You know something is shifting in the social media landscape when Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, says that the app is ‘no longer a photo-sharing app’ and acknowledges that TikTok is ahead when it comes to entertainment and videos.
Like many people during the first lockdown, I joined TikTok out of boredom. It was a rather overwhelming multisensorial experience at first – the music was blasting, and people were dancing all over my screen. I didn’t feel like I belonged and immediately closed the app, swearing to never open it ever again… Fast forward to a couple of months later, the digital specialist in me couldn’t help but wonder why more and more people of all ages were obsessed with it. So, I re-joined, and after 20 minutes of scrolling, just like that, my obsession with vertical videos began.
With some of the main social media platforms shifting to vertical video-first, how can companies optimise the transition of their focus to that type of content?
Embrace the opportunity to expand across multiple platforms
The 9:16 aspect ratio isn’t new. Its popularity started to grow with the launch of Snapchat in 2011, and in 2016, Instagram launched Stories. Then fast forward to 2020 and the boom of TikTok, Instagram launched Reels and YouTube launched its Shorts feature a few months later.
As the format is identical on all those platforms, there is an incredible opportunity for companies to expand the reach of their content and messages if they are willing to dedicate some of their social media efforts to developing creative authentic vertical videos. As it happens, reuse and recycle are also applicable to digital content.
Move away from perfection
After almost two years spent in sweatpants working from home, it’s fair to say that the perfectly curated content some brands are sharing is becoming less and less relatable. Our lives are messy, imperfect, and the growing content trends reflect that. On TikTok, people are very candid about their life struggles, from mental health to relationships and everything in between. On Instagram, the ‘photo dump’ trend is sending us back to the early days of the platform when we only used it to show what we had for lunch and share pictures of our cats.
This gives brands the chance to demonstrate how their products can realistically fit into people’s lives and prove to a customer with two children under two, or one with a recent ADHD diagnosis, that they can help them improve their daily routine. Making it realistic, raw and accessible is an excellent way to get the attention and engagement of Millennials (born after 1980) and Gen Zs (born after 1996).
Prioritise authentic partnership
We discussed the power of authentic partnership before and of course, I couldn’t write an article about vertical videos without mentioning everyone’s TikTok favourite – train aficionado, Francis Bourgeois. He perfectly illustrates the importance of authentic partnerships in social media influencer marketing. Francis recently became the face of Gucci and The North Face. One may wonder how a trainspotter goes from cheering to the honk of a Class 43 HST to modelling for a luxury brand. The reality is most people are now looking for comfort and function when shopping for clothes and accessories, so showing someone doing what they love the most in a Gucci outfit is making a brand, considered out-of-reach by most, accessible, relatable and down with the kids.
Younger audiences have grown with the internet and are not as trusting as we all once were when it comes to celebrity product endorsement. Getting a couple of Love Island contestants to post about a health supplement they are probably not even using won’t cut it anymore. People crave wholesomeness, genuine passion, relatability, and true talent, especially when it comes to influencer partnerships.
Deliver impact with content, not ads
‘Don’t make ads. Make TikTok videos.’ is the first thing you see on TikTok For Business landing page. For companies, it means shifting away from perfectly directed and edited videos to increase engagement and conversions. Producing a vertical version of a TV or YouTube ad won’t get you as much attention as fully embracing the platform’s trends.
A recent French Red Cross (La Croix Rouge) TikTok campaign highlights the impact a trend-driven initiative can have on a targeted audience and an entire country. In France, the government is aiming to train 80% of the population in first aid. In order to support this objective and train younger people, the French Red Cross created the #PLSChallengethat aimed to raise awareness about first aid actions. They worked with four influencers who created TikTok dances using CPR moves and reached their combined seven million followers. Knowing that the current population of France is around 67 million, that is more than 10% of the country reached.
So, is TikTok the right platform for every brand? Maybe not.
Should your next paid campaign be on Snapchat? Only if it is where your target audience is.
Should you aim to be more authentic, transparent, relatable, and embrace the imperfection and messiness of social media to build trust with your customers and create an engaged community? Absolutely!