With over a billion downloads, 500 million monthly active users and over 2 billions views a day of content in the UK alone, TikTok is very much on the radar of brand advertisers and marketers.
But which brands should have a presence on TikTok and how can they navigate the algorithmic minefield to achieve ultimate success? What does success even look like on TikTok? And for what purpose should brands use it? These are the questions we receive every day from prospects, so here’s our advice.
If you’re thinking about launching on TikTok, take yourself through these tick boxes below. If you check at least three then there is no doubt you should have a presence on the platform.
✅I already have or am looking to build a Generation Z audience.
This will change as time goes on, just like it did for Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram – all major social media platforms start off with a young user base, usually in the age bracket of 16-25. However, those demographics change and new social platforms, like Tiktok, steal the younger audiences because of their creativity and innovation. Also, we all know the real reason for the absence of millennials and Generation Z on Facebook and it’s not necessarily because our data was used for political gain. It’s because our mums, dads, aunties, uncles, grandmas AND grandpas are on it and watch our every move.
✅Social media plays a major role in my marketing strategy.
To be honest, this should be the case for every single brand, in our opinion and it’s why we set up Hey Honey. Social media is not about the platform or the content it’s about the behaviour it evokes from its users. Being ‘social’ is not about scrolling, it’s about interacting and building connections with like-minded people, maybe it’s your best friend, family member or a total stranger on the other side of the world.
✅Video content is central to my social media strategy.
Again, something, as a social creative agency and content studio, that we believe should be the case for every brand no matter who you are. Video content will be 82% of all online content consumed by 2021 and all social platforms’ algorithms favour video over static content.
✅KPIs of my content strategy on social media are reach and engagement.
TikTok’s analytics are still in the early stages of development but if you have a TikTok brand profile it provides you with the right metrics to measure success – reach and engagement. By using creators you can track affiliate links to measure sales but we have always vouched for a social media campaign or always-on strategy to contribute to brand awareness because it’s all about what people say and how they interact with your brand. Marketing to millenials and Gen Z needs to avoid sales messages, because they are an audience not looking to be sold to but looking for a brand that aligns with their personal values, which subsequently will always result in increased sales.
✅I am an entertainment brand.
Entertainment is a really loose term these days. It seems, since content truly became King everyone wants to be an entertainment brand and rightly so. Streaming service platforms are saturated by the Netflixs, Hulus and HBOs of the world but let’s not forget gaming, eSports, audio brands like JBL and Sonos, talent management, record labels, ticketing platforms like Live Nation and Ticketmaster, travel and tourism and now even social media platforms are all brands operating in the entertainment industry trying to fight for peoples’ attention, with views and engagement rate as the currency.
TikTok is an entertainment brand and a strong contender for attention
Don’t under-estimate TikTok themselves as an entertainment brand – right now they have the attention of 500 million people on a monthly basis who spend an average time of 52 minutes on the platform, per day.
Users on TikTok are there for one thing, to be entertained. TikTok knows that and its mission statement is the perfect exemplary of that.
In the mission statements of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube you’ll see words like ‘connect’, ‘community’, ‘communicate’, ‘listen’, ‘share’ which is an idealistic vision for most social media platforms. Whereas, TikTok’s mission statement exploits an unadulterated and shameless goal to entertain.
“TikTok is the world’s leading destination for short-form mobile videos. Our mission is to capture and present the world’s creativity, knowledge, and moments that matter in everyday life. TikTok empowers everyone to be a creator directly from their smartphones.”
Finally! A social media platform that goes against the grain, that is not a sheep riding the other social platforms’ tidal wave of idealism.
On the flip side, there is so much scope for brands to start conversations with Generation Z.
Three underlying values for a TikTok campaign that will engage Gen Z:
Lead with creators.
Firstly, we say creators not influencers because the platform has moved the industry away from the inauthentic #hashtag ad era and into the value-added content era where content truly is King and TikTok is paving the way for this industry shift, as is YouTube.
Creators are the people that users come to the platform to see. Recent research from Campaign Magazine found that 68% of users come to Instagram to get inspired by or connect with creators not brands or friends, for TikTok it’s probably even more.
Branded content pages on all social media platforms are almost redundant these days, more so on TikTok because the users are not looking to be sold too. Remember this is the generation that grew up being exposed to hundreds of ads a day and are almost immune to them. This is a generation that will engage with content that aligns with their personal interests, of which sports and music are two of the biggest.
However, more prominent societal issues are being addressed on the platform including climate change and mental health, which are two topics found to be prominent for the younger generations to engage with on social media at a monumentally high rate. On the #ForYou page you can find #DanceForChange a hashtag with over 80 million views, sponsored by the United Nations’ International Fund for Agricultural Development as well as the hashtag #IntroducingMe with 180 million views so far that seems to have come from TikTok itself that addresses mental health. It’s great to see the platform being used to raise awareness, subsequently becoming more and more appealing for brands and non-profits that speak out about similar topics.
Be Entertaining but subtle.
The users on TikTok are not looking for inspiration to be someone else like most Instagram users, they are much harder to engage than their older counterparts, Millennials, because of the sheer mass of content they consume per day.
Our favourite branded hashtag challenge that did this well is Crocs. It’s hard to tell if the challenge was sponsored by the brand or if the content was seeded by creators and sky-rocketed due to the pure genius and simple creativity behind it. #Crocs encourages users to put shaving cream in their old Croc shoes and on the drop of the beat of the music, a foot goes in and shaving foam squirts out of the holes of the shoe. This simple articulation of creativity made a huge buzz about a shoe that has traditionally been considered ugly and a fashion faux pas for young people because it was entertainment in its purest form, but the brand was subtle about being behind it.
We’ve found that brand sponsored content typically performs worse, even on popular creators’ profiles, because this generation of content consumers are more aware and unphased by ads, so be subtle and not salesy.
Social media, today, is different to what it used to be when it was a mass communication tool to get your message out. Today it is populated by small social groups of people that engage with each other over common interests – it’s the direction Facebook has had to go and it’s how TikTok was set up. Finding little pockets of highly engaged people on TikTok requires a brand to focus on a niche but tie that into their overarching strategy. The platform attracts social groups of Football lovers, drag queens, artists, musicians, circus acts and more and the importance of being hyper-relevant and laser-focused with content in those niche areas is more important than being generic and mass market with your content.
On the flip side, you’d expect this content to have less reach but higher engagement rate, but the reach and impressions of niche content still does phenomenally well on TikTok compared to any other platform. This tells us that being niche on the platform is highly effective.
This is because of the nature of the audience – the younger generations or Generation Z are interested in multi-cultural and diverse subject areas more than any other generation. Even though they are not mass market they are the most important target group for brands to engage today considering they will make up 40% of all consumers by the year 2020. However, the struggle lies in the fact that Gen Z are always changing their consumer habits, they soak up the latest and greatest apps, trends and social platforms making it a consistent race for brands to keep up and innovate first.
If you’re a brand looking for help to launch on TikTok, visit our TikTok service page and say hello.
This article first appeared in www.thedrum.com
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