Top 50 TikTok Brands Report
An Analysis of the Top 50 Brands on TikTok by
Table of contents
TikTok is one of the most popular social media platforms. Since it’s global launch in 2018, the app’s user base has grown exponentially. By September 2021, TikTok had reached 1 billion monthly active users worldwide.
A large portion of the app’s users are members of Gen Z (the generation born between 1997 and 2012) who use TikTok primarily for fun and entertainment. In fact, TikTok is projected to have more Gen Z users in the US by the end of this year than Instagram.
However, TikTok is still largely uncharted territory for brands. Some of the early adopters have already made waves on the platform, but most brands have been hesitant to start their own accounts.
Thanks to its immense reach, TikTok presents an opportunity for marketers to drive brand awareness as well as sales. As a result, more and more brands are getting interested in the app. In fact, TikTok was one of our most requested data sources at quintly.
When we released quintly’s TikTok analytics feature earlier this year, we performed an analysis of the Top 50 TikTok influencers to see if we could identify any best practices that brands could implement into their TikTok marketing strategies.
However, we quickly realized that the behavior and performance of the Top 50 TikTok influencers is not applicable to brands. Simply put, TikTok makes it easier for the top 50 influencers to get on the coveted For You page simply because they have already built up a large following and are likely to produce the best content.
As a result, we changed our approach and performed another analysis looking exclusively at the top 50 brand accounts on TikTok (more on the details of the dataset later). This time, we were able to identify some very interesting patterns that other brands can learn from.
Since TikTok is still a new platform with an unpredictable algorithm, there’s a lot of speculation and guesswork about how to optimize your content for reach and engagement. But we haven’t seen anyone provide concrete evidence of what works and what doesn’t.
That’s why, in this report, we’re going to give you all the best practices that you can implement into your TikTok marketing strategy today, based on our analysis of the top 50 brands and rich data insights from quintly.
We analyzed 34,746 videos published during the time period between January 1st, 2020 and September 28th, 2021.
Our analysis contained a healthy mix of brands from different industries. While most of the top 50 brands are in Entertainment, Media, Fashion, and Cosmetics, the sample also included brands in the Automobile, Customer Services, Food & Drinks, Real Estate, Retail, Software and Streaming industries. Please note that we excluded big sports clubs from the top 50 list.
Here’s the full list of brands in our analysis:
You may notice that none of the top 50 brands are B2B: they are all B2C. A simple explanation for this could be the general demographics of TikTok users. Considering its audience and heavy focus on entertainment, TikTok doesn’t lend itself to B2B content.
A few more things to know about our research methodology:
- All accounts were weighted equally, first aggregating results per account, then taking the overall average.
- Engagement refers to the sum of likes, comments, and shares.
- Engagement rate was calculated by dividing the number of engagements by the number of views and multiplying it by 100.
- Our analyses of engagement and views per video show correlation, not causation.
And now, let’s get into the results of our analysis of the top 50 brands on TikTok.
Publishing time and frequency
The top 50 brands post once a day on average.
One of the first questions that come to mind when developing your TikTok marketing strategy is: how often should you post?
According to our analysis, the top 50 brands on TikTok post once a day on average.
Some accounts are more active than others. The posting frequency ranges from 0 to 8 times a day.
There’s no magic number that will help you curry favor with the TikTok algorithm, so just aim to post consistently and don’t worry about missing a day or two.
Tip: Post consistently (aim for one post a day).
The top 50 brands post less on weekends than on weekdays.
OK, but when should you publish your daily post?
Interestingly, the top 50 brands don’t post as much on weekends as they do on weekdays. They’re missing out because engagement is actually the highest on Sundays.
Scheduling videos on TikTok is a piece of cake (you can do it directly in the app), so take advantage of the increase in engagement and the lighter competition on Saturdays and Sundays.
Tip: Don’t forget to post on weekends.
Video length does not influence engagement or views.
