TikTok is an authentic earned content space for brands – but for how long?

New social media channels are constantly entering our ever-evolving media landscape.

TikTok is the new kid on the social-media block, but how long before the sheen of authenticity wears off, asks Alex Payne
TikTok is the new kid on the social-media block, but how long before the sheen of authenticity wears off, asks Alex Payne

Always exciting at first, eventually these new social channels reach a tipping point – one where they lose their initial gloss and ability to move quickly and adapt as needed.

It happened to Facebook; now it’s Instagram that needs to be careful.

Once you stop being a challenger, younger demographics immediately lose interest, taking brands with them.

TikTok is the latest to offer something fresh and new.

While Facebook and Instagram aren’t going anywhere, they aren’t the shiny new toys anymore either.

They might have some demographics sewn up between them, but TikTok is where the kids are playing, and that’s where brands are now going to spend their money and fulfil their comms strategies.

With its strapline of ‘Real People. Real Videos’, TikTok represents a return to authentic connection.

TikTok content is, in many ways, the exact opposite of what you see on Instagram – real videos vs glossy, stylised photoshoots.

Without Instagram’s filtered lens, TikTok is automatically a more authentic space for brands to exist in.

Only brands that trust influencers to work with them in that space will be able to benefit from this authenticity and really capitalise on what TikTok has to offer.

That means abandoning the pursuit of perfection, embracing the platform for what it is and, most importantly, trusting genuinely engaged influencers to include your brand in their own stories in their own way.

Not paying them to tell your brand story from a script.

Earned media is the purest form of media and, with the pursuit of ‘truth’ now the holy grail, it’s never been more important.

When it comes to influencers, a relationship based on genuine advocacy – where they are telling their audience why they love your brand without you exercising control – plays well with savvy audiences who are increasingly switching off from paid-for content.

When social media arrived it was a truly authentic playground, where people created stories based on interest.

Recognising the engagement, brands have worked their way in and, in many cases, taken over.

Now, if you want to stand out in this space, you need to be brave enough to find people who actually want to engage with your brand and then let them tell stories on their own terms.

You might not get exactly what you want all the time, but the authenticity will translate better to their audience, and that’s a win.

Consumers want truthful content and brands want meaningful connections. That’s why earned media is under the spotlight.

Authentic influencer storytelling, not controlled brand messaging, is the antidote.

The shift to true storytelling has been developing for a while, but this is now the time.

Whereas it was once about finding ways to get your story onto influencer channels, now it’s about finding ways to work your story into someone else’s.

This approach brings with it reduced control, but the authenticity gained is absolutely essential for social media success.

Alex Payne is co-founder of The Room

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