Social media and influencers are becoming a staple of marketing. More and more marketers are recognising influencer marketing as an effective marketing strategy , but with the plethora of social platforms to choose from, it’s difficult to know which ones to target.
Alongside this increasing reliance on social media within marketing also comes the rise of Social Media User Fatigue – a recognised tendency of users to feel the need to ‘step back’ from social media after becoming overwhelmed by the choices of different platforms and the pressure of keeping followers.
The truth is, people are becoming bored and overtired of the negative aspects of more established social media platforms and many are now searching for a new, alternative space to express themselves, share content, and connect with other like-minded individuals – which is where TikTok comes in.
Having been downloaded over 1 billion times by 2018, 663 million of which were last year alone (far surpassing Instagram’s 444 million downloads), TikTok seems to be the next Big Thing.
But what is TikTok?
In 2016 the app Musical.ly was introduced. In essence, it was a video sharing platform that allowed users to create and share lipsyncing videos. The app was popular, reaching over 200 million users, but was soon acquired by ByteDance (a Beijing based company) in 2017 who repackaged and rebranded it with their own app, TikTok.
Unlike its predecessor, TikTok users aren’t limited to music; instead, they have a whole variety of options when it comes to content creation, with videos choosing to focus on things like comedy, beauty, dance and even food.
TikTok is a platform that seems to value out of the box creativity, with the option to use filters, augmented reality features, music clips and even dialogue from TV shows and movies in order to quickly edit together a short 15-second video clip.
This emphasis on creativity and the format of short-form, bite-sized videos seem to be a selling point, with users reportedly spending 46 minutes on the app every day.
What does TikTok mean for influencer marketing?
As mentioned, there are a lot of options when it comes to influencer marketing and now, with the rise of TikTok, there’s even more.
But, what is it about this platform that could be so appealing to brands?
To put it simply, TikTok is popular and hits a particular demographic – making it a win for brands with an interest in influencer marketing.
Not only this but with 800 million users worldwide, TikTok is a boon for brands who want to establish a presence outside of the US.
With 500 million monthly active users around the world, it’s clear that TikTok presents a great opportunity to reach a large base of engaged followers.
More so, it presents an opportunity to reach younger audiences – with the current user base on TikTok mostly ranging from 16-24 year olds, brands who want to reach the younger demographic will be looking to the platform to reach this key age group.
But, it’s important to note that TikTok’s audience is not just a younger demographic. It’s a demographic made up mainly by the always-online Generation Z.
Gen-Z, as they are more often known, will be the first generation to grow up almost entirely online and, in the years to come, will surpass millennials as the most targeted and important group in marketing.
That said, they’re also the most ad-resistant generation and selling to them will be no easy feat. This just means marketers will have to come up with new and creative experiences in order to engage with the Gen-Z audience, and it seems TikTok can help with that.
Though it is yet to see the same influx of influencer marketing campaigns as other social sites, for now, there are a few brands have seen the potential of the platform as a new marketing channel.
For example; Chipotle, the popular Mexican restaurant chain, has amassed a substantial TikTok following by embracing the platform’s culture and features, utilising music, memes and pop culture references to draw interest to their menu.
Likewise, The Washington Post, renowned for its hard-hitting journalism, uses TikTok to show a more light-hearted side to the organisation, often posting “behind the scenes” footage and skits from their newsroom to gain younger followers.
How can TikTok be used for influencer marketing in the future?
In terms of influencer marketing specifically, TikTok offers us a glimpse into the future of social media, where almost anyone can be a creator or an influencer.
With its simple interface, quick filming and quick editing tools, TikTok invites anyone to be able to create entertaining, and easily consumable content.
Right now, owing to the fact that the users of the app are also creators on the app, TikTok is full of gen-Z micro-influencers who no longer want to use the larger, more established social media platforms to share their creations – and these are the influencers worth working with.
Though the platform may be different, the process remains the same for brands wishing to work with TikTok influencers.
Marketers should always research relevant content creators and make sure they align with their objective and brand message before reaching out.
Likewise, once the work has started, it’s important to allow the influencer some creative control so as not to step on the creativity that brought them to your attention in the first place.
Working with an influencer has wide-ranging benefits that mean brands don’t have to worry about a) building up a following on their own accounts and b) the negative reactions to more traditional advert placements.
However, still basically in its infancy, TikTok currently has no monetisation system in place for creators, so influencer campaigns aren’t nearly as prevalent as on other social platforms.
That said, the app is still in a period of growth and rumours are swirling about its next phase in terms of on-platform marketing and creator payment options.
It’s unclear when, or if, TikTok will start a clearer monetisation system for influencers. But, what we can tell for certain, is its value to brands who so keenly want to tap into youth culture and engage with the elusive generation Z.
For brands wishing to quickly create highly relatable, bite-sized content that can keep pace with the ever-changing trends of pop culture, TikTok is going to be one of the most useful tools at their disposal.