12 Days of Data 2021, Day 5: TikTok Marketing Topic Deep Dive

12 Days of Data 2021, Day 5: TikTok Marketing Topic Deep Dive


Welcome to the 12 Days of Data 2021 Edition, our look back at the data that made marketing in 2021. We’re looking at the year that was (and oh, what a year it was… again…) from an analytics perspective to see what insights we can take into the next year. Sit up, get your coffee ready, and let’s celebrate some data and look forward to the year ahead.

TikTok Topic Deep Dive: Marketing Topic

TikTok, the short-form video platform that stormed the world in 2020 and has been on a tear ever since. In yesterday’s piece, we looked at TikTok overall. Today, let’s zoom in on a specific topic, TikTok marketing, as an example to see why we shouldn’t just accept top-level statistics about the service if we want to make use of it for our niche.

First, for the average video that is recommended in TikTok’s app after searching for the #Marketing hashtag, what do the basic numbers look like?

12 Days of Data 2021, Day 5: TikTok Marketing Topic Deep Dive

Above, we see:

  • TikTok marketing videos had a median of 11,400 likes compared to trending videos’ 42,800 likes
  • TikTok marketing videos had a median of 162,050 views compared to trending videos’ 441,300 views
  • TikTok marketing videos had a median of 163 shares compared to trending videos’ 369 shares
  • TikTok marketing videos had a median duration of 27 seconds compared to trending videos’ 15 second duration
  • TikTok marketing video accounts had a median of 75,450 fans compared to trending videos’ 188,600 fans
  • TikTok marketing video accounts had a median of 1.2 million hearts compared to trending videos’ 3.8 million hearts
  • TikTok marketing video accounts had a median of 247 videos compared to trending videos’ 249 videos on their accounts
  • TikTok marketing video accounts had a median of 3,465 likes compared to trending videos’ 4,245 likes

In addition, we saw a few other useful statistics about trending videos:

  • TikTok marketing videos had a median of 111 comments compared to trending videos’ 406 comments
  • TikTok marketing videos had a median of 7 hashtags compared to trending videos’ 3 hashtags
  • TikTok marketing videos had a median of 114 characters compared to trending videos’ 61 characters in their captions

What’s interesting is how different the metrics for videos on the marketing hashtag are compared to the big trending videos. This shows that there may be some tactical misalignment that folks publishing on this hashtag might want to test and correct.

Why does this matter? If we want to use a platform – any platform – for marketing, we cannot assume that all users are the same. We need data about our niche to learn more about our audience, about the content that does well with our audience.

Which raises the question – is this the right audience? If we’re looking to connect with marketers, do we know if these people are in fact marketers? A quick look at the contents of TikTok bios will tell us:

Tiktok Bios

In short, it would appear so; we’ve got at least words we’d expect to see in the bios of marketing folks.

Now, the big question is, what predicts video views in the marketing hashtag? Are there attributes that the most viewed videos in marketing have in common? Do those extra hashtags matter? Let’s dig into a basic correlation analysis.

TikTok correlation analysis

What we see in the analysis above is not surprising, but it is helpful to know. We calibrated on play count, on the premise that if your video isn’t being seen, there’s really no point to your efforts on TikTok. So what correlates to video plays? The most statistically significant factors are likes (digg count), comments, and shares – in other words, traditional measures of engagement.

Followed by the obvious measures, we do see that the main hashtag, along with variations on the hashtag, do seem to provide minor correlation with video views; that is, videos which use topically-relevant hashtags do seem to get viewed more.

The challenge with TikTok’s data is that there’s no way to determine if these are leading or lagging indicators; that is, does a video that’s been seen a lot get more shares and comments, or does a video that earns momentum with shares and comments end up with a lot of views? There’s no way to prove causation from this data alone.

So What?

Unlike trending videos, which can be on nearly any topic at all, looking at videos within a specific hashtag shows very different performance. We also see hashtags potentially play a greater predicive role in whether a video gets seen or not. That said, the same general guidelines about building audience to improve the probability of a video being seen hold true.

In a recent article in the New York Times, TikTok documents confirmed many of the findings above; watch time, likes, comments, and other basic user activities are central to the recommendation algorithm, so creating content that adheres to these practices is essential for improved performance.

If we wanted to improve the performance of our videos, we might also look to marketers and check if any of their videos have entered the trending dataset – and then see what specifically they did to achieve good results.

The key takeaway is that TikTok is not an unknowable black box. With the right data, you can make good use of it for marketing purposes as long as the content you provide is valuable and what your audience wants more of.

Trust Insights used a NodeJS data extraction package to extract data about 5,776 videos on TikTok using the marketing hashtag. The timeframe of the dataset is 23 November 2021 – 5 December 2021. The date of the study is December 13, 2021. Trust Insights is the sole sponsor of the study and neither gave nor received compensation for data used, beyond applicable service fees to software vendors, and declares no competing interests.


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