Although it’s been in its current form for over two years, TikTok has seen an incredible rise this year. Lots can be said about the future of TikTok. The obvious thing being the position some countries are taking in banning the social media app due to its connection with China. Then there’s the small matter of Instagram launching their own TikTok competitor – Reels in August.
But I want to see what the future holds for TikTok when it comes to content creators and brands. There’s no doubt TikTok has forced people to be more creative, and whether it’s a flash in the pan or not, it’s certainly got people engaged … I was even forced to join in a friends ‘dance’ video a few weeks back thanks to a viral craze.
Why should content marketers care?
Unlike Vine, TikTok has an appeal that expands on it being a social media that shares silly videos to being a space where people of all ages can co-exist to create and consume quality content.
That doesn’t mean you need to strive for ‘viral status’, but at its core, content marketing is creating something to educate or engage with your audience. So although TikTok may not be the right solution for everyone, it’s certainly worth putting some time aside to put some ideas together to play a part in your content marketing strategy.
I got in touch with a number of CMA members to hear their thoughts on TikTok and what it means for the content industry.
Christina da Silva, Cedar
Christina leads business transformation and growth at Cedar. She has 20 years experience in working with some of the nations favourite brands, ASOS, M&S, Boots & Tesco driving the content agenda, developing and creating effective strategies that deliver results.
Andy Barr, 10 Yetis
As the Co-Founder and the gobby one from the award winning 10 Yetis; Andy Barr has spoken around the world on all aspects of Public Relation and Content Marketings including on-line PR, Digital Media and, most importantly, how SEO and PR folk can make sweet authority-link-building love together.
Working with brands such as Superdry, Optical Express, Lee Kum Kee, TotalJobs, IKEA, MyVoucherCodes, WaterAid, Confused.com, Chillisauce, and many other fantastic companies on authority-link-building and on-line media campaigns. Andy has worked for (and mostly been fired by) some of the world’s largest brands such as FirstGroup, AXA, a UK Government utility company and Unilever.
Erica Vonderwall, iProspect
Erica is an Outreach Manager at iProspect, where she has been for over 6 years in roles spanning across Digital PR and Influencer Marketing. Her passion lies in the creative elements involved in all aspects of content and social media marketing, from brainstorming, research and content creation through to activation and watching the sweet, sweet links and engaged coverage come rolling in. In her spare time she can be found gadding about the world (when she’s allowed), cuddling other people’s dogs (when she’s allowed), and drinking bubbly wine in colourful spots (when she’s allowed).
Andy Lambert, ContentCal
Over 10 years’ experience of creating markets, building profitable businesses and leadership roles in industry-leading SaaS organisations. One of the Founding Team of ContentCal, a Social Media Marketing technology software, that since launching in January 2017 has achieved: – March 2017, won the award for the ‘best newcomer in B2B Marketing’ – November 2018, Crowned Content Management Tool of the year – April 2020, Closed a £2.5 million funding round with Fuel Ventures
Katy Powell, Rise at Seven
Katy is a Digital PR Strategist at Rise at Seven, a creative SEO agency in Sheffield, managing the Digital PR strategy as well as advising social strategy on some of Rise’s biggest accounts. Katy has been in the industry for four years and has experience across content, social and PR both client-side at TalkTalk and agency side at Brass before joining Rise at Seven. Follow Katy on Twitter @katyvpowell.
Blayne Pereira, Progressive Content
Blayne heads up the social media at Progressive Content, leading a team that won the 2019 CMA Award for Best B2B Social Media for their work with the RBS/NatWest Group.
Sarah O’Kane, TCO London
Sarah is Head of Partnerships at TCO London. Sarah works on global brand partnerships across TCO’s two media brands Huck and Little White Lies. Sarah works with brands to bring them closer to culture by leveraging TCO’s global network of writers, illustrators, photographers, activists and filmmakers to access unique and inspiring stories from around the world.
Harry Seaton, Fluential
Few can claim 8 years of influencer experience, but those who were creators before they were agency owners, like Harry, can. Now 23, Harry was once one of Facebook’s fastest growing UK creators and it lead to campaigns with Coca Cola, McDonalds and O2 to name a few. After a spell of specialising in growing brand accounts organically simply through good content, and gaining a deep understanding of paid social, Fluential was born to help brands navigate through the tricky landscape that is influencer marketing
Robyn Barr, Newhall Publishing
Robyn has worked for Newhall for 8 years in the digital marketing team and manages Newhall’s social media. As a creative individual with a passion for social media Robyn always stays up-to-date and on trend with the latest social sharing apps.
