As a leading social media expert with over 10 years experience driving results through digital campaigns, I‘ve witnessed firsthand the meteoric rise of TikTok. This short-form video platform now boasts over 1 billion monthly active users globally – representing explosive growth.
Savvy brands are capitalizing on TikTok‘s popularity – especially among younger demographics – to creatively promote products in entertaining ways users love.
In this extensive guide, we‘ll analyze 15 major brands crushing their TikTok marketing strategies in 2023:
What Exactly is TikTok Marketing?
But first, what exactly is TikTok marketing referring to?
TikTok marketing centers on brands leveraging the platform‘s viral video culture and engaged communities to raise awareness, shape perceptions, boost engagement and drive conversions.
This requires brands to contribute entertainment value through everything from participating in dance challenges to running hashtag campaigns and sponsoring influencers.
Done intelligently, TikTok enables brands to:
- Rapidly build brand awareness and connections
- Captivate hard-to-reach Gen Z and young Millennial demos
- Spotlight products to digitally native audiences open to influence
- Drive traffic and sales via links and calls-to-action
Let‘s explore 15 stellar examples of big brands finding tremendous success through TikTok marketing approaches specifically tailored to their unique identities.
1. Gymshark – 4.9 Million Followers
Gymshark, founded in 2012 in the UK, has grown into one of the most coveted fitness apparel brands by leveraging influencer marketing and social media.
On TikTok, Gymshark racks up engagement through:
- Fitness Challenges – "Complete this circuit in under 10 minutes if you dare"
- Transformations – Real customers showing off bodies transformed through hard work in Gymshark gear
- Humor – Relatable content poking fun at gym fails
This makes the community feel like an approachable, inspirational fitness crew. Gymshark helps everyday people feel like athletes chasing gains.
2. Levi Strauss & Co. – 1.2 Million Followers
The iconic jeans company Levi Strauss & Co. enjoys universal brand recognition. But they don‘t rely solely on heritage.
Their TikTok approach centers on educating viewers through:
- Vintage photos spotlighting the evolution of their apparel
- Fun trivia on early days of Levi‘s as pioneer outfitters
- Style and washing best practices instructionals
This knowledge-rich approach allows Levi‘s to drive value as fashion and culture experts. Audiences increasingly feel connected to the heritage brand from learning fascinating nuggets.
3. Crocs – 1.2 Million Followers
Polarizing clog brand Crocs wins Gen Z appeal through lean-in self awareness on social media.
On TikTok, Crocs taps into platform culture through:
- Dances choreographed to Meg Thee Stallion and other top songs
- POVs imagining reactions when rocking stylish Crocs
- Challenges like the #ThousandDollarCrocs campaign
Blending into TikTok trends makes Crocs feel native and thrilling as audiences constantly wonder "What will they do next?"
4. Guess – 302K Followers
As primarily an apparel retailer competing in a crowded market, Guess enlists influencer activations through:
- Sending popular TikTok creators new collections
- Running contests to get products featured by micro influencers
These collaborations generate authentic buzz while aligning Guess with aspirational style icons their target demographic follow.
5. Zara – 8.6 Million Followers
Leaning into volume, fast fashion giant Zara posts rapidly to showcase their latest wares. Formats include:
- Model runway excerpts
- "Get The Look" styling inspiration
- Promoting current apparel/accessories collections
The relentlessly rapid content keeps fans up-to-date on retrieving #OOTD ideas from Zara.
6. Prada – 1.1 Million Followers
As a luxury brand, Prada adopts an air of exclusivity by posting less than 20 times total. But their sporadic posts generate high engagement through:
- An elegant video ad scored to tranquil piano music unveiling their nuevo Cleo handbag
- Behind-the-scenes footage granting insider access to elite fashion shoots
This tactic rewards fans with rare glimpses into the glamorous world of Prada while preserving the mystique of the label.
7. Calvin Klein – 1.5 Million Followers
The globally iconic underwear and fragrance brand dials up subtle sex appeal across masculine and feminine aesthetics.
They‘ve tapped into thirst trap TikTok culture through:
- Spotlighting models in new underwear collections
- Duet reactions of talent admiring Calvin Klein posts
This blends recognizable branding with what users already crave – beautiful people and surprise/delight moments.
8. E.l.f. Cosmetics – 1.1 Million Followers
Known for affordably priced makeup, E.l.f. Cosmetics positions themselves more as friends than traditional beauty gurus.
Their content shares simplified tips on:
- Achieving trending makeup looks
- Correcting common beauty mistakes
- Quick tricks for glamming up
This makes E.l.f. feel like your wingwoman guiding you to enhance natural beauty.
9. Fenty Beauty by Rihanna – 2.5 Million Followers
Music/fashion mogul Rihanna‘s Fenty Beauty brand brought diversity and inclusiveness to the historically narrow cosmetics industry.
By spotlighting creators of all skin tones, sizes and backgrounds, Fenty fosters empowerment through an mantra encouraging everyone to feel beautiful and seen.
