Season 2 | Episode 8

Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok: Story-Based Paid Social

In Episode 8 of Season 2, we tackle the world of story-based paid social. Join us for this special Podcast that is three mini-episodes in one.

In part one, Host Kelly Mancuso meets with Meleigha Millman, Haley Filippone, and Haley Stauffer to discuss Instagram.

Part two focuses on Snapchat.

And in the final segment, Alexa Munoz and Amanda Stanley join to talk about the emergence of TikTok.

This episode gives something for all advertisers to think about before they finalize their plans for paid social story-telling.

Kelly: Welcome to Paid Media Coffee. I'm Kelly Mancuso. And today we're talking about the evolution of story-based paid social. Social media platforms have pretty heavily transitioned into this format of supporting story-based content. And that's not only from an organic perspective, but brands are really following suit with their advertising as well.

Today we're going to dive into Instagram, Snapchat, and even touch on TikTok to discuss the pros, cons, and strategy of leveraging each of these platforms to advertise through stories. For our first segment, we're going to focus on Instagram and to help me with this conversation, I have Meleigha Millman. She is a paid social specialist at Nebo. 

Welcome back to the show, Meleigha.

Meleigha: Happy to be here again.

Kelly: We also have Haley Filippone joining us for the first time. She's a PR and social media specialist at Nebo.

Haley F: Thanks for having me.

Kelly: And welcome back, Haley Stauffer. She's a paid media manager.

Haley: Thanks for having me. I'm so excited about some of my favorite platforms.

Kelly: Me, too. 

All right, so Instagram. We're going to start with this because even though Snapchat may have had stories first, Instagram has really grown as the major player in this space. A lot of people have kind of transitioned to Instagram for their stories.

Let's start with the pros. Why are brands using Instagram to advertise through stories?

Haley: I think that this is a great platform to start with because Instagram is something that I have actually gone through and made a conversion off of in terms of seeing an ad and then gone straight through that ad to make a purchase or do the conversion action.

I think something that we should definitely touch on since we're talking about a bunch of different story platforms is what differentiates each platform.

Kelly: Yeah, definitely.

Haley: So, Instagram Stories really put a priority on the quality of the image. More so than I think the other platforms we are going to be talking about.

And because of this, I feel like it builds trust. Trust really make you feel comfortable making a purchase on the platform. That's definitely something that you don't necessarily have on Snapchat or TikTok at this time.

Kelly: So, more of an elevated level of professionalism with the app that you're saying through that platform.

Meleigha: Okay. Instagram is pretty much one of the most heavily used apps to begin with. Knowing that everybody's really migrating from Snapchat to Instagram Stories. I remember when Instagram Stories first came out, everybody's like, well, I don't know if I want to use it. Only a couple of people were really using it.

Now I don't really know any of my friends to update their Snapchat Stories, but everything's now on their Instagram Story. And now a lot of people now are using their Snapchat in the same way that people have....they have a Finsta, they have a fake Instagram now they're using anything that they would normally put on their Instagram that they don't want to be public.

Right. And now they're putting it on their Snapchat because that's a different group of friends. It was really interesting to see the type of content, just so that it's going to be on your Instagram Story comparison to Snapchat in that regard. The ads I see on Instagram are a lot better, too.

I mean, it's just pros, pros, pros that way.

Haley: Following off of what Meleigha was just saying, the different type of content you're posting on Snapchat vs. Instagram, now I feel you have much more of your attention in Instagram. When you see Story Ads within their interface, they're grabbing your attention much stronger than what you're typically seeing in other story platforms.

Meleigha: I think a lot of that also comes with the fact that it's harnessing the Facebook Ads manager piece. Just knowing the fact that you have all those different targeting capabilities from Facebook, harnessing all that on the actual Instagram platform. Obviously Facebook owns Instagram, but I think just all those extra targeting abilities really make it to where you can take that awesome creative that you're talking about, Haley, and really narrow down that targeting and make sure it's specific per person.

Kelly: Haley F, what do you think?

Haley F: I think Instagram Stories is definitely where brands need to be if they want to be involved on Instagram. There's really great organic benefits as well that once you're starting to post on your Instagram Story more, that bumps you up in the Instagram algorithm. When it relates to Instagram Story ads, there's over 500 million daily users on Instagram Stories and ads are super, super easy to create directly within the Instagram Story app, using free tools, super easy to promote using the ads platform from Facebook. It's a great way for brands to easily get involved to a really large engaged audience.

