Turner PR

Should DMOs Care About TikTok?

TikTok is the world’s fastest growing social media platform – and the coronavirus crisis has only seen it grow even faster. In March, there was an explosion in its user base, with downloads since then surging past 2 billion. As they did with Facebook, Instagram and beyond, brands of all stripes are naturally taking notice of the new kid on the social media block. Should destination marketing organizations start caring about TikTok, too? And more importantly, should they be spending their marketing dollars on the platform? The short answer is yes. The long answer is a little more complicated – but we’ll do our best to break DMO TikTok strategy down for you here.

TikTok Stats & Overview

First, a quick TikTok primer.

  • Think of it as YouTube, but with strict time limitations. TikTok is a mobile app that allows users to share 5-60 second videos. Content varies wildly, of course, but the vibe is quirky, humorous and meme heavy. Visual gags, lip-synching and viral dance crazes abound.
  • The app features a personalized, algorithm-driven discover page, a home feed, user profiles, and a built-in suite of video editing tools.
  • Previously home to a largely Gen Z user base, the platform is seeing exponential growth among millennials (and even Boomers), since those stuck at home are looking for new outlets of entertainment.
  • TikTok recently introduced advertising options, including traditional in-feed native videos, brand takeovers, sponsored hashtags, and branded lenses.


So, where do travel and TikTok strategy intersect?

In 2019, TikTok launched #TikTokTravel, a global three-day travel campaign across 100 countries and regions, in the hopes of inspiring users to creatively capture and share their travel moments. Tourism boards from cities and countries including Los Angeles, Dubai, Japan and others joined TikTok during the campaign period, with a few launching in-app activities. It kicked off a popular segment on the platform; according to recent data videos using the #TikTokTravel hashtag have been viewed nearly 10 billion times. Clearly, there’s an audience on TikTok that responds to travel-related content.

DMO TikTok Strategy & Partnerships

How should DMOs use TikTok?

Success on TikTok, no matter what industry you’re in, depends less on traditional advertising techniques and more on viral content, product placement, branding, influencers and soft-selling approaches. Because of the platform’s unique algorithm, challenges and contests spread like wildfire, garnering global attention with the right mix of influencer drive and ability to recreate.

For destinations, strategy is key.

  • Drill into what’s trending in your city or country. Find out who the key local TikTok creators and influencers are. They’ll act as your storyteller, amplifying your message with engaging content that will drive interest.
  • You’ll want to make sure your audience is well-defined when selecting influencers. This will ensure that partnerships are not only authentic but also reach your intended group of viewers.
  • However, also remember that TikTok content has the possibility of reaching far beyond a user’s follower base. Pick influencers with the closer connection to your destination over one with more followers. That way, the message will be more impactful and find its way to the right people.

TikTok Destination Marketing Takeaways

  • TikTok is the hottest social platform in 2020. It’s growing on a daily basis and rapidly moving beyond its predominantly Gen-Z userbase.
  • Travel content is expanding on TikTok, with the #TikTokTravel hashtag earning heavy engagement.
  • Destinations should avoid traditional advertising techniques on TikTok. Instead, build partnerships with local influencers who resonate with your chosen audience.
  • Contests and challenges are huge on the platform.

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