Independent’s Day - TikTok is not just a Gen Z dance app

Jason Pollock
By Jason Pollock | 13 September 2022
Image provided by DPA.

Independent’s Day was the Digital Publisher’s Alliance (DPA) inaugural combined Upfronts, featuring insights from more than 20 independent publishers. 

"TikTok is just a Gen Z dance app that’s not right for our brand" may be a common refrain from marketers, but it is these misconceptions that Urban List’s lifestyle editor Jessica Best and head of studio Elise Cullen said are holding brands back from utilising the platform for its full potential.

In a presentation at Independent’s Day, Best said that not only can all brands use TikTok, but that all of them should if they’re not already, especially because of the possibilities for audience data. 

“The great thing is that everyone's experience on the platform is customised to them, which means it’s an absolute goldmine of personalised marketing and curated content, with the added bonus of being a video-first, sound-on app. 

“It's all about learning how to authentically craft the dialogue that you want to have with your audience.”

While TikTok is often thought of as a place solely for those who fall into Gen Z and later, Cullen said that there’s no shortage of gender and generational diversity on TikTok, and the traditional youth audiences are embracing new audiences to the platform with open arms.  

“That’s a testament to Gen Z’s open-mindedness and refusal to put anyone in a box. TikTok is at the epicentre of this cultural movement which makes it a rich platform for brands looking to really connect with audiences of all ages. 

“TikTok culture is not an age, it's a state of mind.”

Best said the thinking around the industry needs to shift from thinking about TikTok as just another social media app and instead considering it as an entertainment platform. 

Urban List - Independents Day 2

“TikTok Australia's general manager once said that TikTok is less about social connection and more about broadcasting creativity and expression. In this sense, TikTok is far more similar to Netflix, Spotify and YouTube rather than platforms like Instagram and Facebook."

She warned, however, that fresh content is needed for the platform, as a big mistake that brands make when they first join is to re-hash content that was made for other platforms (re-sharing Instagram reels on TikTok, for example). 

Another longstanding myth of TikTok is that it’s purely a dance app, something that Best said is dispelled both by 40% of young people now searching for keywords on TikTok and Instagram instead of Google, as well as overtaking as the most visited domain in the world last year.

“Your brand can resonate with TikTok audiences simply by exploring storytelling. It’s all about being flexible and finding your niche. 

For marketers worried about whether their brand will work on TikTok, Cullen said that the bigger question is whether their brand will work if they’re not on TikTok.

“Everyone from Prada to the West Australian police force is using TikTok and we have created content for a broad range of clients from Qantas to KFC, Disney to Estee Lauder, Burgerfuel to Kiehl’s. 

“The beauty of TikTok is that it truly is for everyone — brands included. 

“No matter if you’re a hotel, a burger joint or a university, you can get your brand in front of 7 million Aussies who spend on average 30 minutes a day face-to-face with creators and brands — and you could and should be one of them." 

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