Kelly: And shameless plug, if you're looking for a way to elevate your Instagram stories, Hailey just wrote an awesome blog. It's on the Nebo blog, so check it out. 

Haley F: Yes. Go check it out.

Kelly: All right, so let's transition into targeting and ad formats. What is available on Instagram that makes it a little bit more unique and beneficial than some of the other platforms?

Meleigha: Really just kind of highlighting the fact that it's harnessed in that Facebook Ads manager. I know certain clients, if you have like housing, employment, or credit; there are some limits with that special ad category piece, but really you can do almost anything on Instagram Stories due to the fact of having Facebook, really is the anchor there.

You can do all sorts of formats as well. Because I know you can have like one story that actually has like multiple cards within it or you can do just a one piece where it's 15 seconds and that's it. You can actually have a lot more content compacted in there and it doesn't look like you're actually going to be going through a whole ad.

A lot of times like I'll get an Instagram story, an ad, and I won't even notice that it's an ad. Because it's just so well done and seamlessly done. I think, I actually, I really, I like this company. I'm going to look at it. Or sometimes I go through to like watch more.

I mean, I get sucked into Instagram stories personally. So there's that.

Haley: I want to touch more on the targeting capabilities, and I agree that like you still have the ability to target everything that you can on Facebook, but Instagram is a platform that definitely skews younger and skews more towards females.

I am speaking from knowing my guy friends, I feel like they don't have Instagram. They're not posting pictures of themselves or what they're drinking at a coffee shop. I feel like you're not really going to be able to target that audience as well on Instagram if you're trying to run Instagram Stories.

Keep that in mind, that you have the ability to target them, but it might not be the great place to grow a platform. 

Kelly: It might not be the best place for scaling the reach there.

Haley F: Exactly.

Kelly: All right. Do you guys have any best practices, tips, or interesting strategies that you've seen or run yourself on an Instagram story campaign?

Haley F: I think something great for brands to take advantage of is that on Instagram story ads, you're able to always link, which is the swipe up feature on an organic Instagram Story. You can only do this with a business account if you have over 10,000 followers.

If you're spending little cost and doing an Instagram Story ad, instead, you're able to directly link to your website, to a product, and people are very shopper focused and you'll get a lot more conversions where that won't even be an option organically for you.

Meleigha: I definitely want to highlight that because, there's a client that I'm working on and they wanted to have more Instagram followers, period.

What they did is they did a giveaway and we promoted this through an Instagram story. And since they don't have 10,000 followers, of course, you know, we can't link them anywhere with just something organically. We had to do is obviously run a paid campaign and do that. And so I know we were going back and forth with our Facebook reps, can you measure landing page views for a traffic campaign for this?

Because we're not necessarily sending them to the client's website, we're sending them to Instagram. Are we able to measure this or not if you do want to drive more followers? I know Facebook doesn't necessarily have that option to do a followers campaign for Instagram. They do have it for a Facebook likes campaign.

You can actually create ads and send people to your Instagram account and get them to follow, and it measures those landing page views, which was really cool. That's something that we did. And we drove a couple of thousand new followers to their page, and pretty much almost reached the goal that they wanted.

That was something new that I've never done before. The reps were kind of confused on what to say in regards of, try this out or try that, or a best practice for it. It was really a first round. Let's try it, try it out and see what happens. 

Kelly: Kind of a workaround. 

Meleigha: We went with it and it worked. Thank God.

Haley F: I think, as Haley mentioned as well before that Instagram is all about that aesthetic and the perfect picture. And so video, moving content, and strong imagery work really, really well in the platform, but it doesn't have to be quite as polished as the main feed. 

And so you can use free apps. User-generated content that's just tagged from a fan, and make really great Instagram story content where people won't even really notice that it's an ad. That's going to be probably the best tip you could probably have is that it's going to be content that people want to look at regardless of if it's an ad or not.

Meleigha: I also think it's really good to have a lot of variations of stuff, too, because like on Instagram. When you've seen something, once you know that you've seen it before. Just because you're so used to wanting to see new content. Knowing that you either need to really refresh your content a lot or you need to have a wide variety so people don't get the same thing over and over again.

Kelly: That's a good point. You would never just see the same story from one of your friends over and over and you'd be like, dude, stop posting that.