Historically, TikTok has been a platform for short-form content. At first, the app capped videos at 60 seconds. But in the summer of 2021, TikTok expanded this limit and now all users can upload videos of up to 3 minutes.
Despite the app’s gradual move towards longer-form content, the top 50 brands still prefer posting shorter videos. In fact, most of the videos they shared were only 15 seconds (which is TikTok’s default setting).
Note: We excluded 3-minute videos from our analysis – the new limit had just been introduced and our sample contained only a handful of 3-minute videos.
Looking at how these videos performed, we see no correlation between video length and views or engagement.
Since longer videos take more planning and time to produce, the safe bet is to create short, snappy content that users are more likely to watch until the end.
Tip: Create short videos of 15 seconds.
Video description length
Description length does not influence engagement and views.
TikTok lets creators add a short, text-based description to each video they share. This description can be 150 characters long maximum, including #hashtags and @mentions.
The brands in our analysis made the most of the available text length, leveraging the full 150 characters. But how does this affect how the videos performed?
In general, text length doesn’t impact a video’s performance in terms of engagement or views. While you can see a peak in engagement for videos with no text in the graph below, keep in mind that there were very few videos that didn’t have a description.
As a result, your best bet is to take advantage of the 150 characters to craft a description that supports your brand messaging, while also including the relevant mentions and hashtags – which we’ll talk about next.
Tip: Make use of the 150 characters for video descriptions.
Using trending hashtags increases reach.
Just like on other social media platforms, hashtags serve as a way to make content more easily discoverable for users on TikTok. Creators add them to video descriptions in hopes of increasing their reach.
But not all hashtags are created equal. Some have more impact on your reach, engagement, and views than others.
The best-performing hashtags for you will depend on many factors like your industry and what’s trending on TikTok at any given moment. But how many hashtags should you use?
The top 50 brands have different approaches. Some videos in our analysis don’t have any hashtags at all, others have as many as 12.
Note: Many of the posts with no hashtags include mentions instead.
When it comes to engagement and views, videos with 10 hashtags performed the best. However, that doesn’t mean that 10 is the magic number: metrics like engagement rate show that there’s no penalty for using more hashtags.
So, don’t shy away from using a multitude of hashtags as long as you can fit them into the 150-character description.
Tip: Use as many trending hashtags as you can.
Using #fyp, #foryou, or #foryoupage does not drive engagement or views.
Remember what we said about not all hashtags being created equal? Here’s a great example.
The For You page is the first page users see when they open the TikTok app. It’s an endless stream of videos that the TikTok algorithm thinks the user is interested in, mostly by accounts they don’t follow.
Getting on the For You page is a major goal for brands because it provides free exposure, a constant influx of new followers, and the opportunity to go viral. As a result, brands often try to optimize their content for the For You page.
A popular optimization technique is adding the hashtags #fyp, #foryou, or #foryoupage to video descriptions (even marketing guru Neil Patel recommends using one or more of these hashtags, although he acknowledges that TikTok has never confirmed their effectiveness).
In fact, this practice is so widely accepted that #fyp was by far the most-used hashtag in our analysis.
But does using this hashtag actually achieve its purpose and drive engagement and views? The answer is, quite simply, no.
Videos with FYP hashtags attract roughly the same amount of engagement and views as videos without them.
As a result, neither of these performance metrics is influenced by adding #fyp, #foryou, or #foryoupage to your video descriptions.
Tip: Don’t waste characters on #fyp, #foryou or #foryoupage.
Using #viral does not drive engagement or views.
The same goes for #viral – videos tagged #viral do not perform any better in terms of engagement and views than videos without it. In fact, they receive a lot fewer views.
Tip: Skip #viral.
Videos with audio from the TikTok Sound Library get more views than videos with original audio.
Formerly known as Musical.ly, TikTok started out as a lip-syncing app. Today, music and other sounds are still essential creative elements of TikTok videos. Beyond that, sounds can also influence a video’s performance on the app – even increase the chances of a video going viral.
