How TikTok’s unique blend of social media and broadcast techniques sets it apart

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TikTok’s weird and unprecedented twists and turns take place against the backdrop of significant changes in social media itself, as it evolves from a sharing medium to a one-to-many streaming medium for the digital age. .

TikTok’s platform is built on viral content through casually created videos that are widely distributed. It looks like everyone and their mom are aiming to be featured on the “For You Page”, where TikTok provides an organized stream of videos from all over the world, to enjoy their fifteen seconds of fame. By hosting content across the platform, TikTok represents a departure from older social media platforms designed to distribute content more narrowly, to a limited group based on community, geography or shared interests. And, while totally different in tone and structure, TikTok is reminiscent of traditional broadcast media which are also designed to distribute content widely in order to compete for the widest possible audience.

TikTok’s efforts to monetize its platform can tell us a lot about the future of not just the social media industry, but television and one-to-many media in general.

TikTok wins a seat at the table

Some of the first major social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and LinkedIn, were designed to help users create and share media within finite subscriber circuits. Usually, these tours would include friends, family and colleagues. These real social connections, as the nickname “social media” suggests, were at the heart of the user experiences, distribution frameworks, and monetization models of these platforms.

Over time, each of these platforms has strived to make themselves more suited to wider and more public communications, fine-tuning algorithms and user experiences to encourage more professional content production and wider dissemination to people. a wider audience. This change explains why we’re seeing more incentives for professional content creators (like with Facebook Watch and Snap Originals), and more resources dedicated to promoting users to discover content beyond their social networks. existing (as with Twitter trending topics). After mastering the one-to-many experience and monetizing it more successfully than anyone could have predicted, social media platforms are trying to master the one-to-many playbook, where TV remains the undisputed king.

TikTok is already here. By encouraging anyone to produce entertaining content for a global audience, TikTok has beaten the social giants while no one is watching and earned a seat at the TV and streaming players’ table. TikTok recently consolidated this firm position among the top social platforms: it’s currently the most downloaded app on Apple’s App Store and Google Play, a cultural phenomenon big enough to be turned into geopolitical football.

As TikTok opens a new path at the intersection of social virality and TV entertainment, it offers new advertising opportunities for brands and organizations to connect with consumers. Going forward, the key to success for marketers will be creating content that matches the unique nature of the platform. Videos should be immersive but not overly fancy, and value oriented without being overtly commercial. In other words, they have to be built from the ground up for entertainment and virality.

Will TikTok win a share of the portfolio?

Clearly, TikTok has claimed a unique place in the media ecosystem. The question now is to what extent the platform can monetize this position. While wide distribution of casual content can offer huge brand-building opportunities, it is not yet clear whether TikTok can make this format work for direct response campaigns, which are focused on driving sales. immediate action and conversion. Unlike Facebook or Pinterest, TikTok does not have consumer purchase intent signals. And it will become increasingly difficult for TikTok to create rich audience profiles as local governments scrutinize how the company handles user data.

Going forward, TikTok may rely on social commerce for both immediate monetization and intent signal research to boost ad targeting. In the short term, that will involve scaling up its successful pilot project of buyable ads in the United States. They collapse the funnel, turning every brand message into a conversion opportunity. It’s no surprise that TV is on a similar trajectory with monetization, with major broadcasters like NBC introducing purchasable ads in TV and digital video formats. Walmart’s pursuit of a stake in TikTok indicates that the link to commerce has real potential. As shopping formats become more standardized in video, Walmart and other retail giants are seeing new territory where their mountains of purchase intent data and their mastery of the bottom funnel can come together. translate into better monetization.

TikTok has proven its algorithm to be incredibly effective at keeping people engaged by making videos appear based on what people are watching. Time will tell if it can also prove effective in matching brands with consumers based on their interests. If it can, TikTok will capture a slice of the $ 600 billion global advertising industry that suits its unique place in the ecosystem. If he can’t, he’ll end up in the social media graveyard alongside MySpace, Friendster, and Vine.

Anupam Gupta is the product manager at Mediaocean

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