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Tik Tok: Benefits and Risk for Marketers


For those of you that may not know, “TikTok, known in China as Douyin is a video-sharing focused social networking service owned by Chinese company Byte Dance. The social media platform is used to make a variety of short-form videos, from genres like dance, comedy, and education, that have a duration from fifteen seconds to three minutes. TikTok is an international version of Douyin, which was originally released in the Chinese market in September 2016. Later, TikTok was launched in 2017 for iOS and Android in most markets outside of mainland China; however, it only became available worldwide after merging with another Chinese social media service, Musical.ly, in August 2018.” Did you have a musical.ly account? I did and it was super embarrassing haha.


As far as creating content, It’s as complex and simple as Instagram Stories or Musical.ly, or even Vine. It definitely depends on the kinds of content you’re trying to create and how you want to accomplish your objective.


So, that’s Tik Tok on the surface. Now, let’s dive deeper.


Tik Tok is considered to be a social entertainment app based on the four zones of social media. In Layman’s terms, essentially it is part of a subgroup of social media that its primary use isn’t to spread news, knowledge, or eCommerce. It’s simply to entertain consumers. We’re going to deep dive into why I think the intention of Tik Tok remains the same, however, why I also think that it may change in the coming years and how there are already shades of knowledge sharing, eCommerce, and sometimes even newsworthy content on the app.


The entertainment zone is also described as a place of “play”. Think of it this way, when you get home from a long day at work or school, all you want to do is lay on your bed and scroll through social media – in this case, Tik Tok – and your primary objective of this is to entertain yourself, laugh, escape, “play”. However, I’m sure when you pull out your phone to open these apps you’re not thinking to yourself “Oh! I’m going to get on Tik Tok to see what Dunkin Donuts drink I want to buy in the morning.” NO! I’d be shocked if anyone thought that. Hence why brands wedge themselves into the entertainment zone and why so many people hate advertising. Because while it’s annoying, it’s also effective. Businesses are taking advantage of the entertainment zone and the consumer being so relaxed in their world of escape that by the time they see an ad, they will more likely click on it versus an outlet where they’re getting critical information like the New York Times or Daily Memphian. Additionally, when a brand is more inventive with their ads – which they have the capability to do on Tik Tok since they are so well integrated into the monetization of the app – consumers are more likely to engage.


As in other areas beyond Tik Tok, consumers love hearing stories rather than your typical advertisement. Millennials and Generation Z are tired of sales pitches, we’ve heard them our whole life. Show us a company that cares, has a story AND makes a great product, then we’re on board.


Benefits for Marketers

One of the many benefits of Tik Tok that marketers can utilize comes from the book; branded entertainment. Like I said before, Tik Tok is part of the entertainment zone of social media. Therefore, the big question is how a marketing team can advertise, create, and promote in an entertainment space. Well, essentially, we could either opt for paid media and run advertising campaigns on the app or we could create our own shared media page by creating branded content hosted by our account. In a less social media zone, we also could create branded content such as video games, general videos, or music, for that matter.


The entertainment zone is actually a great place for a business to be. It’s deceptively not so and therefore, lots of companies opt out of Tik Tok. However, when the consumer is entertained and then encouraged to interact with the content, that creates engagements, clicks on links, and sales. This goes back to the days of traditional advertising; commercials. The consumer is first being entertained and then wants to buy that product based on the outstanding commercial. However, with this kind of advertising being promoted on this form of media, it makes it all the easier for the consumer to click on a link, purchase a product, and get it delivered to their door.


We see similar types of marketing in the modern-day influencer. While they may be playing the long game as compared to a company, they are building trust, sharing authenticity, and then in turn become an influencer of society known for their expertise, taste, and essentially, entertainment. Through this social entertainment, consumers are dazzled. When your icon uses a certain skin cream, you must have it. The only way that influencers are able to accomplish this, however, is through the entertainment aspect in the front of the process.


When it comes to specific, there are a ton of benefits to Tik Tok for brands. Here are a few:


- First of all, Tik Tok has a HUGE and growing audience. The audience is also international, which is great for global brands.


- The trend for video marketing isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, research has shown that 86% of people would like to see more videos from brands, per my previously explained concept.


- Through my research, while it doesn’t seem like the advertising is great for small businesses, if you’re a corporation of any kind, you’re golden. The tools provided offer five different ways to advertise (with the video ad on the “For You Page” being the most popular and effective) by targeting a specific segment or public.


