As the leading short-form video platform, TikTok is singular from other platforms in its power to encourage user-generated content (UGC), generate communities, and create viral trends that go far beyond the app. Hashtags play an integral role in building these communities by grouping similar content together and allowing for new trends to emerge.
In a TikTok hashtag challenge, a user records themselves doing a specific action or ‘challenge’, inspiring the audience to complete the challenge or reinvent their own version. In this way, hashtag challenges have the ability to tap into the wildfire effect, reaching audiences far beyond the initial following of the first creator’s post.
TikTok estimates over 35% of its user base participate in hashtag challenges, which is why so many companies are sponsoring their own hashtag challenge on TikTok, (called Branded Hashtag Challenges) to build brand recognition and awareness.
Branded Hashtag Challenges are one of the five different TikTok ad formats (listed below) marketers can choose or combine depending on their budget & campaign objectives:
The Branded Hashtag Challenge is the largest-scale ad format on TikTok and offers the most touchpoints for users to drive mass awareness. The two main components of a Branded Hashtag Challenge are 1) a sponsored banner on TikTok’s Discover page and 2) a sponsored challenge page. It is important to note companies can optimize their reach through additional TikTok ad offerings in combination with the Branded Hashtag Challenge (e.g. TopView ads, In-feed Ads, or a shoppable in-app experience via TikTok’s Hashtag Challenge Plus feature).
This placement of the sponsored banner is considered prime real-estate on the app— requiring a minimum of $150,000, which is why Branded Hashtag Challenges are typically utilized by large, recognizable brands.
When a user clicks on the sponsored hashtag, it leads to the hashtag challenge page which features the brand logo, challenge description, a sponsorship disclaimer, and the ability to link to the company’s website/or a shoppable landing page.
Most companies opt to partner with popular TikTok creators to create “Official videos” that inspire UGC and drive authentic engagement. Leveraging TikTok influencers to create content for your brand’s hashtag challenge not only sets the tone for the challenge but leverages their expertise as a popular creator to drive collaboration and engagement through their loyal audience.
Keep reading to see top Branded Hashtag Challenge Examples or click below to skip to our comprehensive study:
Laura Mercier promotes their loose setting powder by creating a ‘makeover’ challenge where users showcase the product result before & after using the product itself as a video transition effect. The cosmetics brand enlisted five beauty influencers with a combined reach of 19.6 million to launch their branded hashtag challenge. #ReadySETgo has received over 8.1 billion impressions and 2,500 pieces of UGC.
Netflix is the most frequent advertiser of Branded Hashtag Challenges on TikTok, averaging about one campaign each month. In their #WhatsYourPower campaign, Netflix animated their challenge with an interactive Branded Effect that determined users’ superpowers. The challenge produced over 100,000 user-generated videos and included 6 influencer-created sponsored posts.
11 fashion/lifestyle influencers created catwalk looks for the campaign and provided coupon codes within their captions. As a part of the Branded Hashtag Challenge, ASOS implemented the Hashtag Challenge Plus feature—allowing users to easily browse products directly within the app via a shoppable Explore tab. The results? Over 10,000 users posted a video using either their campaign sound or Branded Effect. Utilizing influencers, Branded Effects, coupon codes, and TikTok’s built-in shopping experience, ASOS provided multiple opportunities for audience interaction in their #ASOSFashunWeek campaign.
From July 2020 to March 2021, over 105 Branded Hashtag Challenges launched on TikTok. Analysis of these campaigns reveals average campaign metrics, influencer trends, and insights on TikTok advertiser behavior. See our findings here:
The top three most popular types of TikTok Branded Hashtag Challenges are 1) sponsored challenge, 2) contest, 3) Hashtag Challenge Plus. The average duration of a sponsored banner on TikTok’s Discovery page is 3-4 days. An average of 14 brands advertise on TikTok via a Branded Hashtag Challenge every month.
The average Branded Hashtag Challenge generates 6.1 billion views. Samsung’s #VideoSnapChallenge is the highest viewed branded hashtag challenge with over 27 billion views during the studied period.
Top 5 Highest Viewed TikTok Hashtag Challenges:
84% of large brands advertising on TikTok through Branded Hashtag Challenges have posted less than 100 videos on their brand’s TikTok account. This finding shows that while brands of nearly every industry are jumping to advertise on TikTok, most brands are still hesitant to commit to TikTok as an active brand channel.
In fact, 11% of brands advertising on TikTok through Branded Hashtag Challenges do not have an official user account on TikTok. Some brands include KOHLER, Marc Jacobs, Midea, Hormel Foods, and Burt’s Bees.
While most brands do not actively post a high volume of TikTok videos to their user account, two top brands Amazon Prime Video and RedBull have established branded channels on the platform. Amazon Prime Video has created over 1,800 TikTok videos, more videos than Addison Rae. RedBull is also one of the largest content-producing brands on TikTok, with over 2,540 TikTok videos.
Brand analysis finds food and beverage companies to be the most frequent industry to advertise on TikTok through Branded Hashtag Challenges. 1) Food/Bev, 2) Entertainment, 3) Beauty, 4) Fashion, and 5) Tech/CPG represent the top five brand advertiser categories.
Brands typically partner with anywhere from 1-25 influencers per Branded Hashtag Challenge. The chart below shows an upward trend of companies partnering with more TikTok influencers per campaign than they were previously in 2020.
TikTok influencer Michael Le is the most common influencer brands partner with for Branded Hashtag Challenges. In the nine-month period Le created content for seven sponsored challenges:
Avani and The Wilking Sisters were also high on the list as the most sought after influencers for Branded Hashtag Challenges. Each influencer participated in five campaigns from July 2020 – March 2021:
Of the 530+ influencers who participated across 105 TikTok campaigns, 68% were mega-influencers, influencers with over one million followers. Mid-tier influencers (50,000 – 500,000 followers) are slightly more preferable to be chosen for partnerships in Branded Hashtag Challenges than macro-influencers (500,000 – 1,000,000 followers), with mid-tier influencers representing 16% of influencers used in Branded Hashtag Campaigns.