TikTok is a global phenomenon that seems to have come out of nowhere in the last year. The video-sharing network’s aggressive advertising campaigns mean you cannot watch a video on YouTube or scroll through a website without seeing an advert encouraging you to sign up. With the platform recently hiring as its new CEO former Chairman of Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International, Kevin A. Mayer, there is no doubt that TikTok will continue to infiltrate consumers’ lives. This presents a new marketing opportunity.
For those who have yet to experience the platform, TikTok is a short-form, video-sharing app that allows users to create and share 15-second videos. Traditionally it has been used by Generation Z to lip sync to music tracks or “iconic” lines from television or movies. Put bluntly, TikTok was a banal way to pass the time. However, through word of mouth and a merger with another video platform, musical.ly, TikTok has become one of the most popular apps of the past decade with over 1.5 billion downloads. With such a large audience, marketeers began to embrace the platform.
Indeed businesses that you would not necessarily associate with an app originally aimed at children have begun to create highly engaging content. The Washington Post embraced the platform early on, with producer Dave Jorgenson leading the publication’s output. For the newspaper the platform has helped diversify its public identity; you will not see reporters discussing the latest in politics or international news, instead you will find Dave playing piano with his dog or showing what The Washington Post would be like on a date. What these videos do is help to make the brand stand out from its competitors. It helps to humanise the messenger and show you the person behind the paper. This assists in enhancing the credibility and likeability of the reporters – the message being, we are like you.
I am not saying we all need to go out and force our pets to play musical instruments (though I would love to see a gerbil play the flute); what I am saying is that marketeers need to think outside of their comfort zone to create effective content.
Another brand that has used TikTok effectively is the World Economic Forum (WEF). Unlike The Washington Post, WEF does use the platform to share information and data. It has not used TikTok to challenge their brand perception, but have rather used it to embrace its brand identity through the medium of short videos. This has proven effective with 1.3 million users subscribed to the WEF channel.
So what does this mean for the legal sector?
There are opportunities for lawyers to connect with Millennials and Generation Z on the platform. The legal sector should embrace the short-form video genre and share legal tips on TikTok. Indeed, we are starting to see a few lawyers begin to do this such as Brad Shear. However, this minimal activity has been focused on the US legal market.
The opportunity is still there in the UK for law firms to begin to market through TikTok. Any law firm that decided to take on this opportunity needs to have a clear strategy in place, an understanding of TikTok’s audience, including tone, language and the wider context in which TikTok’s audience operate, and be brave. Embracing new marketing platforms always has teething problems but if done well, the rewards always outweigh the issues. If TikTok can help Justin Bieber get to number one in the US Billboard Chart, I'm sure it can help with the delivery of your firm's key messages!