TikTok has a Sound Library that contains a wide range of audio clips uploaded by TikTok users or artists. These sound bites can be used by any other TikTok user who wants to add them to their video.
Besides picking an existing sound from the Sound Library, TikTok users can also record and upload a piece of original audio. This can be anything from a recording of someone talking to music playing on another device (although this poses the risk of copyright infringement).
The question is, should brands bother recording their own sounds? Or is better to pick a trending sound from TikTok’s extensive Sound Library?
Our findings confirm that sounds from the TikTok Sound Library trump original audio. Videos using audio from the TikTok Sound Library get almost 40% more views on average and attract 26% more engagement.
Consequently, it’s worth keeping an eye out for trending sounds and jumping on the bandwagon. These were the most popular sounds that the brands in our analysis used:
|Song||Number of videos|
|Pieces (Solo Piano Version)||87|
|Swear By It||55|
|Sunny Day, SUNNY DAY||53|
|FEEL THE GROOVE||50|
|Slam Dunk (Full)||35|
|Wish Come True Contest||33|
|Gloss Bomb Cream||29|
|Night Trouble By Petit Biscuit||28|
Tip: Use trending sounds from the TikTok Sound Library.
Branded Hashtag Challenges
Participating in Branded Hashtag Challenges does not drive engagement.
Branded Hashtag Challenges (BHTC) are a tool that TikTok offers brands to drive brand awareness through user-generated content.
Here’s how it works:
- Brands share a video with a sponsored hashtag that TikTok users can respond to with their own videos.
- Brands work with influencers, hiring them to participate in the challenge to scale up engagement (TikTok does the matchmaking through the Creator Marketplace).
- As more and more TikTokers discover the challenge and take part in it, the BHTC can go viral.
But is taking part in BHTCs worth it for brands (whether they’re the ones initiating it or not)?
In general, entries to BHTCs posted by brands do not seem to drive engagement, even though they get more views compared to other posts.
However, that’s not to say that brands shouldn’t care about Branded Hashtag Challenges at all.
Taking part in some, exceptionally popular BHTCs can lead to increased engagement. Let’s take #allstarmoment, a viral BHTC started by the NBA that currently has over 5.5 billion views.
8 of our top 50 brands participated in #allstarmoment with 59 videos in total. Videos tagged #allstarmoment garnered almost double the views and engagement than videos that were not a part of this BHTC.
In fact, #allstarmoment became one of the most-used and most-engaged hashtags used by the top 50 brands in our analysis.
While participating in a BHTC initiated by another brand may not be worth it, starting your own is a different story.
This is because it’s the videos of the influencers who participate in the BHTC that drive the most engagement. While you may not be getting a lot of engagement on your own BHTC video, you will benefit from your sponsored influencers’ reach and drive brand awareness through their videos.
In our analysis of the top 50 TikTok influencers, we found that videos by influencers that were a part of BHTCs received more engagement and views than other videos.
Of course, running a BHC can get expensive, so it’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth the cost.
Tip: Start your own Branded Hashtag Challenge and partner with influencers to drive brand awareness (if your budget allows).
Entertainment content performs the best.
When you’re brainstorming topics for your social media calendar, it’s useful to sort them into buckets based on what content category they fall into. This not only helps you organize your thoughts but can also give you an idea of what type of content performs best.
For example, the 6 categories of social media content you should share according to Louise Meyers are:
- Entertainment: content that is humorous, fun, entertaining, or holiday-related.
- Inspiration: content that features inspirational quotes, motivational content, triumphs and achievements, etc.
- Education: content that seeks to teach and inform, like how-to guides and tutorials, etc.
- Conversation: content that encourages a dialogue with the audience, like questions, polls and asking for advice.
- Connection: content that aims to create a connection with the audience, like behind-the-scenes looks and personal stories.
- Promotion: Content that overtly sells your product or service.
All of these categories have a place in your social media strategy. But which ones work best for brands on TikTok?
