Is it Time for TikTok?

Just when the marketing world settled into a familiar Facebook-Instagram-Twitter social media formula, a seemingly unpolished disruptor entered the scene: TikTok.

Reminiscent of Vine with its simply-produced, user-generated video content, the app launched in 2016 and began amassing a world-wide following. However, unlike 6-second, inalterable Vines, TikTok allows users to record or upload videos up to 60 seconds long which can then be edited in-app with music, filter and text tools. By empowering anyone to be an elaborate creator, TikTok has carved a niche as an entertainment platform — differentiating itself from traditional ‘lifestyle’ networks such as Facebook and Instagram.

If you’ve dismissed TikTok as fad, these numbers might change your mind:
  • 500 million active users. That’s good for the number 9 spot in the world, crushing Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
  • More than 1 billion views daily in 2019.
  • 90% of users are on the app every day, spending an average of 52 minutes uploading their own content and watching others.
  • 1.5 billion app downloads since 2016. With over 614 million downloads in 2019 alone, TikTok clinched Apple’s App Store’s top spot last year.

Impressive stats for a maverick platform operating without the clout of Facebook or Google to back it up. However, since early adopters of the app were primarily Gen Z’s, skeptics have argued that TikTok’s audience is limited to teens. While it’s true that 41% of users are between 16 and 24, the number of adult users in the U.S. recently grew by 5.5 times.

Since becoming available for download in North America in 2017, this emerging social media powerhouse has been on our radar. After observing and experimenting with how the platform can be leveraged to connect with audiences, TikTok’s strengths became clearly evident. Here’s what you need to know:

Trends are the biggest source of growth within the platform.

Keep a close eye on ‘challenges’ (such as 2019’s #bottlecapchallenge) that are garnering substantial attention. TikTok makes this easy by listing trends with the largest followings on their Discover page. Leveraging trends can significantly increase reach, awareness and brand relevance, especially with the Gen Z segment.

Influencers are your ticket in.

There’s no need to start practising your spinning hook kick or learn the words to “Old Town Road” when someone younger (and slightly more flexible) can do it for you. Partnering with a platform expert opens up opportunities for cross-channel promotion and safeguards credibility by ensuring content is executed correctly.

Algorithms and hashtags rule here, too.

Hashtags play a huge role on TikTok. They can be used to amplify reach and gain followers, identify competitors and observe consumer trends. Don’t go hashtag-crazy, though — it’s important to choose hashtags that actually match the content of your videos. To learn user preferences and customize video feeds, TikTok employs an advanced AI algorithm, so becoming familiar with how content is evaluated is key. The platform also prioritizes local content, so if your trends + influencer + hashtag formula is dialed in, you have an excellent chance of getting in front of relevant audiences.

Creative > Promotional

Users value TikTok as a tool that enables anyone to become a creator, so overt promotional messaging is not welcome here. Keep it subtle and audience-focused to gain trust and acceptance. Better yet, give users a voice and drive engagement by creating a fun hashtag or challenge that encourages UGC.

If you’re having a tough time visualizing how you might employ these best-practice insights for your brand, check out some companies that we’ve noticed killing it on TikTok:
  • Always current with trends
  • Relatable and creative content
  • Encourage UGC content
  • Collaborates with popular TikTok influencers
  • Not too promotional
  • Collaborates with popular TikTok influencers and celebrities
  • Fun and creative content
  • Relatable
  • Participates in trends and challenges
  • Fun, engagement-driven content
  • Collaborates with popular TikTok influencers
  • Committed to posting frequently
  • Relatable content for Gen Z
  • Well-positioned as a thought leader
One Question Remains.

Is TikTok right for you? While the case for TikTok as a social media marketing tool is evident, brands still must consider business goals and target audience to determine if it’s the right tool for the job. TikTok content is unpolished, irreverent and, at times, it can lean towards ridiculous. If the trending challenges and hashtag themes are clearly divergent from the tone of your brand, double down on the platforms where you’re already seeing results.

If you aren’t seeing results in your social programs, click here and we’ll let you know how to get on-track.

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