Haley: I saw this really interesting stat from Hootsuite earlier that said that people remember 80% of what they see, but only 10% of what they hear. So, it's definitely kind of reinforcing what you were just saying.

If you see an ad over and over again, it's going to get annoying and you're not going to want to engage with that brand as much.

Haley F: I think that is definitely one of the biggest barriers to Instagram Stories is that content becomes old so fast. You have 24 hours and then you can't really be using that content anymore.

You could maybe switch it up a little bit and throw in different images with various templates, but you need to have really strong content creation so that you're always feeding new imagery and content to your users. 

Kelly: Cool. What about other cons? Is there anything that advertisers need to be aware of?

Meleigha: I mean, it is a part of the Facebook platform. So I mean, all the positives that you get from Facebook Ads manager, yeah, it's great, but then other times you get those negatives. For example, during the holidays when Facebook and Instagram are down for a period of time and everybody's launching all these ads for Black Friday, and then it was down again July 4th I mean, those are huge holidays and with which everybody's sharing content.

You have to keep that in mind, not only are we like competing with other advertisers, we're actually competing with users, putting up content and taking up space on their backend. Keeping that in mind that things can crash and don't fully focus all of your efforts there.

Haley: There are two cons, too, that I think about when I think of Instagram, one is similar to Facebook is that the costs are rising just to be competitive. People are flooding to Facebook and Instagram because it's such an easy platform to use and they have so many great targeting capabilities. As advertisers, you have to be more strategic with who you're targeting and what Haley Filippone was saying earlier like you have to keep creating new content because you don't want to get old.

Another thing that I think is a con for Instagram, it’s such a mobile platform compared to Facebook, which is desktop and mobile-friendly. I know we're not necessarily comparing it to Facebook for this episode, but I think in the future it would be great to see Instagram become much more device friendly.

Meleigha: It's interesting because I just saw an article come out within the last week about, they're not going to be making an iPad app anytime soon, right? They're being pretty hardcore about that.

Haley: They're focused only on your mobile app experience.

Haley F: I think also when you're doing any kind of ads across Instagram, that's also going to drive your organic traffic.

And so if you're really investing into Instagram Story ads, you should also probably be investing from a social standpoint and the community management, because people are going to ask questions, they're going to be messaging you, and so that might be an additional cost or effort that a lot of people might not be expecting if they're running Instagram ads.

Kelly: That's a really good point because there is that level of like engagement that you can have with a brand through ads that isn't necessarily available in some of the other ad formats or platforms.

Meleigha: Organically, I've handled a return before on Instagram with a brand because something arrived messed up and I just took a picture of that. DMed them really quick, and they're like, here's the link. These are the steps you need to go through; we'll already process this for you. And then the person screenshotted the order requests or whatever it was to send back and went ahead and just DM that to me and then asked me for a good email to send it to.

Haley F: Instagram stories are definitely taking shopping away from actual brands' websites. You don't have to go into the website at all. It's directly from mobile, so you can be asking questions. You're connecting directly to the brand, shopping from their handling returns, and that people don't even think to check your website anymore.

It is something to keep in mind. You do need to be prepared for the high engagement rates that come with advertising on Instagram.

Meleigha: And adding on that, there are a couple of brands that I follow, they don't even have websites to buy their clothing. They literally do all of their shows on Instagram Stories.

And if you're not paying attention and you're not looking you will miss what's out. You have to like make sure you're paying attention to those stories at all times or you can't purchase their product because they don't have another way to do it.

Haley: Unless you go into those stores.

Meleigha: And then even then, if you're not close, then too bad. But I think it's interesting that a lot of companies are now not even doing sites, they'll just do it through their Instagram.

Kelly: Then that also adds a level of exclusivity and urgency as well because it's going to be gone soon and you might not see it.

Okay, so let's transition into Snapchat. So Meleigha, Haley, Haley, you're all gonna stick around for this conversation. We're going to go through the kind of the same flow. Let's start with the why and the pros. Why are advertisers moving budgets to Snapchat or are they moving budgets to Snapchat?

Haley: I want to start again by talking about what differentiates Snapchat from the other story platforms, and I really think it's the location capabilities.

You see a lot of people tagging where they are with those cool geofilters. I think that's something that has stood out because you have that capability on Instagram, but it's still not the same.

