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TikTok: A Serious Video Marketing Platform?

If you’ve read my blogs in the past (Hi, Mom), you’d know that I’m resistant to the fact that I’m a part of generation Z. Maybe it’s because I’m the youngest of both my extended and immediate family? Maybe because I want to fit in with everyone? Or maybe because like TikTok and other new social media, I don’t want to be seen as young and naive. I want to be taken seriously. Raised by boomers with millennial siblings and cousins, I feel we shared the same life experiences. I had all the 80’s and 90’s toy hand-me-downs, watched all the same things and experienced dial-up internet. I even had an AIM account! Then again, I was born in 1997. By the time I got to school, rolling carts and their accompanying VHS players were on their way out, replaced by sleek new projectors and Smart Boards. We had computers in every classroom and there was this new thing called social media. Soon, we had Facebook and Twitter, followed by a gaggle of others. So, why am I speaking to you about my generational identity crisis? And what you might ask, does this really have to do with TikTok? All will be revealed, if you “like” for part two.

What is TikTok?

I apologize for the long winded introduction, but I wanted to capture in words one of the trends on TikTok. This trend starts with someone either telling or visually showing a story, and at the end asking their audience to “like” the video to receive more of the story. It may be childish, but it ensures people come back for more. It’s one of the many “trends” by which TikTok is ruled. But I’m getting ahead of myself. So, what is TikTok exactly? By now, you might have deduced that TikTok is a social media app where users share videos with friends and followers. You may have already known this. And you may be one of the many that have written it off as an app that teenagers use to make cringe-worthy dance and lip sync videos. And while that may be partially true, TikTok is growing up - and it's doing so rather quickly. 

Who Is On It?

If you wrote TikTok off as an app for teenagers, you aren't wrong. 38.8% of the app’s 80 million U.S users are aged 18-24. That’s not including those under 18, which would change that number to an estimated 60% when speaking about that demographic globally. (As a side note, TikTok has 1.5 billion global users, and 90% access the app daily.) So, this appears to be a marketer’s dream when trying to reach out to the younger generation. But its also important to know that app usage for younger adults, i.e. the highly-coveted millennial audience, has been on a consistent rise since its introduction. 

All About The Trends

To really understand TikTok, you need to know about some of its popular trends and features. Trends on TikTok are like a good storm, they roll in fast and dissipate quickly. For this reason, I’ll speak about trends as a whole opposed to any one in particular. Trends come in many shapes and sizes. Some are challenges issued by one user to the world and spread like wildfire due to their viral nature. Some are dances created by users that ask others to learn the moves.  Or, as I mentioned earlier, some are long winded stories that enthrall the audience, then asking them to “like” the video for a part two. Likes help the video gain traction and make the video viral and spreading to other user’s feeds. TikTok users also have the ability to take audio from either a song or another user's video. Many users take the audio from someone else’s comedic video and lay it over their own video. I can’t explain it better than that, but on my feed, it seems like the most popular thing to do. Users also have access to multiple creation features in the app itself. When creating videos, they can take audio from TikTok’s extensive library, which includes both music and the previously mentioned sound bytes. Other more popular features are "duet" and "react." In both, users can record themselves and put their video either inside of or next to another user’s video. This is popular for sing-alongs and dance videos or for reacting to others videos.

TikTok As A Marketing Platform

So, where does marketing fit into all of this? Luckily TikTok’s parent company ByteDance has made advertising easy. Through TikTok Ads, advertisers can organize and launch full out campaigns on the app, as well as several of ByteDance’s other apps, all from one place. And TikTok Ads’ interface could not be more streamlined or easier to use. In it, you can choose your campaign objectives, your target audience, demographics and where you want your ad displayed - all with a few simple clicks.

Types of Ads

TikTok Ads has multiple options for advertising as well. The first being an in-feed video, where ads appear in the users native “For You” news feed. It's best if ad’s like these look as organic as possible, so they blend in subliminally and users don’t immediately skip over what they think is an ad. A more traditional and direct approach would be the brand takeover option. Here, an advertisement will appear to cover the entire user’s screen upon launching the app. The ad will stay there for a set period of time and cannot be swiped away. This style has the opportunity to look more polished and professional. Another interesting option would be issuing a hashtag challenge. These ads appear at the top of the discovery page and encourage users to participate in content creation challenges. These can also include a shoppable component that is very useful for retailers. There is also an option for branded content, where an ad would appear as a branded lens, stickers and other 2D/3D/AR content for TikTok users to use in their videos, much like Snapchat filters. Finally, there is the custom influencer package where your ad appears as part of sponsored content created by a TikTok user with influence in your market.

Taking TikTok Seriously

TikTok is becoming more diverse by the day and is being taken seriously by major organizations. In fact, in 2019 TikTok signed a multi-year deal with the NFL which brought the launch of an official NFL TikTok account, as well as sponsored videos and hashtag challenges. In a sea of marketing and advertisements, TikTok offers a hyper-fresh, relevant way to show your brand to some of the world’s most connected people. ByteDance makes advertising easy and, with the user base growing daily, advertising on the platform will only become more valuable with time. Take it from someone who comes from the generation that has defined the app, TikTok cannot be ignored any longer. And I know our team at PEG is more than ready to help take your TikTok video needs to the next level.   

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