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TikTok proves its value in brands' mission to engage with consumers

By Barry He | China Daily Global | Updated: 2022-01-12 09:15
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The TikTok logo is pictured outside the company's US head office in Culver City, California, on  Sept 15, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

Tiktok has now officially overtaken Google as the internet's most popular destination search-wise, boasting over 1 billion monthly users. As China's most famous digital export, the brand is synonymous with global vogue and pop culture.

As billions of people have been in lockdown over the last two years, many have looked to the app for a source of entertainment, making brand success on the app a big deal. Whether it be a musician's song that goes viral or a company brand that obtains a huge following, any success on TikTok is 21st century gold dust. The most exciting social media space in the world, new trends on the app in 2022 will be followed closely by individuals and corporations alike. Understanding these developments is of huge importance.

Videos on TikTok are limited to 60 seconds, with the most popular length still being just 15 seconds. What is becoming increasingly popular with creators is episodic content, a series of videos that follow the same sequence or plot. More commonly associated with long-form content on platforms such as television and online streaming, audiences on TikTok are becoming more and more hooked on weekly cliffhangers at the end of 60-second videos. Audiences naturally want to see what follows, and more in-depth concepts can be explored, countering the traditional notion that scrolling through such apps offer a superficial experience.

Hashtag challenges are another popular craze that brands should be aware of. US talk show host Jimmy Fallon created the wildly popular#TumbleWeedChallenge, which greatly increased the show's engagement with a younger audience. The challenge itself involved rolling around on the floor to resemble tumbleweed with the backing track of old American western music. A catchy hashtag or engaging challenge that users will have fun sharing can prove extremely useful for brands looking to raise their profile, or be associated with a certain humor or action, raising emotive awareness in a way traditional public relations strategies may struggle to do.

Building on the hashtag challenges, social commerce is also an invaluable asset to brands. Similar to hashtag challenges, social commerce allows users to add shopping links to their videos featuring displayed products. First popularized among young audiences in China, the home of TikTok, this style of advertising is extremely popular. Gen Z in particular are much more likely to buy items recommended to them by influencers they follow who have included a purchase link to their social commerce post, rather than through official channels. This breed of marketing is more personable and does not carry the corporate atmosphere that many traditional commercials try their hardest to shed.

The growth of TikTok has been so rapid that brands in the West were initially slow to recognize the value of the platform. This has now completely changed.

In 2022, a company that targets millennials and Gen Z must be well versed if it is to survive. TikTok has a formal advertising branch, meaning that its capacity to target the relevant demographics is more accessible than ever. This in turn means that the system is able to support an even larger variety of influencers, with even more space for people to develop followings in different fields.

According to a survey by Tribe Dynamics, 35 percent of influencers stated that they have started to utilize TikTok more heavily as part of their brand strategy. Ever more intelligent algorithms match users with content specifically tailored to them, maximizing the incentive for companies to heavily incorporate the platform as part of their marketing strategy.

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