What is TikTok?
Social media has always empowered everyone to be content creators, encouraged connections between brands and consumers and built online communities. These same principles are at the core of short video platform TikTok, although its style and approach is different to any other social media we’ve seen.
A bite-size YouTube with a soundtrack by Spotify and an in-app content studio to rival SnapChat and IG Stories, reaching audiences and connecting communities with the hashtags of Twitter and Instagram.
TikTok makes video production, editing and publishing simple, in app and direct from smartphones, and is committed to building participation and community by encouraging users to join in, create, connect, have fun and be unapologetically real.
Understanding the Audience
More than one-in-five Aussie’s born after 2006 (Gen Alpha) are active on TikTok. Gen Z and Gen Alpha make up over 1 Million users, the largest portion of the Aussie audience, and female users more than double the number of males on the platform.
For TikTok, Quarantine has been great for business – new users of all ages and have changed the demographic make up, and added more value for brands.
TikTok was already growing rapidly before coronavirus locked the world down in quarantine. In the first quarter of 2020, the platform generated more than 315 million installs globally – setting a new record for the most downloads for any single app in a quarter. As we looked for entertainment at home, TikTok benefitted – attracting new users of all ages and changing it’s demographic make up, and value for brands, at the same time.
Like all social media and digital platforms, TikTok’s rise hasn’t been without controversy. It has been called on to address concerns including lack of age gating and data collection of young users and what teenagers and young people are posting. In response to demands for greater safety protections and data transparency TikTok have been updating policies and community guidelines, reviewing and deleting accounts of younger users and introducing new features, including a Family Pairing function to give parents more control and a transparency centre to improve their performance and reputation.
For the average creator/user, TikTok simply offers a fresh, fun avenue for connection, self expression, creativity and entertainment. TikTok users embrace individuality and creativity – the best advice for brands is to do the same.
What Content Works?
TikTok appeals to audiences because of its unique approach to content and the various ways it allows users to participate, create and connect. TikTok isn’t the platform for taking a traditional approach to ads and content – rehashing a TV ad, repurposing content from other platforms, direct response selling or highly stylised and produced video don’t fit the real, informal style that users expect, and that drive success on the platform.
Creators, including brands, are offered infinite possibilities to create personalised, engaging, entertainment that is fun to watch, tells a story and feels relatable by using the in-app studio. This is particularly important for brands to consider when planning a TikTok strategy or creating content. Content has to be unique, fit the relaxed style of the platform and encouraging of engagement and participation to resonate. Brands can advertise products and services and have serious messages – success on TikTok just means not being too serious, produced or branded in content published.
The tone of TikTok short video content is fresh, informal, goofy, personal, irreverent and real. This style of feeling home-made, not produced in a studio, is what makes TikTok unique, fun and accessible, and why the platform and it’s content resonates so strongly with growing audiences.
TikTok Commercial Music Library
While music is a key component of TikTok videos, music licensing rights on the platform have recently come into question. To protect brands from licensing liability risks TikTok have introduced their own Commercial Music Library, and have begun the migration of verified accounts away from Spotify to it’s own library. TikTok’s new library may not have the same extensive access to music as Spotify, however it does provide high quality royalty-free music for promotional content that reduces the risk of brands and users using unlicensed music in their content and will “save brands time and investment in sorting out music licensing with individual labels”.
Music is one of the key components of TikTok trends, challenges and videos, and the platform has helped launch music careers and drive the commercial success of new songs. This change will impact music’s role on the platform and the ability for brands to create content and participate in popular music led challenges, and has the potential to limit visibility and reach. Commercial music isn’t the only form of content on TikTok though, and if there’s one thing we can be sure about TikTok, it’s that it’s users embrace creativity and will adapt – the best advice for brands is to do the same.
As demand for TikTik to formalise policies, strengthen compliance and minimise risks continues, we’ll likely see more changes and stronger guidelines implemented as the platform evolves.
TikTok’s influencers don’t follow the mould that people have come to expect. They feel and are more real and more like their audiences than someone filtering an aspirational everyday (*branded) lifestyle that looks better than any of your holidays.
Easter Eggs from Disney Movies you WILL have missed!! ???
You won’t find the picture-perfectness of Instagram, the trolling of Twitter or the daily routines, opinions and advice videos of YouTube. On TikTok influencers aren’t blogging about their own lives, they’re producing entertainment.
Whether it’s lip-syncing, dancing, acting, singing, comedy skits, decorating or activism, TikTok has created a new kind of social media culture where content (not clout) comes first.
Opportunities For Brands
When creating TikTok content and strategy for your brand it’s valuable to pay attention to current trends and challenges to leverage, either by participating in or taking inspiration from to start your own. To increase the reach and value of TikTok content, and increase awareness of the brand account post your TikTok video content on other brand social media pages.
Content – Challenges, Duets, Influencers:
Brands can leverage TikTok by posting entertaining lighter content and/or partnering influencers. Using the suite of TikTok content styles brands can publish content that suits the platform – dance challenges, lip sync, comedy sketches are some of the most popular.
For example, the NBA uses TikTok to promote more fun, behind the scenes activities such as Mascots riding on bikes or the half court shots, famous slam dunk or teams participating The more entertaining and easily consumable the content, the more engaging it is likely to become.
TikTok’s most viewed videos around the coronavirus include posts from the Red Cross, the World Health Organisation (WHO), other health organisations, Drs and other experts.
This has played a significant role in reducing fake news and irresponsible content from being accepted or published.
While TikTok is more focussed on entertainment, by following the principles of TikTok – being real and embracing the good, bad, ugly, excellent, and everyday – storytelling and sharing personal experiences and perspectives can be successfully told in new and different ways.