In an exclusive interview, Faiza Zafar, TikTok’s Partnership Manager for Global Business Solutions in Pakistan and Bangladesh, discusses the disruptive effect TikTok for Business has on Pakistan’s marketing environment. Faiza also highlights growing trends and user behaviours on TikTok in Pakistan, emphasising the significance of staying up to date to generate relevant and engaging content.

Faiza Zafar

Brands may effortlessly connect to the lively TikTok community and conduct effective marketing campaigns using resources such as the TikTok Creative Exchange platform and the Creative Centre. With inspirational examples of successful campaigns like HBL’s #JahanFansWahanStadium and Aljannat Sweets’ lead generation strategy, Faiza demonstrates how Pakistani brands use TikTok to accomplish incredible outcomes and generate good social change.

Q. What are the key features of TikTok for Business that are specifically beneficial for Pakistani businesses?

TikTok For Business helps brands globally and in Pakistan specifically to reinvent their approaches to marketing. Since the start of our operations in Pakistan, we have helped brands launch hundreds of creative and effective marketing campaigns and achieve impressive results.

Businesses literally of any size, from absolutely different industries and with different business goals, can find marketing and creative solutions on TikTok that will suit their individual needs. This includes huge international corporations and local companies, as well as small and medium-sized businesses; e-commerce, FMCG, retail, fashion, beauty, gaming, and many other industries that can implement their ideas on the platform – and are already succeeding in this.

In order for brands to successfully engage and build trust with the community of more than a billion TikTok users globally, the platform offers a wide range of innovative ad solutions. Brands in Pakistan can find effective solutions for their goals at any level of the marketing funnel: increasing brand awareness and reach, engaging the audience building brand loyalty, and even increasing sales.

A great example of a brand that masterfully used TikTok to build brand awareness and engage a wide target audience is the #JahanFansWahanStadium campaign by HBL dedicated to HBLPSL Season 8. The campaign united cricket fans and provided them with an exciting outlet to express their love for the sport on TikTok by posting interesting videos using the hashtag. By leveraging the premium placement and mass reach of TikTok’s ad solutions, while also working with the brilliant community of creators, #JahanFansWahanStadium became a resounding success on TikTok: more than 8.9 million videos were created, generating over 8.7 billion views on the platform, and the campaign reached an incredible 97% Pakistani TikTok users.

TikTok offers brands the opportunity to enable creativity at scale, reaching millions across the country and around the globe. One of the areas we’re focused on is the development of tools and features that enable creativity – including creativity for brands. For example, we’ve introduced the TikTok Creative Exchange platform, which connects brands with an ecosystem of creative partners.

We’ve built an entire ecosystem of creative support designed to make it easier for brands to create the variety of content they need to thrive on our platform. We call this our 3R framework: Recut, Remix, Reimagine, and it’s essentially where creators’ ingenuity and our tech collide.

Using this formula, brands can recut their existing creative assets with our smart technologies; remix them to ‘be more TikTok’; and reimagine their creative idea using the power of the platform, its creators, and its communities.

Tiktok growth
Source: Foundr

TikTok’s solutions empower companies to create ad campaigns that are both organic and creative, and this is why we see such a positive perception of brand integrations among TikTok users. In fact, according to TikTok’s What’s Next Trend Report 2023, 38% of users say that entertaining ads on the platform teach them something new, which is 1.3x more than for other video platforms. Moreover, 58% of users say they’re more likely to trust brands after learning about them from TikTok creators.

Q. How can small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Pakistan leverage TikTok’s advertising tools to reach their target market effectively?

As mentioned, TikTok brings value to businesses of all sizes, and regardless of what your budget for marketing is, you can always find an approach to promote your brand in the most organic and creative way.

The first thing that a brand needs to do is to reimagine itself as a content creator and create its own TikTok account. Brands can integrate and set trends on the platform independently, using a wide range of trending music tracks, effects, and even memes. Putting creativity and passion into content creation, as well as posting content on a regular basis, is the key for a brand to attract a significant loyal audience of users organically. This is the most accessible kind of brand integration on the platform, which requires virtually no budget – you just need to have a smartphone at hand, a creative spirit, and to stay aware of platform trends.

Another ad solution available to businesses even with a very limited marketing budget is In-Feed Ads as it has the lowest initial cost. In-Feed Ads help to seamlessly and organically integrate videos into the user’s For You Feed, as they look like regular TikTok videos, but at the same time allow brands to direct users to their websites, app download pages or other external brand pages where users can learn more about or even purchase the advertised product.

Source: Image by Drazen Zigic on Freepik

Small businesses can even drive sales by leveraging TikTok’s solutions strategically. A good example of this is Aljannat Sweets, a Pakistani family business that has been passed down with care from generation to generation. As the company wanted to attract new audiences and convert them into prospective consumers, they used TikTok’s Lead Generation Solution and tempted users with appetizing creatives that directed them to complete a form for making an order. As a result, the campaign reached 8.1 million users in Pakistan, the conversion rate exceeded 4%, and the CPM decreased by 6.5% compared to the industry benchmark, which is a truly impressive result.

Beyond its ad solutions, TikTok is invested in supporting SMEs. For example, last month, we supported the Mashion Bazaar Lahore – an on-ground event featuring small businesses, food stalls, celebrity panels, musical performances, and much more. We inspired the community to use the #MashionBazaar hashtag to check out their favorite creators shopping at the Bazaar and to support local small businesses.

Q. What are the current trends and user behaviors on TikTok in Pakistan that businesses should be aware of for their marketing strategies?

On TikTok, trends emerge organically, are driven by the community and culture, and can fade and be replaced with new ones just as fast as they appear. For brands to leverage top trends for their benefit, it is crucial to find a way to, firstly, track them and, secondly, promptly integrate them into their content plans. For this, TikTok provides brands with access to Creative Center which is a free, public home to an ever-growing suite of creative resources where you can discover the latest trends, ad examples, best practices, and tools to create quality and effective TikTok ads.

If we look at a longer-term perspective, our recent What’s Next Trend Report revealed some actionable and enduring trends, defined as Trend Signals that brands need to take into account while planning their strategies.

Firstly, users flock to TikTok out of curiosity about their world, popular culture, trends, and brands. For brands, this means creating hyper-relevant, delightful, and useful content that piques every curiosity, even the ones communities didn’t know they had.

Secondly, users on TikTok get excited about the content where the narrative is driven by unpredictable storylines, ends of stories start first, multiple story arcs happen at once. What brands need to keep in mind is that it’s the most intriguing narrative structures that guide viewers deeper into the story – ads intended to make users curious keep them watching 1.4x longer.

Finally, consumers are looking for brands to lead positive societal change, to establish clear values and transparency. It’s key to consider each ad campaign as an opportunity to build brand trust and generate deeper loyalty on and off-platform. After seeing an ad on TikTok, viewers trust the brand 41% more, are 31% more likely to be loyal to the brand, and are 33% more likely to say the brand is a good fit for who they are as a person (vs. before seeing ads on TikTok).

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Hamna Farrukh is a high-on-life but low-on-energy writer who found her passion for writing after completing a degree in Economics, which is carefully kept in a folder somewhere in a drawer. Her interest in marketing and advertisement peaked while working for Ishtehari, and finally, Synergyzer gave her bickering thoughts a much-needed voice through the platform to talk about shitty ads (some good ones) being made in Pakistan.