What we learned from using TikTok for brand campaigns in Africa

TikTok, the video streaming social network, was already gaining traction around the world before the Covid pandemic. The aftermath of the global lockdown, for this platform, was quite literally an explosion in adoption around the world, including Africa. 

In January 2018, TikTok had about 54 million monthly active users. By January 2021, there were about 689 million TikTok users [Source]. Also, TikTok users spend an average of 850+ minutes per month on the app [Source]. 

When one of our leading clients in Ghana was looking to connect with the Gen-Z demographic, we had been thinking about TikTok for a while already, but now we were sure. 

One major rule of inbound marketing is distribution, and for a Gen Z-focused brand, being where the audience was, meant making a move to TikTok. 

And oh, what a move it was. 

TikTok is new grounds – new in the sense that there was no way of predicting how the response would be, how to hyper-target as we would on Facebook and the likes, or even generally, how to go about it.

Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube will use words like ‘connect’, ‘community’, ‘communicate’, ‘listen’, ‘share’ which is an idealistic vision for most social media platforms. But with TikTok, their mission statement is clear – to exploit an unadulterated and shameless goal to entertain.

So, what did we learn?

1. No amount of research will prepare you for it

You can read all the articles that tout “how to do TikTok” for brands, but you can’t be ready for how to do TikTok for brands in the West African context. You have to take a deep dive and apply everything you know.

And as I would put it, it’s “either you drink deep or you taste not” on TikTok – a half-baked approach will surely mean wasted efforts and investments.

2. Use the “Creators”, not the supposed “Influencers”

The massive Gen Z demographic on TikTok, grew up being exposed to hundreds of ads a day (and influencer marketing) and therefore are almost immune to them. This is a generation that will engage with content that aligns with their personal interests, and their personal interests alone. The new generation cannot be wooed by fancy videos or sales-y displays. They have a strong radar for almost immediately knowing when they’re being sold to. And if they think they are, they’ll leave.

We learned this the hard way. Our initial foray in the space saw us using “verified” influencers, but the impact was not as strong as it was when we decided to use a “loved creator” to tell our brand story.

3. Be entertaining and let your be brand subtle

On TikTok, users are going to do things differently with your brand. Things you didn’t know could be done with your brand. If you’re a condom brand, your content using the condom as balloons might be your best-performing, if you’re a rice brand, putting a phone in rice might be the break to go viral.

We’ve found that brand-sponsored content typically performs worse, even on popular creators’ profiles, because this particular audience is more aware and unfazed by ads. The aim here would be to create content that is very relatable to your target audience, and somehow find a way to communicate in the story the usefulness of your brand, while entertaining the audience. If you create a TikTok video, collaborating with a creator, and slap your logo at the end, you will get some views. Just don’t expect massive engagement and/or conversion.

4. Focus on your (or a) niche community

Find your little pockets of highly engaged people on TikTok. This is the way to go on a platform that doesn’t promote the mass-communication that you’d see on other popular platforms. 

Normally, one would expect this to mean less reach but a higher engagement rate, but the reach and impression statistics of niche content are phenomenal on TikTok compared to any other platform.

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TikTok is the place where Gen Z goes to play (right now), so if you have a brand or product focused on this group, that’s a hot tip for you. But remember it’s not easy to keep the attention of the group of people with the shortest attention spans (the average Gen-Z attention span is eight seconds, four seconds less than Millennials. – Sparks & Honey). They are interested in multicultural and diverse subject areas more than any other generation. You have to dig deep. But they are also the most important target group for most brands to engage today. Gen Z is always changing their consumer habits. They soak up the latest and greatest apps, trends, and social platforms making it a consistent race for brands to keep up and innovate first.

As a business in Africa getting into the world of TikTok, understand that it’s not business as usual. On TikTok, you’re not a C-suite marketing executive. You’re a niche creator, deeply passionate about using media to change the world. TikTok says of its platform: 

“Our user-generated content environment creates an atmosphere of authentic discovery. The constantly refreshed For your feed is algorithmically tailored to personal preference, allowing users to spontaneously discover new products – so a new favourite brand or a beloved purchase is only a swipe away.” You can find more insights into how to navigate TikTok as a business in this newly released business guide by TikTok.