- A business can showcase company culture, values, Corporate Social Responsibility efforts, and stories from the team. This is great in not only improving sales but boosting your reputation and credibility. This also enhances consumer confidence.


Successful Campaigns:


One of the most successful Tik Tok campaigns occurred in 2019 from Chipotle. According to MediaKix.com, “Chipotle had its annual “Boorito” offer for Halloween this year, offering food at a reduced price for customers who ordered in a spooky outfit. Like other brands, TikTok has increasingly become a key part in Chipotle’s promotional campaign this year. The challenge involved users posting a video showcasing their before and after Halloween costume transformations, using the custom sound bite that Chipotle created just for the campaign.

The top five posts (based on number of likes) that used the #Boorito and #Contest tags would give winners free burritos for a year. Influencers who were sponsored to participate in the campaign included Brittany Broski, Zach King, and Jiffpom.


Throughout the campaign, the #Boorito tag garnered an astonishing 3.6 billion views, largely helped by partnering with influencers who could promote viral videos for the brand. Broski’s promotion racked up 160K likes in her advertisement.


This isn’t Chipotle’s first experience on TikTok. The brand has a history of success on the platform. It previously did a promotion for National Avocado Day using the tag #GuacDance, encouraging fans to post a video showing off their dance moves. The campaign got 250,000 submissions and 430 million video views in six days.”


This is only one example of the thousands of amazing campaigns done on the app.


Marketing Risks:

With all these positive comments being thrown out I must mention the not-so-positive risks as well.


- A lot of the risks are the flipside of its strengths. The first one being, the massive audience. One screw-up would most likely get you canceled and/or ruin your reputation as a company.


- In order to be successful, you must stay completely original and always be re-inventing the wheel. It can prove to be a real challenge to not stay stagnant and develop processes. Not only are you content creators looking for ways to entertain consumers, you are also trying to find innovative ways to sell them a product.


- Again, the paid media aspect isn’t great for small to medium-sized businesses. Most companies will opt for a platform like Facebook x Instagram for more geofencing and targeted ads.


- Tik Tok has curved their age demographic a bit, but the platform remains primarily for a younger audience and therefore narrows the audience. Companies also shouldn’t promote high-end products as Gen Z-ers don’t have disposable incomes more often than not. Companies will want to promote high-end products more frequently on Instagram, first, and then Facebook.


Business Professional Benefits


Are you up-and-coming wunderkinds or a titan of industry? Well, come on down, you’re the next contestant on the social entertainment zone. No, but seriously, Tik Tok is a great place for business professionals. Whether you’re networking, learning about resume tips and tricks, or how to do in your next interview, Tik Tok is the place for you. While I wouldn’t consider Tik Tok the video equivalent to LinkedIn, there is a lot of great content being produced for this market. There are constantly videos of funny office situations, management quips, and all forms of business entertainment. While the networking isn’t quite as large as a platform like LinkedIn or Instagram, it does happen. Primarily, Tik Tok can be and is a great place to spread knowledge (that is entertaining, mind you) about how to succeed in business and/or become financially responsible. Truly, I believe that with the proper focus and care, Tik Tok could blow up for business professionals. Meanwhile, it still is a great place to learn and grow.


Monetization Strategy:

Tik Tok’s monetization strategy relies solely on the paid advertising. The app is free to download and to join. Like I said earlier, the advertising is crazy expensive and that’s probably why. I don’t think they should charge for an account, but they possibly could do a Tik Tok premium that removes ads and unlocks special content from verified users. This could bring them more money in and let them reduce the advertising minimums, therefore increasing the number of businesses purchasing paid media and increasing ads on the for you page (which in turn gets people to purchase Tik Tok +) more revenue all around. Win-win. Though, users will be mad.


Conclusion:

In conclusion, I think Tik Tok is a fantastic app for personal and professional use. When it first came out and I heard that businesses were using it for marketing efforts, I was shocked and negative about it, to be honest. However, through the years and seeing the displayed successes of the app for small to large businesses, I’m sold on the concept. I can see this app being used for all types of marketing escapades. New product development, product launch, brand awareness, CSR efforts, culture videos, and an array of others.


Yes, Tik Tok is in the social entertainment zone, but I believe that it’s much more and heading for much more. It’s way ahead of where anyone thought it would be and is the future of social media as we know it. It’s just a matter of time. Hence, the name, I guess.

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