TikTok is the latest trending social media app and its number of downloads have skyrocketed over the last few months. Is it time for your brand to try it out?
TikTok is called the new Snapchat. Others call it the new Vine. It’s actually sharing similar characteristics with both of them but it’s none of these two. It can be something bigger.
TikTok is a short-form video app that merged with Musical.ly back in August. It is the international version of Douyin, a Chinese short-form video app. People are uploading short, fun, and creative videos to share them with their followers.
In just a few months, it counts 500 million monthly active users. The growth in the US had been very interesting seeing the growth of audience by 30 million in just three months after the merger with Musical.ly.
And according to recent data from SensorTower, TikTok has been topping the download charts this year. In Q1 2019, TikTok was the most downloaded social media app in the US overall and on Google Play, and the second most downloaded app on the App Store.
Its rapid growth has caught the eye of marketers who want to try a new shiny toy.
What makes TikTok appealing for brands then?
According to TikTok, 60% of the app’s monthly users in the US are aged 16-24. They are also very engaged spending 46 minutes per day in the app.
There is a great opportunity for brands to go where the younger audience is. It’s important to understand that TikTok relies on user-generated content, which requires a different approach when planning your marketing tactics.
Despite the comparison with Snapchat or Vine, it’s actually a mix between the two bringing together Snapchat’s engagement with Vine’s creativity. However, the stats indicate that it can be bigger than both of them combined.
Its sudden growth, especially in the younger demographics, can be worth the effort to understand it from a brand’s perspective.
TikTok is shaping a new generation of social media platforms. It focuses on creating experiences rather than passively consuming content.
This is very encouraging when it comes to raising a generation of publishers rather than passive consumers. However, it’s important for a brand to be authentic while ‘playing by the rules’ when joining the app.
You can’t rely on your current marketing tactics in TikTok as its users are expecting a different approach to engage with a brand.
For example, the first-ever US branded content in TikTok was a partnership with Guess as part of the #InMyDenim challenge. The brand encouraged users to share their own videos while they also collaborated with influencers to expand the engaging experience.
TikTok is expected to support four types of ads in 2019: in-feed native ads, brand takeovers, hashtag challenges and branded lenses.
Brand takeovers and hashtag challenges are helping the app stand out from other social platforms as they bring a brand closer to its audience. TikTok is a user-driven social platform, which means that brands need to be more creative to convince users to join their campaigns.
Hashtag challenges can be very successful provided that you are authentic and genuinely engaging. For example, Dreamwork Pictures encouraged users to create their own videos in a hashtag challenge that promoted their Netflix show. The hashtag #SpiritRidingFree had more than 2.6 million engagements while it reached more than 34.5 million people.
I’ve talked to Thibaud Clement, CEO and co-founder of Loomly, social media calendar tool to hear his thoughts on how brands can the reasons that brands should join TikTok now.
It’s an interesting time for brands to try out TikTok because the ROI is substantial.
On the one hand, barriers to entry are low. There isn’t a lot of competition since many brands are not there yet. The user base is growing fast, meaning there is still a deficit of content, and therefore organic reach is huge (unlike other more mature platforms where there is a content overload, which in turns justifies algorithmic feeds and requires brands to sponsor their content with ads). Also, influencers are a building up their audience and command lower prices than on other social platforms.
On the other hand, there is a significant potential upside. TikTok represents a singular opportunity to reach out to a massive audience of 13-18-year-old consumers. This also offers a good shot at foreign companies to access the Chinese market. For example, the reward for first-movers is huge: Red Bull has already built a 2.4M following.
When it comes to thinking whether it’s the right time to join TikTok, Clement adds:
Regardless of the success of TikTok in the longer run, you win by investing in it now. If it fades out, at least your brand will have generated awareness at a reasonable cost and you will be able to redirect your audience to other web properties (social accounts and websites); if TikTok becomes the next Instagram, you will be seen as a pioneer in your field, will have developed an edge on other players and will be able to capitalize on your organically-built audience when costs increase.
According to Clement, here’s what brands should keep in mind when joining TikTok.
If your brand caters to GenZ and you have a strong understanding of internet codes, pop culture and the funny TikTok vibe (or an agency who does), you can leverage TikTok to join existing conversations using hashtags, such as a meme, a challenge or a prank.
You can, for instance, take part in a dance challenge, either subtly featuring a product you make or your company. It should be noted though, that this presents some risk from a brand perspective since it can always backfire when not done right, or if users perceive this as unauthentic, shady marketing practices.
Another option is to collaborate with rising influencers on the platform in order to gain awareness and promote your products or services since you essentially delegate the message to a spokesperson who does master the TikTok culture. This also comes at reasonable costs compared to other, more mature platforms (such as Instagram and YouTube).
TikTok is certainly a growing trend in social media. It might be new to marketing but this doesn’t mean that it’s too early to try out as a brand.
It’s not encouraged for every single brand to shift its approach to include TikTok in their strategies without clear objectives. However, if you feel that the app represents your target demographics then it might be the right time to seek creative experiments.
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