TikTok, the addictively simple video-sharing social media platform, was officially the most downloaded app of 2020. They beat out Facebook for the most downloads last year, which represents a three-spot jump for TikTok from 2019.
Targeted at the under-30 demographic, the entertaining and “sticky” app is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms ever. Users create short videos set to music, often lip-syncing along, dancing, or performing challenges. Templates and visual effects make it easy to edit and enhance the videos.
As content-hungry consumers stuck at home flocked to the app to create, socialize, and stay entertained throughout 2020, TikTok cut into the usage of other apps and blurred the line between social media and major video streaming players.
TikTok revealed specific growth milestones in August 2020, reporting nearly 100 million monthly active U.S. users—up nearly 800% percent from 11 million users in January 2018—and more than 50 million daily U.S. users.
With that kind of fast growth and rising popularity, many global brands are now ready to fully embrace the potential of TikTok as a marketing channel. If anything, the power of the platform is expected to build with the addition of more creators and new social commerce features.
While these features are not as robust as that of some of the other social networks yet, TikTok consistently adds new features. For example, Levi’s ran a series of shoppable ads featuring videos filmed with TikTok influencers with a “shop now” button. The brand reported that product views more than doubled for every item featured in the TikTok videos.
EMBRACING CONSCIOUS CONSUMERS ON TIKTOK
TikTok has followers, hashtags, likes, and comments like other social apps. It’s been distinguished, though, by an unusually positive atmosphere. The New York Timespraised TikTok as “the only truly pleasant social network in existence,” thanks to its strict adherence to online safety, the safety of minors, and firm stand against online bullying.
As with the other social networks, though, that kind of popularity breeds opportunity for harmful content on brand-owned social media pages and that of their creators. According to a Transparency Report released in July 2020, TikTok removed more than 49 million videos globally for violating its policies between July and December 2019.
While TikTok works to moderate inappropriate content, brands must also protect themselves. Early in the summer of 2020, social platforms, suddenly found themselves as an arbiter of social and political activism. Users were creating and sharing Black Lives Matter and political protest content, while also amplifying other social justice information and, in some cases, organizing social justice trolling.
While some brands decided to step back and rethink their social platform strategies during this culturally sensitive moment, beauty brand Eos embraced TikTok, posting its support for Black Lives Matter on June 1.
“TikTok is not just for dancing and music,” said Soyoung Kang, Eos CMO. “It’s been interesting to see how young people are using the platform and creating more diverse content than what an outsider’s expectation of the content is.”
The work the social network is doing is supportive of its creators within policies, while brands also have to face the reality that instigators are using social media to disrupt user engagement with harmful content. As the spread of this content increases, so does the risk for associated brands.
BRANDS MUST TAKE AN ACTIVE ROLE
Social media platforms such as TikTok continue to open the door for users to voice their opinions—and demands—of brands worldwide with the expectation that brands should play an active role in addressing those demands.
Unfortunately, even for brands that have successfully addressed critical issues on their social media pages, there are instigators spreading inappropriate content to intentionally harm brands. An overall increase in harmful and toxic content across social media platforms has created a potential risk for brands that want to take advantage of potential opportunities to reach consumers on social media platforms such as TikTok.
To protect their own interests on their brand-owned social media pages and ads, some rely on automatic word filters in an attempt to control harmful content. While well-intentioned, this tactic falls short, leaving brands in a vulnerable position with their reputations at risk.
THE SHORTFALL OF AUTOMATED WORD FILTERS
With that, comes a dependency on subpar moderation solutions, which use automated word filters that put brands at risk. For one, they unintentionally censor. Traditional word filters can inadvertently delete appropriate comments from consumers about sensitive topics, such as racism, or worse, these filters can remove credible threats that need to be addressed.
They also lack conversational nuance. Language is complicated and context matters. The subtlety around current events requires a more sophisticated approach that filters just can’t deliver. Traditional word filters simply can’t provide a look at the intent behind the words, which enables brands to effectively engage their audiences.
And they don’t catch everything. Adjust one letter of a filtered word and the filter is obsolete. Instigators evolve and so do their strategies for inflicting harm to brands. It only takes one harmful comment to ignite a firestorm of frustration among a brand’s followers, regardless of its good standing.
That said, manual moderation solutions using a team of human beings doesn’t address the scale and speed with which conversation moves on popular platforms like TikTok. So what’s a brand to do?
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF TIKTOK BY USING EARLY-WARNING RISK INTELLIGENCE
The appeal of TikTok—for users and for brands interested in reaching 100 million monthly active U.S. users—is undeniable. Best of all, avoiding potential damage to consumer engagement and brand reputation is achievable—with early-warning risk intelligence to protect you from harmful content.
Unlike the previously mentioned automated tools, an early-warning risk intelligence partner observes the digital chatter of instigators and influencers on platforms such as TikTok, 24/7/365. They not only quickly navigate the complexity and nuance of online commentary from conscious consumers and instigators to eliminate harmful content, they also serve as an early-warning signal to alert brands on business-critical incidents and issues emerging on social media.
Participating on TikTok presents a huge—and valuable—opportunity for brands, particularly when it comes to reaching a socially conscious younger audience. By investing in early-warning risk intelligence, you can keep your brand-owned social media pages, and the creators who interact with you, safe and still provide a positive experience for all.