on the brand monetisation goldmine that is TikTok

Full disclosure, I’m not a Gen Z influencer about to evangelise for one of the planet’s biggest social media platforms.

I’m a middle-aged, north-east advertising creative who used furlough to open an account to ‘see what all the fuss was about’.

Fast forward a few years and I’ve been genuinely staggered by the changes, mainly the monetisation opportunities TT now offers – and yes, I did just abbreviate TikTok to TT.

I agree TT is ‘a cultural phenomenon’ blah, blah, blah, but it’s also a lucrative avenue for content creators and marketers alike.

All those lip-sync challenges, dance trends and reaction videos (something my dear old Geordie grandad would’ve hated) don’t just entertain it’s 1.5 billion audience but have evolved into some impressive monetisation opportunities.

Here are 5 features TikTok has deployed to turn its platform into a digital goldmine.

1. TikTok Creator Fund

TikTok’s Creator Fund continues the platform’s commitment to supporting and rewarding content creators – or ‘attention-seekers’ as my Grandad would’ve called them – launched to ‘encourage creative minds’, the fund offers financial incentives to top-performing accounts.

Admittedly, 4p per 1000 views may not sound much but when a vast number of creators receive ‘Like’ numbers in the millions, it adds up fast. A smart move by TT, ensuring a steady input of engaging content but also cultivates a loyal community of new and seasoned influencers.

2. Virtual Currency and Live Gifts

TikTok Live has taken the idea of virtual gifting to a whole new level.

Users buy virtual gifts for their favourite creators during live streams using TikTok coins – hmm, why I am picturing a lap-dancing Mario!? Anyway, this not only enhances the live streaming experience with 2-way interaction but also lets content creators directly monetise their engagement with fans.

3. Branded Hashtag Challenges

Brands of all sizes are capitalising on TikTok’s trend-centric culture with Branded Hashtag Challenges – think Shopify’s #ShopBlack hashtag back in 2020.

By creating challenges which align with their brand, companies can increase engagement and brand awareness while encouraging even more user-generated content, win-win-win.

This strategy not only achieves the holy grail of marketing, i.e. ‘audience interaction’, but turns challenges into a ‘marketing tool’ – I’m sure my Grandad called me that once.

4. TikTok Ads Plus

TikTok has a few ways businesses can reach their target market.

Choose from in-feed ads to branded hashtag challenges and even branded effects – Microsoft 365 created a quaintly retro ‘WordArt You’ effect, where the above-the-head-randomizer told you which WordArt font you are.

Brands can uniquely tailor and personalise their approach based on their strategy and objectives to reach that massive, billion-plus global audience.

5. E-commerce Integration

The real gain-changer is how quickly users can now make a purchase. Getting that instant “I want it!” dopamine hit is alarmingly easy. Picture it, you’re watching your favourite creator turned QVC presenter extol the virtues of a 10-pack of everlasting pencils for only £2.74 then before you can hear your Grandad’s voice say ‘No, you’ve got pencils at home’, you’ve already tapped the yellow basket icon and the TikTok Shop is processing your order, too easy.

Yes, TikTok has evolved into an actual shopping destination, integrating e-commerce features, allowing users to transition seamlessly from watching the latest dance trend to buying obscene amounts of toilet roll – a recent trending item was 72 toilet rolls for £18, and yes, my downstairs loo now looks like an 80’s Andrex commercial.

In early 2022, TikTok expanded the maximum length of videos to 10 minutes. The move to a longer video format is to compete with sites like YouTube, which skew heavily toward prolonged content and vodcasts. This also helps TikTok capture an older audience and appeal to those with longer attention spans.

So it turns out TikTok isn’t just a platform for creative expression, or ‘dicking about’ as my Grandad George would call it.

It’s a platform that is constantly evolving with brand monetisation opportunities.

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