TikTok or NOT.
by Shane O’Neill, Vice President
There’s a new shiny penny in the social media marketing world and it’s called TikTok. Everyone is talking about how you should add it to your marketing mix, but should you? Sure, TikTok is fun and cool, but is it the right audience at the right time for a retail jeweler? Before you jump on a new social media platform, it’s wise to define your strategic use for the channel as it pertains to your overall marketing objectives. You can’t do everything and do it well…and if you aren’t doing something well, what exactly are you doing?
Let’s look at the numbers.
First of all, let me say you can make a justification for just about any social media channel. Depending on your strategy and staff/agency skill sets, it’s possible to be successful on various platforms. However, that’s not typical for an overwhelming number of retailers. Unless you have endless marketing dollars, there are usually more relevant channels than the newest social channel du jour. When Google+ launched in 2011, everyone thought it would be the Facebook killer. Instead, it never even caught on and flickered out like an early morning campfire. So, before you start to dilute your social marketing efforts with yet another social media channel, do your own due diligence to determine if it’s the right fit for your business.
In marketing, numbers matter. You have to look past the buzz and trends to assess if the social channel has enough users, a robust enough ad platform, and staying power. We actually use a simple formula to help rationalize adding or changing our social media portfolio: time+strategy+audience = effort/money.
In other words, ask yourself how much time you will need to dedicate to properly maintaining the social channel. Know how you’ll use the channel. And, make sure the user base is valid and large enough on a local level. So, let’s take a look at TikTok and see if it meets our strategic objectives.
How much time do you need to invest in creating TikTok videos? Well, video is certainly more time-consuming than static images but is also way more engaging. That said, you can and should create video content for any channel you use. TikTok videos are somewhat unique from a creative standpoint, so they might not work as well on other social channels. Either way, video is important and will take more time. So, the questions are what type of videos should you create that you can use across other channels, and do you have the time to add TikTok videos?
Before you add additional social channels, ask yourself what strategic objective you hope to achieve. For the sake of discussion, we’ll assume the strategic use of TikTok would be to target the bridal customer, based on the audience profile below. If that’s the case, are you already targeting bridal on social media? Most social media users use multiple channels and TikTok isn’t the primary channel for most, so are you planning to make TikTok your primary bridal channel? If so, is it better than what you are currently using? For example, Instagram is a great channel to target the bridal audience as 31.5% of US users are between the ages of 25 – 34*. That’s pretty prime bridal if you ask me. In fact, 54.4% of US Instagram users are between the ages of 18-34*. Oh, by the way, Instagram has also launched its own version of TikTok called Reels, which may very well affect TikTok’s growth and user adaptation. So, is TikTok a better bridal platform than Instagram? Let’s keep digging.
So, who’s using TikTok the most? Let’s look at the numbers.
Around 50-60% of US users are between the ages of 16-24. That’s a large number of users outside of the average bridal age of 28. Moreover, some are still in high school and the rest probably aren’t prime for bridal marketing efforts. It’s pretty clear that Instagram is a better bridal platform, so would TikTok be a supplement? That’s fine, but remember, you can’t do everything and do it well. So, the question is, do you have the time to spend on a supplemental channel, considering most relevant bridal users probably also use Instagram?
Another reason TikTok is being touted is that it gives you the chance to get in front of Gen Z. I get it, but why? They won’t start becoming prime bridal customers for at least another 4-5 years. With the pace of technology evolution, I’ll bet we’ve all moved on to something else. In the meantime, the numbers don’t lie. TikTok is only the 7th most used social channel, with Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram way above it. It’s not even close.
Effort and Money
So, now comes the $64,000 question; is it worth the additional time and effort to build out a TikTok presence, and do you have the marketing dollars to put toward it? Would you take dollars away from more strategically appropriate channels like Instagram to do so? In our view, the answer should be no. Will TikTok grow into a marketing juggernaut? Maybe, but it’s not there yet as there are simply too many better options for the majority of jewelry retailers and their marketing dollars.
We are constantly inundated with articles warning us that this generation or that generation isn’t using (insert popular social channel) and we should rethink our strategy to market to them. At the same time, these users are often still in middle school or high school. While they may not currently be using certain social channels, they might in the future as their needs change. They’re also not really buying jewelry either, so” fingers crossed”.
The bottom line is it’s easy to get caught up in the newest social trends. However, newer social channels often don’t stack up to other more well-established social channels, for a litany of reasons that you need to consider before going down the rabbit hole. A little advice; determine your top three most important social channels that strategically align with your business. Only when you can execute those channels flawlessly should you even consider adding another social channel, and even then it needs to make strategic sense.
BTW, I bet you read an article about how important Snapchat is to your business in the next couple of weeks, SMH.