Career Paths
July 24, 2020

Tiktok: A Learning Lesson

What’s the deal with TikTok? As fast as it rose, it inevitably came to an abrupt end. However, a great deal can be learned from this technological sensation.

In an age of instant gratification and content overload, TikTok has managed to best position itself in capitalizing on our millennial tendencies. This video-sharing social network platform has not only created a cult-like following — having been downloaded more than 1.7 billion times to date — through short 15-second comedy, dance, lip-sync videos, but has given rise to a new form of content sharing that seems to have engulfed us all into scrolling for hours on end.

So what makes TikTok so addictive? Authenticity and originality are undeniably the elements that have been core to TikTok’s success worldwide. The ease in which users can post unfabricated and genuine content has lent everyone the ability to be a content creator, and when creativity can be actualized and shared using simply a smartphone, the possibilities have proven to be endless. The magic of TikTok further lies in the platform’s ability in harnessing user behavior and then tailoring the content that we receive so that it best suits our preference. Thus, it becomes apparent that TikTok’s enablement of content creation has captured the hearts and nuances of GenZ, fuelling this seemingly unstoppable craze.

In the realm of marketing, TikTok has provided corporations with unprecedented access to the GenZ demographic. However, with raw authenticity being what catapulted TikTok into success, it is often hard for marketers to advertise to this digitally native younger audience without coming off as ingenuine. Therefore, it is essential to recognize that for TikTok marketing to be successful, content must be constantly created through fresh, original perspectives to truly captivate a demographic that has grown accustomed to the impersonality of digital tactics. Whilst ostensibly a daunting venture, success on this platform not only guarantees you a following that leads engagement rates across all social media platforms but the ability to tap into the minds of the most diverse generation ever.

Although the exit of TikTok from Hong Kong has left many influencers and users a bitter taste in their mouths, there are still many key takeaways for digital marketers. Firstly, the success of TikTok across the world has proven that instead of vast resources, it is the ability to encapsulate authentic personality within a 15-second timeframe that is required to achieve online virality. Moreover, the surge of TikTok may represent a paradigm shift in marketing, in which increasingly a greater emphasis should be placed on understanding GenZ behavior. A true understanding of the ways in which this generation interacts with virtual content and platforms is quintessential to forecasting future trends.

Despite the disappearance of the “For You Page” from many phones over this past fortnight, those who are especially distraught can still access TikTok. The process is, however, somewhat arduous. In order to activate TikTok on your phone again, you will either have to access TikTok through a VPN or without a SIM card. And for those who aren’t too enthusiastic with this inconvenient loophole, perhaps DouYin can serve well as a final resort. However, at Happyer we aim to continue to produce short and content-rich video clips similar to that of TikTok to publish on our social media platforms. We have found that reposted TikTok videos on our feed seem to outperform our other content, and in this way, TikTok’s legacy lives on.

At Happyer, our venture into the TikTok sphere has been filled with curiosity and laughter. On my first day of work, the baton was immediately passed onto me to take over the platform and to capture the essence of what we do with these videos. The first TikTok I ever produced for Happyer was at Klook, in which we visited their office to record for our podcast series Happyer Work, Happyer Life. The opportunity to visit offices and talk to their staff allowed me to compile short clips of the office and their culture there, most aptly encapsulated in an intense game of foosball. Moreover, with more interns joining us over the summer, we were able to get more people on board and have them dance to Doja Cat whilst dishing out helpful advice for aspiring computer scientists and web developers.

However, within our team, the significance of TikTok lies greater than its marketing purposes. Filming TikTok’s has become a weekly ritual for the interns, as we all gather in the WeWork courtyard every Friday afternoon to dance to the most viral audio of the week. Organically, this has become an activity that we look forward to after an arduous week of work, as we get to let loose and laugh over the unsurprisingly long blooper reel. A big shout out must go to my fellow intern Alex, without whom it would not be possible to keep up with the everchanging trends and the ever-increasing difficulty in choreography. All in all, whilst marketing is a large purpose of Happyer’s TikTok page, what was most important was the fun that we had throughout the process. Not only has TikTok allowed us to bond as a tight-knit group of interns as we come up with ridiculous ideas every week, but it is the very essence of the fun that we had that truly helps convey a message of authenticity and originality, key features that make TikTok stand out from other social media platforms.

As we bid farewell to TikTok in Hong Kong, it is important for us to evaluate in hindsight the drivers of this short-lived but influential social platform. TikTok has served almost as a pilot experiment to test the behavior of the seemingly most mysterious demographic yet, and the results show that marketers need to revamp their conventional, tired clichés and focus on authenticity and originality when they drive their new strategies. As this generation continues to unravel their behavior and preferences, it is key for marketers to look past the “renegading” and truly understand the nuances that underlies this all.

Written by
Wani Azahar

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