Andy Seibert, Imprint
Andy founded Imprint as a content agency in early 2013 after almost two decades in the content industry. His experience at American Express, GE Capital, Time Inc., Hearst, SmartMoney and Dow Jones gives him both a client and publisher perspective on content marketing. He has created successful, long-running programs that combine a deep understanding of customer behaviour with creative talent
Tory Frost, Hearst
Tory is Content Director, Asda at Hearst Content Agency. She oversees everything Hearst does creatively and strategically for Asda. Tory does this by drawing on experience creating content for brands as diverse as Superdrug, TfL and Barclays. Creative yet data and results driven, she leads the account brilliantly with her straight-forward style.
Q1: Is TikTok here to stay?
Andy Lambert: It will be, but the growth will taper off significantly (as it always does with new social networks) as the political issues are battled and the younger generation find the next thing. I would be cautious of over-investing.
Erica Vonderwall: In some form, yes. Those early adopters to the platform will be prepared to go down with the ship, as it’s their platform. It’s where they grew their following, where they made their mark – they have no reason to retreat from it for now.
I think there will be a natural churn of users who were just in it for the lockdown ‘bants’, and who probably feel more confident on Instagram (we’re talking about Millennials, mainly), who have an engaged following there already, who will drop off the platform slowly and probably never return, but the Gen-Z’ers and the content creators who already own this space will continue to hold on.
Andy Barr: Very much yes! Insta maybe throwing the heavy weapons at TikTok right now but TikTok has already reached the same kind of daily usage levels as Insta and it has that critical mass that is needed to make sure it can survive. TikTok’s biggest threat now is not from a rival, but from the perma-tanned, bleach-drink-encouraging President of ‘Merica. God help us all!
Katy Powell: At the moment I’d say yes. Instagram has just launched its competitor product – Reels, so it will be interesting to see whether there will be a shift over to Reels or if users will stay on TikTok. My thoughts? TikTok will keep its crown.
TikTok is being used like no platform I’ve seen before – it’s a space for users to create content without being judged on quality, allowing anyone to be a creator. Users go to TikTok to feel a sense of belonging, and I don’t see that being replicated anywhere anytime soon.
Unlike other social media platforms, TikTok users aren’t afraid of taking the mickey out of themselves and have a laugh. Every user isn’t a perfectly filtered Instagram model and this makes people sympathise and therefore engage more with videos.
Harry Seaton: If it doesn’t get banned? Absolutely. Sadly it’s longevity isn’t entirely in our hands, but without government interference, the platform will continue to grow and thrive in my opinion.
Rather than becoming a lockdown fad, it’s without a doubt won a space in the hearts of many and, for thousands, become their most-used app. It wasn’t built overnight and it certainly won’t disappear overnight either.
Tory Frost: Nothing on the internet is here to stay! But while I know there are some of us in digital publishing that would love a few of the older channels to fall by the wayside so we could focus, that’s really not how it works. Facebook – for all its flaws, still has its claws in a gigantic audience. For that reason, despite Reels rocking our worlds this week, we’d be really foolish to skip TikTok, and given the current levels of organic reach, brands are really really foolish to keep sleeping on it. That said, I reserve the right to give you a different answer in six months because if I know anything it’s that you can’t predict the internet.
Sarah O’Kane: Yes. Will it keep growing at the levels it is currently…questionable. One of the greatest attributes of TikTok is that everyone can be a creator, it is your stage in a one-person show. However, that one-man show does require a lot of work, more work than putting up a picture of a beautiful sunset, or writing a post on how great your morning coffee was…I think their biggest threat is the very thing that makes them so unique, how long will people want to keep uploading 15 second dance videos?
Andy Seibert: Yes, it looks that way. Video is the future, and according to research from Influencer Marketing Hub TikTok has higher engagement than any other social media platform. And there is the ease of use – meaning, editing is rapid and cross-posting is easy. And the numbers are there, and are amazing – active monthly users currently total 800 million, with average daily use of 52 minutes.
Christina da Silva: Absolutely. Even Trump can’t take it away from us. I joined the platform back in June last year, and it was clear to me the power it had, the point of difference and the virgin nature of it. That’s its beauty and charm, it is yet to be infected with negativity on a mass scale. The perfect storm has culminated in a set of circumstances that has led to its success in 2020 and beyond;
- The platform is still virtually untouched by brands, giving the users the sense that they own the space, ‘power to the people’.
