In just two years, TikTok has come from nowhere to become one of the world’s most popular apps, with more than 1 billion users worldwide.
It has held the title of most downloaded iOS app for five consecutive quarters – and advertisers are starting to take notice.
The app allows people to upload short videos of themselves lip-synching, dancing, taking part in a challenge – or just about anything they find funny or entertaining.
There is a strong community feel with people highly engaged and involved in the latest trend. For example, the #InMyFeelings challenge, derived from a song by the artist Drake, prompted five million submissions on the platform, compared to 1.7 million on Instagram.
TikTok started to roll-out its ad offering last year, with in-feed video and promoted hashtag challenges. A new “Lenses” format is expected later this year.
The scale will appeal to brands, as will the ability to reach engaged younger audiences, especially those who are no longer “active users” of other social platforms, with many teens moving away from Facebook in particular.
The immediate value will be felt by brave brands: the value of TikTok lies not in traditional paid ad formats, but in delivering an authentic experience for the platform’s users.
Younger generations generally do not respond well to traditional disruptive advertising, with research from Kantar finding that Gen Z in particular prefer “less intrusive media”.
With a wide range of challenges and viral trends, TikTok has become a focal point for much of youth culture; this audience is not going to engage with a repurposed TV ad served natively in-feed.
The platform, however, does face the same issues that are rife on any social platform attracting a young audience, such as trolling – so brand safety may be a concern to some advertisers.
As an inherently creative platform, value comes from mobilising TikTok users to participate in, and share, your marketing message.
Engaging the right influencers at the beginning of your campaign is also crucial; as your ‘seed’ audience the content has to work for them.
Burberry’s #TBChallenge, for example, encouraged users to attempt to create a T and B using their hands (similar to the viral Dele Alli challenge). It amassed more than 4 million views in a matter of days.
TikTok works best by creating moments that allow people to engage and connect with your brand in a meaningful way. There is high potential to deliver a viral marketing campaign at a very low cost – if it is done in the right way.