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How are Brands, Creators, and the Music Industry Approaching TikTok?

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“A song can feel old or be considered old after a week. Spaces like TikTok allow artists and their music to continue growing.” – Toyin Mustapha, Music Content and Artist Partnerships at TikTok

TikTok has amassed 500 million users worldwide and is rapidly moving from niche to mainstream with no signs of slowing down.

To help us navigate the app’s unique offerings, European Director of Partnerships Inam Mahmood lead a panel during #SMWLDN addressing burning questions that include: why TikTok is different and in what ways is it paving the path for a new generation of influencers?

Here are the primary insights and takeaways:

  • TikTok is a Powerful Hub for Exploration
  • Prioritization of Personalized Experiences Over Vanity Metrics Makes for a Positive and Collaborative Community
  • Going Viral Boils Down to Simplicity, Replicability, and Authenticity

For those unfamiliar, he first defined TikTok as a destination for short-form videos on mobile with the mission to “inspire and enrich people’s lives by offering a helm of creative expression and an experience that is genuine, joyful, and positive.”

To take a close look at how TikTok fits into the broader social media environment, he turned to Toyin Mustapha who heads Music Content and Artist Partnerships for TikTok, Rachel Waller, the Global VP of Digital Marketing at Burberry, and Holly H, the UK’s biggest name in TikTok who has attracted 16M+ followers on the app.

TikTok is a Powerful Hub for Exploration

There was a general consensus that TikTok’s core strength and most unique capabilities lie in its ability to serve as a promotional and discovery tool at the same time. For brands, a unique opportunity to test and experiment with new approaches is both exciting and refreshing.

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“Through the TikToK discover page I found friends, new music, different trends and it’s the best way to explore. It makes me want to be more creative,” said Holly. She finds these insights into other types of content valuable as they shed light into different avenues she can take with her content that inspires her to get outside of her comfort zone.

From the music standpoint, Toyin shared, “TikTok is a great promotional tool for artists and labels and a great discovery tool for fans. We have our sound page but users can find music just from content and videos they see in our for you or following feed.”

“TikTok has made us really think about how we connect our brand values with our consumer’s interests and passion points through content,” said Rachel.

Prioritization of Personalized Experiences Over Vanity Metrics Makes for a Positive and Collaborative Community

The panelists also shared their appreciation that TikTok doesn’t emphasize vanity metrics, but instead prioritizes personalized viewing experiences. For this reason, the group agreed that platform is much more community-led, collaborative, positive and proactive compared to other channels.

“TikTok is one of the most positive platforms on social media. In the comment section it says say something nice which is different compared to other platforms that just instruct you to drop a comment,” said Holly.

Rachel added, “I think the most interesting thing is how responsive the community is. It feels so proactive and reactive compared to other places you can look that are more passive. This is so refreshing and really positive and I love this idea that this is a place where there’s no barrier to entry to a conversation of complete self-expression.”

“A song can feel old or be considered old after a week. Spaces like TikTok allow artists and their music to continue growing,” shared Toyin.

Going Viral Boils Down to Simplicity, Replicability, and Authenticity

TikTok’s SIS principle is the platform’s guide to virality; creating something that is simple, imitable, and suspenseful. The panelists each offered their own best practices and insights as to what makes something worthy of being shared pointing to three key characteristics: simplicity, replicability, and authenticity.

“For something to be viral, it needs to be easy to do first and foremost. It needs to be easy to replicate, something people that all walks of life can engage with. If you have something niche you’ll only focus on that one group,” said Toyin.

“Being authentic is a massive one. If you’re not a real person or coming across a real human being people aren’t interested. Reliability is important too. If someone can’t relate they won’t share your video,” said Holly.

“Simplicity is everything. Human truths are also very powerful and knowing yourself as a brand and becoming comfortable with entertaining. It doesn’t need to be more complicated than that,” said Rachel.

Towards the end of the conversation, Holly shared her best advice for fellow creators looking to carve out their own TikTok experiences, “Be yourself and try new things. People want to engage with you; not a version of you.”

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