Want to find out how TikTok could work for your brand? Let’s get talking here.

The Future of Marketing in Africa: Digital trends in 2021 and beyond

In this article, our expert team at Pulse is sharing six key trends shaping online user behaviour across Africa going forward – and ways your digital marketing strategy can leverage the changing environment.

1. Covid-19 has accelerated and shifted consumer behaviours permanently.

(Image credit – Unsplash)

The pandemic has prompted many users to try new ways of consuming content and shopping. We expect these consumption shifts to outlast the pandemic, as they are an acceleration of behaviours that started emerging pre-pandemic.

To illustrate this, McKinsey’s survey of Nigerian consumers during the pandemic shows that 46% of respondents tried a new digital shopping method since the start of the pandemic, leading to a growth in consumers shopping online of 30% to 65% depending on the category of items purchased. 

The discovery of these new shopping options is led by three main channels:

  • Online ads (33%)
  • Recommendation from family and friends (23%)
  • Seeing someone talk about it on social media (18%)

With these discovery channels, a strong digital ad strategy as well as generating discussions on social media by engaging users and working with influencers is more important than ever. These channels are equally accessible to small businesses and larger brands, giving the opportunity to new products to grow fast online. 

In terms of content consumption, social media remains by far the main touchpoint for online users in our region. According to We Are Social and Hootsuite’s Yearly Digital Report, Nigerians, Ghanaians, and Kenyans spend on average three and a half hours on social media per day, compared to two and a half hours on average globally. In Nigeria alone, 6 million people joined social media networks for the first time in 2020.  

2. Snackable video content is no longer an option, but a must.

(Image credit – iStock Photo)

With the rising time spent on social media, video has become a must to successfully engage users. New video formats have taken the lead with the emergence of platforms like TikTok and the adoption of competing products such as reels on Instagram. 

These short, snackable video formats can be leveraged by brands that are not afraid to be authentic and willing to develop new ways of communicating with their audiences. You can check out Pulse Nigeria’s TikTok channel to see how we have found new ways of telling the news on the channel. 

In order to get started with these formats, we recommend collaborating with creators that have mastered the language of TikTok. These formats are also the perfect medium for user-generated content competitions thanks to their ease of use in creating videos with specific sounds, filters, and effects.

3. Social media influencers connect with your future consumers organically.

(Image credit – Unsplash)

With the emergence of more social media platforms & the growth of the existing ones, we are seeing the rise of a new type of testimonial: the social media influencer / creator.

Whereas the general popularity of a celebrity has an impact on its influence on social media, we are seeing an increasing shift towards a new generation of influencers that have become popular thanks to their exceptional content creation skills, authenticity and virality.

They have often mastered the art of storytelling on social media and can become strong partners to co-create content with brands.  

A subset of these influencers is known as micro-influencers: This new generation of smaller, but keenly followed creators has become more and more popular among fans and marketers: their loyal subscribers are more willing to actively engage with their – and as a partner, your – content. As the smaller influencers tend to occupy more specific market segments, they have an easier time to attract audiences who are genuinely interested in your product or service as long as it fits their niche. This increases conversion and ROI.

Choosing a strong content, management and analytics partner for such campaigns can help reduce administrative burden and keep your own focus on the message you want to deliver.

4. Build direct channels to your consumers, get first-party data and do more with it!

(Image credit – Bakers)

With a general shift towards privacy online, relying on data from Facebook, Google, and other large platforms will not be enough. Users are willing to share their data with brands they love and trust – when they understand the value they can get out of it. 

By building a strong first-party data strategy, brands can build a direct communication channel with their users, learn about their needs, and delight them by improving their products and services through this direct relationship.

A first step to do so can be newsletters and SMS campaigns with offers – using existing client databases. Asking for feedback helps you learn what users appreciate most.

