Why it’s time brands pay attention to TikTok

Why it’s time brands pay attention to TikTok

With increasingly high profile headlines, impressive rate of user growth (see chart), and global installs now in excess of 1 billion, it’s high time for mainstream UK marketing to take some lessons from TikTok.


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It’s not a carbon copy of Snapchat, nor is it trying to emulate Facebook - TikTok is carving genuinely new territory in the social channel space. Instagram may be twice the size in terms of current user base but TikTok’s app download rate is outsripping almost everything, including Instagram. 

We wouldn’t be surprised if TikTok soon becomes the talking point of social marketing, and here’s why:

  • TikTok is all about binge watching short-form video: thanks to the provision of simple editing software, 15 seconds of dancing and lip-synching has become stylish, well produced and irresistable. Marketers should take note of this secret-sauce.


TikTok ‘challenges’ introduce ‘who wore (or synched, danced) it better’? This means there’s a high repetition to some parts of the content (the music, the choreography).

This high frequency (and the awareness it builds) is something we should think about. So often we’re asked to serve high volume and low-frequency campaigns and we’re always left wondering about the impact once the campaign is finished.

The challenges can be fun, light-hearted and essentially a global talent-show, which gives the network a sense of mass-participation and accessibility (at least superficially).

But amongst the attention seekers, there are still winners and losers. From amongst the winners, a new breed of influencers are on their way. Right now they’re less sullied than their YouTube and Instagram peers, as they are yet to ‘sell-out’ to attention-seeking brands.

Inevitably they will cash-in on fame (and rightly so), but not necessarily on TikTok, but other social channels with currently more mature advertising models.

As TikTok now actively drives awareness and downloads outside of Asia their challenge will be to stay true to their roots. Which begs the question - how do TikTok encourage culturally and demographically broader audiences when the character and content of the app is borne from music?

TikTok’s owners will also have to deal with inevitable counter-reactions from Facebook and Google as they fight any other innovative entrants into the social space with innovations or acquisitions of their own.

So brands should start exploring how to work with TikTok influencers but recognise the network’s creators and consumers have a young profile. The volume of advertising is currently very low and some are platform native.

And remember this is ‘true’ social. The creative is intrinsically sociable, challenging participation and inviting engagement. Social creatives should find this inspiring.

So dig out your notes on what made Vine so special  and prepare for a whole new generation of social media marketing.

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