By India Dowley
With over one billion monthly active users worldwide, TikTok has emerged as a dominant social media platform, initially popular among younger demographics like Gen Z, but now used by the masses. For luxury travel and lifestyle brands, it presents significant potential for increasing awareness, engagement, and growth. However, the question remains: is TikTok the right strategic move for your brand?
Here, we’re exploring key opportunities the platform offers, including reaching new audiences, using creative video formats to authentically showcase experiences and fostering genuine community building through interactive features. We'll also address potential challenges, such as how to balance the platform’s rawness with promoting a luxury offering and measuring ROI, to help you make an informed decision about incorporating TikTok into your business strategy.
1. Massive Potential Reach
Due to TikTok's rapid ongoing user growth globally, it offers immense exposure opportunities for both major brands and niche players to quickly build large followings with creative, engaging content. Gucci (3.9 million followers) and Louis Vuitton (11.5 million) are leveraging TikTok's creative video formats to showcase their latest collections and campaigns with an entertaining, viral appeal. By tapping into trends and memes organically started by users, these brands can express their distinctive personalities and engage audiences who flock to TikTok for content.
2. Direct Access to Critical Demographics
Given TikTok's 50%-plus Gen Z user base, it enables direct engagement with this influential cohort that is critical for many brands to target. The Ritz-Carlton attracts younger affluent travellers through polished yet playful TikTok content, while cosmetics brand Charlotte Tilbury adeptly leverages the platform to educate youth about makeup techniques and trends.
3. Creativity Through Video Content
TikTok inherently relies on short-form entertaining video clips, which allows brands to showcase their offerings in a visually engaging manner. For example, include Airbnb uses stop-motion videos to showcase their property listings, while luxury fashion house Gucci leveraged the viral #guccimodelchallenge meme. Gucci created their own version of the TikTok trend where users emulated the brand's signature aesthetic, which resulted in a comedic video that was widely shared and covered by fashion publications.
4. Authentic User-Generated Content
Curating and reposting users' genuine TikTok reviews, reactions and content helps build community and trust. Marriott effectively spotlights fun videos from real guests showcasing its properties and experiences. This third-party user content resonates more than staged corporate videos alone.
5. Interactive Community Engagement
Fashion retailer Madewell responds to user videos showing off their latest denim looks, while Burberry challenged TikTok users to produce nature documentary-esque clips (à la David Attenborough) to promote its countryside-inspired collection.
6. Strategic Use of Trends and Challenges
While participating in popular TikTok hashtag challenges and trends can boost reach if done thoughtfully, inauthentic or forced efforts may backfire. Discerning luxury brands like Bulgari ensure any branded challenges align seamlessly with their sophisticated identity and target audience. Geographically relevant trends and viral dances can also be leveraged if suited to a hotel or brand.
7. Targeted Influencer Partnerships
Collaborating with niche social media influencers grants brands access to their relevant follower bases, but chosen influencer values and content must appropriately match your brand. The eco-friendly skincare company Biossance uses a layered partnership approach, working with micro-influencers to cost-efficiently promote products to skincare aficionados. The key is strategic pairings.
8. Consistent, Quality Content Approach
While regularly publishing fresh content sustains audience interest, prioritising quantity of posts over quality is unwise in the long-term – especially for luxury brands. Estée Lauder's brand La Mer focuses on creating one high-quality, impactful piece of content two to three times per week rather than multiple mediocre posts daily. Consistency plus premium creative pays off.
9. Performance Data Analysis
Monitoring metrics helps optimise content style and strategy. While concrete ROI is tricky to quantify, savvy brands analyse website traffic, product interest, sales spikes, and more resulting from TikTok posts. Hotels can track bookings directly driven by trackable links in profiles. Data should always inform your efforts.
10. Dedicated Creative Resources
An effective long-term TikTok presence requires experienced in-house teams focused on short-form content or agency partners well-versed in the platform's features and audience to develop consistent, on-brand content. Securing sufficient creative expertise is key for quality results.
11. Achievable Budgets
The visually engaging videos thriving on TikTok can be produced on a range of budgets. While lavish expenditures yield high production value, thriftier brands like Intrepid Travel have created compelling content using iPhone videos, user content and editing apps. Creativity and strategy can overcome limited funding.
12. Defining Goals and Expectations
Before investing heavily in TikTok, be sure to outline specific, measurable goals and set realistic expectations around performance and ROI. While TikTok presents immense opportunities, chasing virality or unclear objectives may lead to disappointment. Defined strategies maximise the platform’s value.
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