TikTok - What is It and Can It be Considered a Viable Marketing Platform
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, TikTok seemed to create a buzz around the world as millions of people were finding themselves with more free time, watching the latest viral videos on the platform, and sharing it with close friends and family.
What is TikTok?
For those who are not familiar with TikTok, it is a smartphone application that can be used to create and share short videos. ByteDance initially launched it in September 2016 for markets outside of China, which then bought Musical.ly in late 2017. As a result of the merger, TikTok had smooth access to targeting the U.S. teenage market, which previously belonged to Musical.ly. TikTok may have originally aimed at a younger audience, but its influence has spanned all generations.
As a company, TikTok aims its mission to “to capture and present the world's creativity, knowledge, and precious life moments, directly from the mobile phone.“ TikTok enables everyone to be a creator and encourages users to share their passion and creative expression through videos. With this mantra, TikTok competes with social media giants like YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook, all of which have the backing of either Google or Facebook.
TikTok stands out because it's more of an entertainment platform instead of a lifestyle platform. It has become popular because of its simplicity, ease of access, and convenience to create content.
Does TicTok have Marketing Potential for Brands?
Actually, yes, it does. Several companies have already been utilizing the platform, catching the new social media trend that has exploded in popularity and is only expected to increase in its growth. According to Comscore, in March 2020, it added more than 12 million unique visitors, reaching 52.2 million users.
Between January and March, its U.S. unique visitor count rose 48.3%, and with growth like this, innovative marketers have jumped on the bandwagon to capitalize on its viability.
How Can You Utilize TikTok as a Marketing Vehicle for Your Brand?
Part art and part science, creating viral content for your brand on TikTok require a few essential components:
- Creativity and Directives - Hashtag challenges are the frame among marketers, which are primarily rooted in the hashtag challenge. Creative brands are joining the "TikTok Billionaire's Club," achieving over a billion views in a viral campaign. These hashtag challenges are branded and unique to each company, which are often supported by influencers, musicians, artists, and paid digital marketing ad campaigns.
Hashtag challenges must start with a clear prompt – what are you asking users to do or be a part of? This prompt must be balanced with a clear invitation for creative interpretation. People want to participate because of the opportunity for creativity, self-expression, and recognition. Keeping the balance between intention and freedom for users is the key to virality when having users participate with your brand on TikTok.
- Finessing Brand Integration - There is a balance between brand integration and being delicate with users about brand inclusion. The main point is not to be too aggressive with brand messaging or inclusion, as this can decrease virality. You want to include just enough drive KPI (key performance indicators) while keeping it fun and lighthearted. NYX Cosmetics' #ButterGlossPop, for example, promoted their best-selling "Butter Gloss Lips Gloss" with a song that users could relate with and dance to – all while swiping on the lip gloss to a fancy beat.
- Music Selection - Choosing the right music for a challenge is paramount to success. Music is so vital to a TikTok challenge that it can make or break it, even if everything else is spot on. Other platforms, music is not necessarily considered a huge deal, but on TikTok, it's the powerhouse to virality and engagement. Ideally, you want to create each second count within the 15-second track, making it clear what people are supposed to do and inspire the user's imagination.
- Influencers - While not necessarily needed for smaller brands and businesses, influencers can have a significant impact on the success of a hashtag challenge. The primary role of the influencer is to model the challenge and inspire people to participate. Many think that reach (the number of people that a video reaches) is the only focus of a notable challenge when utilizing an influencer, which is not the case.
The media buy (paid advertising strategy) coupled with the challenge the influencer brings is the way to jumpstart virality and notoriety. Choose a group of influencers within your market, industry, or location to speak to your brand's different demographic segments. Doing so will increase affinity with the different personalities of your brand's demographics and capture the energy of the challenge in many different variations.
If you are interested in learning how we can help you expand your online presence or have questions regarding Digital Marking, give the professionals at CPS a call. Our team of staff is locally employed, in-house, with a dedication to detail.
Creative Programs and Systems, open Monday – Friday from 9 am to 5 pm (810) 224-5252.