You don't have those filters based on the location that you're on. That is a reason why if you have a certain event, I've seen a ton of them done for weddings, like Snapchat filters. It's really just kind of like who is there and getting your brand in front of those specific types of people.

It's also extremely affordable compared to some other platforms, I saw something about $5 to set up a geo sponsored ad, which is crazy. And then another huge pro is that the millennial audience is really there. I also saw another stat that found that Snapchat reaches 41% of all 18 to 34-year-olds every day in the US and that's insane. I think about it from like a standpoint of, yeah, I opened my Snapchat, but guess I don't realize how much I use it compared to Instagram. It's a crazy stat to think that a lot of people younger than me are opening that Snapchat and engaging with this platform a lot more than what I would do.

Haley F: I think it's important to highlight that their followers and users are just like plateauing and they obviously did stunt a lot of their growth because of Instagram Stories, but the audience that is there, it's like continuing to grow with them. Not necessarily that it’s horrible and bad that they're like older.

Meleigha: I saw an article that was saying that they actually had user growth in Q4 which was like surprising for them and everyone. I think a lot of people weren't thinking Snapchat was actually going to do better during that period of time. I think it's interesting that Snapchat was growing, even though you've got all these people that are going to TikTok.

And then the very first time I ever saw a TikTok ad was on Snapchat. So, I mean, I see a lot of things on Snapchat for ads that are just for downloading other apps.

Kelly: What about the advertising capabilities? What are targeting options and different ad formats that you can use on the platform?

Meleigha: The AR lenses are super cool. I've seen those for so many different things like Superbowl, other movies coming out. I mean that you can make it so many different ways for the AR lenses, so you can literally enhance your brand and put it out there and make people aware of it.

And I think it's about a third, at least a third of people that go on Snapchat of the daily active users use those lenses, so you have a really large reach for that. If you have one of those AR lenses up. 

Haley F: The national geofilters can go upwards of like a million dollars. They can be very expensive to run, but if you're doing the geolocation, it becomes a lot more affordable.

And that could be something interesting to highlight as well.

Kelly: So, like a really hyper-local thing can be really affordable if you're trying to target everyone, it's going to be comparable to even like a TV spot. Potentially

Meleigha: You can even do the on-demand ones. You don't even have to make it like a super large area.

Let's just say you're having an event that night and you want to have a better way of promoting that event for your company. And when people are there, they can be sharing that and it's just up and gone pretty quickly and those are really, really cheap. That's also a really great way of doing that as well.

Haley: Something that I have seen a little bit more is that what Snapchat's premium content, you're having those non-skippable ads, which I think is interesting. I know we see that on YouTube, so it's cool to see that you're able to purchase that actual ad space without having them tap through it and they have to see that message.

And I think that's something that's really interesting to think about because Snapchat, you're just going to gently tapping, tapping, tapping. This one's just really stopping and getting that user's attention.

Kelly: I wonder if that impacts the average time on the app. 

Meleigha: I get off the minute I get one of those. I'm like, I don't want to watch this.

Haley F: The only time I sit through them is I watch e-news, the rundown all the time, and that is the only thing because I like the rest of the content that I will sit through. It shows a bar and it's five seconds and you just look away and you're like…

Meleigha: You're a lot nicer than me. I'll just get off.

Haley F: For a lot of people will get one and they're just, okay, I guess I'm done.

Kelly: What about best practices? Do you have any interesting tips to share?

Haley F: If you're creating a sponsored lens or an AR filter, to really keep the user in mind that a lot of brands will spend all this money to do a national one and then it covers up half the screen and people don't want to use it because it's hard to take a picture with it.

Kelly: Oh, yeah.

Haley F: Just think of the design in mind because you want your brand to be prominent, but you also want it to be a filter that people actually want to use.

Meleigha: I've experienced other ones that are so interactive that it won't behave when it tells you, to raise your eyebrows or whatever and it won't then interact the way it's supposed to.

Or it's a delay because it's just such a large file. It doesn't really know what to do.

Kelly: Or someone walks behind you and all of a sudden it's there.

Meleigha: It just goes off of other people. It seems like they haven't fully thought it out. But I know it's really great for, I know, I see app installs and I already touched on that a little bit.

But the best thing with Snapchat of course is, even organically, it's like keep it short, simple, fun and obviously shareable. Cool. 

