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Senior Account Manager, Kate gives her verdict on how the pandemic has changed the way we consume content, with a particular focus on TikTok.

The pandemic might have left a lot of us feeling on edge about what the future holds, but personally, *dare I say it*, I have a few fond memories from lockdown. That daily hour of exercise was a complete sanity saver for me, getting a much needed run to escape my darling / feral children. Aside from juggling homeschooling and working remotely (that was fun…), I genuinely enjoyed slowing down and getting back to basics: nature, exercise and family time…well, mostly!

But amidst all of that was an unexpected addition to our household…TikTok. My kids bloody loved it, and I’ll be honest – so did I! Screen time went up, and I was ok with that, for a bit of quiet time in return – and apparently I wasn’t alone. 

TikTok entered the world at the perfect time, and quickly became a pandemic staple for many. The week before Boris announced lockdown, TikTok downloads increased by 6% in the UK from the previous week. During the first week of lockdown, downloads rocketed by 34%

The 15 second videos were perfect for mindless lockdown viewing. Short, simple, raw and genuine – a stark contrast to Instagram’s beautiful, yet heavily edited content. Even though I was hooked, I struggled to get my head around it. For the best part of 15 years, my career revolved around creating beautiful, polished and expensive content for brands. But there I was, watching the most ridiculous clips of people pulling pranks on their partner or doing elaborate group dance routines.

So, I decided to delve a bit further into how it all works

The unique algorithm means that the more users like and watch a video in full, the more TikTok pushes that video to other users’ feeds. Hashtag and user viewing habits also feed into this, so following the latest trends, creators, hashtags, songs and dances is a great way to boost a video’s reach.

Brands take note:

Many brands have been hesitant around TikTok for some time now, maybe not fully understanding what value it can bring. However, with over 1 billion monthly active users, TikTok isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Now is the time, more than ever, for brands to consider TikTok as part of their marketing plan.

With over 3.4 million fans, Gymshark is a great example of a brand that’s tapped into the TikTok world, posting a variety of content through workout videos, memes, challenges and funny, relatable content that makes the gym feel less intimidating.

One of their challenges ‘66 Days: Change Your Life’ was based on the fact that it takes 66 days to form a habit. Followers were encouraged to post a video of their own fitness journey to be in with a chance of winning a Gymshark membership. It was such a simple campaign that had overwhelming success, with #gymshark66 generating over 193 million views.

If you’re considering TikTok, the most important thing to work out first is whether it’s right for your audience. In the UK, the majority of users (24%) are between 18-24 years old, so if Gen Z are your core audience, it’s definitely worth considering. Having said that, with the app continuing to grow, it’s still worth keeping in mind for other age groups.

If you’ve thought about TikTok but haven’t yet taken the plunge, here are some tips to get you started:


Start small – test the water with a small campaign, or TikTok ads 

Work the algorithm – be quick to jump on the latest trends

Keep it simple – prioritise genuine content over perfectly curated, polished content

Use hashtags – combine trending hashtags with ones that are specific to your content so the app is able to suggest your video to other users

Consider Creators – partnering with creators is a great way to tell a brand story in a novel way. TikTok Creator Marketplace is a hub where you can check out creators and see their audience to see who aligns best with your campaign

Use TikTok for Business – TikTok’s creative partners such as Vimeo and Canva help brands create engaging ads using 100’s of pre-existing templates

Most importantly, have fun! 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to watch a hippo eat a watermelon.

Kate Smetana