Short-form video app TikTok made impressive gains in 2019, rising to popularity among younger audiences. While some brands watch cautiously from the sidelines, other brands have decided to dive in and explore what the app has to offer. In either case, wise marketers keep their eyes on the latest directions TikTok is moving in to discover new opportunities. Here are a few trends we’ve noticed in 2020 — and why they should matter to you.

Even More Growth

At the end of April 2020, analytics company Sensor Tower reported that TikTok had exceeded 2 billion global downloads. The platform has managed to generate more downloads in a single quarter than any other app. The COVID-19 lockdowns seem to have had an effect on TikTok’s rapid growth. More consumers are turning to social media platforms for entertainment and a sense of connection.

This growth should serve as a green light for brands and marketers who have hesitated to try out the app for themselves. But it’s also important to consider which demographics are moving into the TikTok scene. Sensor Tower suggests most of the new app downloads are coming from India, China and the United States, in that order. That’s good news for brands serving those countries. If your business only serves the U.S., there are still plenty of reasons for you to use TikTok for outreach efforts.

In the U.S., not only are more people using TikTok, but they’re also spending more time on the app, reports eMarketer. And, although the app has an audience that mostly skews younger, there’s been a large increase in users ranging from 13 to 35 years old. In other words, if your brand is focusing on American Gen Z members or millennials, TikTok can be a valuable element of your marketing efforts.

More Opportunities for Artists and Brands

TikTok has always placed an emphasis on music — in fact, it was originally known as musical.ly. Some songs even owe part of their fame to the platform. Consider the song “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X, which went viral on the video-sharing platform. TikTok memes have also helped to pull older songs, such as Mariah Carey’s 2003 song “Obsessed,” back into the spotlight. In 2020, the platform is experimenting with livestreamed events that allow musical artists and their fans to connect in a way that’s both intimate and authentic.

All of this means that music-based brands and influencers have the potential to flourish on TikTok. However, non-musical brands and influencers can also benefit by pairing their content with the next viral hit song. It’s not always easy to predict which memes or songs are going to gain steam next, but regularly check TikTok’s “Trending” section for ideas.

Don’t feel the need to make a video for every single trend that comes along. In fact, doing so might come across as inauthentic or excessive. However, if a song or meme trend matches well with your brand’s identity, seize the opportunity to join the craze and make relevant content. If a viral challenge incorporates a prop, make your own version that involves some product placement. Or work with an influencer to create an entirely new challenge and hashtag that draw attention to your brand.

Emphasis on Livestreaming

As previously mentioned, TikTok is using livestreamed events to bridge the gap between artists and fans. Music fans aren’t the only ones who are making use of livestreams on the platform. Celebrities and entities ranging from Tyra Banks to the World Health Organization are also regularly connecting with audiences via streaming video.

You’ll need to have at least 1,000 followers to use TikTok’s livestream functions. So this may not be an option for new brands hoping to build an audience from scratch. If your brand already has a strong presence on other social media platforms, you might be able to clear the 1,000-follower threshold pretty quickly on TikTok. Just remember to announce your move to TikTok on your other accounts and provide a link for your audience to follow. 

To fully engage your audience with a livestream, consider the following strategies:

  • Give followers a live tour of your brand’s headquarters. This can be especially fun for your audience if you have a quirky work environment and plenty of lively personalities in the room. Don’t have a cool HQ? Work with what you have, and try to incorporate real, authentic humor.
  • Host a Q&A session in which your audience can pitch you questions. Even if the conversation steers into non-serious territory, this is a great way for your audience to get to know you and your brand.

Whether you’re livestreaming or uploading prerecorded content, don’t over-rehearse your videos. TikTok users appreciate authenticity. 

Content That Crosses Over to Other Platforms

TikTok videos don’t just stay on the platform; they have a habit of popping up on other social media platforms, including Instagram and Twitter. You can also find compilations of TikTok videos on YouTube. Use this potential for cross-over content to your advantage whenever you can, as it can help direct traffic to your TikTok account.

However, it’s not always wise to repurpose content from other social media platforms and use it on TikTok. The tone or format of the original content may not work well on the video-sharing app. Ad Age goes as far as to say avoid repurposing content from other platforms entirely. Instead, only use content native to TikTok and try to match the app’s casual, playful nature.

New Influencers

TikTok offers a unique format and plenty of tools for creative minds to experiment with. Most of these users are everyday people, not celebrities or well-known personalities. And if they happen to already support your brand, they could become valuable micro- or nano-influencers who spread the word about your products and services. Despite their small audience sizes, these influencers have high engagement with followers.

In addition to novice influencers building audiences on TikTok, more celebrities are also moving to the platform. You’ll find famous faces like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Megan Thee Stallion sharing content on the app. Of course, not every brand is lucky enough to work with superstars. But as celebrities shift to the app, you can expect TikTok’s popularity to rise as well.

Thinking Beyond Trends

Marketers who want to make a splash on TikTok will need to do more than just keep up with the latest trends. Partnering with influencers who know how to create viral videos on the app is essential. Younger influencers can also provide your brand with honest feedback on your messaging. Is your newest video genuinely funny? Or is it likely to come across as “cheesy” or even offensive?

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