TikTok has become the go-to app for Gen Z and others who prioritize social commerce influencers. However, U.S. lawmakers and citizens with growing concerns about data security and surveillance are pushing for congressional action to ban TikTok’s operation.
Meanwhile, TikTok’s social media platform holds considerable influence on consumers thanks to its video reach and personalized messaging approach.
This popularity gives marketers an opportunity to cash in before more regulations — the app is already outlawed on many government devices in the U.S. — and a potential IPO comes into play. Unless political factors intercede, TikTok is headed to reshaping the advertising and retail industries in 2023.
Marketers looking to get the most out of advertising and selling on TikTok Shop need to invest in video fully, suggested Laura Perez, global director of B2B communications for TikTok. That approach will help them maximize the differences between stream marketing and more traditional selling strategies.
“TikTok is such a different platform than TV or other digital or social platforms. We are educating brands and businesses on the value of the TikTok communities. The types of content they create is different as a video form and focuses on the value of being authentic,” Perez told the E-Commerce Times.
Data collection, too, plays a crucial role in marketing on TikTok, added Mary Kotara, lead media consultant from Adswerve. Marketers should gather as much information about consumer buying data on the platform as they can.
“TikTok is currently tracking so much data on their users, making audience targeting very honed in at the moment, which is beneficial to marketers. In the future, marketers can use their historical data to guide decision-making despite any regulations or tracking crackdowns,” Kotara told the E-Commerce Times.
Different Shape to Online Retail
TikTok is a unique inventory source where users are eager to spend hours constantly scrolling while being given new, entertaining potential with each swipe, noted Kotara. This state of affairs requires advertisers to think critically about their creatives.
“It is not wise to repurpose the same video ad created last year or use the same script that has defined pre-roll and YouTube videos for years,” she cautioned. “On TikTok, without a great video, you might as well not be on TikTok at all because a user will skip it for the next dopamine boost waiting after your ad.”
She added that this need for fresh video content on TikTok would result in improved creatives for the advertising industry since marketers can repurpose the TikTok assets for other buys.
TikTok’s early days were a process of attracting advertisers and growing a retail audience. Its unique video approach did not come naturally for brands that were used to advertising on TV and spending millions of dollars on celebrity endorsements, observed Perez.
“People want to see their favorite creators engaging with that brand or that product. So, it is a much more authentic experience. I think that will be a part of our continued education, especially as we start to play around with new solutions and offerings, whether it be different ways to advertise on TikTok or work with creators or sell products,” she continued.
Doing this in a way that is appealing to the TikTok community is always going to be a conversation that the platform will have with brands and what they are doing with it, noted Perez about the need for tweaking brands on how they approach TikTok users.
Growing Beyond the Gen Z Audience
Social media surveys suggest that TikTok’s audience appeal is broadening to include more than Gen Z. As this trend continues, marketers must test the potential to influence a broader audience.
To succeed, marketers must follow the same process used in any format, suggested Kotara. Tailor a brand’s creative content to that audience to cultivate messaging that speaks to them. Then see how performance nets out to gauge awareness or interest in their brand, she prescribed.
“Be sure to avoid a disruptive experience for the TikTok audience. Those users expect the platform’s unique video style,” cautioned Perez.
Videos that show background insight into a brand can be a big hit with viewers, she offered. For example, one candy shop did not promote the store or the sweet candies. Instead, the small business came to life by making videos of them packing different shipments headed to people in the community.
TikTok viewers loved seeing how they were putting these different candy assortments into a box and shipping them to people, she noted.
“It was more of that real-life moment people could relate to. So, create that visual environment that feels engaging and unique to your brand,” Perez recommended.
Take Advantage of Cautious Competitors
Some would-be advertisers are shying away from expanding onto the platform in the wake of the political and security concerns now involving TikTok. That becomes a barrier, keeping sellers from showing interest or consumers from wanting to use the shop, admitted Perez.
“I will say, geopolitics-wise, we are in active conversations with the U.S. government [about] some of their concerns. That is also a conversation we are being pretty transparent about with our brand and merchant partners.”
The issue surrounding TikTok’s reputation does have an impact, agreed Kotara. It limits the amount or type of marketers willing to serve their ads on TikTok. “And likewise, the audiences capable of being reached on TikTok. There are users who are concerned by whom their data may be available. So, supply and demand are affected in their own way,” she offered.
Social Commerce Shake-Up
Paid social entertainment retail is having a moment right now with a few shake-ups, Katara observed.
Advertisers are leaving Twitter in droves due to the latest ownership impacts and news. Facebook has been losing the trust of its users and its ad dollars from marketers given Apple updates. Instagram has changed backend algorithms causing concern among its influencers.
“Who is left when considering social entertainment? TikTok,” she concluded.
If the company does not survive the pending congressional inquest, perhaps a new platform mixed with existing ones will pick up the pieces and apply the marketing lessons learned so far with TikTok-style social commerce.
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