A unique (and rapidly fleeting) opportunity for savvy brands
My mom is a Gen Xer who spends most of her social media hours scrolling Facebook, with the occasional jaunt over to Instagram. She has never even opened Twitter or Snapchat, but now after months of being stuck in the house and bored — she has a TikTok.
In the middle of a global pandemic, it is really no surprise that TikTok is taking off. People of all ages and diverse backgrounds are looking for entertainment and reasons to smile, and TikTok delivers. Despite preconceived notions about the platform (“It’s just for Gen Z,” “I’m too old to be on TikTok” etc.), the latest app usage stats suggest that many of your customers are already using the platform… and, more importantly, that a lot of your competitors are not. This dichotomy presents a unique opportunity for your brand, but time is of the essence because this special period is likely short-lived.
Here are six reasons why I think your brand should join my mom (and millions of others) in taking the TikTok plunge.
1. Early adopter advantage is here
TikTok brought in 22.2 M mobile unique visitors over the age of 18 in January and, thanks to quarantine, in April that number jumped 73 percent to 39.2 M (Comscore data provided to Adweek). Opening the app an average of eight times per day, these millions of new users are hungry for content; impressions and eyeballs will get harder to come by as more brands jump on the bandwagon and saturate user feeds.
Early adopters will have time to test, learn and hone in on the best approach to gain the attention and loyalty of a new group of consumers, and will be seen as pioneers within their respective industries. Time and time again, brands who take the first plunge into a new social media pool win trade and consumer media attention for innovating in their category.
2. The platform is rapidly aging up
When people think TikTok, they think teens. But the most downloaded app of the year is aging up – fast! People from all walks of life are searching for new modes of entertainment from the confines of their homes.
The percentage of U.S.-based TikTok users aged 25-34 rose from 22.4% in January to 27.4% in April, with the 35-44 demographic growing from 13.9% to 17.1%. During that same time period, the share of 18-24 year-olds fell 5.8% (Comscore).
The rapid growth of not just users, but older users, aligns with the globally shared need for entertainment, community and connection brought on by the pandemic. This new demographic aren’t just watching in the shadows, either. For every two lurkers there is one content creator; 83% of TikTok users have posted at least one video. Today, you will find parents and even grandparents finding their voices on the platform.
3. Content is Diversifying: It’s not just for young, “cool” brands
When it comes to TikTok, there is truly a niche for everyone and everything. While TikTok feeds were once ruled by dancing teenagers and perfectly executed lip syncs, today’s feed quickly adapts to each user’s unique interests. Trending hashtags include #wellness (324.4M), #cookingvideo (526M), #TravelMemories (514M) and #SkillBuilding (2.2B).
This diversification of content has paved the way for a variety of surprising players to make an impact on the platform. From Arm & Hammer to Mucinex, many brands targeting an older consumer set have been able to leverage TikTok’s powerful content tools to explore a never-before-seen side of their voice and subsequently yield great results.
The compelling storytelling capabilities of the platform create another avenue for these unlikely brands to show up: Employee Generated Content. EGC is the new UGC! Employees create content behind the scenes, bringing life to an otherwise mundane process. For example, although Starbucks has never advertised or created content on TikTok, they have a large voice on the channel via posts by their baristas.
4. TikTok influencers are hungry for opportunities
TikTok has paved the way for a new generation of influencers. While their reach and audience engagement are through the roof, the limited number of brands on the channel make branded collaborations are far less commonplace than they are on Instagram. This presents a unique—but fleeting—opportunity for companies to forge partnerships that yield expansive reach for a fraction of the cost seen on other platforms.
Influencer marketing on TikTok also gives brands a low-risk way to test and learn how they are received on the platform, and what types of content work best for them. Rather than investing in building a channel from scratch, influencers will take away some of the guesswork.
***Word to the wise: make sure you seek-out TikTok native influencers to get the best bang for your buck. Your Instagram partners may feel safe but will likely charge you more and be less effective. ***
5. Stand apart from competitors
Is your product or service battling for attention from within a crowded vertical? Are you finding it hard to stand apart from competitors in your space? Even as TikTok’s userbase explodes, many brands are reluctant to jump in, providing those that take the risk with the opportunity to own their category.
While older users are adopting the platform in droves, the core base is still relatively young. This gives brands have an opportunity to intersect with younger generations and begin building loyalty early. Kroger is a great example of a brand that hopped on the chance to grab a younger demographic of consumers with their back to college campaign.
6. The impact you can make is unprecedented
From hashtag challenges and self-serve ads, to organic content and influencer partnerships, there are several ways to make a big impact while attention is high and cost is (relatively) low.
Here’s the thing, though: TikTok’s impact doesn’t stop at TikTok. In the Spotify top 40, nearly every song correlates with a TikTok viral video. Instagram, Twitter and Facebook feeds are full of repurposed TikTok content that then has a chance to go viral all over again. And, media is jumping at the chance to cover the next TikTok trend or brand innovating in their category simply by giving the platform a shot.
What are you waiting for? There is a captive audience waiting to be entertained and impressions – and influencers – are only going to get more expensive as time goes on. The demographic is aging up, yet still remains young enough to present an opportunity to reach a new demographic of consumers. Early adopters on TikTok will be seen as innovators by the industry and consumers alike. New can be overwhelming, but now is the time to consider taking the leap and tapping into TikTok.
NOTE: There are several theories surrounding TikTok’s handing of data; however, parent company ByteDance Ltd. has taken measures to distance itself from its Chinese roots and U.S. officials haven’t provided any proof publicly that TikTok is sharing information with the Chinese government. Plus, brands like Apple, Beats and Subway are launching campaigns every day – and seeing great success!