How do TikTok users perceive brands that create their own content for TikTok? What role should brands play to gain the most traction with these users?

We investigated these questions as part of a recent study of TikTok that spanned 5 countries – Australia, Indonesia, Mexico, UK, and US. Here’s what we learned about brands and TikTok users aged 9 to 30:

Users are happy to see brands on TikTok – and half could name a brand they’d seen. We found that TikTok users think of the platform as a carefree and open place for self-expression – brands included! Half (49%) could name a brand they’d seen on TikTok and 62% generally feel positive about brands being there. Music / music brands are what users most like to see (45%), followed by movies (34%), video games (30%), clothing and fashion (28%), and mobile games (26%).

Funny videos attract the most attention, regardless of brand category. Brands can ingratiate themselves to users by posting content that inspires laughter. Users mainly discover brands on TikTok through funny videos (46%), liking a brand (43%), and through interesting videos (42%). Around 30% have become acquainted with unfamiliar brands on their “Discover” or “For You” pages, or by seeing an ad.

Users would like more raw, exclusive content from brands – and less content that feels overtly like an ad. TikTok users told us they’d like to see more exclusive or behind-the-scenes videos from brands, and less polished content in general. They would like to continue to see some elements they come across frequently – hashtag challenges, spontaneous things, and stuff that’s on a brand’s website.

Most TikTok users have taken some action to connect with a brand after seeing a brand post. Almost 8 in 10 (77%) have engaged with a brand in some way after seeing them post on the service. The most common ways they engage are to follow the brand on TikTok (28%), check out their website (26%), look for more things from them on TikTok (25%), and have in-person conversations about the brand with friends (23%).

In summary, TikTok is a great place for brands to diverge from traditional forms of advertising and engage with users in creative new ways. Content that’s not too polished and makes users laugh is most likely to catch users’ attention. Brands that can strike the right balance on TikTok will find a young audience that’s open to them and eager to connect.