Throughout the last 12 months, the global TikTok community reimagined entertainment. They shared real, personal stories that brought communities together and helped others discover new ways of thinking. Brands of all sizes across the globe - from #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt favorites to global car manufacturers - have created all kinds of content on TikTok to engage their communities.
The TikTok What's Next Report 2023 is the third annual trend forecast, designed to help marketers understand how consumers' wants and needs will change in the upcoming year and what that will mean for their strategies, both on and off of TikTok.
From fun to functional, this new report will focus on unpacking long-term TikTok-first cultural forces, the underlying signals that show how each of these come to life, and the implications for brands to succeed on the platform.
Its findings are consolidated into three forces - large-scale transformations that demonstrate how TikTok is shaping culture - and the relevant signals for each of these forces that show emerging behaviors and interests across vertical sectors. Based on research and behaviors we've seen on TikTok, we predict there will be three major trend forces underscoring this change:
On TikTok, content is curated based on what communities find entertaining - in fact 4 in 5 users say TikTok is very or extremely entertaining(1). This means that when advertising messaging is delivered like an ad, but loved like entertainment, brands can see incredible business results.
In the US, e.l.f. Cosmetics tapped into the power of actionable entertainment and captured the community's attention with in-feed advertisements that felt fun, engaging, and native to the TikTok community. Working alongside their agency and TikTok marketing partner Tinuiti, e.l.f Cosmetics effectively doubled spending month-over-month and dropped acquisition costs for their add-to-cart strategy by 56%.
For brands, the most effective messages on TikTok are uplifting, funny and personalized, or entertaining their audiences. Brands can build on this entertainment value by using editing techniques like syncing sounds to transitions or adding text overlays - which are effective at keeping viewers' attention.
There's no shortage of self-care advice and initiatives out there, yet people are still burning out. So they're seeking meaningful self-care amidst an endless cycle of public health issues, burnout at work and personal hardships.
TikTok fosters endless opportunities to spread joy, and among TikTok users who took an action off-platform as a result of TikTok, 90% said the platform makes them happy and never gets boring(2). This is key for brands looking to make more meaningful connections with their audiences. In 2023, messaging on TikTok - and beyond - should align with the community's desire for levity, and empower them to make more room for joy in their lives.
Whether it's the growth of meme culture - providing a language for people to bond over humor; people sharing wellbeing "life hacks" - every day strategies that empower people to make space for themselves whenever they need; or a creator highlighting how they reward themselves at any budget level, people are dedicating space and time for joy in the way the best suits them.
EA Games captured this brilliantly in a recent campaign that rose awareness of their in-game Sims Sessions concert series. The campaign invited users to make videos that put their own creative spin on singing in the game's native, iconic Simlish language. The result was a uniquely fun opportunity that mobilized passionate gamers to share organic content and attract new interest to The Sims. You can learn more about the campaign by watching out TikTok Made Me Play It gaming summit here.
Creating TikTok content that helps people carve out joy for themselves - or even provides joy through humor, relaxation and relatable points of view - could be the difference for brands in 2023.
TikTok communities are a cut above the rest because they're specific - and that's what helps them thrive at scale. Sharing hyper-niche interests helps people bond with each other. From there, they broaden each other's horizons.
TikTok is not a town hall meeting. It's a collection of tiny clubs where people can find new ideas on how to explore their passions and live their lives. In fact, TikTok is 1.8x more likely to introduce people to new topics they didn't know they liked compared to traditional social platforms(1). And as people seek out ways to break the status quo, they'll look to peers and role models who demonstrate the confidence to live life the way they want to.
People use TikTok to start conversations in their community and find unique answers to satisfy their every curiosity. And it's not just about learning and aspiration. It's about individuals from around the world coming together to build a likeminded community built on shared ideals and interests, and the inspiration that comes from them.
eBay leaned into this by cultivating a strong following with sneaker-heads as the ultimate destination for buying and selling the coolest shoes. eBay partnered with TikTok to leverage Voting Stickers to ask the TikTok community directly to show love for their favorite shoe in their annual #SneakerShowdown. eBay's #SneakerShowdown drove engagement by encouraging interactivity with the Voting Stickers, and users showed up. 1.2 million users participated in the poll, and the campaign delivered a +54% lift in comment rate.
The #SneakerTok community - which sports over 1.1B views globally(4) - is just one example that underlines the value and engagement of how people come together on TikTok. And creators play a big role in community-building and pioneering creative content; after watching creator content, more than 2 in 5 people on TikTok agreed that it made them feel like a part of the brand's community(3). To connect with viewers, brands should tap into niches and not be afraid to get specific. Once a brand understands its key groups, it can then amplify the voices that define them and augment those honest, authentic conversations that people care about.
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