- It has attracted Gen-Z, digital natives who are much more socially and culturally ‘woke’ (according to Forbes 60% of TikTok’s users are Gen-Z) They see it as their space, where they can be expressive about their views without the judgement that might exist on other platforms. It’s the platform for their tribes
- A global pandemic, which left millions in lockdown, bored looking for something new… bringing generations together through dance challenges and a way to escape reality. It’s fun and has been a key part of my lockdown escapism experience.
Blayne Pereira: Truly the million-dollar question! Months of seemingly exponential growth would suggest that it at least has a strong short term future. Its lasting power may then depend on how rival social platforms introduce new or similar competing features (see Instagram stories vs Snapchat; and the newly-announced Instagram Reels vs TikTok), as well as addressing lingering security concerns. One key thing in TikTok’s favour is that many of the world’s biggest global brands already have a presence.
Q2: What are the key benefits of using TikTok?
Erica Vonderwall: It’s ideal for repurposing. It’s shareable, it’s bite-sized, and it hits the brief in a really short amount of time. As consumers’ attention spans dwindle, we have to grab what little attention we can within nanoseconds. TikTok’s (and now Reels’) short-form video platform does that.
Katy Powell: It is an extremely powerful platform. Take a look at the UK Top 40 for example. A huge proportion of the songs are sounds used on TikTok to accompany the latest dance or video trends. Jason Derulo is the king of this – he saw an opportunity in a catchy TikTok sound, wrote some lyrics over it and spent three weeks at Number One and has been in the charts for seven weeks now. The platform allows literally anyone to go viral. Users with just 100 followers can have a video that starts gaining engagement and within hours it’s got millions of views.
TikTok boasts over 800 million users worldwide, ahead of Twitter, LinkedIn and Snapchat, so brands need to get involved. From a brand’s perspective, unlike Facebook and Instagram, the main feed is created by assessing how you interact with other videos, serving you more of the same. As a user, you are served videos from users whether you’re following them or not, giving brands an opportunity for a potentially huge extended reach beyond followers and therefore increased brand awareness. The algorithm means users are served more and more content that they show an interest in, so a brand will be targeting an already very interested audience.
Harry Seaton: Discovery. Discovery is TikTok’s most valuable and unique asset. You can go viral on any platform, but many make it rather hard, especially for smaller accounts. TikTok levels the playing field, whilst still allowing large creators to continually reach the audience they’ve built. With CTA options increasing, being discovered on the platform is becoming more and more valuable.
Tory Frost: It’s fun! When’s the last time you had fun on Facebook or Instagram? TikTok’s all about leaving your ego at the door, and for brands that’s exciting. You just have to be brave enough to jump in and give it a go.
Blayne Pereira: Despite ‘winning lockdown’ and having plenty more think pieces written about it over the past 12 months, TikTok is still very much the new kid on the block in social circles – and it’s that curiosity that drives people towards it.
From a user perspective, one of the main benefits is the feeling that you can ‘dip in and dip out’ of TikTok because content is forcibly short. Of course, in reality, you end up getting sucked into the binging vortex – and any content creators will still spend a LOT of time curating their material. Plus, without getting too political here, if Donald Trump is looking to shut it down, that’s probably the best endorsement you could get!
Q3: Can TikTok work in the B2B sector?
Katy Powell: At the moment TikTok is predominantly a place for B2C brands, but that’s not to say it won’t be in the future especially with the age demographic rising slightly. There is no harm in a B2B brand dipping their toes in, even if simply just to learn how the platform’s used before launching a full-blown strategy.
Harry Seaton: TikTok absolutely has B2B benefits, but it will depend on the type of products or services you’re pushing. Marketing is an obvious answer in that, even if your potential clients aren’t on TikTok (although I’d imagine they most definitely are), a good TikTok account will prove your knowledge of the platform and help you sell campaigns. Simple.
The beauty of TikTok and its algorithm is that it learns a lot about us very quickly. So long as your content is created with your customer in mind and in a way that the platform prefers, it’ll do its best to find them for you. Furthermore, you’ll have plenty of opportunities with the paid advertising side of the platform too.
