The TikTok success story: How the video-sharing app is helping brands grow

Experts say TikTok's appeal among millennials makes it an effective engagement tool for brands

e4m by Ruhail Amin
Updated: Dec 17, 2019 2:25 PM


TikTok logo

The rise of TikTok as an effective marketing medium is a fairly recent phenomenon. Not so long ago, the same medium was seen as trivial, largely juvenile and unfit for a serious marketing initiative. But now, the story is different.

Top brands across categories, even public institutions like the police force, have come up with innovative ways to use the platform as an effective engagement tool. The turnaround story of TikTok is one worth telling, and here’s what went right for the brand.

Speaking about TikTok as a marketing platform, Anupam Bokey, VP Marketing (CMO), RPSG, FMCG Business said: "We haven't actually used it, but we have explored this platform. I think consumers are looking for short burst entertainment and TikTok has managed to hit that sweet spot of 15 seconds. Since it does not require long term commitment, it is gaining popularity with some brands."

Kamal Gianchandani, CEO of PVR Pictures, is a firm believer in the power of TikTok as an effective marketing platform. Explaining the turnaround story of Tik Tok, he says that the extensive shareability combined with stackable entertaining content has helped the platform to become more acceptable to marketers.

“At the onset, we are among the first entertainment brands to be on the platform. What worked well for us with TikTok is the fact that the audiences on the platform are keen to consume entertaining yet snackable content. Moreover, TikTok as a platform works well for us owing to its millennial rich and entertainment rich nature. We as an entertainment brand are innovation first and leverage the extensive shareability of the platform”, stated Gianchandani.

According to Sanket Shah, CEO, and Managing Director AHS India and the Middle East, TikTok's format of content consumption matches the design requirements of the current times. 

“Smaller attention spans but higher choices to choose from. With the extent of its reach, the platform is easily now being something to be looked at for marketing and branding communication as well. The extent of influencers is only going to increase with the passing day due to the higher number of users the application can garner”, adds Shah.

Amit Sethia, Head Marketing Syska Group terms empowerment of customers as the main reason for TikTok’s rapid mainstreaming as a marketing platform.

“TikTok has been continuously ticking impressive numbers. Both in terms of its 500+ Mn user base across the globe and especially its 42 percent share coming from India. It has empowered the customers to propel the user-generated content for various categories like fashion, dating, OTT. EdTech, e-commerce and even FMCG where Syska is placed. Popularity and organic growth from users from vernacular languages once again reflect the momentous potential of Bharat vis-vis-vis India. Bonhomie is witnessing interesting moments through innovative ad formats such as the Hashtag Challenge, Brand Takeover, and In-feed Native Video, for brands to create unique campaigns and romance the customers.”

But can the success be attributed to TikTok alone? Saumil Mehta, Country Head, Kraft Heinz India, begs to differ. He says the credit also goes to the rise of the 4G network.

“Tik Tok relies on video content which can be made viral owing to 4G only and with 4G, the length of the video doesn't remain a constraint. Influencing can't happen in a 5-30 sec video. It requires a slightly longer run time. But, 4G enabled the sharing of lengthy video content. TikTok provided the back-end technology required for such video sharing”, states Mehta.

 He also argues that marketers always wanted lengthy storytelling opportunities to drive home their point and TikTok provided the option.

TikTok may be the next best thing as far as marketing is concerned.  But Anupam Bokey believes it still has a lot of growing up to do. "There are limitations in putting out 15-second humorous videos, and I think the consumers are not yet ready to accept this platform as something that can convey a serious message. It still has a long way to go before it becomes a serious brand-building platform."

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