May 3, 2024 / Thought Leadership

4 Key Takeaways From TikTok’s Agency Summit

Neal Malone, Social Media & Influencer Management Supervisor
Will Maslach, Paid Social Manager

auditorium with a stage and a TikTok backdrop Connelly Partners was among a small group of U.S.-based independent agencies invited by TikTok to participate in its Agency Summit in New York City last week. Paid Social Manager Will Maslach and Social Media & Influencer Management Supervisor Neal Malone represented CP at the day-long event, connecting with leaders of TikTok’s global marketing team and attending sessions designed specifically for agencies that are ahead of the curve in leveraging the platform on behalf of their clients. Here are their key takeaways from the Summit:

Short-Form Video Isn’t Just a Media Format, It’s a Societal Behavior at This Point

With the recent passage of a law that could ban TikTok in the US, the conversation around the platform has understandably shifted to what would happen if it went away. But let’s put the platform aside for a second and just focus on the behavior at the center of it all. We as a society are so immensely hooked on the consumption of short-form video that we would go just about anywhere to get it. Potential ban or not, this format will continue captivating users and becoming further ingrained in our daily lives—and marketers know that. That’s why you can expect brands to continue full steam ahead on TikTok until they’re told otherwise. 

Matching Audiences to Funnel Stages Drives Performance, but Creative Reigns Supreme

Creative was at the center of every session at the Summit, and rightfully so—it has become the leading driver of paid social results and performance. Most brands and social media advertisers know how to target, how to pick correct campaign objectives, and how to optimize towards better performance, but the one piece of the puzzle that most marketers still struggle to get right is creative. Overly produced and branded ads—like the traditional commercials you see on TV—stick out like a sore thumb on all social platforms, especially on TikTok. There’s something innately human about all of the organic, lo-fi content that you see on TikTok—and in fact most of the users that are going viral are the ones that are authentically showing the full human experience. Creative agencies that recognize this and lean into it (even the ones without significant paid social experience) often see far better performance than the expert media agencies that lack creative chops. At CP, we have found success in blending the creative expertise of our organic social team and the media knowledge of our paid social team. Working together on an integrated level has driven excellent results for our social and influencer clients. 

Organic Channels Act as a Testing Ground for Paid Content

One of the most celebrated aspects of TikTok’s algorithm is the fact that a brand’s organic content can go viral at any time, regardless of follower numbers. But the truth is, generating meaningful reach and engagement with purely organic content is really hard. That’s why TikTok strongly recommends an approach that incorporates both organic and paid content. One interesting way brands are putting this integrated strategy into practice is using their organic TikTok channel as an incubator for their paid content. That’s right, their organic content essentially acts as a research and development vehicle, and then the posts that resonate the most get moved into the paid campaign and served to expanded audiences.

TikTok Is No Longer a “Nice to Have” for Most Brands—It’s a “Need to Have”

The rise of TikTok within the advertising world has been nothing short of meteoric, but with all innovation comes risk. As recent as last year, brands were asking themselves if they needed to be on TikTok and what the value was in joining. But with the platform’s rapid growth over the last year—new products, new ad formats, and other innovations—TikTok has become table stakes for any full-scale social strategy. So now, instead of brands questioning why they need a TikTok channel, they’re asking how they can get involved. The dynamic has shifted to the point where brands know that TikTok is a place where they can cultivate their next generation of buyers/customers. At CP, we’re here to help those brands that know they need to get in the game, but don’t yet know how to play.