Tory Frost: Sure – but there has to be a value exchange. People on TikTok want to learn or laugh so if you can offer either, that’s the start of a great campaign. It’s also a place where people are finding their tribe. And whatever you’re offering B2B, there will be someone who’s passionate about it. I’d just question whether the current demographic is representative of most B2B audiences…
Andy Seibert: Currently TikTok isn’t oriented for B2B. But many social media platforms aren’t at first. Example: Instagram – and so B2B marketers should look to Instagram as an inspiration. For the right brands – especially those associated with innovation – TikTok is a must consideration.
Blayne Pereira: Yes, it can, but have very specific targets in mind. No one wants to be seeing a promo for your next company webinar featuring your chief digital architect or head global data processing. TikTok will not be for every company – and a forced presence ‘just for the sake of it’ will inevitably backfire. However, there may be parts of a B2B organisation that are worth looking at, perhaps a behind-the-scenes type account, or one where you can crowdsource some light-hearted content. Just make sure you avoid the jargon. It’s not strictly B2B, but the Washington Post is an utterly random collection of humorous videos, many of which are self-aware and office-based. It won’t be for everyone, but it’s amusing to see how a 142-year-old company takes to TikTok.
Christina da Silva: Honestly, I’m not sure, I don’t think right now I would invest time or money in connecting with a B2B audience on TikTok, I think there are better options, but depends on the product and service and how entertaining and relevant they can make the content for the platform.
Q4: So what brands (or sectors) are using TikTok well?
Andy Barr: I like the juxtaposition of seeing really traditional brands and organisations doing so well on such a new and creative platform. For instance, a number of the UK Armed Forces regiments have TikTok accounts that are smashing the content goals out of the park. The same could be said for the likes of the RNLI. In terms of brands, aside from all the usual suspects in terms of big brand budgets and appeal, I think GymShark deserves a big shout out for the way that they have embraced the channel and seamlessly mixed commercial opportunities with groundbreaking and innovative content.
Erica Vonderwall: Fashion brands – those associated with things like Love Island and TOWIE, do quite well by re-using meme-worthy audio from the shows that are bound to either resonate or get laughs. Food brands can do really well also, as there’s a sort of ASMR for watching food being made that people get hooked on. And travel brands are doing big things with drone footage and travel-lusty videos that make people want to start booking things again.
Katy Powell: The beauty industry is really thriving on TikTok. Rihanna’s beauty brand Fenty has ramped up its TikTok strategy, creating content jumping on the latest trends but also posting slightly more promotional product videos.
Fenty created the Fenty Beauty House, a group of influencers living together, set up purely to create TikTok content. The videos feature fenty products, but it doesn’t come across nearly as promotional as other channels. The TikTok audience can spot an ad a mile off.
Harry Seaton: Naturally, clothing brands are doing really well. Also gadgets, specifically wireless headphones. I think any product or service that lends itself to TikTok content is doing well right now because those pushing the ones that don’t have such obvious solutions haven’t yet worked out what it is they should do.
Even some that are more obvious haven’t popped up yet. For example, guitar content is huge on TikTok yet very few music shops have appeared. Car content is also massive, yet very few dealerships or accessory shops have made the move.
Tory Frost: Retailers in the US are really killing it – I think of Kroger’s #TransformYourDorm campaign. Perfect audience meets perfect creator-led content.
Andy Seibert: Chipotle is really utilising TikTok well. Their tag is Less Toc, More Guac and have creative pieces like moonwalking with Zach King. The NBA was an early adopter and now has 11.5 million followers – mostly because of their funny videos and memes.
Blayne Pereira: This is obviously a very subjective question, but Red Bull have a great TikTok page, filled with a whole host of tricks, flicks and outright daredevil stunts that will leave you wanting more (if you’re looking for something beyond the 90% selection of lip-syncs and viral dance attempts)
Christina da Silva: I think the usual suspects are doing good things, Nike always seems to get things right, I think that’s down to their ability to accurately read the mood of their audience, they get people and they stay relevant to the time and the channel. They used the platform through the BLM movement earlier this year, and it was the only piece of branded content that I remember stopping to watch rather than scroll through on the platform.
Elf cosmetics did a great TikTok campaign, they really used the platform in a way that was authentic and connected with their Gen-Z audience. They created a TikTok Challenge that perfectly aligned with their values and audience and used the platform in a relevant way, inviting people to get involved and be a part of it. It felt like a brand created for the TikTok generation and audience. TikTok was at the heart of their comms strategy but it soon fuelled content across other platforms and even a song, it became part of the fabric of a new generation. When I was growing up brands became cultural fabric through TV advertising, now they do it on social and TikTok is a great way to do that if you can get it right.
