Every so often, a social media trend bursts onto the scene and dominates the global imagination. When Snapchat really blew up, everyone thought that they needed to be on the app, just like it was in the very first days of Facebook. Now, the app that’s got everybody talking is Tik Tok. And, just like with previous apps, marketing managers are trying to figure out whether they need to adjust their sails to the gust of wind that’s blowing in the industry.
It’s maybe worth keeping in mind that this particular wind isn’t even new – Tik Tok’s been out since 2017, and became a big player in the social media industry because of another app – musical.ly. Tik Tok bought the other short video platform in 2018, and gained access to all the videos that was once on musical.ly, which was already widely popular around the world. The same conversation happened then, too – advertisers struggled to find out whether they should’ve been on musical.ly, like they’re wondering now about its successor Tik Tok.
The answer the question, though, is it depends.
Every platform is unique, and favours a specific kind of media and audience. So, at least in that sense, you want to ask yourself whether your brand can benefit from sharing their products and services in that medium, or for that audience. You might feel, though, that with so many people using the platform, and sharing what they see on other platforms, shouldn’t you just jump on the bandwagon and figure out what you’re going do when you get there?
We’re going to go ahead and say no to this one. At least, no to just jumping on the bandwagon. Like everything marketing, you want to have a plan, and use platforms that speak to that plan easily and effectively. And there’s an easy way to figure out whether Tik Tok is an app to add to your toolbelt. Interestingly enough, it’s got nothing to do with whether your brand can do well in video, or whether their demographic is the one for you (of course, these are still important questions, though). In fact, whether it’s Tik Tok or some new application that comes out in 2020 or beyond, you want to start by asking yourself a different question entirely.
The real question you should be asking is, what’s my brand’s personality, and would it do well on this new platform?
Think about Facebook, for instance. When it first came out, it was for young adults – originally people in college – to connect to current and former classmates. If its business model was entirely fleshed out back then, it would ideally have been a place for businesses targeting youth, or those selling services to university students. Now, it’s evolved into sort of an everyman’s platform, but it’s still about connecting and sharing one’s genuine selves to all those who they’re close to. Twitter, on the over hand, is a micro-blogging platform that’s kind of transformed into a place to pick up on the latest drama (and even more recently, to read the misguided tweets of politicians).
Depending on what you want your audience to see of your brand, either (or both) of these platforms might be a good fit. With Twitter, brands are experimenting with being funnier, more condescending, or even more nihilistic to get the attention of consumers. And while it’s getting mixed results, it’s also getting lots of attention from other users, who are retweeting and screenshotting the things they find funny or weird.
Tik Tok isn’t just incredibly short videos for mostly young people. They’re almost entirely comical videos and lip-sync videos. That’s a pretty narrow market, when you think about it. But if your brand is the funny kind, there may be something in this app to explore. Bonus points if it has a connection to music or sound that is at the core of the business, or its brand materials have a core sound that could be intriguing to put on the platform.
If your company is comfortable with other people on the platform playing with the sounds attached to your brand, there’s an even bigger opportunity – letting other Tik Tok users use your sounds to create new content of their own! Even without you doing any of the work, there’s a chance that someone will make something funny and viral that has your brand’s signature all over it. But it all depends on whether your brand’s personality matches the platform and the people using it.
No one’s going on Tik Tok to buy something, but they could be convinced if you show them another side of you that they like. If you’re up to experiment with the platform, and you think your brand fits in with teenagers mouthing off to their favorite songs or recording silly videos, then go for it!