The rise of TikTok
I just thought it would be interesting to look a bit East and probably uniquely, certainly unusually among the Chinese successful tech companies, TikTok has expanded and has shown an interest in being in other countries.
I guess, Alibaba and Taobao, the eCommerce operation, they’ve done a bit of that. Alipay is in Europe, in some countries. But TikTok or ByteDance is the one that’s really made it into the US. In Europe and the UK now, this is the hot news.
What are they doing that’s so clever? We may ask ourselves.
Nothing really that you can’t find on YouTube or Instagram, or maybe Snapchat, but it’s a compelling combination of those, isn’t it? It’s cool. It’s kind of indefinable, at least to me, why TikTok is growing the way it is, but it certainly is.
I think Meta are probably watching TikTok very carefully.
Yeah, that’s a healthy bit of competition. We’ll see if Baidu are going to expand in order to compete with Google. That would be interesting, wouldn’t it?
Why should all the world’s leading tech companies be from the US? I’m just praising healthy competition.
Of course, it’s controversial. The way TikTok is growing, the Trump Administration was very suspicious. Certain countries have been suspicious of Chinese technology for building 5G infrastructure, and politics and technology and people’s lives are all bound up together.
As humble marketers, we may not be sharing our political views very much, but we do know that lot of people are spending lots of time on TikTok.
Of course, where the audience is, where the eyeballs are, the brands want to be. If your audience is teenagers, in most European countries, now, TikTok is something to be looking at, I would suggest.
700 million users can’t be wrong. Let’s just leave TikTok out there. Known as Douyin in its home market, they have amazing stories.
Why TikTok got cool
The word cool is quite controversial and hard to define thing, isn’t it? No one can say, I am cool. That doesn’t work. You have to be judged to be cool. A whole lot of teenagers think that TikTok is a cool place to be, and to share stuff.
As you said before, video is the killer medium right now. As someone who tries to educate students, getting people to read is a challenge. Getting people to watch a video is much easier. That’s not about people being clever or lazy or anything. It’s just a change in people’s minds, especially young people.
There are famous examples of memes that happen on TikTok. We used to say, they go viral, but we don’t talk about viruses anymore, do we?
TikTok’s turnover in Europe grew by 545%.
Remixing and trying it yourself has a huge appeal
It coined the whole ability to be able to take something somebody else had posted and do something with it. The idea of remixing a bit of audio or a bit of video or something, and then doing it yourself.
I think it’s that, more than anything else. That the ability to do that, and then how that’s impacted the people at Meta, responsible for Facebook, and Instagram Reels and things. The minute something like that comes along, that is a little bit different, they’re going to look to try and copy the best bits of it, aren’t they?
Now, we have these algorithms that are just, we talk about going down rabbit holes, don’t we? The rabbit holes in Facebook and Instagram videos, because of this type of short, sharp, entertaining video, that, once you watch one of that style of video, you’ll just see an infinite number of others.
It’ll just keep serving, to keep you there. Punctuating those videos with a nice bit of promoted content from time to time, which is the point, but that’s very much what they’re built on. If you like that, then we’ll give you more of the same.
Yeah. You know-
It never runs out.
How TikTok and other snackable video platforms feed on behavioural addiction
Exactly. Anthropologists and psychologists have analysed what’s going on here. There is an element of addiction. It’s not a physical addiction, but it’s a behavioural addiction.
If you get validation when you’re sharing something, you will share more. If you see something that you like, the platform will note that and give you more and more and more. Some of these, again, we’re getting beyond marketing into sociology and what’s happening to society. Of course, there are interesting documentaries about that.
It’s interesting, the point that you make about copying stuff, borrowing and repurposing, that’s always happened in business, hasn’t it?
Some of Apple’s greatest devices were not actually the first time anyone had done that, but they got a clever combination of different technologies, put them all together. Steve Jobs required it to be one click instead of three. The rest is history.
Reels has appeared on Instagram. There were things that Snapchat did, which appeared on Instagram. As I said before, Facebook has deep pockets.
They’re watching the company very closely, and there’s nothing to stop them appropriating and copying and repurposing and introducing on their own platform.
Of course, when they do anything, they do it well. It generally works. It’s tough to compete with Instagram.
Again, I think, thinking about lessons for marketers watching this, again, it’s showing that short-form, video-based, mostly entertaining, but it’s speaking to something that is very much of the moment and is on trend, which is good that you’re sharing the hashtags right now, because hashtags still work so well on so many of these platforms, because it associates whatever you’re doing with something that is more popular, which is one of the ways to obviously find people and find an audience.
All of those things, and like you said, that validatory aspect, being able to reach more people than you would normally reach on your own efforts, it all becomes quite intoxicating, doesn’t it?
Yeah. Which is very interesting in terms of human behaviour and what’s happening to society. As you say, marketers have to say, what is going to engage my audience?
Right now, especially for a younger audience, it’s definitely short-form, it’s video, and it’s snackable.