Haley: I would suggest as a best practice for Snapchat is making it more of a brand awareness tactic, that isn't to say that you can't see success from app downloads or lead gen, but I feel like this platform is something that you don't trust as much as you do with Instagram. As I was saying earlier, it's more of that fun, shareable content that Meleigha just touched on. I would definitely use it to get in front of that audience, but not necessarily drive the next action.

Kelly: Good tip. And in terms of cons. My first question here is, have any of you ever actually clicked on a Snapchat ad?

Meleigha: I have.

Kelly: You have? 

Meleigha: I have.

Haley: I have not.

Haley F: Yeah, and I have not.

Meleigha: It was to download an app. That's actually how I downloaded the TikTok app.

Kelly: But you know, as you mentioned earlier, Meleigha, I have clicked on Instagram ads a lot, but I've never clicked on a Snapchat ad.

But other than that, what cons do you see with the platform in general, other than what we've already touched on?

Haley: And I don't mean to be repeating this a lot, but it's just becoming less relevant for people that started out on the platform. You can see that filters were the first thing that really started on Snapchat, I would say.

And now you’re moving to Instagram to use filters and use stories. Also, you see influencers moving to Instagram. I know Kylie Jenner had the most Snapchat followers and you would go to Snapchat to get her opinion and see her try products. You don't do that anymore on Snapchat. It's now Instagram.

Meleigha: DJ Khaled was huge on Snapchat, too, and everybody was following him. I remember when they changed the format of the actual app. I remember everybody went up an uproar all over Twitter and then that's like, right then their user base went straight down and everybody went to Instagram.

It was a very quick, all right, here we go, we're going to switch over here just due to the way that you can't easily go through stories anymore. But I also saw something in the last week or so that they're creating a brand new Snapchat interface and they're testing it out on certain phones right now.

So, essentially the way the Facebook app works and the way the Instagram app works is having that navigation bar down at the bottom where you can switch from messaging to other feeds as well. They're trying that out for Snapchat and trying to see if that could actually help bring back some people.

Haley F: Yeah.

Kelly: Awesome. Well, we are going to transition to TikTok now. Haley Stauffer and Meleigha, thank you for joining us today, Haley Filippone. I want you to stick around to talk about TikTok with us, but thanks for joining us.

And then we also have a couple of new people joining the conversation. Alexa Muñoz, is a senior media buyer. Welcome back.

Alexa: Thanks for having me.

Kelly: And then Amanda Stanley, she's a senior social strategist at Nebo.

Amanda: Thanks for having me.

Kelly: Awesome.TikTok is a platform that's not free of controversy or challenges, so much so that actually here at Nebo, we are not recommending it to clients currently. But we're going to get into some of those challenges. First, you know, we can't ignore it. It's a platform that's growing rapidly every day. To start out, we'll go back to the why that we've been touching on for each of these platforms.

Why are advertisers interested in moving their budgets to TikTok as an advertising platform?

Alexa: There's a lot of scale and reach there if your main goal is branding. In November 2018, TikTok did say they had 20 million monthly active users. I'm sure that's grown exponentially since then and they're also live in 150 countries. If you're also looking to advertise outside of the US it's a good platform.

Amanda: And also it's the second most downloaded app in the world in 2019. If advertisers are smart, they're going to be putting their dollars behind where people are.

Kelly: Right.

Amanda: Right now in TikTok, if you are joining and you're an influencer, it really only takes one viral moment on TikTok to all of a sudden get millions and millions of followers basically overnight. And the content can be very easily discovered. The algorithm of TikTok is kind of a mystery right now.

You really never know what's going to pop up on your feed. And so from a brand advertising perspective, you can reach a very wide audience.

And I think, their feed is actually similar to Facebook, like the more that you're engaging with dog content, you'll see dog content come up more on your, for you page.

Alexa: If you have a niche product, this definitely wouldn't be the app for you. Because it's casting such a wide net and the targeting options aren't all there yet.

Haley F: And obviously TikTok is known for the next Gen Z takeover. It is truly the platform where every Gen Z'er who's active on social media is signing up and being super active and probably spending hours and hours a day.

It kind of turns into a wormhole once you open up TikTok. It really is interesting, but, people kind of get negative connotations about Gen Z and how they're using the platform and the content that they put because it is very quirky and weird. But people also forget, especially advertisers need to remember that Gen Z has a lot of positive attributes about them, that when they rally around a brand, it's because they care about them and they will be very, very loyal.

