TikTok Sees Light Relief Catch Momentum During COVID-19

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Everyone I speak to agrees on one thing: the last few months have been an emotional rollercoaster.

It was well documented that traffic to news websites went through the roof in March and early-April, as did people’s feelings of anxiousness, isolation, and depression, with calls to support services like Beyond Blue up 30% in those times.

Many brands adapted to this melancholy mood – you’ve probably seen that video showing dozens of different COVID-19 brand ads spliced together, all featuring black and white images, piano music, and promises of being there for customers.

But something changed. As people adapted to new routines, many became more mindful about their media consumption, seeking out things to make them feel more upbeat and keep them entertained.

And brands started to follow suit, bringing back a much-needed touch of humour and lightheartedness to their advertising, as they adapt to the new normal.

At TikTok, we call this phenomenon Competitive Positivity, and it’s something that sits very close to our hearts. Fun, joy, and creativity have always been central to TikTok’s DNA. This is what keeps the app topping download charts again and again.

You just need to look at the categories of content which have been rising these past few months to understand what users are seeking out: Games are up 33%, Motivational up 11%, School content is up 14% and Life Hacks have grown 5%.

Hashtags like #quarantine (48bn views), #happyathome (16.6bn views), and #safehands (5bn views) have gone gangbusters, but the vast majority of this content is fun, cheerful, and engenders that unique sense of challenge and participation that makes TikTok tick.

In many ways, TikTok has become a barometer for how people are really feeling and what is motivating them during this time. Beyond that, it’s also been a very modern way of staying connected at a time when human interaction has been at a premium. The way the mobile-first video content works makes it supremely relatable and intimate.

On TikTok we’ve seen brands come to the party, putting a lighthearted (and cute) spin on the work from home challenges of juggling kids, pets, and partners at home. Other brands have seen the potential of TikTok to help build communities and provide moments and experiences which add real value to the consumer and drive positive sentiment back towards the brand itself.

A great example of this is men’s health charity Movember, which promoted its one-day May Eight virtual comedy and music festival across the platform, garnering 5 million views and raising awareness among a new audience around the importance of checking in with a mate.

Through the recent crisis, we’ve seen how brands can step in to play a real positive role in people’s lives. With thoughtful, context-aware content deployed through the right channels, there’s an opportunity for marketers to harness and enhance this positive feeling.

The ones which do that will harness a competitive advantage for themselves, which is what Competitive Positivity is all about.

Brett Armstrong will be hosting a virtual fireside chat with Movember’s Rachel Carr and Jason Olive as part of the AWJAPAC conference at 1pm AEST on Tuesday, June 9.

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