Brands increasingly tapping into power of TikTok across MEA region

Over the past few years, TikTok has unlocked real-world opportunities for businesses, creators, and consumers across a wide variety of industries


Rohma Sadaqat

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Published: Mon 11 Apr 2022, 6:06 PM

Content creation has witnessed a paradigm shift over the past few years, becoming more simplified and accessible to anyone and everyone, said Shant Oknayan, head of Global Business Solutions at TikTok for the Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa region.

This paradigm shift has resulted in content libraries growing exponentially, and many new content genres flourishing today, he told Khaleej Times. “We expect this growth in genres to continue because the consumer is now back in the driver’s seat when it comes to the type of content they consume.”

Consumers on TikTok, he noted, are served content that is relevant to them in that moment based on their consumption patterns and interests, rather than what they are explicitly looking for, or what their friends, family, or people they follow are posting. Hence, people consume content they genuinely find engaging, exciting and educational, and as long as this continues there are endless possibilities when it comes to the genres of content that will continue to grow on the platform.

“TikTok has essentially provided an easy way to produce content, allowing anyone and everyone to be a content creator by putting a studio with music, effects, and editing tools in everyone’s pockets,” he said. “Our consumers gather into content driven communities, and as such, the evolution of content is as diverse as these communities themselves. Because of this, we are seeing the birth of a new kind of word-of-mouth, one that not only leads to different movements and content flourishing on the platform, but also drives real world business impact.”

Another factor that makes the platform stand out is its simplicity in both content creation and consumption, and that any content can go viral depending on engagement. “Our algorithm levels the playing field and grants any piece of content the same chances of being discovered as any celebrity’s content. A creator, no matter how big or small, can go viral instantly if their content is engaging to the audience, which gives brands a diverse pool of talent to work with,” Oknayan explained.

Asked about the growing number of brands that are turning to the platform as a strategic marketing tool, Oknayan noted that the power of the community makes TikTok “a shopper’s paradise” and a platform that can cater to businesses of all sizes as well as their needs.

“When we launched TikTok for Business in 2020, our objective was to empower businesses of all sizes to tap into the power of TikTok to grow their brand,” he said. “We also introduced tools to measure native advertising’s value and impact. Two years later, the roster of local, regional, and international brands who have chosen to explore the platform’s capabilities continues to grow, and so does the impact. These brands of all sizes are leveraging TikTok as a window into culture and a direct pathway to the current conversations happening within their communities.”

Oknayan also pointed out how the unrivalled power of TikTok’s community increases discoverability and, in many cases, has caused brands to become sell-out successes overnight. The secret, he revealed, is ‘Community Commerce’, where consumers seek validation when making a purchase and the TikTok community is there to be a trusted source for peer review and word of mouth recommendations.

“You might be familiar with the #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt phenomenon, which is a great example of this, as it resulted in a diverse range of products from Feta cheese, to Sunset lamps, and KVD makeup selling out in stores, and continues to translate into real world business impact. We believe that Community Commerce is the future of marketing, and it is what TikTok is all about. When advertising messaging is delivered as an ad, but loved like entertainment, brands see incredible results on the platform,” he said.

TikTok’s annual ‘What’s Next Trend’ Report, which was released earlier this year, highlighted that 67 per cent of users in the region believe that TikTok inspired them to shop even when they weren’t looking to do so; while 78 per cent feel that the best brands on TikTok are the ones that work with users.

The report also outlined content that saw significant growth in 2021 or remained amongst the most popular themes for Arab audiences, promising impact for brands in 2022. In 2021, Tech content consumption grew by 302 per cent in the GCC, followed by Fashion content at 287 per cent, Food & Beverage content at 197 per cent, and Beauty content at 169 per cent.

Oknayan said that while these categories are expected to continue to thrive, there are a multitude of other categories and sub-categories cropping up every day, reflecting the diversity of the community and providing brands with the ability to reach out and be part of relevant communities authentically.

Asked if the platform will see more collaboration between brands and content creators, he answered in the affirmative: “This is something we’re continuously encouraging brands to do more of. On TikTok, brands don’t just have the opportunity to speak to their audience, they can speak through their audiences as well. Brands can lean into the creator communities and consumer cultures being built on TikTok to present their authenticity and realness, and this can be done seamlessly and effectively via the Creator Marketplace.”

“More and more brands have started to realise that they have much to gain when unleashing their creativity on the platform, especially when working with our talented pool of content creators, and giving them creative freedom to do what they do best, engage with communities, authentically with TikToks,” he added.

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