Q5: What about for publishers, should they look at creating a TikTok channel?
Andy Lambert: I would experiment and investigate, but there’s very little proof of it being a growth channel for businesses, so invest cautiously.
Robyn Barr: It’s early days so it’s hard to say but it’s something I think publishers could definitely experiment with and although at the moment there is no way to directly make money on the app, it’s good for publishers to reach a younger audience and has a lot of potentials.
Erica Vonderwall: We’ve seen it work for publishers who already exists in this sort of, snappy, ‘bantery’, video content space – like UniLad and LadBible, and their following is huge. They know their audience, and it’s essentially a TikTok audience. Daily Mail and some of the nationals definitely do not have the same right to be in this space, and sharing dog videos on TikTok while under-reporting on BLM matters on their own sites can seem contrite and will put potential followers off.
So, should they look to create their own channels? Yes, but only IF they are already speaking to that (younger and bored) audience.
Katy Powell: It’s a way of engaging with a younger generation. We all consume our news in different ways and it is possible that Gen-Z starts using TikTok to keep up to date with the goings-on in the world.
Some examples of this include The Washington Post and CNN. The Washington Post uses TikTok to produce content about current news stories but balances this with funny videos featuring the newspaper.
TikTok can also be used to get the audience more engaged with individual journalists themselves. CNN reporter Max Foster has taken to TikTok and posts behind the scenes content of his job, the world of journalism and just fun trend-led pieces. Both publishers have cracked the perfect blend of news and content people just simply enjoy watching to increase the publication’s awareness and following.
Sarah O’Kane: It is definitely an interesting space to consider. To me, TikTok’s success has been largely driven by a need, and want, from young people to connect in a positive way.
It’s a space to have fun, get creative and be silly. For publishers that offers a huge opportunity but it also presents a challenge…how you can successfully deliver a serious message/news story on TikTok? If they can figure that out, which I have no doubt they will, then the opportunity to connect with TikTok’s ever-growing audience is incredibly exciting.
Harry Seaton: I believe that the vast majority of people not creating content on TikTok right now no matter what your brand or business may be will come to regret it one day. Many would disagree with me, some businesses may have to risk appearing with poor taste by being there, but eventually, it’ll be essential. The opportunities the platform presents are not to be overlooked. It’s an ultra-modern way of doing things, but it’s merely a sharper transition than we’re used to when it comes to new social platforms.
Tory Frost: Given the ease of creating content in-app I’d say absolutely, but not without a clear vision of what you uniquely have to offer. It’s a total waste of resource to just jump on every viral dance or recreate a trending recipe to join in the noise. You have to elevate or add your unique perspective.
Blayne Pereira: I remember when Vine was first released in 2013 and how publishers really struggled to utilise the platform effectively. It’s early days, but it seems like there are a lot of similarities between the two platforms. Much depends on how strong each publisher’s existing social presence is and if they’ve got the resource to run another channel. There’s no harm in deciding you won’t get involved, but don’t set up a presence and then not use it.
Christina da Silva: If they think the audience is right for them and they can create relevant content that is within the cultural ethos of the platform, then for sure experiment, you can afford to try out different things and understand how that engages and impacts your reach and engagement. I believe in failing fast and learning on the job, I think publishers are in a unique position to be able to do this above brands because they get content. And journalists get people, they are really good at reading cultural change and picking up on the psyche or mood which give them that gut instinct that coupled with killer insights, is such an exciting and winning combination, which is what we do at Cedar.
Q6: What should brands avoid when using TikTok?
Katy Powell: Going for the hard sell. The authentic nature of the content on TikTok means when an ad or paid placement comes up on your For You feed it feels disingenuous and doesn’t show the brand in a good light. Instead, weave products naturally, but use the platform as a way to communicate what you stand for as a brand and your brand’s personality rather than just what you sell.
Brands should give TikTok a go, try things, learn and adapt and in the first instance concentrate on using the platform for awareness rather than driving leads or traffic.
