How Insight Directors should respond to TikTok

TikTok can’t be ignored.

It’s ok if you don’t use it.

It’s not ok if you don’t understand what’s happening on it.

The TikTok effect

TikTok has become a powerful demand generator.

Before March 2020 #BookTok didn’t exist. Now it’s driving significant demand in the publishing sector – catapulting titles from obscurity onto the top seller lists and lifting sales across the category.

While in the skincare category, CeraVe managed to wrest market share from its competitors’ worth hundreds of millions of dollars – in one year.

The impact of TikTok on stimulating demand in a category is obvious.

The question is, do you want to ride the wave or be caught tumbling in the surf?

A bit of context

TikTok usage has grown phenomenally. While still skewing younger, the demographics are moving into older generations.

From its beginnings in music and dance, TikTok has quickly expanded, becoming a way for people to share their experiences across almost every topic imaginable.

For example, here are some TikTok communities we’ve looked at recently:

What next?

Getting insight from TikTok is not easy.

There’s no official API yet so it doesn’t play nicely with most Social Listening platforms. And, even if it did – those tools are built for text, not video.

Don’t let this stop you. The juice is worth the squeeze.

You’ll need a good tech vendor to get passed the ‘algorithm fog’, get data by geography and give you a sense of what’s happening over time.

Then you’ll need a decent qual research methodology (or an experienced agency partner) to help you make sense of it all. You might find this step-by-step guide useful.

It’s not too late to start.

What should it look like?

If I was an Insight Director, I’d…

  • Create a foundational understanding of how communities come together through TikTok for each of your categories. Who are they, what’s important to them, what do they need, and how should you engage with them? For example, see our work on #BookTok.
  • Put the right tools and capabilities in place to track existing trends and spot growth in weaker signals.
  • Give brand and category teams 6-12 monthly category updates. It’s a fast-moving world, you’ll need to stay on top of it.

People don’t talk to researchers the way they talk to each other. If you’re not tapping into TikTok and other social platforms, you’re missing a key part of the puzzle.

Start using TikTok as a primary data source. It that will give you unique insights into how people think, feel and act.

And if you’re in need, we’d be delighted to help you along the way. Just schedule a chat with us here.

By: Jeremy Hollow

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