All Things Digital

TikTok: Is the Time Ticking for Marketers?

As we glance through our inboxes, getting some more work done through another predictable week, there is someone around us in the age group of 16 to 24 doing exactly the opposite!

Look around. Or look into your smartphone. TikTok is playing its addictive beat. A new duet song, rehashed movie dialogues, new dance steps for an old song, cooking recipe, a comedy clip or a new angle of looking at the traffic.
It is right for you to wonder what makes Gen Z so crazy about it. Why are these crunchy and creative videos suddenly the new ‘cool’ thing? What makes 88.6 million new users in India flock towards TikTok (Q1, 2019)? This gain is considerable, not just because it is 8.2 times more compared to the subscriber-jump seen in Q1 2018 in India. But also because the figures include 110 million new users who have downloaded and installed the app. In fact, as per SensorTower statistics, in January 2019, this app perched at the #3 rank worldwide (as reflected in new installs across Android and iOS).
There must be some smoke behind this wildfire that is spreading with so much zeal all around. Let’s peek out of our rocks and find out.

What makes TikTok talk? For Marketers

If you have 500 million TikTok monthly active users globally (June 2018), you tend to stand out. But the attraction goes beyond that. TikTok users tend to spend an average of 52 minutes per day on the app. The beauty of the app is the self-expression that it empowers its users with – complemented with nearly endless creativity and compactness.
It is not about a 15-second video, sound-tracked by music clip; or accessorised with filters, effects, music, editing tools etc. It is about the new possibilities that were not available before.

Marketing and TikTok – How to pull off this Karaoke

Remember two words: teenagers and fun content. And you can figure out the app’s power. With so many short skits, lip-syncing, cringe videos, instructables etc. going around, there is so much that brands can do to not only catch the audience’s attention but also to partner with them as a friend.

Hollister, GrubHub, Guess, Jimmy Fallon – the list of smart brands ticking their boxes on TikTok is long, but the message is short. Use TikTok for what it uniquely offers. Apply a different marketing strategy here instead of copy-pasting what you have done so far. The potential is limitless.
At the last count, people aged between 16 to 24 made up 41 per cent of the total user-base. So a marketer can reach this demographic effortlessly with some carefully-crafted work. The creative playground and context that this app allows make way for a lot of engaging and precise marketing as well.

There are many ways to do that:

  1. Brands can partner with influencers to insert one’s brand with smart strategy into their content and garner engaged eyeballs.
  2. In-feed video ads where users can browse the app or user-generated content and also experience a microsite simultaneously – this can make for timely and personalized branding too.
  3. Branded hashtag challenges that encourage users to make their own videos under a given hashtag – this enables a brand to let the users participate actively beyond passive attention boundaries.
  4. The app is working out new avenues to monetize the platform. Like an in-app shoppable ad option, shopping cart feature (personal e-commerce pages of popular users so that other users can browse and buy here), banner ads, branded lenses (a TikTok user can select this to use in their own videos) and brand takeover ads (full-page ads) or links to shoppable pages. The future can also unleash a new marketing torrent with a biddable option wherein advertisers can do competitive bidding for the ad impressions or use advanced targeting methods along with new measurement tools.

The platform is new, viral and a rage. The self-made, ephemeral, curated, and fun nature of the content is both a challenge and an opportunity for marketers. Brands will have to stop thinking the same old intrusive or push mentality here. It is time to join hands with creators and sit beside them instead of just shouting new messages at them.

The success of marketing on TikTok lies in the way marketers think about talking to Gen Z.