Harry Seaton: Stating the obvious here, but being too ‘brand-y’. TikTok isn’t a place for strict guidelines and formal communication. If that’s something your brand prides itself in, you’re going to need to have a big think about a lot of things or not bother. However, in my eyes not bothering is a huge mistake. If your brand can’t find a way to communicate in a form that works on TikTok then it’s likely that you’re going to struggle in the long-run. Not just with younger people as they grow older, but also those that are older and gradually adjusting to a new way of being communicated with on social media.
Blayne Pereira: Even if user demographics shift over time, brands need to make sure that their own target audience has some crossover with TikTok’s existing user base.
Fail to do this and at best you’ll have wasted time and money, but there’s also a risk that you’ll alienate your customer altogether. Additionally, if you haven’t got the creative talent to generate elaborate TikTok content then don’t overreach – keep it simple and wait for customer feedback.
Traditional advertising. Entertain people, be helpful, be part of the movement, don’t advertise, you’re invading their space if you do, and it won’t be welcomed. But equally don’t get involved in cultural movement or a challenge that isn’t authentic to your brand or that you have no permission to take part in, don’t jump on the bandwagon, if it’s one thing Gen Z see though, its inauthenticity, and they love to call it out!
Q7: Is TikTok just for young people?
Erica Vonderwall: NOT only but certainly a huge proportion of their users are Gen-Z. Every generation (of the digital age) will have their platform of choice, and for Gen-Z, it’s TikTok. Their attention spans can only take so much, so these short videos, viral dances, and funny voice overs are what they need to satisfy boredom. They’re not bothered about polished video – this is the Snapchat gen after all! They want filters and effects, and home-shot content.
The rest of us don’t quite know what to do. We have spent years perfecting our Instagram Grids, aesthetically pleasing content that doesn’t offend and is pretty and likeable. For us, it’s tricky breaking out of that box and into something less refined. We go there for a quick (hours-long) scroll when we need a laugh, but I don’t think the Millennials or older will stick around.
Katy Powell: 42% of users are aged 18-24 and the next largest group at 27% is 13-17, so the audience is quite young, but the age is on the rise. We are even seeing grandparents using the app, it’s bringing generations back together through technology which is really heartwarming! A particular favourite user of mine is Grandad Joe, who has over 2.2M followers! No matter which demographic a brand is targeting, it can find its place on TikTok.
Harry Seaton: Absolutely not. Whilst TikTok doesn’t give age demographic data to their creators, it only takes a quick look at the profile pictures of many people in my comments to realise they’re not all younger. TikTok has aged up dramatically during lockdown, and whilst many will argue that once life returns to normal these older folk will abandon it, it’s my personal belief that TikTok has done enough to captivate its audience and cement itself in their hearts and minds for the long-run.
Tory Frost: Not at all – look at the search data! If it’s good enough for Judy Dench, your grandma will be on there before you know it (unless she falls for Reels that is).
Blayne Pereira: As with all social networks over the last 15 years, young people might have a natural advantage when it comes to using and creating content for TikTok. However, in 2004 you’d have said Facebook was only for university students, but now virtually everyone has a profile on there, so the target audience for these platforms can certainly shift.
Christina da Silva: No, it’s not, but I would say it’s for people with a certain cultural outlook. Are you part of the tribe, because if you aren’t and you share content that doesn’t fit, you are going to get called out for it. I am an over 40’s mum of TikTok, and I found my tribe.
Q10: What about production value, user generated or highly polished?
Andy Lambert: Collaborations with those who understand the creative needed for TikTok would be my suggestion. Low production value is fine, but I feel that the creative bar is higher/more uncomfortable for many brands, hence the need to work with others with more experience.
Robyn Barr: UGC style because the target market (however I do think this is starting to change)
Andy Barr: Personally, I think TikTok gives brands a unique opportunity to deliver the kind of behind the scenes content that we all know our audiences love. Given the short lifespan of the content, making the production values high is important but not essential. The content on TikTok needs to mirror the overall strategy of every social campaign… keep it as simple as possible!
Katy Powell: The beauty of TikTok is that short-form user-generated content is what’s hot. The native features of TikTok allow users to create 60-second masterpieces within minutes and this really adds to the authenticity of the content. It feels relatable and not as picture-perfect as content you see on Instagram.
Harry Seaton: Always phone filmed. Your actual content needs to stand out, but the style of it needs to fit in. Again, you will look far too much like a brand if you put TV quality production efforts into creating a TikTok. Don’t let this put you off going to town with the audio though. You can pre-record it at Abbey Road and it’ll do just fine, so long as you pair it with natural looking video.
