Using TikTok for marketing a Ghanaian brand – tips and what we have learned so far about the audience

Last week or so, my team and I launched a TikTok campaign for one of our leading clients. If I am not mistaken, this brand (and our agency) will be the first in Ghana to take a brand-marketing approach to TikTok.

We had been thinking TikTok for this particular brand, even way before the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to move earlier than we’d anticipated.

One major rule of inbound marketing is distribution, and for a Gen Z-focused brand, being where the audience was, meant making a move to TikTok. 

As at 1st January, the app was the 3rd most downloaded in Google’s Playstore in Ghana↱, by February, it was 2nd. It is clear that the Chinese app is making a rise in usage amongst Ghanaians. This is further augmented by how some “celebrities” flooded the platform during Ghana’s short-lived (comparatively) lockdown period.

And oh, what a move it was. 

TikTok is new grounds – new in the sense that there was no way of predicting how the response would be, how to hyper-target as we would on Facebook and the likes, or even generally, how to go about it.

Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube will use words like ‘connect’, ‘community’, ‘communicate’, ‘listen’, ‘share’ which is an idealistic vision for most social media platforms. But with TikTok, their mission statement is clear – to exploit an unadulterated and shameless goal to entertain.

So what have we learned?

1. No amount of research will prepare you for it

You can read all the articles that tout “how to do TikTok” for brands, but you can’t be ready for “how to do TikTok for brands in the West African” context. You have to take a deep-dive and apply everything you know.

And as I would put it, it’s “either you drink deep or you taste not” on TikTok – a half-baked approach will surely mean wasted efforts and investments.

2. Use the “Creators”, not the supposed “Influencers

The massive Gen Z on TikTok, grew up being exposed to hundreds of ads a day (and influencer marketing) and thus are almost immune to them. This is a generation that will engage with content that aligns with their personal interests.

We learned this the hard way. Our initial foray in the space saw us using “verified” influencers, but this impact was not as much as it was when we decided to use a “loved creator” to tell our brand story.

3. Be entertaining and let your be brand subtle

On TikTok, users are going to do things differently with your brand. Things you didn’t know could be done with your brand. If you’re a condom brand, your content using the condom as balloons might be your best-performing, if you’re a rice brand, putting a phone in rice might be the break to go viral.

We’ve found that brand-sponsored content typically performs worse, even on popular creators’ profiles, because this particular audience is more aware and unfazed by ads, so be subtle and not salesy.

4. Focus on your (or a) niche community

Find your little pockets of highly engaged people on TikTok. This is the way to go on a platform that doesn’t promote the mass-communication that you’d see on other popular platforms. 

Normally, one would expect this to mean less reach but a higher engagement rate, but the reach and impressions of niche content still does phenomenally well on TikTok compared to any other platform.

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Working on Gen Z is hard! They are interested in multicultural and diverse subject areas more than any other generation. But they are also the most important target group for most brands to engage today considering they will make up 40% of all consumers by the year 2020↱.

The main struggle is, Gen Z is always changing their consumer habits, they soak up the latest and greatest apps, trends, and social platforms making it a consistent race for brands to keep up and innovate first.

Want to discuss how to launch your brand on TikTok, learn more about Pulse Africa↱ or say hello.


Published by
Sena Q
Director of Digital strategy, Pulse Ghana