5. User-generated content attracts your audience authentically.

(Image credit – Unsplash)

As the name suggests, user-generated content (UGC) is created by your customers and users. Therefore, this material has no direct brand intervention, and its format can be completely different: comments on the brand’s own publications, text and video publications on the user’s own social networks, comments on blogs and professional publications, as well as ratings. Consumers often trust the recommendation of other consumers far more than the ads by the company itself. approach

On social media and on platforms such as Tripadvisor, Twitter and Google Maps, it is one of the most authentic forms of digital word-of-mouth marketing, making it a great way to make brands more accessible and recognizable. Old trends, new perspectives: We know that this type of content is not entirely new. Verbal advertising has always existed, but the social distancing rules and restrictions that everyone faces this and last year have led to a massive increase in UGC. Since many consumers cannot meet and test the product in person, they will check the reviews to determine whether the product is the right decision.

Having a strategy around this phenomenon in a digital-first environment is crucial. While the content is user-generated, a well-placed request for ratings on a platform or a promotion requesting for audience submissions are just two ways that companies can accelerate it.

6. Sell on social media.

(Image credit – Marketing Land

Some recent changes in social media globally have allowed many companies to use their social media profiles as direct sales channels:

With the release of sales catalogs on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, large companies are starting to take social commerce seriously. By 2022, social commerce will become one of the biggest digital marketing trends globally. While the sales catalogs are not live yet in Africa (we will keep you updated!), social can already be used for strong lead generation. Many online shoppers go through social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram or Youtube to research your products and ultimately buy.

Therefore, selling your brand, products and services on social media is more important than ever. Adding a simple link to an online shop to your social media or highlighting ways to get the product customers can see make this a simple exercise. When a simplified shopping experience is provided to buyers, they are more likely to buy. These and other social commerce strategies allow brands to optimize their shopping experience across multiple channels and platforms. 

What is your next move?

The digital marketing trends that we have listed here are not exhaustive. Nonetheless, just by devoting more resources to social media and research around the topics, you undoubtedly will have a better starting point for planning strategic possibilities. The shared hot trends can help you attract more website visits, more potential customers and more sales. At the same time, they can ensure that your customer base is kept up to date. These trends are also important to help you better understand expectations for years to come and how they will affect your broader competitive landscape. And of course: you can get in touch with us if you need a sparring partner to determine your next steps!

Content Marketing on LinkedIn for B2B Companies

If you operate a B2B company, LinkedIn offers opportunities to connect to new audiences and organizations that you are likely not fully maximizing. Content Marketing is alive and well on LinkedIn, the world’s largest platform for business networking. While the platform is primarily designed for B2B interaction, both B2B and B2C companies can benefit from engaging and sharing with the LinkedIn timeline. 

Long- and Short-form publishing

LinkedIn lets you publish and promote blogs directly on the platform. This feature allows you to connect more with your LinkedIn audience and also increase the reach of your articles short-form content, however, seems to perform better and receive more engagement than longer blogs. So a great strategy here would be to create short updates with insights from a longer article and link to it. That way, you can maximise the attention on that update and use it to drive more eyeballs to the blog. 

Video

Video content across all social platforms has recorded a much higher engagement rate than written content and images, and the story is no different on LinkedIn. For most people, it is easier to grasp something when they see a video about it, and it does not require a lot of effort. Video content should be a crucial part of your LinkedIn strategy. It can drive more engagement and naturally will garner a greater reach. Also go a step further to design videos that speak to the target directly, to fully maximise the reach you will get from video content. 

Share again

If your company has an active blog, then LinkedIn is a great way to reshare all of that relevant knowledge and get more people to see it. Not only does this establish you as a leader in the niche, it also brings new prospective clients from your LinkedIn community to your company website. If you have a conversion tool at the end of each blog post (like an invitation to subscribe to your company newsletter, or a button to request a quote), this can work very well as a lead generation tool.

As with all content marketing channels, the first thing to keep in mind is your target audience. B2B businesses are always looking to target the decision-makers in prospective client and partner companies. Keep this in mind as you create and distribute content across the different channels available to you. This way, you can be sure that your content marketing efforts are going in the right direction.