TikTok: Why Time is Running out for Facebook & Instagram

TikTok – a rapidly growing and incredibly popular social platform – attempts to steal the social media giants’ crown. We discussed why this is happening, the strategies TikTok is using for growth and how to work with the app to promote your brand. 

The app is the new destination for best-in-class, short-form mobile videos, that hosts a similar style of content to Snapchat and Instagram Stories. The platform has been lauded as the world’s most valuable startup and claimed the top spot on Apple’s App Store download charts in Q3 2018.

Facebook and Instagram are well aware of the app’s rise from the ashes, because it came to prominence in the UK when Musical.ly was bought by TikTok’s owners, ByteDance, and the two platforms merged.

TikTok has since gained more than 500 million monthly active users – around double that of Snapchat and Pinterest combined, and more than Twitter and LinkedIn. It’s huge in Asia and USA and growing fast in the UK, where it has three million monthly active users, who collectively rack up 2.5 billion monthly views.

For brands, this app is particularly interesting because it’s going establishing engagement opportunities for advertisers, including brand takeovers and sponsored # challenges. We have already seen the likes of Guinness World Records, Gymshark, MTV and the BBC developing a highly engaged user base on it but with analytics on the near horizon and new innovations constantly being tested and proven in China, TikTok is a serious contender for the top platform to watch in 2019.

TikTok Creators on Stage

We invited two prominent TikTok creators to take the stage and discuss the perils and opportunities they have using the social platform for brand work – Tom Hooker, known as OutTheBox, and Vikki Banham.

Since Tom Hooker started on Musical.ly three years ago, he has gathered more than 2 million fans and received over 10 million hearts – TikTok’s equivalent of the like. After trying to establish a presence on a range of social media platforms, including Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, Hooker found a natural tie in between his travel-focused and comedy content and TikTok’s ‘make every second count’ tagline.

Hooker shared that ‘wow’ content and comedy is particularly successful, but the platform really stands out because it encourages people to create. Hashtag challenges are a great way to get exposure and increase engagement but the way brands use hashtag challenges is highly important. Tom worked with the BBC to establish a presence for Eurovision on TikTok this year, and found that using distinctive Eurovision content that ties directly into the hashtag challenges gained the channel 1 million views in three weeks.

Some other golden nuggets of information included: 15 seconds is the optimum length for video to perform its best, the perfect use of hashtags generate a higher engagement rate and sound can be original or generated from a wide range of pop songs. 

Briefing Creators

Vikki Banham has gained a following of over 1 million people in less than a year, focusing on creating body art, clothing and beauty. She has worked with brands including the FA, the BBC and X-Factor Live.

Creative freedom is the number one priority for creators when they receive a brief from a brand. Vikki judges success based on the number of views, likes and comments but creators can’t always receive that if the brand enforces too strict rules on the creators because naturally, authentic content engages more people at a higher rate. 

We have always known that as a social media agency and can’t hammer it home more – creative freedom is and should be the number one priority for brands when using influencers and creators. 

Brands have the option to either work with creators on their own channel to extend reach of the brand, establish their own account and use a creator’s knowledge and expertise to create content for the brand profile or use a combination of the two. Banham says that TikTok offers a mega opportunity to reach 13-17 year olds girls. After school’s out for the day is the best time to post for Banham’s audience – so around 5pm.

The Algorithmic Minefield

Analytics will definitely be a game changer for the platform, and brands do need to move quickly to make sure their content is seen and engaged with before the platform becomes saturated. The analytics will solve many of the doubts that brands have when they see the engaged comments and shares.

But of course, with such a new platform, both Banham and Hooker advise that brands don’t beat themselves up too much if what they do, doesn’t fly off the wall from the outset. The platform is an algorithmic minefield still so it’s best for brands to work with an expert agency or consultant to help launch them on the platform.

The opportunities for engagement and creativity on TikTok mean that brands – particularly those looking to grow and maintain a Generation Z audience – should be thinking about their TikTok strategy as a high priority for 2019.