In this post, Castle’s Digital Growth Manager Louis Melia discusses the rise of TikTok & its advertising power. 

Still think TikTok is just for dancing? With 17 million active users in the UK, TikTok is growing up, taking a seat with the big players, and upgrading its ad platform to match.

Its easy-to-consume video content is watched by hundreds of millions of people across the globe every day, and it’s easy to understand why there is a fast-growing buzz for TikTok ads within the marketing world. 

This blog will detail the rise of TikTok and look at what makes TikTok so useful to advertisers. I’ll explain why you need to be using TikTok Spark Ads and provide a case study on Dunkin Donuts & Charli D’Amelio’s partnership. Finally, I’ll offer some insight into what the future looks like for TikTok.

A smartphone displaying the TikTok logo on a wooden background.

The Rise of TikTok

Launched in 2018, TikTok is now a worldwide phenomenon with huge popularity in almost every country across the globe.

Its rapid success was spurred by people being unable to leave their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time of enforced isolation, people’s only option was to be on their phone, and that’s where TikTok’s popularity began to really surge.

Now boasting over 1 billion active users, TikTok is continuing to take the social media landscape by storm, and competitors such as Facebook and Instagram are intensifying their efforts to be more like the most downloaded app of 2021.

Despite growth for Facebook and Instagram slowing down, Facebook still has 1.85 billion more active users and Instagram has 2.4 billion more active users than TikTok. Nevertheless, they are both quickly adapting and making changes to the way their platforms are laid out and what type of content is being pushed and prioritised.

That’s because they know that the way forward is to follow the blueprint of short, fun, and engaging content that TikTok has built its popularity on.

What Makes TikTok So Useful To Advertisers?

TikTok’s algorithm is constantly learning about users – their preferences, interests, likes and dislikes. It does this purely through engagement instead of through friends or followers, focusing on whether people watch, like, share and comment on videos. This puts engagement back on the map as a way to prioritise user enjoyment for app use. 

TikTok also has a young native creator audience who are driving the conventions of the videos on the app by constantly creating. Older audiences, by contrast, are a bit more passive when it comes to video content and prefer to consume, making it harder for platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to catch up.

The For You page – better known as the FYP – is the core algorithm-building centre for all TikTok users. This is where the user builds their very own content timeline. Users can view exactly the type of content that they want to see, when they want, where they want. And the best part about it is, it doesn’t stop! 

The algorithm also establishes relationships based on different videos that the same users interact with. In essence, this can be compared to Amazon’s “frequently bought together” section, which creates suggestions based on purchased products.

A white hashtag utilising the TikTok brand style, with blue and pink detailing on a black background.

Why You Should Be Using TikTok Spark Ads

TikTok Spark Ads is an ad format that launched in July 2021. These ads are all about promoting videos that have been directly posted onto a user’s organic TikTok account, rather than creating a piece of content just for advertising purposes. This feature gives brands the best of both worlds by creating ads from organic TikToks while keeping organic posts’ native feel and functionality. 

There’s nothing better and more convincing than getting your content across in a way that shows that your brand is real – and this is what TikTok Spark Ads offer. 

52% of internet audiences want brands to be authentic, so the longer you stay away from Spark Ads, the longer you’ll miss out on giving the majority of your audience what they want to see.

TikTok Spark Ads are a powerfully authentic way for a brand to grow their presence on the platform, as not only does the brand’s exposure grow through the ad, but their organic page will also grow, receiving an increase in engagement through likes, comments, shares, and page followers.

If words don’t convince you to use TikTok Spark Ads, then maybe the data will. According to TikTok themselves, Spark Ads have a 30% higher completion rate and 142% higher engagement rate compared to standard TikTok In-Feed Ads. Spark Ads also drive a 43% higher conversion rate and 4.2% lower CPM than standard TikTok In-Feed Ads. 

This data tells us one thing: you need to be using TikTok Spark Ads in order to grow your brand in the most efficient way possible.

Dunkin’ Donuts & Charli D’Amelio

Organically, TikTok has the potential to grow your brand exponentially. And with ads added into the equation, the chances of significant growth are even larger.

Dunkin’ Donuts is a brand that has used TikTok in a way that would likely be seen as unorthodox by more traditional marketing standards. They hosted a hashtag challenge called #dunkintryouts, which aimed to appeal to their superfans. 

