Tik Tok is targeting older viewers

Tik Tok is targeting older viewers

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By Tara Concern,
Friday, 5th March 2021
Olly Alexander and Ian McKellen
Olly Alexander and Ian McKellen

The hugely popular short-form video platform is looking beyond its youthful audience, hears Tara Concern.

It was 2020’s most downloaded app and is hugely popular with young audiences. No wonder broadcasters want to know how they can use TikTok to their best advantage.

According to TikTok’s European strategy manager Edward Lindeman, the short-form video platform which started off as lip-synching app Music.ly, now has 100 million monthly active users in Europe.

But to grow further, it is targeting older audiences with traditional TV talent using the app such as Gordon Ramsay and Dan Walker.

In an informative RTS London session in late February, Lindeman said: “What we’re working on as a business is delivering a content eco-system, loads of great TikTok videos that will be interesting and relevant to users that are older.

“That’s a major business drive for us. What’s been really pleasing for us over the last year [is seeing] the number of users over 18 expand dramatically,” he said.

Lindeman also pointed out “we have live functionality on TikTok and we’re actively looking for media partners to use it to deliver great content experiences”, having partnered with Sky News to do a 24-hour live stream “to keep our users informed”.

TikTok recently aired a live, long-form show about love fronted by Loose Women’s Judi Love, and a series of lives featuring prominent people, including Olly Alexander and Ian McKellen, to celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month.

Lindeman explained that the app learns from what people like and producers should spend time practising on it. He said there “isn’t a trick for engineering” a TikTok video to go viral but, “when users are watching videos to the end or engaging with comments or sharing that content they’re really strong performance indicators that tell us as a platform this content is popular with users.

“Think about your content: are people likely to watch it to the end; will they find it original; and is it really engaging?”

TikTok public figure partnerships manager Michael Djan added that by jumping on trends, being authentic and inspiring joy and creativity, public figures can increase their following “and that can be really important particularly for TV shows or those that want to leverage that”.

Djan described TikTok as a space “where you can be yourself… taking the content out of a polished world and into a creative world”.

ITV senior digital entertainment producer Jen Leeming praised TikTok’s “seemingly endless creative ways to make videos”.

She said I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! had used TikTok to help connect with young viewers. “We wanted to think TikTok first and that meant going into any shoot and spending time with talent thinking about the platform specifically, rather than re-versioning content from other platforms.”

Leeming ensured a dedicated digital TikTok producer was hired for the show and changed the account’s posting schedule from night to morning as many of the show’s young fans had gone to bed. By the end of the series, I’m a Celebrity’s TikTok account had over 23m views and had given ITV insight into which contestants resonated with the audience.

Lindeman encouraged producers to contact him on LinkedIn for help and said, although the platform runs ads, TikTok is “still working out” its monetisation.

He was tight-lipped about rumours TikTok might launch longer three-minute videos but, “for sure we’re looking at different tools within the app that will make the platform as effective for content creators, both private individuals and publishers, as possible”. 

‘TikTok famous: How TV can leverage TikTok’ was held on 24 February and produced by Damien Ashton-Wellman.

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The hugely popular short-form video platform is looking beyond its youthful audience, hears Tara Concern.