TikTok makes play for marketers

Looking to be added to the brand-building playbook, the video sharing platform wants marketers to know it offers both creativity and metrics

TikTok has launched its marketing offering, encouraging brands not to make ads, but instead TikToks.

The Chinese-backed platform, which recently open a local office, is owned by ByteDance and specialises in short dance, lip sync and performance videos. The latest social media platform has seen an uptick in use this year, with significant spikes during the COVID-19-enforced lockdown.

The marketing services play should see more brands joining Mini, McDonald's, Samsung, Fanta, Milo and Menulog, which ran a #DeliveryDance hashtag campaign with a Snoop Dogg track, on the video platform. Locally, Australian brands like Optus and Suncorp have also taken to TikTok. 

TikTok Australia GM of global business solutions, Brett Armstrong, explained to CMO local brands have embraced the platform and “see the value in being first to things, rather than playing it safe”.

Armstrong is keen to establish the local operation as an innovation hub for TikTok, “where we roll out world-first solutions for advertisers and marketers to meet that demand,” he said. 

The COVID-19 effect on TikTok

As COVID-19 spread across the world, a lot of brands pivoted their messaging to suit a more sombre mood. “But as we start to emerge from lockdown the tone needs to change again - it’s time to embrace ‘competitive positivity’ to connect with new communities,” Armstrong told CMO.

"It’s a combination of fun and competition that has encouraged Aussies to download TikTok and this sentiment has created a new movement, a search for competitive positivity."

Armstrong saw an opportunity for brands to make messages more memorable by creating campaigns people can take ownership of, participate in, and try to one-up their mates with.

“As we all adjust to the new normal and more Australian households are spending time on TikTok, it’s been inspiring to see our community unite, uplifting one another with compassion, solidarity and good old Aussie banter,” he said. “People are looking for the positive, for fun, excitement, perhaps a little escapism, and of course a sense of community and connection they have been missing in these last few months.”

Is there a TikTok secret ingredient?

TikTok was the third-most installed app worldwide in the first quarter of 2019, behind WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, and surpassed Instagram and Snapchat as the leading short video application with 500 million monthly active users, according to Gartner. The analyst firm added TikTok is fertile ground for brands to launch low-cost viral marketing campaigns.

TikTok is pushing its credentials as an attractive place for marketers looking to position their brands with audiences with seamless, full-screen videos and it is working with third-party providers to build out its suite of measurement solutions. It now has an augmented reality (AR) offering, Branded Scan, which offers brands AR features for their creative content.

TikTok is also testing Creator Marketplace in some regions, where brands can discover and partner with content creators on paid brand campaigns to drive awareness and attract new customers. In addition, it will be launching dedicated videos showing TikTok creators competing to respond to ad briefs from brands and is on the lookout for brands to feature in the series.

When it comes to finding what works on TikTok, it’s about showing creative, fun expression, Armstrong told CMO.

“Brands we see having the most success are those that embrace the creativity and authenticity of the TikTok community. Content on TikTok is unique, sometimes surprising, and what resonates are the real life moments,” he said.

Armstrong cited men's health charity, Movember, as a good example of a brand evolving its thinking, from using TikTok to driving traffic from new audiences to its MayEight virtual festival, to launching a new campaign encouraging men to check in on a mate - ‘Movember Conversations’.

“We encourage brands and agencies to spend time using TikTok, understand the platform and short-video formats, look at different trends and content, and get a sense of how users engage with other creators and brands,” he said. 

“Best practices for brands would be to stay true to their story, telling it how they want it told, while also thinking about TikTok's unique format, ensuring that content is authentic to the platform, and the way people use it. We have also seen a number of brands collaborate with established TikTok content creators to create fun videos that target their core demographic and drive further engagement."

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia.


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