There's an app on the market that is taking social media by storm, even outperforming popular apps like Instagram and Snapchat. With over 1.5 billion downloads so far, and a surge of new users in recent weeks, TikTok doesn't look like it's going anywhere anytime soon. So what exactly is it and why should your brand be interested?
What Is It?
TikTok is an app created by ByteDance for iOS and Android. It was originally designed as a musical app to showcase lip-syncing and dancing, via 15-second video clips, but has since evolved to include comedic skits. These clips are often highlighted with fun visual effects, adding to a viral worthy short video. Beyond that, it's the newest "big thing" and it's become a go-to for social media users who want to see and be seen. Hugely popular among Millennials and Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2012), it's fascinating, to say the least. So what does an app with a bunch of young people lip-syncing have to do with eCommerce? Well, a huge audience for one thing.
Who's Using It?
TikTok has over 500 million active users across the globe. Of those users, the biggest percentage are ages 16-24. The app is available in 155 countries, with the bulk of downloads coming from India, China, and the US, respectively. It continues to rise worldwide, with increasing audience diversity in the US as the upper end of Millennials (and beyond) are beginning to check it out. According to Sensor Tower, it was thought to have peaked in the 3rd quarter of 2018 with 205.7 million global downloads. But alas, in the last quarter of 2019, TikTok was going steady at 219 Million.
Should Your Brand Get Jiggy With It?
If those statistics have you salivating for increased brand exposure, you may be wondering if TikTok is a good fit for your brand. In simple terms, leaving TikTok untapped would be regretful, to say the least. Basically any brand that wants to market to a younger audience or boost brand recognition worldwide needs to stay in the mix with what's new. The ways to get involved with TikTok vary depending on how deep a brand wants to delve. Options include things like creating a brand channel, sponsored hashtag challenges, Ad takeovers, and utilizing influencers who already have a following on TikTok. One thing to note is that while TikTok exposes brands to a broader audience, and a large one at that, it is a well defined demographic. It may not pay off for brands that have a very specific customer base that is not congruent with this younger mix.
For everyone else, here are a few reasons why you should be utilizing TikTok for eCommerce:
1) TikTok makes you relevant (and cool).
Generation Z is the authority on what's in style, and social media is what they use to spread the word. Brands need to be known by this age group, which means getting in the mix by hanging out where they are already spending time, 52 minutes a day on average to be exact. Yes, it's a younger demographic but they are tomorrow's entrepreneurs. For today, they have parents footing the bill so it's really effective marketing to both age groups. It's as simple as creating an account that becomes the channel for your brand, finding trendy music and showcasing your product. Once you master the TikTok world, you can repost those videos on other platforms as well to let customers know that your brand has a presence on every relevant platform.
2) TikTok is still young and largely untapped.
Gen Z is going to be taking notice of who is hopping on TikTok to hang out with them before it's more saturated with brands. They are looking to see which brands are willing to have a little fun and embrace their creative ways. This brand move will be most effective early on while you can still stand out as "young and fun." Now is the time to stand out by making your presence known. In the next 5 years, there's a good chance TikTok will be what Instagram is today, and merchants will be wishing they would have gotten on board earlier. Brands that wait to use TIkTok for eCommerce may end up playing catch up in a sea of wannabes.
3) The possibilities are endless.
Right now Gen Z is the largest group on TikTok, but let's not forget that Facebook started out by engaging recent high school graduates before the "parental takeover" happened. Because TokTok is young and already surging, there's no telling how their demographics will change in the next decade. The earlier brands get in, the better feel they will have as the landscape changes. If TikTok is the Instagram or Facebook of tomorrow (it is), brands will want to be there for it.
4) TikTok is a safeguard for when other platforms fade.
If your brand is on Facebook and Instagram, that's great-- but both of those platforms are regulating ads more and more, and the cost is increasing as well. If the same people you're trying to reach are hanging out on TikTok, you're going to get more bang for your buck by putting your product in front of them one extra time. As is the way of social media, when the new takes over, the old will begin to fade. It's good to have a foot in the door so you're ready to embrace new trends. TikTok is owned and managed differently than Facebook and Instagram so advertising is likely to be handled a bit differently, hopefully with less red tape.
5) It's not time-intensive, but yields a potentially massive following.
TikTok clips are 15 seconds of budget-friendly fun. You don't need a lot of bells and whistles. There is no need for a studio or hours of editing. In order to fit into the scene, casual is all you need. If you hit the right note, you could have followers numbering in the millions in no time. To take a little time to play around with TikTok isn't going to cost much. Brands can get a read pretty quickly on what it's impact will be, in the form of likes. It may take some trial and error but the learning curve isn't steep as far as branding strategies go. There's no commitment to getting your feet wet on TikTok. It's easy to test the waters before launching a full-blown campaign.
Go For It
Overall TikTok is an eCommerce marketing playground waiting for you to explore. It's got unlimited potential and it's just getting started. It's playful, different, and allows for a lot of new ideas creatively. Risk is low, the upfront investment is minimal if you want it to be, and once brands hit a stride they will have a whole new demographic interested in your product. Take, for example, Walmart who recently launched an account on TikTok with a hashtag challenge. They already have 1.1 million likes and a follower base that's rapidly growing at 155,000. This is a brand that not long ago wasn't considered "cool" by Gen Z. By staying in touch with trends like these, brands can be prepared for whatever changes come along in the social media world, creating less lag time in sales and engagement. For the vast majority of brands, this is a platform definitely worth diving into!
Rakuten Super Logistics is a leading eCommerce order fulfillment company that provides the scalability, flexibility, and cost savings retailers demand.
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