TikTok: can it replace Google Search?
The Contrarian Marketing Podcast, episode #7
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Today we discuss the future course of one of the most addictive, engaged, and controversial social media platforms: TikTok.
Increasing privacy risk and disappointing revenues have raised questions about TikTok’s sustainability and position as a leading social platform.
As the US government bans the app from government-issued cell phones and its users gain visibility on its privacy concerns, will TikTok lose its sheen to get permanently banned?
✅Eli says TikTok will never get banned by the government, but maybe by the big app stores
⛔Kevin says TikTok will get banned by the US government by November next year
In this episode of Contrarian Marketing, we discuss:
How TikTok can acquire serious and talented creators
Whether TikTok might get banned in the US
How marketers can use TikTok
TikTok cannot replace Google search
TikTok should adopt a revenue-sharing-based monetization model with creators (like YouTube does) to attract quality creators
TikTok is an undervalued channel for B2B Marketing
Use TikTok for content repurposing and advertising
TikTok provides a first-mover advantage opportunity for niche creators
Kevin’s take: TikTok has no future
Kevin states how rising privacy concerns with the US government and beyond can strongly put an end to TikTok:
“I don't think TikTok has a future, not because of the product and the platform, but more so because of regulation.
The US government already imposes sanctions on lots of companies, especially Chinese companies, manufacturers, and creators. So I don't think it's completely unrealistic that the US government would put a sanction on Bytedance or force the company to sell TikTok.”
Even with its popularity and addictive algorithm, TikTok indeed faces competition with many other platforms like Google, Netflix, YouTube, etc. But this doesn’t mean it can replace Google.
“I tried a bunch of searches and the quality is terrible. Let's say you do a search for the top place in the city. You're going to find content, you're going to find engaging videos. If you are the kind of person that is led by influencers, by all means, you will find the greatest things to do.
But if you are the kind of person that really wants to curate your experience, TikTok does not offer that to you. You have to go through so many videos before you find something that's not on the popular list on Google.”
TikTok also has an opportunity to share revenue with its creators to truly make them stick to the platform.
“The monetization is very different (than YouTube). I don't know how much exactly Charli D’Amelio got, but she got some money from TikTok and also made a ton of money from just influencer gigs.
Whereas Mr. Beast gets a lot of money from YouTube itself. YouTube shares about 50% of its revenue with creators. And I think that's what TikTok has to do as well in order to keep the creators and make sure they're not making money in other ways. This could also raise and groom the next wave of creators on TikTok.”
Eli’s take: TikTok might get shadowbanned
Eli predicts that TikTok will get shadow banned:
“My prediction is that the government's gonna make it very uncomfortable for the platforms, which are Apple and, and Google to host the TikTok app and provide TikTok updates to people that have the TikTok app on their phones. Apps like that have been dropped from the app stores and then it's effectively bent. Then in order to get TikTok on your phone, you have to sideload it and no one's going to do that. So that's done.
I just think that if they go this regulation route, it will be challenged. Trump tried really hard and he wasn't successful. I just don't know that we have tools in our system of laws to ban things – like FTX could have been banned, and Crypto could have been illegal. So they don't have the tools to make things illegal like that. To make something really stop, you just tell Google and Apple to do it, so that there's no pathway for them to be successful.”
Rev share is key to keeping quality creators
Eli states how TikTok has reduced the entry barrier to becoming a ‘creator’. But it needs to become a platform that makes it worthwhile for genuinely talented creators to come and stay.
“I'm saying the creators are the future stars. They're not just TikTok stars - they're actual stars and real artists. TikTok needs to get them to stick to the platform. Here’s an interesting parallel – Think about Facebook or Meta - five years ago, who was going to compete with Facebook? Well, no one can, as all the users in the world are on Facebook.
Now look at them today - they're declining in users because users have found somewhere else to go, and that place happens to be TikTok. So TikTok needs to make the platform sticky for the people that create the content because, without the right content, you don't get the users.”
Eli further stresses how TikTok needs creators who are true subject matter experts to keep the content quality high:
“If you want to go onto TikTok and learn about something complex, do they have the most complex person that's truly the expert? Has that person been incentivized to put that content on TikTok for free? Or do they keep it on their own website, which is where Google brings them?
TikTok has to get those experts on there sharing their knowledge before this becomes the go-to platform to learn. It certainly has grabbed the attention, but if it has staying power, I think it's about the creators and not the users. Users, yes, they're sticky and users do things for a long time, but they can be, they can be taken.”
Kevin also adds how TikTok needs to bring in more niche creators on a revenue-sharing basis to raise the quality of content created on the platform:
“The interesting thing about TikTok versus YouTube is that TikTok recommendation algorithm is so much better in my mind than YouTube – and that's why it's such a stickier product most of the time. They need to enter the niche creator area, and they need to do that by sharing revenue directly with the creators.”
How marketers can use TikTok?
Eli suggests that TikTok has proven the case for short-form videos.
When you think about creating a short-form video, don't do it to build social engagement, do it to build a conversion funnel. So showcase your product and don't just build a following of people that want to see your employees dancing or your employees say funny things or your employee culture – unless hiring is your challenge. Use TikTok to build your brand and get people to buy your core products.
Kevin mentions how TikTok still has the potential for niche creators to become first-movers, and you can use Tiktok for content repurposing:
“I think there is an opportunity to create some cool content on TikTok for lots of niche fields. You would want to be one of the first movers on that app for your specific field, whatever that is within the marketing or even if it's outside of marketing.
Here's how I would do it - I would use TikTok as a repurposing channel. I see a lot of popular podcasts using TikTok for repurposing by uploading clips similar to YouTube shorts. That seems to work really well. I know some people with large podcasts who tell me that is one of their biggest drivers of new subscribers and new audiences.”
Kevin also adds how TikTok is also an underestimated channel for B2B marketing:
“A lot of people have faulty assumptions about TikTok – it's not just young kids dancing on this platform anymore. There's legit content. One of my clients ran advertising on TikTok, and they're a B2B company. The product is neither super techy nor close to a consumer product. And they got some legit leads and a legit pipeline from TikTok.
So I think it's underestimated, and that underestimation leaves a little bit of a window of opportunity for companies to be present there and create some good content. But finding sponsoring content creators is still very undervalued.”
Miss Excel on TikTok - takes a boring topic like MS Excel and creates actionable content
Charli D’Amelio on TikTok - has almost equal followers as Mr. Beast (YouTube creator)
Inna Kanevsky on TikTok - debunks psychology misinformation by young TikTok creators
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Eli and Kevin