While Australians are aware TikTok has exerted a prodigious cultural impact on society, the extent to which the app has redefined e-commerce is now becoming clear to advertisers, brands and consumers alike.
TikTok for Business’s recently released eBook, ‘Why #TikTokMadeThemBuyIt’, aims to alert brands and advertisers alike of the tremendous potential the app has to help cultivate community, consumer loyalty and ultimately, profit.
To find out the real essence that drives the rapidly growing success of TikTok content marketing, I spoke to Brett Armstrong, general manager of TikTok Australia, who asserts one reason brands perform so well on the app is because “the authenticity of the platform lends itself to Australian culture”.
The real power of TikTok lies in its abstract, but insurmountable value – its ability to organically generate powerful micro-communities where Australian consumers congregate for a shared experience of escapism, laughter, relatability and vulnerability. It helps that oftentimes, products and brands dominate a central role in these communities.
“77% of users agree it’s a place where people can express themselves openly; 53% say they trust others to be their real selves on the platform. This authenticity isn’t just something we’re saying it’s real, it’s real community. You can see it in the content. There are some brands that have done this really well, and that’s what this recently released ebook is all about,” Armstrong explains.
“Authenticity is the rule. It’s critical as a brand that you get it right. I always say, you don’t wanna be the person that turns up to the party uninvited. The party is a community of people that are connected with real things. If you wanna be part of that community, you need to respect what you enter – the authenticity does play a part.”
Evidently, the quality of ‘necessary authenticity’ appears to be a qualifier for advertising success on TikTok – when I asked how this quality is directly driving sales for brands, Armstrong says it “comes back to an ability to connect with those communities in a way where you’re resonating with them.”
“When a brand shows up on TikTok in a way where they’ve thought about this audience, as opposed to a brand that will just take an existing TV commercial and put it into a mobile phone screen, they’re just never going to have the impact.”
“Koala [the mattress company] is a good example; they ran some tests on really authentic creative. They generated four styles of ads, and when they ran this creative, and these tests, they basically saw people were engaging with that creative 30% more than the non authentic, non TikTok-native formats.”
“That’s the good thing about this eBook, for a brand that wants to do what Koala has done, or what Mecca Cosmetics has done. It’s just about putting all these best practices and the ways to do this well on a plate, and it’s not hard. It’s just about brands having the thought and the ability to think, how do we engage from this really big audience that are highly engaged? And as we can see, this audience come on here to be entertained, but many of them that come on to be entertained, end up going onto the platform and buying things they didn’t expect to fly because it’s so influential.”
Organic cultural phenomenon’s created around products
The eBook notes ‘a massive 75% of people come to TikTok to be entertained. They want to laugh, smile, and not take things too seriously.’
The platform also encourages a strong call-to-action for consumers, with ‘67% of users saying TikTok inspires them to shop even when they’re not planning to’.
The ecommerce phenomenon of #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt has been seen to spell both cultural and commercial wins for brands, with the hashtag receiving 12.4 billion video views (April, 2022) and more than 50% of branded hashtag challenges recording more than $5 return on ad spend in the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry.
One example of the viral product phenomenon can be seen in the Dyson Airwrap, a heat styling hair tool that retails for $799. The Airwrap is known to be ubiquitously sold out for months, with pre-order waitlists packed full ever since the product first gained viral momentum on TikTok. Right now, the ‘Dyson air wrap’ search tag on TikTok shows 2.8B views of content globally, over 59 million of them in Australia alone.
@delaneychilds I can do a more in-depth on YouTube but this is the jist! #dysonairwrap #dysonairwraptutorial #blowouttutorial ♬ chicken tikka – hannah
Much of the content commanding these figures is made by individual creators who aren’t being paid or sponsored by Dyson – they simply love the product, and want to bank on the chain of virality the product has accumulated. The Airwrap has become more than a product – it’s a cultural phenomenon, an item that, if owned, enables you a further sense of belonging in the the TikTok community.
‘Australians like to have a joke’ as key element of success
Armstrong notes Australian consumers’ non-negotiable desire for authenticity in TikTok content, whether brand-related or not, stems from a more intrinsic part of Australian culture – the desire to have a laugh, and do away with the preened posturing that seems to occupy other social platforms more prevalently.
“This is my opinion, and I haven’t asked every single Australian this – but Australians like to have a joke. We don’t take ourselves seriously. If you think about the authenticity of the platform, it really lends itself to the Australian culture. People know when people aren’t being real. You’ve got one of the most thriving, real, purposeful platforms full of communities, and I think Australians just love to be part of this,” Armstrong said.
“There’s a lot of ways that Australians can get engaged. And I think it’s the realness and the authenticity of the country that we are – we’re pretty good at not taking ourselves too seriously. That’s why the platform has resonated.”
How agencies can succeed with TikTok alongside traditional channels
Armstrong notes advertisers and agencies trying to curate TikTok strategies should be cautious of dismissing the platform altogether when they’re juggling other channels of media.
“If you look at the responsibility an agency has these days, there are so many platforms and channels of media to navigate these days. If you speak to a CMO, they’ve got teams that link to get things on TV, billboards, multiple digital platforms. Like let’s be fair – it’s kind of complicated. But the thing, is, it’s a missed opportunity if people think they can just not think about TikTok. One of the biggest mistakes is when they don’t engage with the platform, because there is an audience either that it’s unique, it’s more engaged than other platforms. Not being here is the mistake. You’ve gotta show up.”
Armstrong is keenly aware of the overwhelming responsibility advertisers may face in curating an entirely foreign, new strategy on TikTok in addition to their existing strategies or campaigns on traditional channels.
He notes advertisers can get ahead of the curve by “taking the time to look at some of these examples of how to execute, thinking about the creative, bringing in the right creators and making sure you’re putting content on the platform that represents you as a brand in an authentic way, and resonates with this community on TikTok.”
One instance of creating authentic, purposeful branded content can be seen in The Monkey’s campaign for UN Women Australia. The campaign, ‘#EmpowerMoves ,’ invited girls to celebrate International Day of the Girl by coming together on TikTok to ‘show their voice in support of a strong and equal future for themselves’ through self-defense stylized dance moves.
“We caught up with the UN and Accenture and we worked through this program to say, how can we help International Day of the Girl? If you look at that creative, you’ll see that there’s proper choreographed dance moves that are self-defense. It’s just a great example of really good creative. They had amazing cut through and really high participation,” Armstrong says.
Fundamentally, #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt is an extraordinary study in consumer and buyer behaviour. The hashtag offers a wealth of consumer observation opportunities for brands and advertisers alike. By adhering to the tenets of authenticity and community-led, interactive content, brands can leverage the growing, pulsing community on the platform and cultivate a new degree of connection with consumers.
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