TikTok emerged as the world’s favorite social media platform of 2021, overtaking Google as the most popular destination on the internet. The app was downloaded 3 billion times, and was the most downloaded non-game app in the first six months of 2021, hitting 383 million installations from January to June 2021 alone, according to SEO consultancy Backlinko.
Brands have been integral to the growth of TikTok, with more and more advertisers embracing the short and entertaining formats that it offers. “This year, we were inspired and humbled to see trends and culture come to life through the TikTok community, and businesses no doubt played a huge role in this,” said Shant Oknayan, TikTok’s head of global business solutions for Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
At its first global virtual event, TikTok World, the company revealed key data points reflecting consumer attitudes on the platform.
For example, 46 percent watch TikTok without distractions, making it the most conducive environment for advertisers to reach existing and new customers. Advertising on the app is well received and effective, with 70 percent saying TikTok ads are enjoyable and 92 percent taking action after watching a video.
The data also revealed what audiences are looking for from brands, with 44 percent saying they want branded content to be fun. As the year ends, TikTok is celebrating the brands that used the platform most effectively and authentically to reach new audiences, start or tap into trends, and create commerce opportunities through TikTok.
Small businesses have taken to social media as a cost-effective way of connecting with audiences. One such example is Dubai-based Japanese cheesecake company Uncle Fluffy, which amassed an impressive following as soon as it debuted on TikTok. The brand currently has over 2 million followers on the platform.
In order for brands to succeed on TikTok, they have to embrace its nuances such as the latest challenges and formats like Duet and Branded Effects, which help them co-create with audiences through interactive experiences. Starbucks, for example, created a Ramadan campaign where users were asked to show how much they miss their cup of coffee during the fasting hours through lip-syncing.
Nike engaged with audiences by asking people to flaunt their favorite Air Max with a unique Nike Air Max HTC soundtrack and transition. The video garnered a massive 3.9 billion views.
The popularity of TikTok has made brands think like creators, and it is paying off. For example, Kraft created “Kraft Remixes,” which are recipes modeled around familiar tracks and rhythms. The lyrics are essentially a detailed recipe but one that can be easily sung.
Capitalizing on the trend of creators showing off their shopping hauls and outfits, Max asked its fans on White Wednesday to share the different outfits they had curated from their purchases.
Live streams are the most authentic way to connect with audiences, and retail giant Alshaya used this format to create its first-ever online shopping event #ShopTillYouTok. The campaign ran for eight days; each day, a different brand from the group ran a live stream on the brand’s TikTok channel, with the best deals for Black Friday and other content that drove audiences to shop.
“Brands across the MENA region brought us joy and encouraged us to get creative. They reminded us of the importance of being authentic when connecting with the community and were able to engage with a wide global audience. 2021 was the year that TikTok became a launchpad for must-have brands and products that the community loves,” added Oknayan.