How brands are creating communities and cultural moments on TikTok - ClickZ

30-second summary:

  • TikTok offers a great new opportunity for brands to engage with consumers. But realness wins.
  • The platform boasts nearly 700m monthly active users globally. They watch 7 minutes of video per session.
  • Brands are working with creators to promote co-creative content.
  • Marketers need to observe and familiarize themselves with the ecosystem. They need to be authentic, patient, and to find the right creators to work with.

The latest of our weekly series of briefings for our peer network on Friday was led by Sam Christie of TikTok. Christie has been at TikTok for two years and is now the West Coast lead for global business solutions at the company.

His presentation was packed with insight into how TikTok has grown into a unique platform – ‘the last sunny corner of the internet,’ in his words – which gives users and brands an opportunity to connect in a meaningful way.

So how do we, as marketers, engage consumers in this fast-evolving ecosystem? The short answer is by creating communities and cultural moments on the platform. Here are my takeaways from Christie’s briefing.

TikTok is not a ‘one size fits all’ platform

Launched in 2016, TikTok is still a relatively young channel and Christie is quick to point out that there is no hard and fast method for brands to engage successfully on the platform.

That being said, there are certainly a number of traits or (Read more...) which TikTok has that marketers should be aware of from the outset, that it is:

  • Home to a new generation of storytellers. (Not necessarily celebrities).
  • A place of positive, joyful, engagement – where people come to ‘lift their spirits’.
  • A place where realness is the new cultural currency.
  • A place for connection, aspiration, co-creation, and entertainment.

In short, TikTok is not about advertising or commerce messaging. But it absolutely can be a place where people and brands can engage meaningfully via their content or by contributing to hashtags that are already established.

According to Christie, examples of things working well on the platform include: life hacks, music, and social issues such as Black Lives Matter and mental health awareness.

Of course, the global coronavirus pandemic has seen the platform undergo its own boom, too.

Related content such as the #boredinthehouse meme kickstarted by rapper and user @curtisroach has now surpassed 6b views and a staggering 4.8m related videos where other users have incorporated the audio from the original post into their own lockdown videos.

These viewer numbers are impressive by any measure. Last month, the platform hit 100m monthly active users in the US and as the above graph (courtesy of CNBC) shows, the global growth has been even more impressive, from 500m to nearly 700m MAUs during H1 2020 alone.


Christie is also keen to point out that while TikTok videos are often short in duration, engagement is not necessarily brief. Users are spending around 407 seconds per session (about seven minutes) and more than 40 minutes engaging with content over the course of a day.

For such a young social media channel, TikTok’s unique ecosystem, its reach, and its ability to engage users offers a world of opportunity for brands to get creative.

Example case studies: how brands are engaging on TikTok

Procter & Gamble #distancedance

P&G teamed up with TikTok’s most followed user Charli D’Amelio for the social distancing promo #distancedance.

The consumer goods brand promised to make donations to charities Feeding America and Matthew 25 for the first 3m #distancedance videos made. Overall, the meme has now received more than 17.4b video views.

Simmons Mattresses #snoozapalooza

Proving that even the most everyday product brands can engage on TikTik, Simmons’ #snoozapalooza videos invited co-creation and saw 140% lift to their website.

Videos with the hashtag have now hit 137.8m views in total.

Jansport #lightentheload

The backpack brand used in-feed video to reach its key demo (students) to promote a mental health awareness message via the #lightentheload campaign. To date it has reached 1.5m views.

DSW #toomanyshoes

DSW gave people a reason to show off their shoes with #toomanyshoes.

The campaign was initiated by 5 TikTok creators. It saw 778,386 video creations and achieved a total of 3.3b video views.

Three key takeaways for marketers: how to get started on TikTok

  1. Observe. Christie suggests that marketers new to the platform should start as observers; to familiarize themselves with the type of content that works, and to understand how the community interacts with each other.
  2. Hashtags. When it comes to hashtags, brands have success both in creating them and in getting involved in those that already exist. As long as the content is authentic, that’s what really matters.
  3. Remember, success may not be immediate. If a piece of content doesn’t resonate, trying something new rather than laboring over what hasn’t worked is usually the best course of action. Find relevant creatives and let them create for you – the best place to find TikTok content creators is at the TikTok Creator Marketplace.

TikTok is a fascinating area of the internet to delve into for users and brands. This is especially true at a time when so many of us are looking for new ways to socialize and engage with others online.

For brands, the platform is a great opportunity for engagement. But realness, collaboration, and creativity need to be at the forefront of any marketers mind if they want to fulfill their potential on the channel.

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