It is a benefit of TikTok.

Kelly: They feel really connected and want to stand behind them. Moreso than I feel like our generation. From an ad format perspective, you know what, what's available there.

Alexa: It's definitely propelling influencer careers. That's probably the main, biggest way we're seeing TikTok be used. And TikTok did roll out a creater marketplace platform.

You can go on there, with your brand and it'll help match you with influencers and creators in their audience and marketplace that will help target your campaign. 

Kelly: That gives it much more of a native field and a little bit more authenticity. 

Haley F: TikTok said in mid-2019 around June, some reports came out that they wanted to test interest-based ad targeting.

From my personal experience in the app, I think it needs some work based off of what I'm looking at, I constantly get ads that don't serve my needs. Almost every time I open the app. I get ads for Fortnite, which maybe is better for 15 to 18-year-old males. I'm not a gamer, not a gamer. I think I will also stick to dog content.

Amanda: One of the ad formats is a branded hashtag challenge, and I've seen it perform very well for Nike in particular. They have a hashtag the replay that has over 11 billion views and 4,000 videos. But I mean, Nike is a huge brand. Smaller brands might not be able to afford this type of challenge because it's like up to $150,000, so just TikTok in general, advertising is very expensive.

Kelly: And something that makes me think of is the fact that that campaign is purely engagement. You know, it's not to drive lead gen or direct response. It's very engagement focused. Again, if you are trying to run a campaign where you know you have very specific goals driving people to your website or driving purchases immediately, it's not going to help facilitate that.

The way that running a conversion-based campaign on Instagram would. 

Haley F: And to go off of that as well, we're starting to see a few more paid partnerships with TikTok influencers kind of took a little bit for that to start becoming more prevalent, but there really is no regulation. Whereas Instagram, the standards are pretty set already of what influencers expect for these partnerships. I saw one TikTok with influencer Sav LaBrant. She is an Instagram influencer known for dancing with her daughter. And so TikTok is kind of a natural, streamlined fit because it's very dance and challenge focused.

And she had a paid ad with Bliss, the skincare company, and it was about a seven-second video that all she did was kind of hold the tub of Bliss and just dance around with it. And so that could have cost thousands of dollars and what are users actually gonna do, because you're not linking out to the platform, you're kind of just seeing the little tub be waved around in the air.

It might not be the best use of your money.

Kelly: It's like product placement in a TV show. Interesting. What other things have you guys seen be successful?

Amanda: Chipotle had a guac campaign and it increased their guac usage by 70% in one day. So, that just shows that maybe it could be awareness based, but also it is driving foot traffic, as well.

Kelly: Interesting. And are those ads living on or do you think it's really time sensitive? Are these things that it's going to be running for a length of time or are they going to need to change with that content?

Amanda: I think they need to change up the content. I believe it's the ads can only run for two weeks or a short period of time, so they need to be consistently updating the challenges.

Haley F: I think regardless of how long the ads can also stay up there TikTok is so based on being viral and something being popular, whether it's the Renegade dance or some other dances, something new comes out every three to four days. And so if you're a brand, I think you need to do a lot of monitoring of what's popular on the platform.

How can I hone in on this and what ads am I running that will give me awareness with these trends? And so that in itself can be really hard to keep up with because something new is on TikTok every day.

Kelly: You almost need a TikTok specialist just to monitor things. You're not going to take your Instagram story ad and just plop it on there.

Alexa: I think how fast we consume content now, and I think also the average usage, whenever people open up the app is around an hour. People are spending a long time on the app and then they don't want to see the same ad over and over and over again.

Kelly: All right, so now let's talk about some of the controversy around the platform.

Let's talk about why we aren't fully embracing it. What are the challenges and some of the things that have made us a little bit weary?

Haley F: I think TikTok hasn't done the best job as a brand of really building trust with its audiences. I think a lot of younger users who are on the platform don't care as much about some of the shortcomings of TikToks such as data privacy but in terms of getting brands to be on board, which is really going to keep TikTok alive in the long run.

They haven't done the best job of building trust and authenticity in their communication.

Amanda: It's been said that the app censors Chinese protests and goes against the American values of free expression. And that's from what Mark Zuckerberg was saying about the app. Obviously he's going to be not the biggest fan because it's his direct competitor, but, I think overall people are a little weary on whether they can trust where their data is going since it's owned by a Chinese company.

