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TikTok has transformed the role of sound in social media.
Rather than it being an afterthought: ‘‘which song will enhance my video?’, it has become the start of the creative process. Creators will now seek out trending songs or sounds on TikTok – and now Reels – and make their content to suit, knowing that’s how they’ll be discovered.
TikTok has always been a full screen, full sensory experience and music has played a major role in this. Since it’s at the heart of many challenges, music is a signal on TikTok. As soon as you open the app and hear a certain sound, you’ll know what type of content you’re going to see. In fact 88% of users say sound is essential to the TikTok experience. Scroll down to view more stats with our infographic.
It’s music roots come from its origins as Musical.ly of course, a platform for sharing short lip-sync videos. That’s how TikTok was formerly known before it was acquired by ByteDance and re-branded as TikTok. In 2021, the platform is now known for its viral dance videos, trending remixes and accidental viral sounds, proving audio is still a huge part of the app’s appeal.
Due to the size and popularity of the platform, TikTok is also influencing the music world outside of the app and has a direct impact on the global music charts. Trending TikTok songs, no matter their release date, are finding new fans. Who could forget the legendary skateboarding, Ocean Spray chugging 420doggface208, who chose Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams as the soundtrack to his viral TikTok? The band were back in Billboard’s top 10 in weeks, with an album released decades before.
Aspiring artists know that having a trending song on TikTok can be huge. As streaming services create playlists of trending TikTok songs, it has helped propel the careers of artists like Lil Nars X, Olivia Rodrigo and Doja Cat. In May we even saw TikTok unexpectedly skyrocket a song from the Nickelodeon kid show, The Backyardigans to the top of a Spotify chart.
How can your brand benefit from using sounds on TikTok?
For brands finding their feet on TikTok, be aware that songs and sounds have the power to make or break your campaigns. According to the platform, 73% of users would “stop and look” at ads on TikTok with audio. Choose the wrong audio, and your content may be simply scrolled past. Get it right and you could harness five major benefits.
Bring your brand to life
Ever heard of sonic branding? It’s the idea that, similar to your company’s logo, colours and fonts, sounds and audio can portray your brand’s tone, personality and identity. You’ll notice that brands who have established their sonic brand will use similar sounding tracks, jingles and branded sounds throughout all their campaigns. With the rising popularity of home smart speakers and video content on social media, sonic branding is becoming an important consideration for brands and can help tell your story.
Stand out from the crowd
As more brands discover the growth power of TikTok and join the platform, your brand will be up against more competition. Gaining your customers’ attention will require out-of-the-box ideas. You want customers to hear you, as well as see you, and original TikTok audio has the potential to help you go viral and reach millions. 65% of TikTok users want to hear original sounds from brands. Giving customers exactly what they want can give you the advantage over competitors who aren’t listening to their audience.
Stay front of mind
Trending audio can help boost your brand recall and keep your brand front of mind. 68% of TikTok users say they remember a brand better when they use music the customer likes. We associate different sounds with certain memories, so every time a customer remembers your audio or hears it somewhere else, they’re likely to think of your brand.
Keep customers engaged
People react faster to sound than any other stimulus. In fact, it only takes 0.15 seconds for someone to react to sound. Connect your audio with a powerful call-to-action and your customers will be more likely to react to and engage with your content. You can even take it a step further and use original audio to increase your view rate. Gallery Media found that content with original audio and music led to a 52% lift in view-through rate compared to popular tracks.
Using original sounds also helps protect you from potential copyright infringements and keeps your brand safe. Social media’s policies are ever changing and tightening. With sounds and music owned by you, you can use them how and where you like, without running the risk of removal.
How can you use TikTok audio to your brand’s advantage?
You’ll need to approach your audio selection process carefully. Here’s four things you’ll need to look out for.
#1 Focus on your target audience, specifically their age, gender and location. Use the data at your disposal to find out what they typically like to listen to. Gen Zers are likely going to listen to the latest pop songs, whereas Millennials typically listen to throwback tracks.
#2 Think about the theme of your campaign and the emotions you want your audio to trigger in your audience. Power ballads will spark different emotions compared to a sad breakup tune. Music is a powerful tool, use it to cause the reaction you want your audience to experience.
#3 Be wary of the lyrics in the songs you choose. They need to be appropriate and not go against your brand’s identity. Once you’ve selected a song you want to use, it’s wise to do a quick Google check to read over the lyrics and make sure it’s a song you want associated with your brand.
#4 If you’re using music in an ad or a campaign, it’ll either need to be a royalty free song or a track that you’ve bought the rights to use commercially. Or to get that competitive edge, you can collaborate with a music producer to create your own song. E.L.F’s #eyeslipsface challenge included a hand-crafted track made specifically for the brand’s TikTok campaign – and it went viral. The song ranked number 4 on Spotify’s viral charts, a music video was created for it, the song helped set a record for most-ever UGC in a TikTok campaign, it helped earn the brand 1.5 billion media impressions and countless unsolicited celebrity involvements, including Lizzo, Kevin Hart and The Pussycat Dolls.