China produces some of the world’s most used and most innovative digital platforms but their popularity doesn’t always spread as far as the West. TikTok is the example that bucks that trend. Known in its domestic market as Douyin, this app very quickly spread in popularity from its Chinese launch in 2016 and is now thought to have 500 million monthly active users around the world.
TikTok’s essentially a karaoke app – set up to make it easy to lip-sync or dance to music clips but it’s also easy to create other content set to music. In essence, the concept is 15-second video clips with a soundtrack overlaid. Content is organized by hashtags, the next piece of content is readily served and it’s easy to follow creators.
Douyin launched outside China by acquiring existing music-based video app Musical.ly which it then rebranded as TikTok. Although the Chinese audience for Douyin remains larger than the world audience for TikTok, TikTok’s grown virally and has already become culturally influential.
● TikTok certainly has a share of audience attention, particularly among younger consumers that remain hard to pin down in other media channels. What’s frustrating about TikTok is that it’s not linked to Google or Facebook, which between themselves have carved up a big chunk of online advertising.
● This frustrates your tracking abilities. It’s perhaps worth seeing it as a platform for raising brand awareness and engaging with younger audiences in particular.
● Advertisers that have experimented with the platform include film companies aiming at promoting films for younger audiences. Universal Studios worked with influencers on the platform to promote ‘The House with a Clock in its Walls’.
● Over in China, luxury brand Michael Kors ran a hashtag challenge and worked with local influencers. Evidence suggests that this combined approach may have proved cost-effective for Kors, with the number of impressions received favorable to a campaign of similar cost on WeChat.
● Cookie brand, Oreo, seemed to also have a positive experience on Douyin. Oreo ran a branded New Year campaign and a piece of user-generated content related to this went viral. The main takeaway for the brand was that Oreo still has a presence on Douyin long after the campaign ended. It’s hard to predict when content will go viral like that but it certainly had good results for Oreo in China.
Making TikTok Work For You
There are several approaches that brands can take to working with TikTok or Douyin:
● There’s the option to use the app to promote your brand’s visual identity by creating content for your channel on there.
● Brands can approach the platform to harness the app’s own in-house content creators or get content featured, which gives you an immediate audience.
● Brands can also sponsor hashtags, create branded content such as custom stickers – something Pizza Hut did to great effect in China. Combining this approach to get the app to promote your brand campaign using the relevant hashtags is a common approach that brands take on the platform.
● A cheaper approach is to partner with individual content creators directly, although this relies on organic reach. Top TikTok influencers can command up to $100k to partner with brands. You’ll sometimes hear content creators being called Musers, a hangover from the days when the app was known as Musical.ly. These video creators can get tipped by viewers using a system of microcredits.
TikTok having 120 million users began showcasing its advertising products to Indian brands last November, and amongst the first to leverage the platform is online retailer Voonik, which began advertising in end March.
Others using the platform are beverage major Pepsi, and a host of e-commerce sites such as Myntra, ShopClues, Snapdeal, ed tech startups like Cuemath, Masterclass, video on demand companies Voot and Viu, delivery app Dunzo, dating app TanTan, social commerce platform Meesho and short-video social network app Vigo.
“TikTok has users creating great content even from the most remote towns in the country. For marketers, this translates into easily reaching an audience that was harder to tap otherwise,” said Sachin Sharma, head of Ad Sales and Customer Support for ByteDance India.
The Chinese major is currently the world’s most valued startup with an estimated worth of $ 75 billion.