Vanderlei J. Pollack - Jan 11, 2021
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Up to 60 seconds long videos, underlaid with music and spiced up with graphic effects. This is how TikTok users present themselves to their audience on this social media platform which is gaining importance in tourism marketing.

Essentially, TikTok is a mixture of many other social media, like Snapchat, Vine and Instagram. It has a karaoke function and a sophisticated video editor – and it is immensely successful with this concept. The Chinese built application has been growing which is confirmed by the fact that TikTok UK spent around 119.5 million dollars in 2019 on the advertising and marketing of the app.

As of now, it is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms with more than 800 million users worldwide. And the social media platform with the youngest audience: 69% of the users are between 16 and 24 years old.

TikTok in Tourism Marketing  

The platform has become an exciting marketing channel, which is also the case for tourism professionals, seeing as travel topics are among the popular topics on the platform. And thus, the first examples of the use of TikTok in tourism marketing are emerging.

Destinations such as Dubai, Japan, Seoul, and Thailand are active under the hashtag #tiktoktravel. In difficult times such as now, TikTok gives the opportunity to create a platform and offer suggestions for future trips to young travelers.

However, as of now very few brands are using TikTok as a marketing platform. This is an advantage for newcomers, because the platform has not yet been flooded with marketing content and is thus a somewhat unexplored terrain.

Interactions Are Key, Not Followers

Another argument in favor of the use of TikTok in tourism marketing is the fact that content is more important than the sender. The algorithm favors those posts that generate a lot of interactions in the first hour.

Thus, with the right content, it is not a problem at all for an account with only 100 followers to achieve tens of thousands of views. The relevant “currency” on the platform is therefore the number of interactions, not that of the followers.

Appropriate Content Is a Must

What do you have to consider if you want to use the platform? First of all, your own target group should be searching for the “young” video content. And you should expect a certain amount of effort for content production. Simply posting the same content as on Instagram and co. will not work. The TikTok audience has special requirements, the platform follows its own rules.

So-called challenge videos, for example, are very popular. The users encourage each other to imitate and participate.

Another promising strategy can be to present brands with the help of protagonists who attract the attention of the community and actively involve them. The more interactions, the higher the chance that the video will “go viral” and appear prominently on the so-called “For You” page.

Real-times Marketing in Its Purest Form

As always, the key to success while using TikTok as a tourism marketing tool is knowing your target groups exactly and tailoring the content to their interests and needs. TikTok is a fast-moving platform. In order not to lose the interest of the community, real-time marketing is the order of the day.

This means that companies must react promptly and always take current trends into account. The challenges mentioned above are only interesting for the community for an average of 48 hours.

The content must therefore not only have a so-called “creative twist”, but also be up-to-date and designed in such a way that it catches the attention of the target group. As always with moving images on social media, the first three seconds decide whether you like a video or not.

Marketing Opportunities Still Raw

As exciting as TikTok in tourism marketing may sound, it still poses a number of challenges for professional users. For example, you cannot create a company profile yourself, only TikTok can do that. Finding a contact who will do it for you is not that easy and once you have found one, the waiting time is long.

Meanwhile, the platform has developed a tool similar to Facebook Business Manager for displaying ads, but it is not available in all countries. Instead, advertisements have to be booked via the agency team by request – a comparatively time-consuming procedure.

Various formats are available for ads. “In-Feed Native” videos appear in the “For You” feed, including a call-to-action function for forwarding to landing pages or app downloads. With “Top View” a video is played full screen for 5-60 seconds, immediately after opening the app.

There are also paid hashtag challenges and branded effects and filters. During the “Brand Takeover”, a still image or a GIF appears as a full image for 3-5 seconds – the time is selected by the algorithm.

Revolutionary Platform

According to experts, TikTok is massively changing the way content is creating. In contrast with Snapchat, for example, it is not a passing trend and the platform shapes the communication of an entire generation and thus creates its own community.

TikTok as a tourism marketing tool is, without a doubt, an exciting possibility in the field of advertising. However, alternatives are also emerging.

For example, Facebook has reacted to the success of TikTok with Instagram Reels, creating the opportunity to enhance short clips with effects, music and animations. Compared to the original, however, the copy is still in its infancy.

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