Interview: ‘All TikTok users become creators themselves and inspire each other’
TikTok is a hot new video app that’s taking the world by storm and communicators and PR professionals alike should definitely sit up and take note. Launched by Chinese company ByteDance, the app amassed more than 500 million monthly active users and is, therefore, one of the most popular apps on the planet.
How does TikTok work? It allows users to create videos of up to 15 seconds and add music, stickers, filters and hashtags. Users can also upload pre-shot videos of up to one minute long – additionally, the app comes with some of the features we know from other social networks.
TikTok stands for a new type of user experience: the app is driven by AI and this makes all the difference since the content shown in user feeds is determined by the respective user’s interests and is not defined by their connections. Interested in learning more about TikTok and its potential for digital communicators? Then read our earlier post ‘What communicators need to know about … “TikTok‘.
The app is also growing in Europe: In Germany, for example, TikTok belongs to the top 10 most popular apps – just like Spotify, YouTube and Netflix. Next to being a cutting-edge tech product that has the potential to change the way social networks work – elevating “machine-human” interaction – TikTok is also a great channel that communicators should leverage. That’s one of the topics we discussed with Inam Mahmood – Inam serves as TikTok’s Director of Partnerships and is responsible for the company’s monetisation efforts across Europe. We also spoke with him about TikTok’s plans for Germany, new advertising formats and successful campaigns on the platform.
What is TikTok and why is the platform so popular?
TikTok is the leading destination for short-form mobile video. Our mission is to inspire and enrich people’s lives by offering a home for creative expression and an experience that is genuine, joyful and positive. In addition to TikTok’s global community, the diversity of the content is particularly interesting for users: from music to beauty and travel to comedy, all over the world users exchange short videos on a wide variety of topics. Whether on certain hashtags and challenges or ‘just like that’ – at TikTok, all users can get creative, inspire each other and become creators themselves. The important thing is that we move from a social to a content graph. Our users don’t see content based on who they know but based on their preferences. New communities are formed based on trends and interests.
What is TikTok’s business model? What role do user data and advertising play?
We are currently testing different advertising formats and are looking closely at whether they are a good fit for TikTok. We want to develop advertising formats that enable companies to get in touch with the community and guarantee our users an organic and intuitive experience. At the moment we already have successful examples of these formats on the platform, such as the campaigns of Otto Group, BMW or Punica. To give the example of Otto Group: We designed a hashtag challenge #MachdichzumOTTO where we invited users to do silly things in a public space. Creators such as @katulka_ were invited to put together kick-off videos. Altogether the campaign generated almost 60.000 videos and 156 million views within two weeks runtime.
How important is Germany for TikTok?
The German TikTok community is very exciting: Creators like @Fatmanshouse, @Yasta, @Mido and many others exchange creative ideas on the platform every day. Of course, Germany is also an interesting market. That’s why we’re currently setting up a local team to take care of the community, content, partnerships and the TikTok brand in Germany. For example, our German operations team is working on developing proprietary formats and challenges for the German community.
Who uses TikTok?
When asked whether consumers or organisations are active on TikTok, we can clearly say: Both, but mostly GenZ and Millenials share content in different categories. Through this, our platform has also managed to produce its own ‘stars’ that shape pop culture, such as @Chanydakota or @Falcopunch. At the same time, more organisations are discovering TikTok as an opportunity to make contact with an active community, such as FC Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, BMW or the radio station 1Live.
Should TikTok be an integral part of digital communication strategies of B2C & B2B brands? Which brands have successfully integrated TikTok into their communication?
As already mentioned, we are currently working on the development and testing of various formats. In doing so, we find that especially those formats and content that are authentic and interactive are successful with the community as they give them the opportunity to engage with a brand creatively. Companies such as BMW or Punica have impressively implemented this in their previous campaigns on TikTok.
TikTok is one of the most downloaded apps worldwide. But, experts warn against risks especially with regards to minors. What does TikTok do to protect users?
It is our number one priority that our users have a safe and positive experience on our app, which is why we have taken several measures to protect our users. For example, our users can set their accounts to “private”. This allows them to approve or deny followers and determine who sees their content and whether they want to receive messages from followers. We have also taken a number of further measures: to allow users to activate a filter and to define terms that should not appear in comments on their content. Moreover, users who violate our Community Guidelines can be reported to our trained moderation team, which reviews content 24/7. Our Community Guidelines regulate which content is welcome on TikTok – and which is not. In addition to our online safety center, we also provide updates for our users on safety and privacy settings in a blog and in our own newsroom. Additionally, we use technologies that help us identify and remove content that violates our Community Guidelines.
Inam Mahmood serves as TikTok’s Director of Partnerships and is responsible for the company’s monetisation efforts across Europe.
Ubermetrics thanks Inam wholeheartedly for this interesting interview!