web3 and NFTs) or whatever popular meme accounts are posting about (think: mostly nonsense that’s sometimes hilarious), there are myriad cultural events that your e-commerce business might be able to leverage with savvy content that vibes with your audience. Just make sure your brand doesn’t violate any copyright laws.

Aligning Your E-Commerce Brand with a TikTok Trend

Remember, 90% of TikTok users say that they expect the brand they support to be authentic so it’s incredibly important for your brand to choose the right trends to leverage on the platform. Globally, an average of 77% of TikTok users say that they read comments left on the platform’s content and if your brand gets called out for being inauthentic, people are going to know about it. 

To effectively align a trend with your e-commerce brand, you’ll need to take a look at the following: 

  • Whether or not the trend will resonate with your target audience (a little easier with cultural trends)

           -A question to ask yourself: Is the trend too niche for your audience to be able to recognize or relate to it?

  • How will your business utilize the trend to leverage its primary selling points

            -A question to ask yourself: Can our product or service make use of the trend in a natural way?

  • How the final piece of creative provides value to your end user

            -A question to ask yourself: Will this piece of content be entertaining and elicit a positive response from my audience?

Follow these steps, ask the right questions and you’ll generate a creative experience that is entertaining, relatable and one that elicits an emotional response from your target audience. You may even find your brand being featured as one of TikTok’s Top Ads. 

how to leverage trends and thrive on TikTok

Creative Execution and the Lifespan of TikTok Trends

Trends come and go and typically last between 3 and 10 days, depending on the trend. That means your e-commerce business’ creative team needs to be quick to identify the trend, connect your brand and execute on the trend in order to leverage it. There are some trends that have a much longer shelf life (cultural trends come to mind), but you still need to act on them with speed so that your brand remains relevant and doesn’t appear to be trying too hard. Sleep on a trend for too long and you might find your brand latching onto it well after your competitors have already leveraged the trend.

Once a trend has run its course and you start to see declining engagement, it’s time to move onto the next trend that makes sense for your e-commerce brand. If you’re putting ad spend behind the leveraged trend’s creative, take a constant and consistent look at your most important KPIs to ensure that the ad isn’t suffering. If fatigue has set in, it’s time to pause the ad and move on.

Amplify Your E-Commerce Brand with TikTok Trends

TikTok creative strategy isn’t easy and leveraging the platform’s trends in a way that makes sense to your brand and target audience isn’t either. Understand who you are as a brand, truly know your audience, identify how your product or service addresses your potential customer’s pain points and align brand and user values, and you’ll create TikTok content that converts.

If you need any help with the above, we’ve created TikToks and leveraged viral TikTok trends for some ambitious e-commerce brands. Reach out and we can do the same for you.

About the author: Jeff is an analytical and creative Digital Strategist with 9+ years of Social Media, Influencer and Content Marketing experience with various brands like Jaguar, Land Rover, Lenovo, Motorola, Ulta Beauty, Malin & Goetz, Teleflora, b New York and Raaka Chocolate - to name a few. He started his career as a copywriter, penning copy for an online sports company where he found his work featured on the back covers of national publications and featured on ESPN Radio. He currently resides in Seattle where he likes to spend as much time outside as possible with his wife and three kids, one of which is a dog.

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