Social media app TikTok is gaining popularity with not only Gen Z but other generations have embraced the video-sharing platform. 

According to the global edition of the We Are Social Digital 2020 report TikTok was the fourth most downloaded social app following Facebook, Messenger and WhatsApp in 2019. In Australia it was the fifth most downloaded app overall behind Messenger, Netflix, Spotify and Instagram.  

The Chinese company’s machine-learning system analyses every single piece of content each user engages with and uses this information to curate a never-ending stream of short-form mobile videos optimised to hold their attention, according to Suzie Shaw, managing director at We Are Social. 

“Its powerful algorithm is what keeps people glued to their ‘For You’ pages – an endless stream of quirky and addictive content – and keeps them coming back for more,” Shaw said. 

The Digital 2020 report said 8 per cent of Australians between the ages of 16 and 64 are using the app every month, in hard numbers that’s 1.78 million visitors, making its way into Australia’s top 16 most-visited social platforms. The users are also highly engaged, opening the app eight times a day on average.

Shaw said TikTok has proven to be a highly effective platform across the funnel, from awareness to conversion.

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Opportunities for marketers

Marketers are utilising and profiting from this app in two ways according to Heather Cook, General Manager APAC at Hootsuite. Either through influencer marketing or by generating original branded content. 

“Influencer marketing is now firmly established as a key tactic that delivers financial returns for organisations, consumers and influencers alike,” Cook said. 

“Organisations can tap into the extended networks of influencers, and effect change via channels with which their target audience will already have affinity and engagement. Similarly, consumers benefit through brand endorsements that are, to an extent, validated by aspirational influencers that deliver additional credibility to a product’s promotion.” 

Cook said TikTok empowers brands and influencers to seamlessly create content in an efficient and cost-effective manner that drives economies of scale for both parties. 

“Brands that reap the greatest financial returns from TikTok are those that capitalise upon the platform’s short-form video format to create impactful stories that enhance brand positioning and build brand equity.”

Cook said TikTok’s relevance and utility have also been validated by the report’s finding that it is now the world’s seventh most used social media platform. 

Challenges for marketers

While the user base is continually growing there are still some impediments for marketers. 

According to recent Gartner research, TikTok 101: Best Marketing Practices for Social Media’s New “It” Platform despite its early success, TikTok does not yet have a deep pool of established celebrity influencers for marketers to draw from for partnership opportunities. 

Another challenge Gartner identified concerns is the app’s ‘For You’ page due to its focus on a participatory video story ‘chains’ and a mostly Gen Z user base. The typical connection to both friends and actionable information that anchors other platforms simply doesn’t apply. This makes it challenging for marketing leaders to determine exactly where they sit in this emerging ecosystem. 

To overcome these challenges Gartner recommends marketers optimise their TikTok marketing plans by focusing on how its young users’ distinct values, priorities and platform-specific behaviour preferences collectively shape their unique brand expectations on the platform. 

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