Thais found an outlet for their boredom during the lockdown.
In Thailand, the pandemic has almost doubled the number of TikTok users to 15 million compared with 8 million last year, according to Media Intelligence, a media planning and creative agency.
“During the lockdown, we saw growth in our user numbers and time spent along with a massive rise in advertisements, as Thai people are fun and creative by nature,” Kornnikar Niwatsaiwong, Thailand head of client partnership at TikTok, told the Bangkok Post.
Average time spent on TikTok has surged to 61 minutes a day, compared with 35 minutes before the outbreak.
Popular content encompasses comedy, talent shows, food and drink, travel, basic dance, fashion and beauty, and education.
After the outbreak eased in the country, people aged 18-34 accounted for 60% of total TikTok users, up from 50% before the pandemic.
“The rise was mainly from those aged 25-34, who also have strong purchasing power,” Ms Kornnikar said. “This is an opportunity for brands.”
TikTok has engaged with advertising campaigns since the end of last year.
In June, it rolled out TikTok for Business, a platform that offers advertising tools like TopView, which is the ad that appears when users open the app, and Brand Takeover, a 3- to 5-second ad that can be static or dynamic.
Other features include in-feed videos, which can be up to 60 seconds in length and run with the sound on; Hashtag Challenges, letting brands invite users to create content around a hashtag of their choice; and Branded Effects, enabling brands to insert themselves more directly into the content creation experience through videos in 2D, 3D and augmented reality (AR) forms.
Earlier this year, Mucinex, best known for its cough medicine, created #BeatTheZombieFunk, inviting users to dance with an AR-based zombie avatar on TikTok. This campaign drew 17 billion views within nine days, with 521,000 people participating.
To serve business operators, TikTok has recruited a team for business-to-business (B2B) operations, overseeing key account customers, co-creating marketing campaigns with brands and supporting brands with choices of influencers or creators in the creator marketplace.
Influencers could potentially help draw followers to brands.
According to Ms Kornnikar, TikTok has marketing tool support that can bolster brand awareness and engagement and customer conversation.
TikTok has tools that can shed light on user insight and success in advertising.
“Our strength lies in boosting brand awareness and engagement,” Ms Kornnikar said, adding that TikTok is striving to deepen its customer engagement through conversation and consideration.
For example, TikTok has a ShopNow button that appears on video clips. Pressing it leads users to brands’ own websites or other e-marketplaces like Lazada or Shopee.
The platform recently introduced a live-streaming feature for users aged 18 and up who have more than 1,000 followers to bolster their engagement with followers.
“At this time, we still don’t have a model to monetise the live-streaming feature, but the first priority is to serve customer needs,” Ms Kornnikar said.
Both small and large businesses are capitalising on live streaming to boost engagement with their customer targets. For example, luxury brands Louis Vuitton and Yves Saint Laurent conduct fashion shows via live stream, allowing designers to engage with users.
Many small-scale businesses also leverage live streaming to sell cosmetics and supplement items by creating interactive engagement with audiences.
To ensure success in ad campaigns through TikTok, the key is to engage with users in a fun and creative way, letting them generate their own content, Ms Kornnikar said.
Brands themselves should refrain from communicating with audiences in traditional ways, such as only presenting how products work.
“Fun and creativity will lead to impulse buying among users and enable them to recognise brands, which would create a bigger impact and lead traffic to online or even physical shops,” Ms Kornnikar said.
Skincare brand Nivea, for example, had a video challenge campaign to promote its deodorants with popular actress Urassaya “Yaya” Sperbund as a presenter. The campaign helped boost sales of Nivea deodorants by 26%.
Pomelo, an omnichannel fashion platform, rolled out a TikTok challenge on July 20 featuring superstar Davika Hoorne. The campaign became a big hit with the highest views on the platform during the first week of the launch.
Colgate, known primarily for toothpaste, lets users redeem codes shown on TikTok to buy Colgate products online. Redeemable discount codes are one of TikTok’s newer features to help brands drive sales.
By the middle of October, Thailand will be the first country where TikTok is launching a new feature that supports strong involvement of products, including those in the property market.
Short-form videos are a rising trend globally, with Thailand slightly behind Western countries and South Korea, Ms Kornnikar said.
The videos must be concise in order to attract youngsters and urban users.
“Making storytelling fun and creative with real-time measurement will create success for brands and SMEs,” Ms Kornnikar said.
For instance, employees of cosmetics makers can create video makeup tutorials using TikTok effects. This entertains audiences and helps generate sales.
Brands that succeed in courting people’s attention through the platform also need to maintain their momentum by providing gradual promotional campaigns to keep customers in the fold, Ms Kornnikar said.
Regarding the US’s move to ban TikTok, she said the decision will not affect the Asian market, where such a risk is remote.
Ms Kornnikar said brands still need to be cautious about sensitive local issues.
Campaigns must be politically neutral and open to equality in terms of gender, ethnicity and religion, she said.