10. Victoria‘s Secret/Pink – 2.4 Million Followers
Formerly struggling lingerie brand Victoria‘s Secret has recently revamped branding and marketing to resonate better with women rather than the overly sexualized male gaze.
On TikTok, they spotlight diverse creators, newer inclusive messaging built on women supporting women, and even some behind-the-scenes looks at their global fashion shows.
It‘s still early in their rebrand journey, but initial signs point to resonating better with audiences.
11. Hollister – 1.4 Million Followers
Teen brand Hollister, operated by Abercrombie and Fitch Co., attracts younger audiences through partnerships with top social media influencers like Charli D‘Amelio.
These collaborations help Hollister apparel reach millions of TikTok users through unboxing haul videos from recognizable internet stars Gen Z follows.
12. American Eagle – 1.3 Million Followers
Similar to Hollister, American Eagle Outfitters enlists influencers with large followings to organically showcase their jeans, tops and loungewear collections to millions.
13. Madewell – 213K Followers
Buzzy denim brand Madewell incentivizes UGC by running branded hashtag contests encouraging users to show off their jeans and styles for rewards.
This generates authentic community excitement rather than overly polished corporate creative.
14. Glossier – 1.5 Million Followers
D2C beauty darling Glossier partners directly with smaller creators via their Rep program providing branded merch and affiliate commissions.
In exchange, Reps create TikTok tutorials featuring Glossier products using their own authentic styles.
15. Protein Bar & Company – 238K Followers
Health-conscious snack brand Protein Bar & Company spotlights creative recipes and snack ideas using their protein bars to highlight versatility.
They also leverage TikTok features through polls asking followers for new flavor ideas and opinions on potential products.
This interactive approach makes audiences feel valued in the expansion of a brand they‘ve grown loyal towards.
TikTok Marketing Best Practices for Brands
Studying numerous examples of brands finding success on TikTok reveals several universal best practices:
- Leverage Trends Strategically – Tap into viral sounds, songs, dances and challenges popular on TikTok already
- Educate and Entertain – Teach viewers something new or give them a laugh
- Authenticity Over Polish – User-generated and influencer content resonates better than overly corporate creative
- Interactivity – Encourage audience participation through polls, contests, branded hashtags etc.
- Tell Stories – Spotlight interesting people and narratives related to your brand
I cannot emphasize enough though that brands must contribute entertainment value and cultural relevance. Those doing it solely to directly sell product will likely struggle.
Approaching it with authenticity and truly understanding TikTok audiences leads to organic traction.
TikTok Continues Explosive Global Growth
In 2023, TikTok sits firmly among top social media platforms driving culture and conversations.
The app saw over 315 million downloads just in Q1 2022 – up 28.8% year over year. Expect user growth to continue exponentially.
![TikTok Downloads Q1 2022 Stat] (source: Finbold.com)
As more audiences – especially younger demographics – flock to TikTok over traditional networks, marketing dollars will follow at increasing rates.
Savvy brands have taken notice by reallocating experiment budget towards the space. They‘ll be well positioned moving forward to capitalize on emergent niches with less competition.
Connecting Brands and Influencers
Hopefully this analysis has illuminated why brands must develop TikTok marketing strategies tailored to unique strengths.
The most frictionless approach to launching efforts involves collaborating with creators already influential on the platform.
That‘s where Ainfluencer provides immense value.
The industry-leading influencer marketing platform features powerful matching tools to connect brands and creators around shared goals.
Both influencers and brands can easily discover ideal partners aligned with their niche, aesthetics and target KPIs.
Additional capabilities like campaign management, influencer vetting and performance tracking provide immense strategic clarity.
I highly recommend brands and creators check out Ainfluencer to explore profitable partnerships in just a few clicks.
Hopefully this extensive guide provided ample inspiration on brands innovating through TikTok along with analysis of exactly why their approaches work.
As TikTok continues unprecedented growth, late adopters risk missing out to savvier competitors capitalizing earlier.
With the right strategy amplified through influencer collaborations, brands in virtually any category can find new audiences receptive to creative and relatable short video content.
The barrier lies merely in a willingness to embrace new platforms tailoring energies towards participating rather than pure promotion. By leading culture, sales tend to follow.
Now get out there and start making some TikTok magic happen! Just be sure to #FollowMeForMoreTips 🙂
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the biggest mistake brands make on TikTok?
Brands often sabotage themselves by solely viewing TikTok as another broadcast advertising channel. But blasting links and sales pitches fails to contribute entertainment value aligned with audience expectations. This tone deaf approach earns low engagement. Brands must participate in culture not just promote through it.
What‘s the best way to identify potential TikTok influencer partners?
Leverage Ainfluencer‘s sophisticated matching tools filtering for creators specializing in your niche with sizable engaged followings. From micro influencers to celebs, the platform makes it easy to explore profiles and past work as well as initiate contact.