What are Americans using TikTok for, and what does this mean for advertisers?
There are over a billion people using TikTok every month and 2024 projections show that U.S. adults will spend nearly 20% of their social media time on TikTok. To discuss what TikTok users in the US are looking for and how advertisers can ensure successful campaigns, Managing Partner Jennifer Sudo joined John Koetsier on the Singular Growth Masterminds Podcast. Here are some of the highlights from the episode to whet your appetite, you can watch the full episode here, and read the associated blog here.
How are Americans using TikTok right now?
TikTok is tapping into a culture of ‘on-demand’. People are used to streaming whatever they want whenever they want, oftentimes in rapid succession. Short-form video formats have a role to play in this, people see something on TikTok and they find themselves continuously engaged in the For You page. Short-form video is not a new thing of course, but the nature of the way content is served on the platform means that people have an appetite for consuming more content than ever.
From an advertiser’s point of view, TikTok is useful because there is a community for anyone. Every sort of content can be found on TikTok in a digestible format, from relationships to cooking tips. Not only that, our survey found that TikTok ads are sticky, with 46% of TikTok users saying they are more likely to engage with an ad or influencer promotion on TikTok than any other platform — nearly 20% more likely than the closest competition.
TikTok motivates consumer action
The survey also showed that TikTok is highly influential, with 92% of TikTok users saying they had purchased something they saw promoted on TikTok or were willing to do so. Not only is TikTok a place that people go for discovery, eg a new book, a beauty product, etc, it’s also a great way to serve up more content that drives consumers further in their decision-making process and brings new customers back into the discovery phase by advocating through their own posts after trying something themselves.
TikTok for Discovery
Every day, people are posting about products and services that have changed their lives, places they love, recommendations, and general insight into everyday things. There are all types of communities, people having the same interests, experiences, problems, etc and they often find helpful content on TikTok, even without searching for it. The power of the algorithm to connect users to relevant content is one of the reasons why it’s so successful and TikTok has invested heavily in improving how content is discovered, making improvements in search for example. Rather than dig through pages of search results on traditional search engines and visit various websites or blogs, a lot of people are finding that TikTok gives them easily digestible experiences, often suiting people more than reading.
The TikTok experience is smooth
Most of the time when you’re watching TV or visiting a website, the experience will be interrupted by ads (to the point where people are willing to pay a higher subscription fee for an ad-free experience). On TikTok however, people spend time on the ‘For You’ page where ads that follow best practices are less obvious because people are used to seeing content from people they don’t follow. Advertisers that work with content creators or influencers often see great success as it feels more native than the traditional ads you find on other platforms.
Authenticity is king
There is a shift to finding the right people to create authentic content for brands over follower count or celebrity status. Working with creators and influencers can sometimes be a long process, advertisers should think about quality, not quantity, and be realistic about the need to find the right partners to work with, which can take time. Creators being sourced purely as UGC actors or even the use of AI can also be effective and cut down on production timelines, but what works for one brand may not for another. Agencies and brands require soft skills in this new world.
One of the positives of working with creators is that this approach can be cost-effective when compared to the huge budgets TV ad creative requires. With TikTok, testing is the most important strategy but you’ll want to use good judgment when selecting the right creators to avoid hurting the brand’s equity.
Deinfluencing is here
People are tired of creators who only post sponsored content in their feeds and they are smart, they know that not everything is the best product or service, and they are savvy about who to listen to. There is now a ‘Deinfluencing’ trend where influencers are calling out products that don’t work or don’t live up to expectations. That is why it is important to allow people to give their real opinion, and not dictate what they should say.
What will happen next?
The search functionality on TikTok will continue to improve, especially with the anticipation of search ads. Videos can already be searched based on keywords found in the video’s audio, text overlay, caption, hashtags, and via keywords tagged in the comments. Younger generations are using TikTok more than Google, it’s especially useful for people who prefer visual results. TikTok offers an easy and entertaining way to show information.
Will TikTok become too complex?
TikTok has always been essentially one thing, scroll and find new content. With the popularity of social commerce and more features being added, advertisers have the opportunity to engage with potential customers in even more ways. TikTok is an entertainment platform first and foremost, so advertisers should just keep in mind that you need to serve content that keeps people engaged and is helping them.
- Make TikToks not ads – create content/advertising that feels native to the platform rather than blatant advertising. There is an art to ‘Make TikToks not ads’, not any UGC will do. There has to be careful strategic thought and selection of creators to ensure they are working with the right brand ambassadors.
- Buying journey – think about the journey a customer goes through and what content is needed to serve their needs at each point. This might take 10 different videos to get someone to the point of purchase, ensure to test this.
Thank you to Jennifer Sudo and John Koetsier for their insights. Remember to download our TikTok survey; ‘What TikTok users what; the essential guide for performance marketers’ here for more insight into what TikTok users want and how to run successful marketing campaigns.
Read a blog from Singular based on this podcast here
Watch the full podcast episode here
Contact us to find out more about our Influencer performance marketing services and discuss your needs with Jennifer Sudo and her team