4 timely reasons TikTok should be part of your influencer marketing strategy

Photo by Aaron Weiss on Unsplash

A global pandemic has been one of the most prominent societal changes affecting the way we seek out human connection, as a result; the way audiences use social media is changing. TikTok was already popular, but the uplift in isolation and the need for connection and entertainment propelled the platform into the top spot. Whether it’s learning TikTok dances with friends, remixing memes, or watching casual everyday content, TikTok’s huge gain in popularity can be attributed to audiences’ needs for personalized, intimate content — to replicate what they’re missing in real life.

Today, TikTok is now the fastest growing social platform with 41% of its 800 million users in the 16–24 demographic spending an average of 52 minutes a day on its channel. Kantar also recently ranked TikTok as #1 for ad equity in its Media Reactions Report. TikTok has quickly surpassed its rivals as the most popular among the younger generations, aka Generation Z, which makes way for brands to tap into a whole load of disposable income. However, if your target demographic isn’t the 16–24 age bracket, you may be feeling a bit at a loss for how to make TikTok work for you. Maybe you’re feeling resistant to even consider TikTok as a part of your social strategy.

Well, the good news is that there’s a lot more to TikTok than meets the eye. In fact, here are four reasons TikTok is key to producing a winning cross-channel marketing campaign, even if you don’t think it fits your brand.

It’s no surprise that the political and biological tidal waves of 2020 have impacted consumer behavior, with trust and relatability an even more important factor in content than ever. As a result, TikTok influencers are positioning themselves as the equivalent to the “girl-next-door” in the content world, creating videos that build trust by directly appealing to audiences wants and needs.

Such is TikTok’s influence on social media that many marketing blogs and publications are now citing the short-form video as one of the hottest key trends in 2021 — delivering key information in 15 seconds or less, appealing to younger generations’ shorter attention spans.

It’s not just younger generations who are benefiting from this kind of content — or interacting with it. There’s also been a large switch in the way older generations get their information on which products to buy into, especially relating to emerging technology.

By knowing the quickest and most reliable way to gain information, the more tech-savvy younger generations are better positioned to pass that intel on. Without having to navigate these unfamiliar platforms, baby boomers and Generation X are still passively engaging with TikTok content without even realizing it — merely by asking their children, grandchildren, or other members of their family for help and advice.

This broader view of how audiences take in content offers quite the segue for the industry and may be a step in the direction towards younger generation stigma not really being a consideration in the future of marketing.

Hot on the heels of TikTok is the platform’s biggest competitor: Instagram Reels. Launched worldwide in August 2020, Reels is also a short-format video platform anchored to the Instagram app.

Like TikTok, Reels has many similar templates and filters for budding or established influencers to create content for their audiences. However, the two appear to separate in terms of their primary audiences, with Generation Z demonstrating their preference for TikTok and Millennials for Reels.

What’s interesting is the way these audiences have developed. Generation Z flocked in the masses to TikTok at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, making up a huge percentage of the platform. However millennials — who already loved Instagram — took more easily to its add-on feature, so they could integrate all of their content in one space.

While 87% of TikTok users were recently quoted as saying Reels is “basically the same” — at least in terms of functionality — Instagram head Adam Mosseri has himself admitted he’s not entirely happy with the way his company’s platform is presented, and that TikTok is “way ahead” in terms of this new kind of video content. As a result, he’s hinted at an overhaul of Instagram’s video options and a return to simplicity, to better position the channel’s video content against TikTok and quash criticisms that Instagram has become too “convoluted”. In his recent interview with The Verge, Mosseri said:

“We’re growing both in terms of how much people are sharing and how much people are consuming, but we have a long way to go. And we have to be honest that TikTok is ahead.”

Instagram content also tends towards a more “plandid” approach (where the content appears candid but is carefully curated), while TikTok is more genuine. There are subtle nuances in the way content is created between each platform, and both are proving popular for different reasons.

The rising emergence of copycat short form video platforms that replicate the TikTok experience, reinforces the demand for that type of content — even Snapchat has picked up on the trend, recently launching their own version, Spotlight. As the leader of the pack, it also makes sense to get to grips with TikTok now, because no matter your brand audience, it’s likely you’ll be navigating the same format types across all major social media platforms.

Although platforms like Instagram Reels are positioned as a competitor for TikTok, cross-channel posting is more popular than ever among influencers and users who have accounts on multiple platforms.

Instead of creating duplicate content from scratch every time, there’s a strong tendency for users to first create their content on TikTok, and then repost it on Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and even Facebook. TikTok stars sharing their videos to these other channels is a smart multi-platform strategy, as it widens their exposure and makes space for another fanbase to access their content.

For brands, this is great news, as it means they can reach a far wider audience just by marketing initially to a Generation Z audience on TikTok. From there, content is more likely to go on a journey, from the original post on TikTok to Instagram Reels, or to Twitter, by either the original poster or someone else sharing it.

Singer Jennifer Lopez recently shared the same video across both Twitter and TikTok, where she had 45 million and 7.8 million followers respectively. However, the video achieved over 70 million views on TikTok, compared to 2 million on Twitter — demonstrating the power of this emerging platform not only in terms of active, engaged audiences but also in its growing demographic.

As of May 2020, TikTok includes more than just Generation Z and millennials in its user base; older audiences have started to tap in too, with 15% of the app’s user base made up of over-35s, spearheaded by actors Kristen Bell and Will Smith, and the aforementioned J.Lo.

Just as Gen X’s and baby boomers’ children are increasingly bored and lacking stimulation during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it seems the older generations are themselves also seeking a remedy to the lack of social connection that’s so prominent around the world.

Consumer behavior changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the cause of a large shift in the way audiences absorb content, from preferred medium for satisfying differing needs, to the way separate age groups interact — both with content and one another.

It’s also a key driver in the way audiences across all age demographics engage with TikTok content. Whether audiences are actively interacting through their own accounts, or passively through their peers or interactions with younger generations, there’s no denying the app’s prestige when it comes to social marketing.

2020 has catapulted TikTok into being the fastest growing social platform out there — but its user base continues to diversify. With some of the most active and engaged audiences on its platform, brands can benefit greatly if they invest in TikTok as part of a cross-channel strategy, with the platform likely to still be prospering well into 2021.

Want to know more? Reach out to the Activate by Impact team at activate@impact.com.

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