Christina da Silva: I think this depends on your brand and how you make your content relevant to the platform. If you are a Nike then you should of course invest in quality content, the algorithms on many platforms now are factoring in the quality of content, for instance YouTube is giving more value to content shot on 4k or 8k cameras, quality matters especially for brands. It also gives you a point of difference vs UGC content.
Even if you create UGC style content, the quality needs to be high, brands shouldn’t underestimate how consumers view their brand based on production quality, If you are going to do content, invest in quality content, content with integrity that wows consumers, stops them scrolling. Creativity is as important as production values, you can’t do one without the other, you need partners who can work with your brand and deliver creativity to give you cut through and high production values alongside it.
Tory Frost: Be authentic – too polished, imported content is a waste of energy – put that energy into creativity, into getting the most out of the formats and doing something no one’s seen before.
Q11: What about Instagram Reels? Is this a safer option for brands to get involved in short-form video?
Erica Vonderwall: 10000000%! Instagram is going to reward early adaptors to the new product in the same way it did for both IGTV and Stories, and so if brands and publishers are already on IG, already engaged with their audience, and already have a strategy there – go hard on Reels!
That’s not to say that if they’re trying to tap into a new or younger audience they still shouldn’t bother, but the thing about TikTok is you only need one video to go viral, but it can take a hundred tries. I would still say if a brand or publisher has an audience that is younger, then TikTok is still worth a try, but I wouldn’t put too many eggs in that particular basket. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the TikTok algorithm, but there is some methodology behind IG.. sometimes
Sarah O’Kane: I think it is safer for brands, you’ve already built an audience so you’re not starting from scratch, but i’m not sure that means audiences will buy it. I think if it was a completely revolutionary feature that blew TikTok out of the water then audiences would migrate back to instagram…but its not, a lot of the criticism is its Instagrams version of TikTok, so the question then becomes why would I, as a loyal TikTok user, move to a feature that is just ok in comparison?
Christina da Silva: I think brands should always try new things, if they already have a following on Instagram it will of course be much easier to test and learn on that platform, but TikTok is different, it serves a different purpose has a different audience, so using ‘Reels’ in my view doesn’t replace TikTok, it goes back to the brand, its objectives and who it wants to connect with. TikTok delivers a new experience, does your brand want to be a part of that, does your brand have a part to play in that new experience, test and learn.
Finally, when it comes to TikTok, what are you most excited about?
Erica Vonderwall: All content formats are good content formats, and it’s just another way to market our banging content to a new audience!
Katy Powell: The creativity on TikTok is mind-blowing. Users as young as 13 are making videos from their homes with just an iPhone and their imagination. As native features within the app continue to improve, the content will too and I can’t wait to see how this goes.
I’m particularly interested in watching whether more brands start to include TikTok in their social media strategies and how influencers will work within the platform.
Sarah O’Kane: Audience and content. A pure young audience, on a global scale that are actively seeking out people that share their interests and sense of fun…the rewards for publishers and brands could be huge if they get it right.
The content has to be tailored to TikTok’s format…publishers and brands are being pushed by the younger generation to get creative – they are telling us what they want to see – it’s up to us whether we accept the challenge.
Harry Seaton: Honestly? All the opportunity left open by those either refusing to use it or using it badly. So many people are jumping on it without a clue about why what they’re doing will or won’t work. Equally, so many think it’s for young people, stupid, full of renegade dances and holding zero brand potential. All of these people are getting it wrong. This leaves mass opportunity for those that get it right. Super fast growth, the ability to swipe an entire audience from your competitors, and better success with Calls To Action as more options appear, as your audience will have been around long enough to have developed a real connection to you or your brand.
Blayne Pereira: The creative output is already highly entertaining, so I look forward to seeing how this develops over time. As always with new players in this market, they force the established networks to offer a bit more than they already have.
Snapchat paved the way for Instagram Stories, for example and that completely opened up the social network to a new user segment.
Christina da Silva: The fact that it’s new, it feels owned by the people, that it genuinely feels like it’s a way into a global audience that connects and unites people rather than divide them. That’s the optimist in me, I know behind the scenes there are probably some darker data concerns, but the actual experience is joyful, it’s fun, it warms my heart, it makes me laugh, I just don’t get that same experience elsewhere and we need all the positivity we can get right now.
Tory Frost: Recreating the TikTok breakfast sandwich!