Brands need to be willing to experiment, keeping business objectives in mind - Lionel Sim, TikTok

by ACN Editor
We got to chance to meet Lionel Sim, Global Marketing Senior Director - TikTok at recently concluded VidCon Asia Summit in Singapore. While every brand wants to ride the TikTok wave, we discussed how brands can use this platform to complement their content strategy. Here are some excerpts from the discussion...

ACN: Every brand wants to try or scale Video Content. How is TikTok differentiating it’s offering to marketers? 

LS: The way people consume information has changed completely. You need to know what you want to search and then get the specific information. TikTok has changed that completely. When you open up TikTok, you don’t have to search for anything. It gives you content and starts learning based on your preferences. The content is personalized given the attention span is only about 5-7 secs. Also, the content on TikTok is short form as compared to other platforms where both long and short form content is there. 

ACN: Does this concept of Personalization go against Scale? 

LS: It’s not about scale at TikTok. We are rather building a community. It’s all about how you build advocacy in terms of content that people subscribe to. TikTok is a platform of authentic content allowing users to express their identity and this is also where we are very different. 

ACN: How are different ecosystem partners such as Users, Creators & Marketers inter connected in TikTok?

LS: We are bringing a lot of creativity to the content ecosystem and brands are then trying to understand how to have a two-way conversation with these new-age users. Creators, Brands & Our Platform is like a triangle where all of them are trying to understand this very dynamic video space and based on this, brands are experimenting with content while taking into account what are the latest trends in this space. Brands are also making an effort to co-create content with users now. 

ACN: What do you advise marketers when they approach TikTok? 

LS: It’s all about mindset and getting ready for the fact that all videos may not work every time, so brands need to be willing to experiment, to see what works and what doesn’t. Brands need to always keep in mind their business objectives on what they want to eventually achieve, whether it is awareness, engagement or performance. 

If you look at a US example trending as #ChipotleLidFlip, it is a very simple move which allows users to take part in that particular action. So, brands need to understand the essence of their brand and how user generated content can be created or co-created with users on this platform which allows UGC in a very big way. 

ACN: How do you address Marketers’ concern when they only have Long Form content and TikTok allows for only up to 60 secs of content? 

LS: Marketers need to understand that the format & therefore the way of storytelling is very different in long form content as compared to a 15 seconds video. On TikTok, the success of your video will be decided by the users in first 3 seconds so brands need to be aware of this phenomenon about how their users will receive the content. 

ACN: How do you motivate people to create content rather than only watching? 

LS: The biggest incentive for our users to create content is that TikTok allows them express who they are. We offer diversified areas of content creation to users which allows them to start their own community on a given subject, topic or area of interest. Dancing, Singing, Food, Culture, Pets, DIY etc. are some of the areas from a vast list of interest areas which users can explore to create content. We do run specialized regional campaigns such as TikTok All Stars where we encouraged users to express their talent by submitting the most creative entry on the platform. 

ACN: Does TikTok allow content with Political viewpoints? 

LS: As long as the content is sticking to our community guidelines and the content doesn’t conflict with local jurisdiction & law of each country, we are okay with it. 

ACN: Agency partners can act as facilitator or road blocker at times, what is your viewpoint?

LS: We work with agency partners quite closely. They are an integral part of the ecosystem and we understand that well. We are also seeing some brands moving a part of creative production in-house and then use media agencies for distribution or even validation. Agencies can be a great value add through sharing best practices for a brand. 

ACN: What’s your single-piece advice to marketers who wants to try TikTok as a marketing platform? 

LS: First of all, you can’t use same content on TikTok that you use on other video platforms. Plug and play of existing content created for other channels may not work on TikTok because of the nature of the platform. It should tie back to the long-term content strategy they have for their brand. Startups, on the other hand, are basically nimble in nature and are suited to ride on current trends, culturally or otherwise. They might not resources which a large enterprise has, therefore they have to rely more on creative & innovative content.