Alexa: I think one of the biggest causes for concern is that the Department of Homeland Security is banning the use of TikTok from all government-issued devices last month. The fact that the platform can see into so many different things on the user's mobile device and can't say no to the Chinese government if they want to see that data is a big risk.

Haley F: Before TSA kind of just did this ban within the last week in December, the US Army and the Navy also banned TikTalk on any military-owned devices. That definitely raises concern when your government is obviously worried about where your data might be stored and how it's being used.

I just don't think a lot of people are as aware of that as they should be.

Kelly: It's kind of the thing where you might know there are rumblings about it happening, but there are no direct consequences at a personal level yet, at least. I think it's easy for people to ignore.

Alexa: I agree.

I think one of the biggest issues on the platform is brand safety. There are so many different things we'll probably touch on, but I mean, you wouldn't want your brand's ad showing up next to an ISIS propaganda video, which has been posted on the app before, until they kind of get all that under control.

Amanda: it's a little creepy to think that older men are looking at these 16-year-olds.

.Alexa: Well, much younger, like children who are 11 years old, there's like men DMing them basically.

Kelly: They did roll out, after, you know, being fined by the FTC. They did roll out, a check for 13 and up.

Alexa: An eight-year-old can check that box, right?

Amanda: They did just recently roll out family safety mode.

Your parent actually has to go in and control how much time you're spending on the app, um, who can message you. And then there are other filters for what content you can see. But it's been said that the filters aren't, they're not going to be completely perfect. I mean, that also just raises other concerns as well.

Kelly: Well, that mode, the family safe mode is first rolling out in the UK, so it's not even a globally implemented change, yet. And also the parent has to have the app on their phone in order to control it too. Hopefully, parents get on board with that and you know, help monitor. But the fact of the matter is a lot of them don't.

Haley F: I think we also need to think about how quickly TikTok rose to popularity. That it could easily die just as quickly. TikTok is basically a direct copycat of Vine, which was one of my favorite social platforms that sadly died a few years ago. One of the biggest issues with Vine is that content creators wanted credit for their work, and TikTok kind of has some of those same issues that from an organic standpoint, they need to be addressed quickly.

And if they are not, then users organically might stop using the platform. Advertisers need to be aware of that as well.

Kelly: Especially with Gen-Z, they're so quick to drop something and adopt it as well. That's a really great point, Haley.

Amanda: And like Alexa was saying about the ISIS videos.

There was a live suicide in Brazil last month and TikTok waited three hours to notify the police, but immediately released a press statement to not take responsibility. So, basically they're more worried about their brand image than the actual people that are using their platforms and to compare to other social platforms.

Facebook and Twitter both have partnerships with the National Suicide Prevention lifeline. We're hoping that TikTok can get themselves together.

Kelly: In addition to having those partnerships with the National Suicide Prevention hotline, I think a lot of those other platforms are more forward-thinking and trying to fight off some of those, predators on the platform.

You know, especially like what YouTube has done to increase the technology of monitoring comments and monitoring, the video content and whatnot. If TikTok can adopt some of those practices and, and focus on that, in addition to just growing their ad platform and growing their user base in general, you know, it could be something that we explore in the future.

Alexa: If they can figure out all these brand safety concerns from a lot of different angles, there's definitely potential. I just feel like the platform can be a little lackluster in terms of targeting and reporting, but I'm sure that's something they're going to be working on to stay competitive.

Haley F: Brands, definitely, if you want to get involved on TikTok, you need to be very open to taking risks and also be very loose with your brand guidelines, between some of the issues that are more of a concern from the brand side, too. Also, just the natural organic content on TikTok is pop, culture-focused.

It's kooky and weird. It's dance challenges and things that maybe don't make sense to promote your product. I think you should really do a double-take. Is my brand ready to take on this platform with the shortcomings and mixed with the unique content?

Kelly: All right. Great points. All right, well, thank you all for joining us.

I learned a lot and I think this was really insightful. If you, as listeners, have any questions, please email us at You can also send in any recommendations or suggestions for future content. And also, if you like the podcast, please leave us a review and subscribe to us and we'll be back next time.

All right. Thanks so much.

Posted by Paid Media Coffee on April 10, 2020


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