Everybody’s talking about: TikTok

What are the digital and social media trends that everybody’s talking about? At the moment, you can’t get away from TikTok – but is it a fad or here to stay? Our Senior Strategist Zanna Wharfe explores the booming short-form mobile video platform.

What is TikTok and who is using it?
If Instagram turned everyone into a photographer, TikTok wants to turn everyone into a videographer. Essentially, if Vine had a lovechild with Snapchat, you might be close.

And with around 500m users on the platform, it looks as though they’re onto something pretty special. Something really unique in the social media landscape. No wonder it has the social media marketing world all a flutter.

But what’s driving that appeal? Why are people rushing to it in droves? Is it the sole focus on vertical video? Is it the AI driving the content recommendation? With music at the heart of it (following its integration of Musica.ly)? Or the connectivity to a global audience? The ability for anyone and everyone to share who they are and express themselves more fully than before? A mixture of all of them?

Well definitely in India. With nearly ⅕ of the current users hailing from there. And 47 per cent of the recent downloads hailing from the country. The US follows in second place, with 26.5m users. So pretty significant numbers if those are your markets. But for Europe, it gets less compelling, with only 4.7m users in the UK at present (and similar numbers across the top five).

As for demographics? That’s hard to come by right now. But we can assume it’s not just the youthful audience originally believed if the controversy in India is to be taken as similar across the globe.

Which brands have done TikTok well to-date? And why was their content so successful?
Currently, there aren’t many. There’s a lot of chat about whether brands should, but the platform is too dominated by users for a whole swathe of brands to play, yet. As well as this, the platform has only released ad options in the US, at present, with the promise that these will roll out further in the coming months.

However, when that does happen, what that will give brands in Europe is the opportunity to own one / all of the following:

Which seems great. And there are some promising numbers coming from brands such as Coca Cola, with their #ShareaCoke challenge – which generated 900k videos from their target audience created for the #Challenge, with a combined 200m views.

What are the opportunities for brands to get invovled?
As mentioned, there currently aren’t many (outside of the US, anyway). But if you can’t pay-to-play then brands always have the option of working with some of TikTok’s growing influencers. Whereas with other platforms a brand can have a significant amount of creative control, on a platform where audiences are the owners, they will have to give this over to the influencers if their content is going to have any impact.

Smaller brands may have the opportunity to have their own organic accounts, but whether this is maintainable, or even the best use of your brand’s budget – that’s up to you to decide.

What should brands be considering before jumping onto a new platform, such as TikTok?
Should you be there? Ask yourself the following questions:

If you can’t determine these, is it worth the money? And, more importantly, are you the type of brand that audiences would expect to be doing something new and different, a bit renegade? Or are you the brand that audiences would question why on earth you’re using TikTok?

How can brands measure the effectiveness of their content on TikTok?
That’s the big question. And right now it’s really unclear. Yes, the likes of Coca-Cola saw seemingly great figures, but what do they mean? Did it deliver anything for the brand? Was it more than just (maybe) driving awareness of Coca-Cola – and even that is unclear at present.

However, it’s great to see a new platform not relying just on their own measurement – harnessing a suite of other analytics tools – but we’re still yet to see how TikTok can drive actionable business and brand results.