TikTok Status Quo : A Marketing Perspective

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What is TikTok?

Tiktok is the newest social media platform based on short-form video content with integrated audio. Users can upload 15-second videos accompanied by filters, animations, music, special effects and charged with user creativity. As social media goes the users can comment and like to their heart’s desires. With the apps rising popularity I thought I would take a look and see what all the fuss is about.

First thoughts…

At the end of 2019, I started my first deep dive into TikTok and, let me tell you, it was not what I expected. Pushing 30, I felt very out of place, logging in and looking at the “for you” page. I felt like I was on the Apollo mission and taking one great leap for millennials everywhere. Quickly flicking past underage girls dancing, to the newest #challenge viral dance, or groups of high schoolers embracing a new E-Bullying culture in full force. Pinching my eyes closed until something acceptable for my age range shows up on my screen. Ok, it is not entirely that bad and as time has gone on the average user age is slowly creeping up, making the experience tend towards quite enjoyable. The way the generation Z has latched on to this app is truly fascinating. The idea of “content” over “communication” is something we have not yet seen in social media. The response from the boomers can be compared to the release of Facebook and Instagram. Shocker. The parents just don’t get it… What else is new? 

The facts

Tik Tok seemingly came out of nowhere but for those in the loop, its inception began as “Musical.ly”. In November of 2017, Musical.ly was sold and Tik Tok was born. Currently, Tik Tok has 500 Million active users worldwide, with 800 Million app downloads, placing them in second place behind WhatsApp for the most downloaded app. 69% of users are between the ages of 13 and 24. Overall,  85% of users are below the age of 35. The average time spent on TikTok per day is 52 Minutes. As for gender, it might be a surprise that 60% of TikTok users are female

While advertising abilities within TikTok used to be quite limited, as of this year TikTok has been expanding on the ways you can advertise on TikTok. As TikTok currently offers six ways to advertise on the platform, TikTok is becoming an interesting and positive opportunity for marketers.

How to advertise with TikTok

In-Feed Native Video Ads

9-15 second advertisements that will appear within your feed, between users’ content. This type of advertising is great for exposure and allows for the use of CTAs to redirect people towards a specific webpage or hashtag challenge. The average cost of In-Feed Native ads is around 10 dollars per CPM, which makes them the cheaper option to brand takeovers. 

Brand Takeover

Images, GIFs or videos that all link back to the brand landing page or a hashtag challenge that was created in the app. These ads are usually shown when you first open the app and are scaled to a full screen add. 

TopView

TopView has a similar effect as the brand takeover, with the key difference being that features like in-feed-video can be used as advertising material. Global tests show promising results that could significantly increase video engagement along with views. TopView is used to amplify your current Tiktok takeover.

#Challenge

Brands will upload a video including a dance or an action/s that have been choreographed to a sound. Brands can offer their hashtag challenges, they are placed on the discovery page for six days, providing the opportunity for users to respond with their creativity.  

Branded lenses

Similar to Snapchat this allows advertisers to create a custom filter. These filters can be available for 10 days. With TikTok you can create and use 2D, 3D and Augmented Reality (AR). These lenses tend to promote a generous amount of consideration to buy for your business.

TikTok Influencer

TikTok influencers have grown in numbers over the months and are now comparable with Instagram with a huge number of followers. Brands partner with influencers and these influencers create content in their style to inspire their fans.

The downsides

Let us just address the elephant in the room. How are you supposed to take an app seriously, when a large portion of its content is catnip for sexual predators? Tiktok has been under fire for a few years now from multiple sides when it comes to protecting their young users, who make up a majority of the users. There are stories of harassment, stalking, bullying and they are very prevalent, especially among younger users. It is very hard to explain to a teenager why they should have a private account when all they want is to be “TikTok Famous”. Especially with accounts such as @charlidamelio (Aged 15 with 38.1 Million Followers and over 2.2 Billion likes), who embodies everything these young girls want to be on this platform. There are a few key questions that need to be asked to understand whether this platform is socially mature enough.

The big questions

Tiktok still has some very important changes to go through, just like Facebook and Instagram had to at the beginning to protect their users. With the exponential growth of this platform, it becomes harder and harder to police. Now the questions: how do we use this platform to properly advertise to this younger generation ethically? and how do we create a platform where advertisers feel comfortable putting their brand on the “for you” page? These are the questions that I keep asking myself after I have finished scrolling through the “for you” page. Throughout my time using this platform, I have seen significant changes in the right direction and I am optimistic that TikTok will continue to improve.

My two cents

The change I would like to see TikTok implement would be an age restrictor, meaning you can not follow or see user’s accounts who are out of your age range. In the same vein, users under the age of 13 should be forced into a private account until 16-18. With the proper implementation of protection for younger users and diligent AI policing of the platform, I believe there’s strong potential for influencer marketing. TikTok is a channel with a massive supply of potential influencers, young and hungry to create content. There are very few competitors monopolizing the best brand reps, so now is the time to jump off the deep end and embrace the evolution of social media.

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