It’s undeniable how TikTok has stormed to success. With 700 million downloads globally over the year, the viral app has remained top of mind for both consumers and marketers alike and will continue to hold attention throughout 2020. We’ve seen high profile celebrities and TV shows flock to the app, from the likes of Will Smith to Love Island. But what is it about TikTok that makes it unique to its competitors?

Think Jam’s Founder and CEO Daniel Robey sat down with a diverse panel to delve into the platform – it’s future and success stories.


Sophy Silver, Director of Communications, TikTok

Inam Mahmood, Director of Revenue and Partnerships, TikTok

Amber Doig-Thorne, Creator

Aaron Kelly, Senior Director of Video, Think Jam


TikTok As A Unique Platform

The word ‘authentic’ seems to be intrinsically linked to conversations around success online. TikTok Director of Comms, Sophy Silver, suggests this is the key to TikTok’s rise; “Because TikTok started with video, you get this much more rounded, deeper piece of content and I think that is what makes it much more authentic”.

TikTok creator Amber Doig-Thorne has also put authenticity at the heart of the content she posts on TikTok, and this resonates with her audience. She added, “it is not filtered, it is real, it is authentic, it’s genuine. You can mess up and people love you more for it, which makes no sense and that’s not the kind of thing you would see on Instagram.” 

Another aspect that makes TikTok different is that it is the only platform that is inherently “sound on”, something that Director of Revenue and Partnerships at TikTok Inam Mahmood urges marketers to capitalise on, “you actually have a great opportunity here to make a big impact using audio, using sounds, using music. So just thinking about the natural behaviours on the platform is a first big step to success.” 

Unique to TikTok, the hashtag challenges support the viral nature of the platform, which can have huge benefits for marketers when successful – making organic UGC for your brand and driving conversations. Inam’s key insight on creating a successful hashtag challenge is considering working directly with creators as part of the idea generation stage to ensure content feels native to the platform, “a core component of coming up with a good hashtag challenge is to work with one of our lovely creators, like Amber, and really tapping into the natural behaviours of the platform.”

As brands and studios launch on the channel, the question arises around content strategy and how this aligns with other platforms, should content be regurgitated across channels? Sophy suggests the key to success is a bespoke platform strategy, “What I don’t think works is taking the same piece of content and putting it up on each platform. Each platform has a different audience and you’ve got to have a different conversation. You could take the same concept, but you just need to find a different way to interpret it for each of the platforms.” Amber’s own channel is a case and point, “I don’t think I have ever posted a video on TikTok that was somewhere else, like people want to see unique content, that is one of the beautiful things of the app, you are not really going to see the videos elsewhere.” 


Finding Success

What does success look like on this platform, both in terms of challenges and users? Challenges that allow users to add their own ‘stamp of creativity’ are the most viral. Inam suggests brands should “set the tone; set a conversation but allow the users to add an extra layer of creativity“. One example that jumped to mind for Inam is a recent beauty brand that tapped into TikTok user behaviours, commissioning a new song specifically for the challenge and organically enlisted high-profile talent to take part. . 

Amber’s example of a successful content echoed this point in considering audience platform behaviours and utilising features within the app. A challenge that she particularly enjoyed was the Gemini Man challenge that utilised the ‘duet’ feature so users could dance with themselves (leveraging the fact that Will Smith plays two roles within the film).


Talent on TikTok

Will Smith is a great example of a successful celebrity on the platform, working with popular TikTok creators and experimenting with different content styles and formats. Another inspiring case study is The Ellen Show, Amber believes the success of this comes down to seeing talent in a new light, “people love it because I think they are so used to seeing actors in a specific style on talk shows and interviews, but seeing behind closed doors what they are actually like, you really get to see their personality shining through which I don’t think you would see anywhere else.”

Adapting her content approach to traditional talent opportunities for campaigns, Amber mentioned a shift in her planning to make the most of the limited time in a typical junket setting, and the channels behaviours. “Normally in a junket situation, you’ll have 5 or 10 minutes with a talent and all of your questions are approved and it can be quite strict” compared to capturing a TikTok challenge, which entails a much less rigid approach and ultimately creates a much more engaging piece of content.

Think Jam’s Senior Director of Video, Aaron Kelly supports this and suggests “there is a nervousness that can be removed by having a strong concept. I think people really like seeing something that doesn’t feel rehearsed.” 

So what does this mean for marketers? As platforms such as YouTube and Facebook are doubling down on original and unscripted content, Aaron has noticed a shift towards more ‘raw’ content, “some of the most viral TikToks have got ridiculous mistakes in them, people screw up, they laugh. I think it is a challenge, but it is rewarding when it works.”


The Power Of The Creator

The term ‘influencer’ is shifting to ‘creator’, a change supported by talent-enhancing platforms such as  TikTok. Inam suggests the platform “gives people the tools to create and when we talk about partnerships with brands it’s co-creation”.

What’s more is the algorithm is different to any other platform we’ve seen before. Opting for an ‘Interest graph’ over a ‘ social graph’ means that it’s much easier to be featured in the feed on TikTok, even with a low follower count Sophy added “it’s less about influence because someone has paid you to influence and much more egalitarian. I think that is partly why the platform is doing so well at the moment.”

So what is the key to going viral on TikTok? Amber gave us her top three tips on how to get the most eyes on your content, “the one thing we keep saying is be authentic, be genuine, if you try something and it fails, post it anyway because people will love it. Her second tip was to “post regularly, when I first started, I was posting maybe once a week, but for the past few months I have been posting every day and it is amazing. The engagement is insane.” And finally, “try and link what you are doing into a hashtag if you are not using a new hashtag. I am increasing my searchability and targeting a new audience.”

Thank you to all our guests who could join bright and early to take part in the discussion, to our insightful panelists, and of course, to Daniel for hosting. Look out for our next breakfast coming up in Q2 – look forward to seeing you there. 

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