Digital Strategy

TikTok – Is time running out for the trendsetting social platform?

With social media constantly changing and being updated to enhance the user’s experience, these platforms are always under the microscope with rolling updates that face the love/hate critique of users and creators.

With social media constantly changing and being updated to enhance the user’s experience, these platforms are always under the microscope with rolling updates that face the love/hate critique of users and creators. But of late, this critique is stemming from political scrutiny and national discussion. And now, it’s TikTok’s turn under the spotlight (and not the kind it often basks in). With imposed restriction and outright bans on government and public sector devices across the US and Canada, TikTok is having its moment. However, this platform and its devoted users continue, “business as usual”. So, don’t worry, you can still indulge in your GRWM videos, spend hours scrolling through a day in the life of an adorable labradoodle or perfecting your lip-syncs, duets and popular dance routines, at least for now.

You may be asking, what does this mean for brands or content creators engaging on TikTok? Is it time to stop and run to the next best thing, or continue as-is?  We say, a little of both. Continue with a plan in-place and apply a nimble mindset.

Brands and content creators continue to leverage TikTok for creative and authentic video content that allows you to be immersed in topics of interest – selected by you and eventually curated for you (and truly hyper targeted to what best suits you), in an endless stream of entertainment. While the user appeal is clear and first swipe, content creators and brands have also flocked to the platform for a number of reasons:

  1. Larger Following

    For brands or content creators, TikTok may be the social platform that enables the most rapid growth of social following and loyalty with daily – even hourly – content consumption and engagement among a key audience.

  2. Reach a Mass Audience

    On TikTok the right content (what entertains, intrigues, surprises, helps or relates) has the opportunity to spread to a mass number of users – through purely organic reach, in ways that other platforms no longer seem to enable without paid amplification. With that comes added benefits of mass awareness and visibility of content across users that may not be following but have similar content streams (based on other account follows, comments posted, videos liked or saved). Along with reaching the audience organically, both brands and content creators may put paid amplification behind their organic post to further extend targeted reach.

  3. More Engagement

    On TikTok, brands and creators have a chance to receive an impressive number of engagements (likes, comments, video shares, etc.), as well as viral uptake of copy-cat content or repeated trends that can be a bonus to brand awareness and recall. According to a study from Neuro Insight, brands on TikTok see higher engagement and receptiveness to brand messaging and calls to actions (shop now, learn more).

  4. Preferred Platform Amongst Their Demographics

    Depending on the brand or content creator’s audience, TikTok may be the preferred platform for their demographic. For example, TikTok users tend to be younger than Instagram users, so if a brand is looking to target Gen Z, TikTok would likely be the best place to activate. For any brand or content creator, it’s important to identify who your demographic is (age, locations, interests, etc.) and what social platforms they are using most often.

While the reasons to engage on TikTok are appealing, the lack of certainty around the platform’s future are daunting – having some brands questioning future campaigns and strategy.

Our perspective – be where your audience is and keep your options open:

  1. Work with content creators that have established presence on other platforms, should you need to pivot, as well as ensuring your brand is active on other (relevant) platforms and channels where your audience engages regularly.
  2. Adapting to other platform content styles (adaptable assets) which may include changing your content from TikTok (raw and authentic to potentially more polished).
  3. Leverage Instagram Reels or YouTube which both allow short and longform videos that are similar to TikTok.
  4. Consider other established and emerging social media platforms and monitor where your audience is going, including other video sharing platforms (Clapper, etc.).
  5. Consider cross-promoting. By cross-promoting, you are able to post on multiple platforms such as Meta (Instagram and Facebook), Pinterest, etc. and bring brand awareness and engagement across several platforms instead of one.
  6. If you are a brand and working with influencers or content creators, consider having a second plan in place which include adapting future contracts to post content on other platforms.
  7. If you are a brand or content creator and looking to put paid amplification behind a post, be sure to research potential interests that are available on these platforms to help boost your content to the right demographic.

While we may not have a crystal ball, what we know for now is that TikTok has not seen the sunset quite yet and may come out stronger than before.

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Harbinger is a Toronto-based North American marketing agency with expertise in product launches. We help brands get noticed and purchased.


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