On TikTok, everyone's up for a challenge
Eccentric challenges are getting all the virality on the Chinese video sharing app. Taking a cue, brands have hopped on to the bandwagon with innovative campaigns as well.
As bizarre as it may sound, this new ‘challenge’ currently trending on TikTok by the hashtag #cycleohcycle has garnered 484 million views so far!
And this is not the only such challenge which has got users hooked on the popular Chinese social media app. In the past there have been videos like #ahchoo which went viral and showed people jump from one character to the other after a single sneeze.
Call it insane or dramatic but such eccentricities are currently finding all the limelight and traction on the app. And, taking a cue, brands have hopped on to the bandwagon as well. Lay’s, for instance, introduced a new ‘Wavez4India’ challenge in July on TikTok with cricketer Yuvraj Singh shaking a leg and urging fans to join in while creating a ‘Wavez4India’ step. Within 3 days alone, the campaign generated over 2 billion views!
Similarly Pepsi’s ‘Har Ghoont Mein Swag’ campaign that came in earlier this summer had celebrities Disha Patani and Tiger Shroff kicking off a #SwagStep challenge which encouraged users to share their versions of the hookstep via the app. The challenge picked up soon enough, attracting over 15 billion views till date. On the same trail, Sports brand PUMA too saw its #SockThem challenge get good traction which saw users jiving in a 15-second video to the hook line of the campaign anthem. Result? 1.5 million videos accumulating over 1.7 billion views!
What’s the noise about
The key question that really comes up - in the midst of all this hullabaloo - is that why are challenges suddenly ranking as a top favourite among users and brands alike?
Lulu Raghavan, MD of brand consulting firm Landor says that the very format of TikTok makes it ideal for participating in challenges that brands and marketers can instantly leverage on. “Firstly it is a community of users who are very active on social media, believe in tagging and sharing their content and have a large number of followers on platforms like Instagram that they use to cross-pollinate content. Secondly, the process to get onboard and start creating content is very convenient - sounds, music and filters/effects are pre-loaded and the output looks professional and is instantly shareable.”
Raghavan’s views are affirmed by the gazillion users trying to put their best foot forward (literally) by taking on the latest challenges that create a buzz on the app.
And then there are other behavioural factors that play up in the dynamics too. Experts say that a challenge is a ‘call for action’ and the people who are ‘influenceable’ tend to get influenced more easily by this trend. “Across age groups, we all have vulnerabilities that we tend to follow. If one follows an individual, brand or celebrity who is giving such a challenge, the tendency will be to take it up. The rationale is that ‘I can also do it’ or even ‘I can do better than them’ which acts as a big incentive,” feels Samir Parikh, Director, Mental Health And Behavioural Sciences at Fortis Hospital.
Moreover, brands well understand these nuances of indirect social persuasion techniques which can help them reach their core group in a more effective way.
Adman Prahlad Kakkar says that the logic is obvious enough. “Digital advertising now cannot be about talking to someone who isn’t talking back to them. Conventional advertising isn’t finding engagement anymore. Attention span these days is not more than 10 seconds - and that is what TikTok is all about,” he avers.
Tiktok currently has over 200 million users in India and though it has been entangled in the mire of controversy since its launch in the country, its popularity hasn’t been affected. In fact, findings by market intelligence firm Sensor Tower revealed that India accounted for 47% of the downloads for Tiktok in Q1 this year. The Chinese video sharing app’s growth, it said, was largely driven by India.
Current trending challenges on TikTok
#desifood – 16 billion views
#Skills4All – 1.6 billion views
#mytiktokstory – 1.4 billion views
#cycleohcycle – 480 million views
#pandasneeze – 42 million views
What brands say
Sachin Sharma, Director - Sales and Partnerships - TikTok India explains it saying that the app allows everyone to be a creator. “TikTok enables users to create fun and quirky 15-second videos. What sets it apart from the crowd is that everyone on TikTok is making every second count! Users are either exploring interesting and trending challenges or even going ahead to create new ones.”
Brands are capitalising on this very advantage and more so for campaigns which offer a higher scope of engagement with their target group. Abhishek Ganguly, Managing Director, PUMA India narrates their “SockThem” campaign experience which led to better engagement on the platform. “Given that we live in the age of micro-influencers, the idea was to create campaign elements that would generate more excitement and engage consumers on multiple platforms. We integrated with TikTok for the first time in India and the results were quite impressive. As a brand, we believe in the power of storytelling and this fits in really well with new age platforms.”
Storytelling, for brands, has taken on a new and offbeat dimension. It is not just about advertising alone anymore but rather to create brand recall in a way that will resonate across age groups for a long time to come.
For Pepsi too, the “SwagStep” challenge helped to connect with the youth in a spirited manner leading to over 35,000 pieces of user generated content around the anthem! “It gave the brand the opportunity to access short form, influencer driven content, which in turn provided additional scale, relevance and shareability to the campaign. In fact, Tik Tok became a primary platform in our marketing mix for the Har Ghoont Mein Swag anthem as it has the highest engagement and allowed the brand to drive consumer efficacy through a unique challenge,” says a PepsiCo India spokesperson.
But does all of this also lead to profitability and a greater impact eventually? Raghavan of Landor says that while brand recall and reach are a given, profitability or impact on media spends is debatable. “We believe that the way forward for brands is to build communities of brand lovers or superusers who swear by the brand and advocate its unique attributes or believe strongly in the values of the brand. TikTok is slowly proving to be one such platform that helps diverse brands build relationships with younger audiences, at a fraction of traditional ATL/BTL spends.” she adds.
Kakkar gives a parallel of dating app Tinder saying that one has to go beyond what works in order to build a lasting relationship. “Brands have to think beyond TikTok and challenges too. Getting users to participate in challenges is an introduction. But what are you doing after that to create something of value for a longer term?” he candidly questions.
Perhaps that is some food for thought if brands want to go the next mile and level up on their mode of ‘challenge storytelling’. It can be what is needed to create a ‘pull technique’ which leads to a more loyal consumer base that stands by the brand ethos and its core ideologies.