Dunkin’ Donuts only follow 18 accounts on TikTok, and they offered two lucky winners the chance to become a part of this exclusive pool of followers.

Fans of the brand uploaded videos of themselves telling us why they were the biggest Dunkin’ Donuts lover, with the best post winning the prize of a follow.

This was a great piece of marketing from the coffee chain, as even though their prize was small and simple, it was seen as a ‘must have’ for true fans of the brand. The content created by TikTok users with the hashtag #dunkintryouts highlighted Dunkin’ Donuts products, their loyalty to the brand, and how the brand plays a part in their day-to-day lives.

Another reason why this is a genius campaign by Dunkin’ Donuts is simply that the ad content doesn’t look like an ad but is authentic, with real customers’ opinions of the brand being displayed for thousands of people to see.

As a result of this challenge, Dunkin’ Donuts received hashtag notoriety because of the popular TikTok star Charli D’Amelio sharing her order from the chain, which then become the #thecharli trend. This then gave Dunkin’ Donuts a spike in orders from younger customers.

On the back of Charli D’Amelio joining in on the trend, Dunkin’ Donuts saw the potential of having a well-known influencer like Charli on their team and she has since become a brand ambassador, with products being named after her on the menu. She is now considered to be the ‘face of Dunkin’.’


hey what’s up guys it’s charli and today we are getting ready!!

♬ Champagne n pools – jake

So what did Dunkin’ Donuts receive from this hashtag challenge? They pulled together an endless amount of UGC from their loyal fans showcasing their products; the brand was broadcast to hundreds of thousands of TikTok users and then millions of users through the partnership with one of the biggest and best-known influencers in Charli D’Amelio; they saw a large spike in sales, in particular with younger customers, meaning the brand has the basis for building a strong long-term audience.

What Does The Future of TikTok Look Like?

So what does the future of TikTok look like? It is already a hugely successful social media platform and it is well and truly here to stay.

TikTok will no doubt always be transforming itself to ensure that it continues to keep up with what the audience wants and build on what it already has achieved. The future looks very bright because of that. 

Its easy-to-consume content is loved by over 1 billion people, and this is growing as each day goes by. That’s why more and more advertisers are flocking to the platform, not wanting to miss out on this potential goldmine.

The potential for TikTok videos to go viral quickly is so much greater than every other social media platform and that gives it a huge edge, particularly for advertisers. For that very reason, it’s key that advertisers who are looking to get into TikTok start building their presence on the platform and learn how best to gain conversions from their desired audiences.

In the future, we are going to see TikTok grow exponentially, and the platform will more than likely grow to over 2 billion users by the end of 2023.

The content that users want to see has changed and TikTok has been the initiator of that change, which is a large part of TikTok’s success to date. Users wanted to see more video content that was fun, engaging, informative, and real – and that’s exactly what TikTok has delivered. 

For advertisers who are experienced with video creation and understand what aspects of videos grab the user’s attention and what helps them to convert, TikTok offers the perfect opportunity for enhancing their marketing efforts. They should definitely be advertising on TikTok as soon as they can.

Marketers that are not as experienced with video creation or lack an understanding of how to best optimise a video should absolutely still use TikTok ads. The key for them is simply to make content and test everything they can in order to get the best results. 

By running multiple A/B tests, I’ve found that ad creatives featuring a real person and or a real voice are more likely to convert, as they have a much more authentic look. They also have a greater chance of reaching a high volume of users.

A phone displaying the TikTok logo with two white earphones next to it, on a blue and red background.

Real. Content. Sells! Facebook and Instagram are now basically just platforms for advertisers to sell products – which is fine! – but most of the ads do not work, as the businesses are trying to force a sale while failing to sell themselves.

The difference with TikTok is that people are buying not from businesses but from other people, because people trust people! TikTok is the platform that, out of all social media platforms, has the greatest level of trust, and that’s because people build that trust through their real and authentic videos. On other social media platforms, that’s extremely hard to do.

As time goes on, more users will move on from the traditional social media apps such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter – unless those apps make themselves stand out again as they once did. Instead, as each day goes by they are trying to force themselves to be more and more like TikTok, which is frustrating for people who are avid users of those other platforms. 

Ultimately, understanding what the future of TikTok will look like is challenging but very important from an advertiser’s perspective – if done right, you could reap major rewards. 

But there’s one thing we already know for certain: the future is TikTok.