Variety is the “spice of content” according to our latest study with TikTok

Tiktok content study

Variety is the “spice of content” according to our latest study with TikTok

Did you know that 64 percent of TikTok users express a preference for brands that offer a diverse range of content on TikTok? That’s just one of the findings we uncovered in a recent study with TikTok. Together, we set out to uncover key insights that would help brands create a recipe for reaching their audiences more effectively – pinpointing just the right blend of content and creative ingredients to reach the perfect outcome: an engaged audience. 

Variety is the spice of your TikTok content strategy life
Our findings indicate that TikTok users express a preference for brands that offer a diverse range of content. This is attributed to their inclination towards finding such content more entertaining, enjoying the novelty it brings, and gaining knowledge from various contexts. Specifically, we found that when variety was present there was: 

  • A 65 percent increase in stated positive emotions compared to those shown a repetitive ad
  • Overall lift across key brand metrics, like familiarity, favorability and relevance
  • An increase in brand KPIs such as engagement (23%), time watched (25%) and branding (5%)

Positive Emotions

During the study, we tested three types of content: brand-led, creator-led and organic. Some respondents were shown a variety of content, while others received the same repeated content. We uncovered some interesting insights, including that 2 out of 3 people like to see content from a variety of creators. They believe it makes the brand more relatable and authentic, they like to see brands supporting a number of creators, they find the content more interesting overall, and it helps to build trust. In addition, more than half of individuals were more likely to buy a product a creator recommends. Specifically, we found that:

  • Brand and creator is a winning combination: When combined, brand-led and creator-led content tend to perform best across most outcomes. Scenarios with a mix of organic, brand-led, and creator content have the greatest probability of full funnel outcomes.
  • Brand-led content is educational & entertaining: TikTok users prefer brand content to fulfill educational needs, while also looking for the entertainment factor of creator-led content in the mix. 
  • Creators are persuasive: TikTok users are likely to buy products that creators recommend and believe creators make brands more relatable. This is especially true for the retail vertical.
  • High production breaks through: Content should primarily be high production, but brands should not overlook that low production content can be successful and is an important part of the mix. Additionally, content shouldn’t be too long: keep most under 31 seconds.
  • Product can take the spotlight: Many objectives performed better when the product was shown full time.

Each content type has a unique flavor

We had users taste-test several different TikTok content types during the study including: reviews, hacks, tutorials, unboxing, dupes, point-of-view (POV), product closeups, day in my life (DiML), get ready with me (GRWM), behind the scenes (BTS), and restocking. 

TikTok users prefer most content to come from creators, with the majority looking for creator-led content in these categories: reviews, hacks, tutorials and unboxing. However, when it comes to BTS content, brand-led content was the clear winner versus creator-led content in this category. This was also true for product closeups, with brand-led content outperforming creator-led content. 

Overall, TikTok users prefer brand-led content types to primarily fulfill educational needs, whereas creators have more flexibility to expand into entertainment focused content types.

User appreciation of content

Different objectives require different content blends
Ultimately, the optimal TikTok content strategy for brands depends on the vertical and the brand goals. For nearly all objectives, a variety of content types worked best. In every case, adaptability is key – play around with the recommended ingredients to see what works best for your brand. 

Branding: For companies looking to boost branding metrics, such as brand recall, favorability, and relevance, we found that a variety of content works best and that content should include at least one of these elements: brand-led content; content under 31 seconds; and highly produced content. Consider including: 

  • Unboxing / restocking
  • BTS / product closeups
  • Creator-led content
  • Organic content
  • Audio mix of voiceover and no voiceover
  • Featuring your product full-time

Make sure you have at least some brand-led content in your variety mix, this is the flavor that gives the whole blend its special sauce.

Performance: If you’re looking to boost brand purchase intent, likelihood to recommend, content interaction via click, product page view and product purchase, this is one objective that requires highly impactful content. You should include at least one of the following: content between 16-30 seconds; featuring your product full-time; and highly produced content. Include: 

  • BTS / closeup
  • POV / DiML
  • Audio mix of voiceover and no voiceover

To succeed at performance goals, where the content comes from is less important than making sure TikTok users have the right information such as being able to see the product and assess its quality. 

Full funnel: If you’re looking for an equal combination of performance and branding outcomes that includes purchase, content interaction, recall, favorability, relevance, purchase intent, recommendation and more, then you need to consider it all. Including at least one of these is a start: brand-led; featuring your product full time; content under 31 seconds; and highly produced content. Try out: 

  • Creator-led
  • Unboxing / restocking
  • BTS / closeup
  • Audio mix of voiceover and no voiceover

Approach this with an experimental mindset, test and retest to see which blend of content is helping you reach your wide number of goals.

Brand goals

The recipe: research methodology

To uncover these findings, we launched a quantitative survey among 2,400 adults in the United States who use TikTok at least once a month. Utilizing experimental design with in-context exposure and in-context simulated shopping, we were able to evaluate impact on brand outcomes via different content mixes on TikTok. 

Our in-context evaluation techniques use a flexible approach to provide insights into how users engage with content in context, helping identify the factors that influence decision-making. Using it, researchers can compare contextual insights across different content variations or designs to determine which performs best in specific contexts. Ultimately, this methodology can inform content, design, and user experience iterations – refined based on actual behavior and reactions.

The resulting research-backed framework provides a foundation for developing the optimal TikTok content mix – including building campaigns, creating organic content, and working with creators. 



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