Even if you don’t have TikTok, chances are you’ve seen a video created on the platform that has been reposted elsewhere online. Its reach is undeniable, and the social media giant announced it had 1 billion active users – an impressive feat considering it is one of the market’s youngest networks.
Two years ago, most people had never even heard of TikTok. So who are they, and what’s the secret behind their successful domination of the global social media scene?
TikTok, formerly known as Musical.ly, is a video streaming and sharing app that debuted in 2014. It was initially used to create and distribute 15-send lip-sync music videos. Bytedance acquired Musical.ly in 2017, and by August 2018, it to a single application under the TikTok name. Within three months, the combined app gained 30 million new users.
The app generates revenue through advertisements and the sale of virtual goods to fans such as emojis and stickers. The app’s success has been fueled by an easy-to-use interface that combines click-bait news and entertainment with powerful AI to precisely match users rather than recommend content based on their viewing habits and “likes.”
TikTok prioritizes localization over competitors Instagram and Facebook, which use a more homogeneous marketing strategy. We’ve identified the main localization strategies TikTok employs to engage with its international audience, which we believe can be helpful tips for any business considering global expansion.
Why TikTok matters to brands
While other social media platforms continue to perform well for most brands, TikTok is proving to be an important component of any brand marketing strategy. And it begins with the differences in how the algorithm functions for its creators.
When it comes to messaging, marketers rely on two types of timing: evergreen content that lasts a long time and time-sensitive content that needs to spread quickly. TikTok supports both. Not only can your video be widely and quickly shared, but it can also be kept in normal distribution for 3 months or more. You have to pay for that extended evergreen reach on other platforms.
Furthermore, TikTok exposes you to new audiences that you might not have found on other platforms. For example, many TikTok users are Gen Z, and these users either aren’t on other platforms or ignore them in order to stay on TikTok.
TikTok is currently one of the few places where you can almost guarantee getting in front of Gen Z if that’s the audience you’re after. TikTok is also gaining popularity among Millennials and Gen Xers.
What can businesses learn from TikTok’s approach to international expansion?
Embed yourself into local cultures
Firstly, the right localization strategy can catapult your company to new heights. TikTok could have remained a primarily Chinese app, but by adopting a localised strategy, they could successfully penetrate markets worldwide. TikTok has created a space in which its billions of users feel seen and connected, which is remarkable.
A straightforward way to accomplish this is to monitor trends in each market in which you operate. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, the simplest of which is to follow popular hashtags on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn and ensure that they are localized to each country.
In addition, sites like Hashtagify allow you to track trending hashtags across different international markets. TikTok creates a #Hashtag that serves as a brief to the creators, who then popularise the content. Many brands, including Louis Vuitton, Guess, and Christian Dior, have used TikTok campaigns to expand their presence in an engaging way. Keeping up with relevant local publications will also help you avoid risky posts or PR disasters and better understand local conversations and consumer behavior.
Collaborate with local Influencers
Influencers can serve as the ideal link between your company and potential customers when entering a new market. Working with local micro-influencers can help you increase your presence and establish your business in its niche, allowing you to build a network of followers, supporters, and customers.
TikTok accomplished this by collaborating with Singaporean film and television actor Jack Neo in the run-up to the release of his first action comedy film, Killer Not Stupid. In addition, Tik Tok added a song from the film’s soundtrack to its music bank and challenged fans to create a finger dance to accompany it.
To avoid negative press surrounding the partnership, it’s critical that you carefully consider which influencers to partner with, ensuring that their followers’ values align with those of your brand and brand goals.
TikTok is more reliant on influencer followers. Tik Tok’s influencers can sell more products because of their millions of followers, increasing conversion rates. TikTok launched a series of events toward the end of 2021 that positioned the company as a competitor in the e-commerce space. These TikTok-hosted events are part of a thriving digital experience known as “live” or “social” shopping events. When compared to traditional marketing methods, TikTok’s live commerce allows for more frequent interaction with customers.
Followers are able to ask creators questions about the product, request opinions or different perspectives, and interact with both the creator and the brand in a much deeper and meaningful way.
TikTok’s business model allows e-commerce to learn about customers’ needs in real time. TikTok prioritises collaboration with eCommerce platforms such as Alibaba, which means that customers are easily directed to the eCommerce platform. This method converts customers’ impulse purchases into purchases. TikTok’s adaptable business model, such as influencers plus super stars or setting up live commerce in the factory, results in users feeling more involved.
Don’t stop localizing your content; working with a local content team to build your website isn’t enough; you must ensure that all of your communications are of high quality. Because high-quality localization is critical to TikTok’s performance, all content undergoes proofreading before the team rolls out a new update. Linguists also perform monthly QA to ensure quality.
Building long-term relationships with content and linguist experts allow you to remain agile and consistently connect with your international audiences.
Guest author: Article written by Joshua Atkins. Joshua is the founder of Jublo and a digital marketing and language expert. Jublo is a certified digital agency based in Leeds.
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