TikTok moves mainstream

By Laura Leggetter

With consumers spending more time online as a result of the pandemic the role of social media has evolved. Connection is everything, and while consumers cannot always access their social networks in real life, they can certainly reach it online. The proof is in the pudding – social media usage is up by 61%.

But did we quite anticipate the shift in TikTok? Aside from having an account where I keep an eye on my daughter’s activity (which mostly revolves around the latest dance and skincare routines) I flippantly shrugged it off as a tool to consider as part of a communications campaign. Fast forward to December 2020 and many of our campaigns for 2021 are set to explore a relationship with this growing new subculture.

Far from filling a void left by Vine, TikTok’s surge in growth during 2020 (800 million users with a whopping  315 million downloads worldwide in Q1), has accelerated a drive towards more entertainment-focused content which is insightful, educational or simply, entertaining.  According to Sara McCorquodale, Founder and CEO of Corq, and the leading authority on the influencer space, the change in direction for what type of content consumers want to see has forced many established YouTubers or Facebook influencers to join TikTok as a new way of exposing their content to a wider, captive audience. Influencers have evolved their roles and have gone from content creators to broadcasters, hosts and presenters who quickly understood the new lifestyle problems facing consumers and produced solutions.

Content has shifted from said dance routines to ceramists showcasing how they make their work, personal finance tutorials and house renovations – with one movement our property team are watching closely, being ‘Brick Tok’ – a video trend which has 639.9 million views and sees users sharing videos of bricklaying as a form of ‘relaxation’ due to the repetitive nature of the task.

Brands on TikTok are quickly finding their groove too with Nike, Pepsi, and Universal Pictures among the many companies that have already been lured by its warpspeed success. Part of this appeal has to be the opportunity for facetime – the average TikTok user spends almost 52 minutes of their day on the app, coupled with reaching a completely new audience, whose age demographic is edging in the right direction for big brand spend.  Just this week Samsung announced a partnership which will see TikTok’s most-liked and most-viewed content available on Samsung’s most recent TV sets, providing a TV-esque viewing experience.

Things will get interesting in 2021 with a potential move away from the big players and a gravitation towards more organic, fun apps like TikTok. Either way the power of its ecosystem will only increase, and with it an opportunity to explore faces behind brands, leadership infused content and overall a more responsive, cause-led approach.