Over the last three months, TikTok has well and truly taken over – and there are no signs of its dominance slowing down.
According to Music Business Worldwide, the video-sharing platform saw an 18% increase in downloads mid-March, when lockdown measures were issued globally. The app was downloaded 2 million times between March 16th and March 22nd – a huge increase from the previous week’s 1.7 million.
Three months ago, TikTok’s users were estimated to be at 800 million, which ranks them far beyond the likes of Snap and Twitter, and just shy of Instagram’s 1 billion ‘grammers. Whilst early March seemed like a mind-blowing growth period for TikTok, if you tally up the last month and a half, TikTok has commanded the top ranking spot in Google Play and Apple App stores for multiple weeks. Not only that, users aren’t just aimlessly scrolling – they’re actively engaged and focused; in the UK, TikTok users spend an average of 45 minutes a day on the app, which is the same length of time they might spend watching an episode of a series on Netflix.
If we consider Instagram’s journey to 1 billion active users since it was invented in 2010, we’re looking at a nine-year difference in time taken to amass that kind of usership on TikTok. So, what is it that’s fuelling TikTok’s supremacy, and how can you get involved?
Built with you in mind
Everyone – and every brand – thought that TikTok was a useless platform for kids, a little like Vine, which shut down in 2016. That could not be further from the truth, and if TikTok’s own TV ad is anything to go by, and the fact they just nabbed Disney’s CEO, it’s clear they’ve noticed a wide age range within their audience, and they’re pushing for mainstream attention while they can. If you deemed yourself too old to download TikTok, frankly, you’re wrong. It’s time to take notice, so to kick things off in the ‘who, what, how’ department, here’s a one-liner overview from TikTok themselves on what they do and why:
“TikTok is the destination for short-form mobile videos. Our mission is to capture and present the world’s creativity, knowledge, and precious life moments! Self-expression through mobile video!”
TikTok’s ‘For You’ page is like looking into a wonderfully messy family portrait. There are grandparents, babies, dancing queens and dads, doing everything from accent challenges and art time-lapses, to Tiger King acts and Cheryl Cole routines. There is something for everyone – TikTok has grown up, both in terms of offering and audience.
TikTok’s creative-first platform is what sets it apart from other channels, with an algorithm that is driven by the quality of the content rather than the name behind it. There are even anthropological articles written about exactly why it’s so attractive to human beings. This quote is taken from a Forbes article exploring TikTok’s secret ingredient being inherent with human evolution:
“It is no wonder then that TikTok, a video-sharing app built entirely on people singing (or lip-synching), dancing and laughter, has so quickly captured the minds of so many people. The app is, in essence, an infinite feed of endorphin-inducing content that triggers a strong sense of unity and belonging within us as we consume each video.”
A marketer’s dream
One of the most appealing things about TikTok to brands should be the ‘back-to-basics’ authenticity of advertising on the platform. TikTok users are not people sitting around waiting to digest run-of-the-mill adverts. In fact, in the first few seconds of a TikTok advert resembling anything close to those traditionally drab local TV or radio spiels, users are likely to scroll past it immediately. TikTok is flocked to for endorphins, in the form of dancing and singing and laughter – it’s where users come to escape from marketing, meaning your marketing has to become “anti-marketing”, to reach audiences effectively.
The good side to all of this, is that given the nature of TikTok, there is less expectation put on the back of creators. Videos should be allowed to look amateur, spur-of-the-moment and as fun as possible – making them the perfect pieces of content to be now, and also when life picks up again. TikTok isn’t just a plaster for boredom! We literally cannot stress this enough: if your brand wants to be effective and marketing cost-efficiently on social media right now, and in the future, your platform of choice should be TikTok.
How can your brand get involved?
- BRAND PAGE: Just like your presence on Instagram or Facebook, you can also have TikTok.com/YourBrand. Even if you don’t want to start creating straight away, it’s worth making an account to secure the domain. Next, sort your strategy out (we can help with that) so that there’s a real reason to follow your content.
- INFLUENCER CAMPAIGNS: Influencers do many a job, and wear a lot of hats, from creating content for brands to use across owned, earned and paid platforms, to raising awareness, selling products, and getting media coverage. Think about the benefits of using influencers on this new platform. Initially, perhaps to boost your following – through a hashtag challenge, page takeover or live stream – and subsequently, where that content would then sit. Content can be created on TikTok and be shared to Instagram, for example.
- OWNED AUDIO: TikTok is responsible for skyrocketing songs in the charts right now – and who’s to say your brand can’t own that too? Quite easily, you can create original audio files for TikTok that users can then go on to create their own content to – and this is essentially how virality works on TikTok! If you were a music label, this is something you’d encourage your artists to do, by creating bespoke TikTok sounds. If you’re a brand with characters, you could bring them to life by giving them reactive sound – the possibilities are endless.
- EPISODIC CONTENT: This one might be a little way off right now, but TikTok’s move to cop Disney’s CEO, Kevin Meyer, is going to change things massively. Mayer launched Disney+ and is perfectly placed to understand the economics of streaming. It’s not a far-out idea to imagine TikTok producing a streaming service akin to Netflix – if TikTok end up buying Quibble, you heard it here first! TikTok already have the relationships with the labels and the influence to make a successful streaming service possible. A streaming service would lead to episodic content, which – again – thanks to Netflix, is where things are heading content-wise. Disney built its brand around character-led shows, and TikTok already has the lovable characters/creators, so now all that’s needed is packaging them into a suite of shows.
The good, the bad and the ugly
The newness of TikTok is great for several reasons – and one of them is how easy it is to spot the good marketing eggs, from the bad. We’ve rounded up the good, the bad and the downright ugly examples of TikTok marketing below, but thanks to the babyface of TikTok, any publicity is good publicity.
- What they did: launched themselves as a brand on TikTok, partnered with TikTok for the COVID-19 relief fund, and featured dogs (always a good move)
- Why it worked – or didn’t work: Crocs have been doing truly great things on TikTok. From challenges to viral videos and ads – they’re doing it all (and that’s the way to do it!) They recently ran a campaign with Post Malone called the #ThousandDollarCrocs challenge and it currently has 2.8 billion (!!!) views.
- EBAY X LAURA WHITMORE
- What they did: eBay and TV presenter Laura Whitmore – facilitated by us, no less – worked together on an #eBayFinds TikTok campaign around clearing out your closet – and dancing whilst you do it!
- Why it worked – or didn’t work: the homemade video features a catchy song, a very easily copied dance routine and an inspiring call to action for other users to clear out their closet on eBay. The video now has 300K views and has spurred an always-on content stream between Laura and eBay.
- CALVIN KLEIN
- What they did: launched themselves as a brand on TikTok, shooting content that mainly features global celebrities or non-creator models
- Why it worked – or didn’t work: basically, far too over-polished and quite boring. Calvin Klein has been on TikTok for about six months now, and produced zero engaging or unique videos. They haven’t engaged in any challenges, with any TikTok natives, and some of their videos don’t even include sound – and yet, from that small investment of time and effort, they’ve amassed 16K followers.
What are you waiting for?
Social media marketing is built on one simple idea: if people in your niche use a social platform, develop your presence on that platform and start speaking to them. Regardless of what you think of all the dancing, lip-synching, trends and silliness, TikTok is the most exciting social media platform out there right now. If you’re looking to launch on TikTok or want to know more about how your brand can get involved, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’d love to meet up for a virtual coffee!