You’ve heard the name TikTok batted about and you may have even seen a trending dance or prank mixed with music from the platform, but why are few brands taking advantage of the platform? With over 500 million monthly active users, we are looking at how brands can connect with this audience. So why are some brands not taking the steps to join this platform, why are others creating profiles and what value does the platform have for brands? TikTok, formally known as Musical.ly, is a vertical video platform that’s overwhelmed with a young audience performing to lip-synced videos, re-enacting vines and fashion shows. With in-app editing tools and trending hashtags, it’s similar to Instagram in its visual-heavy content. You film straight in the app and upload to your audience, sounds simple, right?
What’s the issue?
For brands, it’s been slow on the uptake. Whilst some brands like Bayern Munich have adopted the platform (and amassed 163k followers) others are reluctant to join. So what are the barriers to entry? For some, it’s the fear of having to create specialised content for your TikTok – especially vertical video. IGTV anyone? Another barrier is the type of content that can be posted. It’s highly visual, usually follows meme culture and is relatable to a younger audience. For example, Bayern Munich’s channel features videos of their players doing Fortnite dances. Whilst highly relatable to young audiences, this requires those running the account to understand the nuances of meme culture. It’s not quite the professional brand positioning that brands such as John Lewis would consider. So to reach the next generation of consumers brands need to genuinely relate to them. Gone are the days of pushing your messaging or images to consumers via a billboard, TV ad or even social post. To truly reach your audience on TikTok you need to provide entertainment and value – and that doesn’t come in the form of a model holding your product nicely. Instead, you need to create a relatable brand person that customers are going to engage with.
TikTok UK ambassador and influencer Vicky Banham has noted that “in the last month or so brands have just bombarded” the platform, so they are clearly starting to recognise the value of reaching their audience. Arguably this platform is most relevant for B2C brands reaching an audience of 13- to 18-year-olds but allows early access to future consumers for older targeted products or services. So what brands are effectively creating content on this platform, whether through their own page or branded content?
FA Women’s #MoreToFootball campaign
Take, for example, The FA’s campaign. The FA wanted to raise awareness of the #MoreToFootball campaign, designed to encourage more girls to be interested in playing football from a younger age. They created a video asset which they amplified across social media platforms and created unique content with influencers to increase engagement around the campaign and drive clicks to the ‘For Girls’ section of the FA’s website.To achieve this, they approached influencers on TikTok with a young, female audience to recreate the dance moves displayed in the video and create a mash-up. The same creators also used Snapchat and Instagram Stories to talk about the initiative and use the swipe up function to send traffic to the ‘For Girls’ page on TheFA.com. They achieved 2,095,974 impressions, 73,071 engagements and 1,099,093 video views. This is just one example of how brands are effectively engaging TikTok communities. Following the styles and culture of the platform, the FA’s commissioned content fit with the channel.
To effectively use the platform, marketers need to adapt and be ready to learn a new culture and online environment. They must move where their audience moves and act as they do. Without the option of paid ads, using branded content and influencer collaborations or creating your own brand channel are the first steps towards reaching your audience on TikTok. As brands are increasingly moving to the platform, these first-movers are reaping the rewards by growing their own communities and creating relationships with their audience. TikTok seems to be an enigma due to its younger audience; brands and marketers haven’t inherently moved onto it as they haven’t adopted it in their day to day life. But for those brands that look beyond their own online comfort zone to reach the 500 million active monthly users, the rewards can be phenomenal. So, is it time to get engaged, or get left behind?