As per our findings, Entertainment videos rule TikTok. Humorous, fun content makes up over 40% of the videos we analyzed, with educational videos coming in second.
Disclaimer: We used hashtags to identify which content category each video fit into. For example, to identify Education videos, we used hashtags like #tutorial, #howto, #DIY, #hacks and #learnfrommme. As a result, not all the videos we analyzed for this report made it into the roster for this particular analysis (some videos didn’t have any hashtags, others didn’t have hashtags relevant to any of the 6 categories). We manually validated the quality of our classification using a small sample.
Every social media manager knows that entertaining content is highly shareable. This is reflected in the results of our analysis: Entertainment videos got the most shares out of all the categories (which is arguably the most valuable type of engagement on TikTok).
The second most-shared were inspirational videos, even though Inspiration was largely neglected by the brands in our analysis, with only 4% of videos falling into this category.
Promotional videos got the most views, which is probably due to paid ads that brands use to increase their reach on TikTok.
Tip: Focus on entertaining content.
While TikTok is primarily for entertainment, it has also become an important platform for social and political activism. From the climate crisis to gender inequality and racial injustice, TikTokers often discuss current issues in their videos.
Since the BLM protests of 2020, TikTok has served as an advocacy outlet for BIPOC and allies. The #blacklivesmatter hashtag went viral during the protests and currently has 29 billion views (and counting).
Out of the most widely discussed political and social causes of the past couple of years, BLM was the one that most brands in our analysis wanted to get behind. And it was also the one that TikTok users interacted with the most.
Posts tagged with hashtags related to Black Lives Matter garnered significantly more engagement than posts about COVID-19, the elections, climate change or even the #MeToo movement (although videos about the elections did get shared a lot).
Disclaimer: We used hashtags to identify the topics that each video talks about. For example, for Black Lives Matter, we looked at posts tagged with #blacklivesmatter, #blackexcellence, #blackhistory, #blackgirlmagic, #blackpower, #melanin, #blacklove, #blm, #blackhistorymonth, #blackwomen, #blackisbeautiful, and #blackmen.
When it comes to views, videos tagged #MeToo and other related hashtags performed the best.
Whether a brand should participate in conversations about potentially controversial topics depends on the brand itself.
The danger is that if you do it just for the sake of getting more engagement, you will come off as inauthentic and risk damaging your brand’s reputation.
When entering this terrain, be aware of the risks as well as the opportunities that participating in important conversations holds for building an authentic brand.
Tip: Ensure brand authenticity when posting about controversial topics.
Brands that have a social media presence know that on platforms like Instagram, the first few hours or days after publishing a post are critical. Once that time has passed, engagement drops off completely.
Does TikTok work the same way, or do videos have more longevity on the app?
While it’s true that new videos see a surge in engagement in the first five days, they continue to rack up views, comments, and shares over time.
To see the steady growth that follows the initial surge of the first 5 days, we took a closer look at a random sample of 100 videos.
The graphs above show that TikTok videos have a long life – they keep showing up on users’ For You Pages for several weeks after publishing. So think of your TikTok content as a long-term investment.
We hope that our data-based analysis has answered many of your questions about TikTok marketing. Adopting the best practices we identified based on the performance of the top 50 brands will help you build a strong TikTok marketing strategy.
- Post consistently (aim for one post a day).
- Don’t forget to post on weekends.
- Create short videos of 15 seconds.
- Make use of the 150 characters for video descriptions.
- Use as many trending hashtags as you can.
- Don’t waste characters on #fyp, #foryou, #foryoupage or #viral.
- Use trending sounds from the TikTok Sound Library.
- Start your own Branded Hashtag Challenge and partner with influencers (if your budget allows).
- Focus on entertaining content.
- Ensure brand authenticity when posting about controversial topics.
And remember, TikTok videos attract engagement for many weeks after publishing, so think of them as a long-term investment in increasing brand awareness.