The rise of TikTok: Insight and ideas for business

TikTok is growing in popularity in spectacular fashion, with a surge of one million new Australian and New Zealand TikTok users since the Covid-19 lockdowns. But, in New Zealand, we’re a bit behind the rest of the world on embracing TikTok for marketing. Are we a little bit scared? 

At the Marketing Association
’s August Brainy Breakfast, we heard from experts on how to embrace the authenticity and creativity of the platform, as well as how to collaborate with influencers. With tickets sold out, it was a popular event, suggesting that as Kiwis we’re keen to jump on board and figure this TikTok thing out. 


The six ‘c’ words

Cassie Roma, the event MC with her usual humour and energy, shared her favourite six ‘c’ words for embracing TikTok. And don’t panic – they all have more than four letters, so you can read on! 

Culture – TikTok is about creating and embracing culture. 
Context – TikTok sets culture through context, representation, identity and consumption. 
Creativity – Consumers want to be entertained creatively while building trust with a brand. They expect fun and innovative videos. 
Community – Build a community of like-minded people. If you put nurturing a community as your main goal, your brand will grow and thrive regardless of the channel. 
Curiosity – Be curious. Look for the new, the different and the smart. 
Connection – You need to connect with other people for value exchange. Engage with the audience and let them be part of your world. 


Making the most of TikTok for your brand 

As our first presenter, we heard from Elisa Kelsall, Head of Partnerships at TikTok Australia and New Zealand. She beamed in over video from Sydney to share her insights for brands to make the most of TikTok.

Be entertaining

Elisa says that the number one reason people come to TikTok is to be entertained. TikTok has found that people come to the platform because it lifts their spirits more than any other media platform. They apparently like to call themselves the last sunny corner of the Internet. And I’m sure we can all understand why after the last 18 months that has unfurled around the world. That’s why you can’t just repurpose the same content that you use on other channels. It requires a unique and authentic approach.

Embrace self-expression

Communities and content build connections and understanding through the shared language of videos. The “For You” feed is a never ending short-form broadcast of humorous, informative, and sometimes oddly satisfying content that’s tailored to what you want to watch. And there really is something for everyone. TikTok can be a place to share your brand expression and inspire.

A moment can become a movement

Whether it’s everyone running down to their local supermarket to grab a block of feta and cherry tomatoes to make the latest trending pasta dish or unleashing your DIY product hacks into something unique, TikTok is changing the way that we build culture by letting us hear even more voices and stories.


Keep trying and exploring

Next up we heard from Brodie Kane as she interviewed the talented Matt Ford and Jack Steele from The Inspired Unemployed. These two guys have been creating videos for fun since their high school days. And after getting fed up in their trade jobs, they decided they really wanted to have a serious crack at this content gig.  
And boy, did they get it right! They’reTheir initial goal was 20,000 over two years, but instead they got one million! They said the key to their success was just to keep trying. They can never predict which videos are going to be a huge hit, but one day they finally hit the right angle, and their engagement and followers ballooned.

Trust is key

As creative influencers that now work with global brands, their advice for making this collaboration successful was trust. They know their audience best, so brands need to trust their creative process and trust that they know what will engage and be successful.

Take a risk

Their second piece of advice was to take a risk. It’s when you’re slightly out of your comfort zone that you see the most success. They’ve worked with brands in the past where the marketing team got a bit nervous and nearly pulled the pin because they thought it could be too risky – but that creative content ended up being the most successful.


People follow people, not brands

Last up we heard from Clare Winterbourn, Founder of Born Bred Talent. Her best nugget of advice was that “people follow people, not brands”, so the key for your brand is to collaborate with the right talent. 

Her advice for how to implement influencer marketing on TikTok was: 

  • Have a strong strategy
  • Entertain first, sell second
  • Engage creators with an audience of value
  • Test the waters with content
  • Engage those who know best

TikTok is ageing up

While still not a massive audience, more and more people in their 40s are joining TikTok, and these creators are following suit. So it isn’t just about teenagers. People of all ages want to be entertained, so there’s something for everyone.


Why consider TikTok for your brand?

During the event, we wanted to find out what is (or would) be the main objective for businesses using TikTok, and the results were really interesting. 


As you can see, brand awareness was the key objective most people were going for, with building reputation and new customer acquisition the next most popular. 

We had some great examples of businesses nailing TikTok, such as Ryan Air, Culture Kings, Chipotle, McDonald's, The Washington Post, North Beach and PB Tech. One that stood out was the All Blacks, because they have a great mix of player narratives and emotive stories. 

So, if you’re toying with the idea of TikTok for your business, it’s time to give it a go. Just make sure you really think about how you’re going to create authentic and entertaining content. Don’t just repackage your existing content – decide on your community, formulate a creative strategy, and choose your collaborators. But most of all give it a crack, try some new things, and you never know what could be the next viral hit! 

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