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TikTok: Do I Really Need to Learn ANOTHER Channel? Sorry, Yes.

By Zoe Virtue, Head of Digital & Social at Mango Communications Aotearoa

This year, we’ve seen the rise of short-form video content campaigns, with a growing number of brands clamouring to leverage the social phenomenon that is TikTok. But you could forgive any marketer suffering from a case of platform fatigue who might be asking themselves, “Do I really need to bother? Isn’t this just another Periscope?”

In the fight to capture a larger share of each emerging generation’s wallet, brands are constantly looking at how to keep up with what’s “new” and “cool” to stay relevant. With social media cemented in this new generation’s devices and collective consciousness, the requirement for brands to innovate and quickly evolve has never been more demanding.

And let’s face it, choosing to invest in marketing through a new platform is a significant decision. If you’re managing a brand and are keen to harness the very substantial audience engagement opportunity TikTok represents, prepare to jump on board and learn the very specific ropes, or face the slow decline into irrelevancy with the younger generations.

Think Different

Evolve or die. It sounds morbid and dramatic, but it’s exactly right. Cancel culture is alive and well, and the social media generation doesn’t excuse brands from its wrath. Gen Z has been consuming digital content their whole lives, they can smell an ad from a mile away and will swipe within a millisecond if it doesn’t align with the curated flow of their FYP (For You Page).

To survive, you need to be brave, be bold and be quick. And as TikTok says: Don’t make ads, make TikToks.

Creativity and Speed

The TikTok platform rewards creativity, so the carefully curated and polished aesthetic of Instagram won’t work here. A pivot into a higher speed of ideation and creation, and a willingness to have a bit of fun are good starting points for brands and content creators wanting to find success in TikTok.

This winning new content is 15 seconds of unfiltered, quickfire and engaging moments that make the viewer want to watch on repeat. They can be educational, funny or just entertaining and are generally the most current reflection of popular culture in that minute.

Speed is essential due to the staggering rate at which TikTok trends come and go. No “side of TikTok”, whether it’s cooking or dancing, is safe from the speed at which users consume and dispose of what’s “cool”. If brand accounts want to make use of trends they must let go of the safety net that is the ‘10 eyes before it goes live’ strategy. Instead, they need to opt for working with a trusted, agile and creative social team (or agency) that has spent the time understanding how to be brand safe and “on-brand” with the TikTok style of content.

Leveraging the Community

Although brands are needing to bravely rethink their strategies and level of oversight, the payoff for doing it well is immense. The level of personalisation and community that exists on TikTok allows marketers to find the audience that will have a genuine connection to the content and therefore their brand/product. For example, pool companies can now tap into a surprisingly active community that loves to watch satisfying pool cleaning clips. The #poolcleaning hashtag has an impressive 515 million views thanks to the app’s algorithm successfully identifying the niche audience of global users who get a kick out of a dirty pool transformation.

A learning from this is to be authentic and create content that is native to the platform and relevant to the audience you want to reach. Content that is engaging and noticed by a few is rewarded with a spot on thousands, if not millions of FYPs around the world thanks to the TikTok algorithm. Pools, horses, LGBTQ+… pasta? Think of a topic, you can bet there’s an audience out there waiting to be tapped into.

To be realistic, TikTok won’t be the new and shiny platform for long, in fact its replacement may be just around the corner (or already exist). What will continue is the rapid rate at which content trends and social media platforms come and go, and the level of creativity required to get cut through. In the end, it will be the brave brands who evolve quickly who will hold the lion’s share of the younger generation’s wallet.

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