Social first approach to TikTok content creation_by Piquant Limerick

‘Don’t Make Ads, Make TikToks’ – A Social First Approach To Content Creation

1 December

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Forget mobile first, it’s all about ‘social first’ when it comes to content creation. At Piquant, we consider the social media applications of our content first, to produce campaign concepts and video content tailored to the requirements, visual language and audience expectations of social media platforms. We help brands create social first content opportunities and capitalise on trends, developing social first concepts and producing scenarios that allow us to harvest authentic content.

Why ‘Social First’?

The Social First approach takes into account the audience’s changing media consumption habits, to target them effectively on the platforms that they are using. It allows for the dissemination of complex narratives across multiple platforms and mediums to build and develop a brand. The medium is just as important as the message, and we have seen a great shift over the past few years in what content audiences consume, especially when it comes to youth audiences. If the core audience for your brand is young people, you definitely need a social first approach. Youth audiences are interacting and engaging with short-form, immersive vertical videos, now synonymous with TikTok and Reels. These videos, especially on TikTok, are trend driven, encourage participation from audiences, and usually lack the slick production of traditional video ad content. And the driver behind all this? It’s TikTok.

Don’t make ads, make TikToks

TikTok has captured the world’s attention, and created a home for content like nowhere else on the internet. That is, until other social media platforms started to try to replicate their success by introducing their own forms of immersive, full screen video content (looking at you Instagram). TikTok are arguably the harbingers of the social first movement, with their mantra for brands and advertisers: ‘don’t make ads, make TikToks’. People don’t check TikTok, they watch it, and ads don’t have to be an unwelcome intrusion into their feeds. By taking a social first approach to content creation, you can lean into the characteristics that make TikTok content unique, to serve ads that fit seamlessly into your audiences’ feeds. Ads that leverage the power of sound, that ride on the latest trends, that feel human and spontaneous. Content that uses transitions, split screen, green screens, voice overs and POV’s to adapt the message into content for TikTok.

Content like this allows brands to connect with audiences on an emotional level, build communities, and drive brand awareness. Using TikTok and adopting its unique visual style to create content that is in line with the brand tone, message and purpose helps to build a brand over time. It is important to remember what works today might not work tomorrow – the media environment is constantly changing and evolving. But always taking a social first approach to content creation prioritises social, and allows a brand to grow and pivot with their audiences.

Case Study: Limerick United Against Racism

Why make one campaign video when you can make a suite of videos?

When exploring video content for the Limerick United Against Racism campaign, #RootOutRacismLK, we wanted a solution that would allow us to create a suite of videos designed for the TikTok space. Inspired by TikTok videos in the style of short soundbites from interviews or podcasts, we developed a video production approach designed to generate a bank of these short snippets. With the backdrop of a mural being painted, passers-by were paired up for a quick conversation about racism, mediated by a presenter.

The result was a suite of micro videos focussed on a short sound bite from one person, with the call to action encouraging viewers to start a conversation about racism. These were released on TikTok, and the results were phenomenal. In just 3 weeks, the videos generated close to 500,000 video views, 2,000 followers, and over 40,000 Likes, results we couldn’t have achieved with a single campaign video.

Case Study: IADT Open Day

POV: you take ownership of a TikTok trend to promote your event

Working with IADT to promote their CAO Open Day, we honed in on the POV trend to create a suite of social videos, which were used as both native and advertising content on Reels and TikTok. The POV trend provided the perfect opportunity to play on the IADT undergraduate recruitment campaign – You+IADT – and show multiple scenes of life at IADT, or what to expect at the Open Day. Working with IADT students, we created over 20 social videos, with a mix of POV videos and informative talking heads.

The videos performed particularly well on Instagram, generating over 60,000 organic views and a 215% increase in interactions compared to previous video content. It proved to be some of the most successful content on the IADT Instagram ever, driving a huge increase in organic engagement and reach, and was also highly effective content for advertising in TikTok and Reels – essential channels for our student audience. And ultimately, the 2022 Open Day was the highest attended IADT open day ever, with a 69% increase in attendance vs 2021.

Soaicl first approach to TikTok content creation_Piquant Limerick

Case Study:

Working with your target audience to create content

The social first approach is essential to developing content or campaigns aimed at teen and college audiences, and because social content prioritises authenticity and human connection, putting your audience front and centre always yields great results. We took this approach when developing a campaign for, working with students to create a series of talking head videos and Storytime videos, about their experience volunteering.

Each video had on screen text and captions added in the style viewers have come to expect on TikTok and Instagram. We needed to resurrect the dormant Instagram account, and the videos generated huge organic reach, and by the end of the campaign, we saw a 45% increase in sign ups to compared to the previous year.


While the trends rise and fall, at the heart of all communications is storytelling. So while our content creation practices have had to adapt to the visual language of social first video, storytelling, authenticity, and human moments remains the core. Taking a social first approach allows brands to use the power of storytelling to even greater effect, to build relationships with audiences and showcase their personality. And while short-form, DIY video is on the rise, the place for beautifully shot video content and creative storytelling still endures across the social and digital space.

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