Abstract: On the occasion of the presentation of the book which helps to better express the brands’ value, MFF has interviewed the author Ilaria Barbotti, digital PR, business consultant and social media expert about the increasingly stronger relationship between the ByteDance app - which was downloaded by 113 million users worldwide only in February 2020 - and the fashion world.
MILAN, June 8 (Class Editori) - Which strategies can be implemented between companies and TikTok? Which tools does the social network offer to enrolled users? How is it possible to make advertising investments effective on TikTok? These are the most common questions that the market has been asking in these last months regarding the Chinese social network. As for Facebook and Instagram, for TikTok as well there are marketing strategies to follow, in order to better communicate the brands’ values to the reference target. All these strategies are perfectly explained in the new book TikTok Marketing, published by Hoepli and written by Ilaria Barbotti, digital PR, business consultant and social media expert. On the occasion of the book’s presentation, MFF has interviewed the author about, in particular, the relationship between the ByteDance app and the fashion and luxury world.
Why did you decide to write a book dedicated to TikTok?
The Chinese social network boomed in Italy in October/November of last year, with the consequent appearance of many influencers and celebrities. Therefore, I decided to write the first Italian book which would explain this brand-new video and social app. And I did the same for the Instagram marketing, the handbook I launched in 2015.
How would you define it?
It is a made in China app which allows to share and make short videos viral. Today it is very widespread, but it still has to grow from a business, adv and contents point of view.
What is the current app target?
Most of the users (40%) of this app are under 18. The main age group is still 12-29 years old. Some signals are showing us it is on the increase; however, there is still a long way to go.
Can you give us some data which confirms the global success of TikTok?
The official data dates back to December 2019. There is lots of data online, but not officially verified. According to the latest analysis by Sensor tower, the app was downloaded by 113 million users worldwide only in February 2020, on App store and Google play. The ByteDance app, therefore, has been downloaded more than WhatsApp and Facebook. TikTok’s downloads have increased by 96% in a year and probably this data is the consequence of the coronavirus outbreak as well: the app usage, in fact, is considered as an occasion to run away from reality and have fun. The country in which TikTok is most widespread is India, with 46.6% of downloads, which account for 41.3% of the global downloads. Brazil ranks second, with 9.7 million downloads, and then the USA, with 6.4 million. In Italy, we went from 2 million (in November 2019) to 7 million users in the first months of 2020, a significant surge. TikTok, in February 2020 (according to Sensor tower) recorded 50.4 million of advertising revenues, with a growth by 784.2%: this has allowed the social network to become the third app in terms of earnings (excluding the gaming app), after Tinder and YouTube. Lastly, 91% of all the earnings come from China; 3 million dollars come from the USA and 216,000 dollars from the UK. This data, even though significant, shows an important imbalance towards China. We will see what will come next: in Milan, the sales office should open exactly in these months.
Is the fashion and luxury world exploring this universe?
The fashion industry, as always happens for social networks, is ground-breaking compared to other sectors, in particular as for luxury. Dolce&Gabbana, for instance, has been the first brand to host some very famous tiktokers coming from America and Europe at its runway shows, also creating special contents for the brand’s official channel with them. In addition, Ralph Lauren has developed an important global project with contents and challenges. Fashion and Luxury industries are active on TikTok but there are still few brands: there are no other creative and relevant case studies such as those mentioned before. Therefore, there is a still a wide operating space in order to best guarantee themselves as innovative companies in the luxury field.
Which are the projects that a brand may carry out on a social network?
There are several options: the paid advertisement with different adv formats to buy, the most used is the hashtag challenge; the collaboration with famous tiktokers, which means the traditional influencer marketing addressed to young people; the product placement, namely exchanges of goods with less known tiktokers and in the end, lives, which are only individual at the moment.
Which are the strong points of the app?
Its rewarding algorithm: everybody can reach million views with their own video; the specific target, which is the Z generation; the opening attitude towards other stronger platforms such as Instagram, at least for now, and the well-known trends.
And what about weaknesses?
The advertisement investments are high-priced, minimum €30,000 per investment; lives can be only individual, they cannot be made between two people and there is still too little interaction.
The Fashion Insiders accuse TikTok of being too funny, only based on musical entertainment and for this reason difficult to use seriously such as, for example, Instagram…
I believe that every product can be illustrated with creativity, the deluxe one too. Being committed and creating interesting contents in order to be able to communicate the own brand, is enough. Today, on TikTok, there are several personal channels, which provide information, divulgation, discuss about sectors such as psychology, news, technology, food… Therefore, if we find the right way, our own profile will grow without necessarily creating funny or too careless videos.
Which are your suggestions for the fashion brands that want to start to be protagonists on TikTok?
Definitely working with tiktokers, accepting their support in order to create contents which communicate with that specific language. In addition, a good dose of creativity and the desire to questioning yourself is needed.
Will TikTok ever overcome Instagram in terms of success and targets?
Not in my opinion, at least in the following two years. Instagram has still much to say and continues to be the most used and interesting social network, because it provides more options, more kinds of contents and formats. Double lives, pictures and videos uploading are allowed. Moreover, it offers a more complete platform and advertisement for brands. TikTok has still to grow in terms of business and marketing. So far, they have thought about a community, influencers and users’ increase; now, they need to focus on companies, brands, advertisements and different kinds of contents. We will see how this challenge will go forward; certainly, in 2020, TikTok will grow and change a lot. If during the two-year period 2021-2022, the Chinese social network grew well and gained experience by allowing more options and view to brands, this might bother Instagram. Currently, this is still the undisputed king of social media.
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