— On Comms Design. From London

Abou TikTok

And so it goes again. Something social breaks through the clutter online and young people love it, because, let’s be honest, they’re young, they want to have a bit of fun, they’re creative, they like to bob their heads to their favourite music and film themselves doing it.

No. I am not being facetious. I think TikTok is great. It really doesn’t matter that it’s Vine and Musical.ly merged together (incidentally, Musical.ly was merged with the Chinese app to create the Western Europe and US TikTok). What matters is it has filled a gap left wide open by Twitter when they ineptly decided they could not be bothered to monetise Vine. And people love it and, should you decide to try it, I bet you will love it too.

The big question among 30 year olds and older in the marketing industry now seems to be “should I download this now?”. The even bigger question in the marketing industry media is “will Tik Tok kill anything?”. Nobody seems to know the answer to any of these but everybody loves to mock the new digital “innovation” thinking that it’s cool to be a luddite. It’s not.

Here’s what I’ve always said about these things to folks in marketing:

  1. Yes, download it, if only so you don’t ever say something I heard in a meeting from a Business Director → “I have no idea how filters on Instagram work”. Have a play. You don’t have to be a TikTok superstar. Just find out how the controls work and also learn how ads are placed because then you can move on to no. 2
  2. No, it will not kill anything but at some point the sheer scale of it will mean you will get a brief which implies that TikTok is an interesting option to explore. And here’s the good news: unlike Vine which, for some crazy reason could now figure out how to monetise, TikTok has a fast developing ad ecosystem in China which will soon be translated into other markets. As a brand, it’s not complicated to “pay to play” with TikTok. You don’t even have to figure out who the influencers are because the main “feed” shows them to you on a regular basis if you don’t specifically follow someone. You can place video ads (currently seems only in Chinese version), sponsor hashtags, sponsor people, create challenges and soon there will be multiple ad formats delivered through a pretty modern ad platform. It’s not rocket science and if you’re in the game of reaching younger demographics it’s AN OPTION.

Of course there are problems. It’s a platform that grew by 30 million in 3 months following its takeover of Musical.ly. It’s adding incredible numbers as we speak. People are creating content all the time. Some of it is not great, some is ok, and there are small pockets of content that needs moderation. There’s also a fear that some of the very young users might be at risk in an environment which is not really moderated.

Are these new challenges, completely different from other platforms? No. will they be addressed? No, but then you should also consider holding back from Facebook, a platform that has been blamed for both damaging democracy and the individual self.

So what do you do? Embrace YES. Dip your toes and try it. It’s not going to kill you or advertising as we know it. It’s just going to make you sound qualified in meetings.