|One of the most popular application we have today is TikTok /Photo by Dzmitry Kliapitski via 123rf|
According to Ismael El Qudsi of American business magazine Forbes, Facebook and Google, including the apps these companies are affiliated with, “have almost totally” monopolized the market. People are eager to accommodate new apps, as they need to express themselves and interact with other individuals. Of course, it’s not surprising for them to experience social media user fatigue. However, a certain app is taking center stage with its short-form, video-sharing features. This mobile platform is driven by young and creative users. It’s name? TikTok.
What Is TikTok?
TikTok first started as Musical.ly, a platform known for its lip-sync videos. Musical.ly was renamed TikTok after it was acquired by Beijing-based firm ByteDance. Posting over 1 billion downloads worldwide, it was undoubtedly one of the most popular applications of 2018. As of the first quarter of 2019, TikTok was the most-downloaded app on Google Play while it was the second most-downloaded on the App Store in the United States.
The said platform boasts more than 500 million users in 150 countries. TikTok follows the same format as its predecessor by cultivating a community of users who connect with other people and unleash their creativity using the app’s built-in tools. Such tools include sound and song snippets, filters, and augmented reality effects. However, unlike Musical.ly, TikTok doesn’t only focus on music. It also has communities dedicated to beauty, dance, comedy, food, and sports.
Every user can be a creator using their smartphone, per TikTok’s mantra. Hence, users can take a peek at the future of social video, comprising bite-sized, addictive, and highly entertaining content. TikTok claims that its users spend an average of 46 minutes each day in the app, with videos amassing 17 billion monthly average views.
|Because of popular apps like TikTok, influencer marketing is on the rise /Photo by Josef Kubeš via 123rf|
The Rise of Influencer Marketing
Given TikTok’s popularity, brands are paying attention to it to build a relationship with Gen Z customers, reported Katie Richards of fashion and beauty website Glossy. For instance, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren already have run campaigns with TikTok, with Uniqlo and Guess following suit. Aside from running campaigns, brands also connect with younger consumers through influencers. To illustrate, Coca-Cola, Universal Pictures, Google, and Sony Pictures have collaborated with popular TikTok users to raise brand awareness.
Brands are trying to answer the question: “Who should we partner with?” Moreover, they are also gauging the type of content the influencers will create “to fit with TikTok’s raw, unedited vibe.” Sure, influencer marketing is not a common practice on TikTok, but many brands have started to test the waters to explore its potential as a new marketing channel.
Gen Z users are drawn to TikTok, as this demographic is not attracted to social media’s “big players.” Thus, they search for spaces that are in line with their interests and expressions. After all, youths aged 16 to 24-years comprise 60 percent of TikTok’s monthly users. Interestingly, many up-and-coming influencers are below 20-years-old. Mia Sweitzer, for one, is only 16 years old and has nearly 500,000 fans. Her videos are unfiltered, often filmed in her bedroom by herself or with a group of friends. In the last few weeks, Sweitzer already published sponsored posts for UltraBeauty and FujiFilm.
Mae Karwowski, founder and CEO of influencer marketing firm Obviously, noted that TikTok is vastly different from any other social media channel. She explained, “The content is different, and the creators are going to be different than what we’ve come to know as influencers.”
TikTok influencers will be defining pop culture, aesthetics, and trends, as well as driving consumer demand for future Gen Z trends.
In less than a decade, Gen Z “will be as or more important” than millennials considering they spend their whole lives online. For brands, they need to formulate forward-thinking strategies to cater to the Gen Z market. As TikTok experienced growth in the global market, brands should also strive to connect with audiences outside the United States.
The Marketing Battlefield Has Shifted
Since the users on TikTok are younger and new to the field of influencer marketing, they may experience bumps on the road as they try to work with brands and forge relationships with them for the first time. “We don’t have that much time. Packing in too much information or complicated info just doesn’t work on TikTok,” Sweitzer shared on her thoughts about collaborating with brands on sponsored posts.
She emphasized that posts need to be in the creator’s voice or else people will scroll past them.
In August, rising TikTok influencer Voelcker-Mckey worked closely with Aeropostale on its Aero Jeans Challenge, encouraging users to upload videos of themselves wearing a pair of Aeropostale jeans styled in five different ways with the hashtag “#AeroJeansChallenge.” Winners would receive a $1,000 gift card.
The influencer, who has over 1.3 million fans, partners with brands that share the same aesthetic and values as her. Voelcker-Mckey stated, “Brands should recognize that TikTok stars are, like social media influencers on other platforms, starting to have a bigger and bigger influence on consumers.”