By Devika Singh
After a brief lull when it was taken off the Android and Apple app stores for hosting offensive content, TikTok seems to be back in business. Marketers are increasingly tapping the large base of influencers on the short video sharing app, which is driven by user-generated content. According to data from Vidooly, influencer-led campaigns in India by apps such as Gaana, Tinder, Loco and Wysh garnered more than seven lakh likes on TikTok in 2019 alone, while multinational phone brands like Huawei, Infinix and Vivo generated more than 24 lakh likes for their campaigns. A recent campaign by Lay’s, called Wavez4India Challenge fetched over two billion views on the platform within three days. Though Instagram and YouTube remain the top influencer marketing platforms for brands in India, experts believe TikTok could surpass them.
Prashant Puri, CEO, AdLift, a digital marketing agency, says, “TikTok has an edge for two reasons — one because brands love video more than pictures, and second, for its grip on tier II and III markets in the country. These two metrics could help TikTok surpass other platforms when it comes to influencer marketing spends.” Currently, 20% of the influencer marketing campaigns AdLift works on every month involves TikTok.
Typically, brands targeting millennials opt for TikTok. Besides FMCG, smartphone manufacturers and OTT platforms, BFSI companies such as SBI Life and Future Generali Life Insurance have also run influencer marketing campaigns on the platform.
E-commerce marketplace Voonik is planning to use TikTok to announce its foray into the private label business. “We are looking at influencers in the age group of 21-25 who have accumulated a lot of followers in the 21-27 age group, which is our actual user base,” says Prem Suganth VT, associate director, Voonik. Although Voonik has largely used Instagram, it now plans to target tier II and III markets through TikTok, given its quick conversion time — less than 48 hours.
The combination of music with the message is an attractive proposition for brands, says Harsh Shah, VP, Dentsu Webchutney. “TikTok is getting a new set of consumers on board and brands want to tap them,” he adds.
Although TikTok has been around in India, it has started to see monetisation only recently. The ‘hashtag challenge’ has been one of its most used influencer marketing tool — the Kiki challenge or the more recent bottle cap challenge have found traction on the platform. But TikTok needs to move beyond these to emerge as the most favoured influencer marketing platform.
Sachin Sharma, director, sales and partnerships, TikTok India, says that the company is experimenting with advertising solutions such as short videos, brand takeovers, in-feed native video, and branded lenses to position TikTok as a viable promotional platform for brands.
TikTok is currently being used by brands only as part of their influencer marketing strategy. Experts say that roughly 15-20% of the overall digital marketing budget of brands is spent on influencer marketing. Out of this, Instagram takes the lion’s share. However, with its growing user base in India —120 million active monthly and counting — TikTok could catch up soon.
However, in the wake of a recent report citing that 16 million accounts of Indian influencers on Facebook-owned Instagram are fake, it is crucial for TikTok to weed out fake profiles. Regulation of content is another imperative. Despite introducing safety features and expanding its moderation team in India, TikTok struggles with content quality. Moreover, the app’s future is uncertain with the government threatening to ban it for ‘anti-India activities’ unless it provides a satisfactory response. Despite the hurdles, Shah says brands are in wait-and-watch mode, but TikTok cannot brush these problems aside.