Embracing TikTok's disruptive edge: a blueprint for SA brands

TikTok allows South African brands to engage with a global audience through uniquely local stories.

TikTok allows South African brands to engage with a global audience through uniquely local stories.

Published Mar 31, 2024


By Jochen Bisсhoff

As digital platforms redefine market dynamics, TikTok emerges not just as a digital phenomenon, but as a transformative force in brand engagement. For South African enterprises, it introduces a blend of opportunities and challenges, demanding a strategic approach to harness its full potential.

TikTok transcends entertainment, serving as a nexus for global cultural exchange. According to TikTok's fourth annual trend forecast – 2024 What's Next Trend Report – a staggering 74% of users feel more connected to diverse cultures through TikTok and 67% of the users feel they have learnt a lot about different people and cultures, which highlights its role in fostering a global community.

So how do marketers keep up with the digital culture thatʼs constantly evolving?

Growth sits in the unknown and uncomfortable, and brands must be brave enough to experiment to unlock it. What drives those who keep growing and moving forward? How can brands in South Africa break through?

One of the key takeaways for marketers to navigate through the constantly evolving cultural trends, which are very much fuelled by digital platforms these days, is the creative bravery transformative mindset, introduced in TikTok's What's Next Trend Report.

TikTok has democratised creativity for everyone as the barriers for content creation have been lessened, which has set a new bar for brands. Brands demonstrating creative bravery in their daily behaviour and strategies, regularly piquing global curiosities and flipping traditional story arcs on TikTok will build deeper community connections and trust and see the most success on the platform.

Local resonance, global appeal

TikTok allows South African brands to engage with a global audience through uniquely local stories. Brands are encouraged to delve into local user engagement trends and demographic insights, ensuring their strategies are data-informed and tailored to the nuanced South African audience. Such strategic narrative crafting elevates brand visibility and deepens authenticity and audience connection.

A good example of this is the campaign by King Price, a South African insurance company that used TikTok's best creative practices and frequent creative testing, which brought significant results: the quality of traffic increased twice and the conversion rate increased six times.

What makes TikTok a priority for a digital marketing plan?

South Africa-specific statistics indicate that TikTok is not only growing considerably, it is regarded as a credible and trusted platform for users when they are making purchase decisions. The platform plays a significant role in influencing consumers throughout every part of the user journey: from search to discovery and purchase influence.

For example, the Holiday Season Shopping Report last year revealed that during the holiday season, the #1 digital media channel for product discovery for users is now TikTok. It has emerged as a prominent digital media platform, with 71% of the adult internet population of the country using it, and now has the highest influence on purchase compared to other digital media platforms.

Winning hearts of South Africans through creative storytelling

On TikTok, the shift to everyone having a voice has unleashed creativity for all, where diverse voices, collaborative formats and subject matters are flipping everything we know about traditional storytelling on its head.

Brands need to focus on unpredictable, collective stories with a flair that have no beginning, middle or end, giving users a vested interest in how a story transpires. Intriguing narrative structures help guide viewers past the first few seconds of the ad, hold the viewer's attention longer and foster a deeper brand-user relationship. Thus, ads intended to make users curious keep them watching 1.4x longer.

What should marketers be aware of? First of all, keep in mind that TikTok users appreciate community-fuelled storytelling: they are 1.3x more likely to feel that they can co-create content and feed off each other compared to traditional social media.

Users are no longer passively consuming content. The collaborative spirit of TikTok is reinventing typical story arcs, leading to disruptive narrative formats that surprise audiences and capture their attention while also inspiring them to join in on the fun.

More than 70% of TikTok users say it's easy for strangers to connect and bond around shared life experiences on TikTok.

Key recommendations for marketers

– Give the users an equal seat at the table to shape your brand’s identity and narrative. Explore ways of contributing to an existing conversation or invite co-creation by incorporating suggestions and comments you receive into subsequent videos.

– Enter conversations with a flair of fun to build accessible connections with audiences around joy, confidence and comfort. For example, the Among Us gaming brand does this through leaning into in-jokes and community-specific references.

– Rely on the most innovative technology to enhance your performance and use the toolkit that TikTok provides for brands to amplify their creative storytelling.

Jochen Bisсhoff is the head of Global Business Solutions, Africa, TikTok