Remember when Facebook was the king of social media platforms? It was fun while it lasted, but times have changed: it’s TikTok’s time to reign.
TikTok’s popularity ushered in the beginning of a new decade and a new social media landscape with its revolutionary short-form video content. Since its boom during the pandemic, the previously labeled “lip-syncing app” evolved into the “holy grail of marketing” because of its shareable short-form content and rapid audience growth.
According to cloud-services company Cloudflare, TikTok surpassed established platforms like Google and Facebook as the most popular web domain in the world. TikTok is now a household name and a “super app” with billions of users that consist mostly of Gen Zers and Millennials, though older audiences are gradually getting into the platform as well.
TikTok’s success is attributed to two key elements: AI and building multi-channel networks. The platform uses artificial intelligence to customise a user’s feed based on its familiarity with the individual user’s preferences and interests. On the content creator’s end, AI-generated and real-time nuanced feedback allow creators to improve content performance and viewership.
Thanks to the platform’s aggressive approach to building multi-channel networks, users have access to a wide selection of fully-licensed copyrighted music libraries and TV and film snippets to aid their raw materials.
Whether you love or hate it, TikTok is an undeniable force that is running to become the future of content marketing. The big challenge for businesses is keeping up with the changes TikTok presents as more of their target audiences shift their attention to this platform.
How TikTok works
Upon opening the TikTok app, it will immediately ask about your interests for better video recommendations. Love animals? You can expect tons of adorable puppy videos (the ultimate dream!) as you scroll on the For You page (or FYP as TikTok veterans call it).
FYP is self-explanatory: it’s a page full of curated user-generated content based on the interests you chose when you first set up your account. The more you consume content, the more niche and curated your FYP will be as the AI-powered algorithm curates it with the type of content you engage with the most.
The AI-powered algorithm of TikTok also takes note of the following details:
- Individual settings (country, language, device)
- Video information (hashtags, captions, genre)
- User interactions (types of video that users interact with, accounts they follow and engage with)
A lot of the social media trends and movements start on TikTok because its foundation is user-generated content. The app’s interface and easy-to-navigate features allow users to create a casual but creative environment where they can connect and collaborate with other content creators and brands—making it easier for businesses to boost brand awareness too.
Unlike other platforms, TikTok promotes conversational content that encourages brands to create more relatable, engaging and entertaining videos. While you don’t need a huge budget to do well on TikTok, there are best practices for creating a video that can potentially increase engagement. Telling stories through your content and ensuring that you have consistent brand messaging can allow you to connect with your audiences.
TikTok will shape the future of content marketing
TikTok’s influence on digital and social media trends makes it a powerhouse in content creation, distribution and marketing. Gone are the days when it was just a “dancing” app, it’s evolving as a marketing platform that addresses the latest trends and consumer behaviour.
The app’s main users are Gen Zers, who are considered tomorrow’s target audience because of their authority over social trends and rising purchasing power. As digital natives, Gen Zers are better at filtering the content they consume so it’s important to develop marketing that captures their attention.
The good news is TikTok’s popularity among Gen Zers gives marketers a window of opportunity to understand their behaviour and adjust the kind of content to produce.
The digital natives’ definition of good quality content primarily revolves around self-expression and authenticity. To engage the Gen Zer audience, brands have used TikTok to create relatable content that comes off as genuine.
Chipotle built its online presence on TikTok during the height of the pandemic by utilising recipe-type videos focused on kitchen trends. This type of content worked well because it encouraged the audience to recreate well-known and loved Chipotle dishes from the comforts of their home while using ingredients they already have.
Target also published a video called “7 things every Pisces needs from Target” on their TikTok account, utilising an already-popular trend focused on shopping hauls while combining it with common Gen Z interests, such as astrology and self-care.
Both brands highlight user experience to attract customers. Trends come and go but it’s personalised and uniquely created experiences that keep users interested in your content. To make effective content on TikTok, you need to have a good understanding of how the platform works as well as what your audiences look for on the super app, ensuring that you tailor your content strategies to niche groups.
What to do (and avoid) when creating branded content on TikTok
To be successful in TikTok, you have to research the type of content you want to create, if there’s a demand for it, if it’s been done before and if there’s a new twist you can incorporate into your content. It’s not necessary to follow all the latest trends, you just need to choose which ones fit your brand’s personality.
Because TikTok operates differently from other social media apps, using a pro account will give you access to detailed analytics and tools that will help evaluate and track your content’s performance over time.
As you continue to refine your content, remember that every video is an opportunity to spark a personal connection with younger audiences. Many older generations used to overlook TikTok as a frivolous app, but it’s an opportunity to connect with younger audiences that will eventually make up a large part of the workforce and most businesses’ target audiences. If you want Gen Zers to resonate with your brand, aim for genuine and authentic videos instead of ultra-polished, studio-quality content.
Even though TikTok is known for its ability to create viral hits, don’t go into the platform with the aim of becoming viral. It might be thrilling to see thousands of notifications, but these numbers won’t sustain your brand’s influence over your audience. The most important thing about creating content is building consistency over time, as it allows you to build customer trust and loyalty.
TikTok’s unique content format and business model make it a powerful social media force that is shaping and influencing content marketing’s future. Its AI-powered algorithm can quickly curate a user’s personal feed, ensuring that they receive content that’s tailored to the viewer’s preferences. TikTok can be an opportunity for you to create a different kind of content while building a new customer base on the superapp.