Growing up as a digital native, I have lived the majority of my life on social media. I started a Twitter account in 2009 and have been sharing myself on the internet ever since. While many apps and platforms have come and gone through the years, none have ever been as fascinating to me as TikTok. Yes, TikTok. Formerly Musical.ly, the short-form video sharing platform is the newest social media to gain mainstream success, and a guilty pleasure for myself and many others under 30.
It is easy to dismiss TikTok as another social media platform that will fade out of relevance like Myspace or Vine. TikTok is often compared to Vine as another short-form video sharing app, and is considered to be a major competitor to Byte (formerly known as Vine 2), currently in beta testing. While Vine was popular, TikTok is on another level. With a reported 500 million active monthly users, TikTok’s reach is significant. This is more than Twitter and Snapchat combined. TikTok also has a larger reach to people under 30 than NBC, ABC, and CBS combined.
So, Should Your Brand Jump Head First into Advertising on TikTok?
Maybe. Maybe not.
While content on platforms like Instagram and Facebook tend to be polished and high quality, TikTok does not fall into the same pattern. TikToks are quick, funny, and usually rooted in meme culture. There is a fine line for sponsored content of being in on the joke or becoming it. If advertisers choose to take part, they must be knowledgeable and self-aware in order to be successful and not look like the old man trying to fit in with the kids.
TikTok offers a variety of ad formats, such as in-feed video ads, sponsored augmented reality lenses (like Snapchat filters), and sponsored hashtags.
Google’s #HeyGoogleHelp campaign generated over 190 million views through a sponsored hashtag alone. The concept was simple, users created videos using the hashtag #HeyGoogleHelp that featured the creator using Google Assistant in some way. The simplicity and room to be creative made it perfect for TikTok. Did all the videos portray Google’s product in the most flattering way? Probably not. Did it get millions of people to think about Google Assistant? Absolutely.
While paid advertising can have significant reach, organic reach on TikTok can also draw huge numbers. Mariah Carry’s 2009 song “Obsessed” recently make the Billboard charts for the first time in 10 years after being featured in a handful of viral TikToks. Lil Nas X’s hit “Old Town Road” first become popular on the app and went on to become the longest running No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.
Perhaps one of the most successful and unexpected companies to have a large organic reach on TikTok is the Washington Post. With a bio of “newspapers are like iPads but on paper”, the Washington Post has almost 180 thousand followers and a total of 5.3 million likes on the app. What makes the Washington Post stand out is their ability to blend in with the rest of the content on the app. The most popular video posted by the Washington Post (with over 3.5 million views) features an employee eating pumpkin spice flavored Spam with a plastic spoon. Washington Post isn’t afraid to be weird, and on an app like TikTok, you have to be to survive.
Getting Ready for Gen Z
As we covered last week, Gen Z is set to become the biggest consumer generation by 2020. It is also estimated that ad spend on social media will overtake print worldwide this year. While eating pumpkin spice flavored Spam may not be the best marketing decision for most brands, staying relevant to consumers is. More than anything, Gen Z consumers look for a story and a reason to support your brand. Jumping on the newest TikTok trend may not be the way for your brand to do this, but for some there is an untapped market of millions available to them. If you are looking for help with your social media presence, reach out to Anvil today!