What the TikTok Saga Means for Influencer Marketing
Forget your favorite Netflix binge-watch cliffhanger. In 2020, the wildest narrative is the rise (and possible fall?) of TikTok. As we’ve noted previously, the coronavirus crisis caused the short-form video-sharing platform to explode in popularity. TikTok was once the realm of a primarily Gen-Z user base. But now, other age brackets are getting into the swing of things – as are brands. (Did we mention that TURNER has a TikTok channel now?) As of this summer, there are 800 million active TikTok users. But great success has also caused major controversy for the platform.
Here’s a quick catch-up of where we’re at with TikTok in August of 2020.
- Last week, President Donald Trump proposed banning the social platform over consumer privacy concerns.
- Microsoft is looking to purchase TikTok’s operations in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand from Chinese-owned ByteDance.
- Microsoft has promised that it would “build on the experience TikTok users currently love, while adding world-class security, privacy, and digital safety protections.”
- As a result, Trump has backed down from his initial ban proposal.
- The deal looks to be completed by mid-September. But if this year has taught us any lessons, things can change as fast as a teenager’s TikTok feed.
We’ll continue to follow the ups and downs of the TikTok saga as it develops. But one thing is certain: in the influencer marketing world, there’s pre-TikTok and post-TikTok. The platform has changed the game considerably — and permanently. Here are a few key developments.
Influencers in the TikTok Era
Influencers of all stripes are finding a home on TikTok. The platform has allowed previously unknown creators influencer go from zero to superstar in no time. It is relatively easy to use and offers an array of creative formats that influencers can make their own, rolling out bite-sized, relatable content. As a result, the opportunities are ripe for brands to grow their influencer marketing programs.
- For tourism and hospitality brands, content created by various individuals can provide valuable — and overlooked — insight into specific demographic behaviors and interests. Drill into what’s trending in your city or country. Find out who the key local creators and influencers are. They’ll act as your storyteller, amplifying your message with engaging content that will drive interest.
- We’ve seen the rise of the micro-influencer in recent years. These online personalities may not have the highest follower counts, but they have extremely engaged followers in niche verticals. TikTok has made micro-influencers even more powerful, and brands shouldn’t hesitate to collaborate with them if they share a common audience and style. Micro-influencers are brands’ (often budget-friendly) path to untapped demographics. They know how their audience eats, shops, talks and spends.
- Good to know: TikTok is cultivating their influencer community. It just announced a $200 million “creator fund” The fund is meant to support ambitious creators who “are seeking opportunities to foster a livelihood” on the app, a TikTok spokesperson told The Verge.
TikTok Copycats & Imitators
The success of TikTok’s short-form content has competitors green with envy. That’s why we’re seeing a fresh crop of very familiar features showing up on various other social media platforms. If the Microsoft deal falls through and TikTok disappears, influencers (and their followers) will flock to these platforms. Just make sure you’ve got a contingency plan in place if you’ve got a contract with any TikTok-based influencers.
- Facebook is stepping in with Instagram Reels Using Reels, users will create 15-second videos set to music or other audio — pretty much like TikTok. Also similar, the new feature offers a set of editing tools, such as a countdown timer and a way to adjust a video’s speed. Reels has already launched in India, and it looks as though it’ll go global any day now.
- Meanwhile, Snapchat is currently testing its own feature that allows Snapchat users set their Snaps to music, similar to TikTok’s app. Snap’s already-in-place partnerships with major music industry players like Warner Music Group and Universal Music Publishing Group suggests that this may be an even more streamlined experience for users.
- Additionally, upstart copycat apps including Byte, Triller, Dubsmash, Likee and others are starting to gain in popularity. While many of these will likely be gone by this time next year, some may gain a foothold once the inevitable TikTok backlash begins with the next generation. So, they’re worth keeping an eye on.
TikToks to Watch: TURNER’s Top 5
- Travel Hacks (@KristinaCors) – One of our most-watched travel TikTokkers, Kristina Cors’ Travel Hacks channel is inspirational and informational.
- Tastemade (@Tastemade) – Food meets travel on the Tastemade channel, featuring recipes, kitchen tips and much more.
- Tara Michelle (@ImTaraMichelle) – Fashion, lifestyle, travel — influencer Tara Michelle covers it all in a breezy, clever and relatable way.
- Ana Coto (@AnaOcto) – Roller skating is HUGE on TikTok, and Ana Coto’s fun channel is the place to get caught up on the latest moves.
- SELF Magazine (@SelfMagazine) – The long-running health, wellness & fitness mag gets into the game with short-form tips to stay healthy – body, mind and spirit.
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