Friday, January 7 2022

Relaxing after a workout at The Gambia’s Independence Stadium in September, a group of young athletes watched TikTok videos of Senegalese star Khaby Lame, who currently has the second largest account on the platform popular social media site, 111.8m.

Lame’s short comedy sketch videos satirizing people failing at seemingly easy day-to-day tasks have his audiences spellbound. The Senegalese social media star has helped propel TikTok’s rapid growth on the continent since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

TikTok, created in 2016 by Chinese company ByteDance, became the world’s most downloaded app in April 2020, with more than 2 billion downloads to date from the Apple App Store or Google Play. The latest statistics released by TikTok, in January 2021, show that the platform has 689 million monthly users worldwide, and the numbers are expected to have grown rapidly during the year.

Users create videos from 15 to 180 seconds long. Built-in editing tools, trends and challenges have a big impact on global youth culture, fueling hit songs and turning stars into savvy users of the platform. TikTok has identified Africa as a key growth market, with its young population, increasing sales of China-made smartphones, deepening broadband penetration rates, and cheaper internet data rates. With millions of Africans now using TikTok on a daily basis, marketing companies across the continent are migrating to the platform to showcase their clients’ brands.

“Creativity is deeply rooted in the DNA of African culture, and even when you consider the many nuances and cultures, the only thing that shines through is that we are a fairly expressive group,” says Jacques Burger, CEO of M&C Saatchi Abel, a marketing and communications company that produced TikTok’s first campaign in South Africa.

“The format is really suited here, with the music, art and dance very strongly linked to many important African cultures. And in the height of this pandemic, I think people were looking for a little relief, something to juxtapose the heavy conversations and all the fear and hardship that goes with it. It’s become a bit of a substitute for what you would normally get from a social engagement or a good night out on the town, ”says Burger.

Sources of income

TikTok has been valued at over $ 50 billion, with parent company ByteDance having revenues of $ 34.3 billion and gross profit of $ 19 billion in 2020. TikTok makes money by selling advertising to brands on its platform through integrated ads, brand and brand buyouts. hashtag challenges, where brands create their own challenges that appear on user discovery pages for their audience to engage. TikTok also generates revenue through the purchase of virtual coins in the app, allowing people to show their appreciation for content from creators.

Research firm Statista claims that TikTok gained a 31.9% market share in Nigeria in 2020, while the South African Social Media Landscape 2021 A report by market research organization World Wide Worx and media monitoring agency Ornico estimated that the number of TikTok users in South Africa has increased from 5 million to 9 million since January 2020.

WhatsApp has over 10.2 million active users in South Africa and Facebook has over 9.2 million, with Instagram securing half of that number. Advertisers and communicators “strive to understand what TikTok can do for them,” says Oresti Patricios, CEO of Ornico.

“Nando’s TikTok account is very entertaining because they are going to have an important social chat and it will be fun too. Ninety percent of brands are really boring in their approach, but the best way to engage with TikTok is to create a brand story with an influencer whose personality matches that of a brand in particular.

Patricios says Twitter and Facebook initially took an organic approach to growth in Africa, but TikTok was much more strategic. The Beijing-based company has signed a music licensing agreement with South African music rights organizations, composers and publishers SAMRO and CAPASSO covering 58 African territories.

TikTok has also opened local offices and created teams of specialists in key markets of Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, to conduct “creative sessions” to meet with social media influencers, teaching them how interact with and use the platform.

This summer, TikTok announced a $ 57,000 cash grant and mentorship on ‘content creation and curation’ for 20 African influencers, while the Chinese video-sharing platform also launched its TikTok for Business in South Africa to help businesses advertise and take advantage of trending content.

“What sets TikTok apart from other platforms is the personalized feed experience. Our platform is based on a content graph, not a social graph, which means good content will always have more visibility, ”said Scott Thwaites, Head of Emerging Markets at TikTok Global Business Solutions.

“In practice, that means videos are recommended based on what you like rather than who you like. To go viral on TikTok, you don’t need a single subscriber. The platform has a wide range of users and it is particularly popular among Gen Z and Gen Y, and we have become more and more popular as the go-to platform for African users who want to express in a way. creative their authentic identity and showcase their incredible skills.

A Nielsen study reported that 71% of TikTok users didn’t care about content creator ads while they were entertained, and with data from TikTok showing that on average users spend 52 minutes a day on the application, a captive audience that offers brands an opportunity to advertise has emerged.

But with that comes challenges that many brands and agencies have yet to master. Advertisers need to ditch their brand and content on TikTok, and have them “cut up and fire you in all kinds of wild and wonderful ways,” Burger says. It’s a scary place for brands who are used to being in control.

“But if you can find the right intersection there, it creates a wonderful opportunity for an audience and for consumers to really champion your brand, instead of having to do it completely yourself, which brings authenticity. So I think from that point of view, TikTok presents a unique opportunity for brands to express themselves, to truly anchor themselves in the culture and to create a sense of co-ownership with their audience.

Not just a fad

The app faced Donald Trump’s attempted U.S. ban in 2020, challenged perceptions that it is a kid-only fad, and has been accused of child dependency trafficking. Now he must maintain his funny, fresh and authentic image despite ISIS operatives using him for propaganda purposes and one of Egypt’s main religious authorities – Dar al-Ifta – setting up a TikTok account to broadcast fatwas to a wider audience. The intimate relationship of African governments with China could protect it from the occasional social media bans that plague the continent’s digital landscape.

According to the 2021 Influencer Marketing Hub report, influencer marketing spend is on the rise again, following a slowdown in 2020 – the industry is expected to grow by nearly $ 14 billion globally this year – which means that top African influencers can expect bigger payouts as brands choose to hook their star with local celebrities.

Chad Jones, a South African whose TikTok account features videos of himself dancing to hip-hop tunes in choreographed dances with his parents, says he has partnered with more than 30 brands.

“I think the number of users and advertisers will definitely increase, they are so smart,” says Patricios. “In terms of a fun, ‘vibey’ and playful platform – which a lot of people and young people want – I think there isn’t enough of that ‘let your hair down’ nonsense right now. , because everything else is just too serious, so audience engagement will continue to grow.

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