• Daniela Escobar-Herrera
  • Soleen Ali Dawoud Al-Amir
4. term, English, Master (Master Programme)
The purpose of this paper is to research the use of 11indirect marketing on the video-focused social networking service, TikTok. The service makes it easy for companies and celebrities to use the platform to post videos that blend in with all the other videos on the app. As the app is used to pass time or gain entertainment, companies and celebrities can easily use indirect marketing approaches on the app to reach a target audience that might not be as easy to reach with traditional marketing approaches.
While there are many other social media platforms that companies can use for marketing, we have chosen TikTok for two reasons. The first reason is that TikTok has massively risen in popularity, but is still relatively new, and there is a lack of extensive research in that area. Companies and celebrities are active on Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms, but TikTok is not easily compared to those, which is the second reason we have chosen it: TikTok instantaneously starts playing videos when you open the app, and it creates content specifically tailored just for the user on a ‘For You’ Page, which is where companies and celebrities benefit from an indirectness of merely posting entertaining videos that blend in with all the other videos. We find it interesting to research an app that lets the user get lost in a sea of many videos, where marketing content is easy to disguise.
In order to analyze the digital marketing approaches on TikTok, we use several theories on digital marketing as well as video-driven marketing. In this instance we have mainly used David Meerman Scott, who argues that the web can propel a brand or company to fame for free. Additionally, we also use theories on collective behavior including contagion theory and virality. Mainly, we use Tony D. Sampson’s description about how a crowd can cause a hypnotic impact on individuals, where he regards virality as a part of that, along with the social tendency herd or cascade. In this paper, we regard the audience of the videos on TikTok as the crowd that can cause impact on each other or be encouraged into contagious behavior themselves.
Our main argument in this paper is that companies and celebrities can post videos on TikTok to cause contagious effects, feelings, and emotions. In that regard, we discuss the mob mentality that connects with contagious behavior, where we analyze examples of that mentality. We use the mentioned theories to analyze several videos posted by both companies and celebrities, whom we regard under the same category in terms of marketing approaches. Lastly, we discuss the main differences between the analyzed videos, the use of emotion in
the videos with connection to contagion, and the main target audience on TikTok: Gen Z. With the help of Stuart Hall’s encoding/decoding model, we conclude that the chosen companies and celebrities attempt to mirror Gen Z’s mode of communication, which we discuss in the discussion section. Furthermore, Hall’s theory helps conclude that the many indirect messages in the videos are expected to be easily decoded by Gen Z users on TikTok. This leads to another discussion on the societal influence TikTok can have due to contagious behavior, including mob mentality.
We have chosen to analyze videos by four American celebrities, three American companies, and one British company. We draw on the American and British cultural context, though we recognize that the videos have a viral reach outside of the US. The analyzed videos represent a ‘text’, where the social context is the way that the videos affect American and British culture with collective behavior as well as marketing and its social significance. Contagious theory and virality are more important than the marketing approaches, though they are used to reach a conclusion about the cultural significance.
Based on our analysis of the videos, we conclude that both companies and celebrities benefit from encouraging contagious behavior, while simultaneously using indirect marketing approaches to catch the attention of the audience. Despite the fact that companies and celebrities certainly use direct approaches as well, the indirect approaches are easily disguised on an app such as TikTok, where the main purpose is to scroll from one video to the other. The theories that we use about collective behavior speak to the cultural significance of the indirect marketing and other content on TikTok and help conclude that the app can drive culture through trends that resonate far beyond the app itself.
Publication date31 May 2022
Number of pages128
ID: 471694039