Farhad Divecha, Managing Director at AccuraCast

It’s not just trending anymore, TikTok is now a global phenomenon and big news for marketeers. In just over 12 months, the video-sharing app has leapt from 269th to 3rd position in the download rankings with over 614 million downloads and an incredible 800 million monthly active users.

TikTok may be relatively new, but it’s certainly grabbed the attention of sports brands worldwide with its quirky, creative model. TikTok will continue to grow quickly and can only help to boost sports fan engagement. Farhad Divecha, Managing Director of AccuraCast, the UK’s leading sports digital marketing agency, highlights 5 ways in which TikTok is bringing welcome new life and a fresh perspective to the sports entertainment experience.


1. TikTok actively engages the next generation of sports fans

TikTok’s audience demographic in the main ranges from 14 – 30 years of age (55% is under 25 with 75% under 30). Combined with large user numbers the audience is very exciting for sports brands who are looking to both grow their fan base to younger people and expose their brand to a completely new audience.

TikTok Duets allows users to create content featuring an initial video, with both videos appearing side by side on screen in a square format. This means that people can effectively reply to video content with their own videos – which then can be shared publicly. The ability to re-enact athletes’ and players’ skills and celebrations is one of the most compelling features of the app which instantly spreads the excitement of great sporting moments globally.

Also, the Asian market is commercially huge for European football teams and with TikTok amongst the most used social platforms in Asia, the two are the perfect marriage.


2. Viral coverage

According to TikTok, the @HarveyBass – GitUp challenge video was watched 78 million times on the platform alone, with its viral reach outside the app caused the Git Up song to trend. Amazing coverage in a short space of time. An opportunity sports brands have been quick to identify.

In 2019, luxury retailer, Ralph Lauren collaborated with TikTok to promote the US Open tennis event using the ‘#WinningRL’ hashtag to increase brand awareness and study consumer activity around new products.

Ralph Lauren were also one of the first to trial the ‘Hashtag Challenge Plus’ – which differs from the standard hashtag challenge as it allows users to be guided to a separate, tailored store where they can buy without leaving the TikTok app.

TikTok makes content discovery central to its experience—which is what allows videos to blow up so quickly. The Discover tab is where the active trends and most popular videos can be found. Brands can also advertise a wide screen banner at the top of this page – via an ad unit called the Hashtag Challenge.


3. TikTok makes young people more active

TikTok differs massively from other platforms, in that it encourages its users to move more. Active users are just that, more active physically as well as online.

Clearly this is appealing to sports brands looking to sell more product. Many have already created TikTok trends and hashtag challenges that work well with their fans and participants, which in turn will make the users more active. This is also important for the future as a more active young generation coming through is more likely to be engaged in sports, either as fans or participants.


4. Control your brand narrative

TikTok have been quick to identify the appeal of their platform to sports brands and this explains why we have seen the growth of sports and the app this year and more collaboration.

Although TikTok is still a relatively new platform, its user base represents a huge potential fan base that’s typically hard to reach and extremely desirable for most sports brands.

Outside traditional digital advertising like paid promotions and partnerships, many brands have created an active presence on the app, like Twitter or Instagram. Sports brands have already had massive success in this area. Virtually every prominent sports league, team, and media brand has joined. The NFL and NBA both make trending videos out of game highlights, player interviews, and candid moments. In Europe, Liverpool, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich football clubs have all been early adopters.


5. Content is simple to generate

TikTok revolves around fast paced, eye catching content, which works well with the sports sector.

As we move further into the age of social media, it’s becoming clear that each platform varies in what content performs better.

While TikTok’s nature is fun, playful, and casual, it takes some real thought and creativity to produce content that delivers on that premise. Brands especially need to plan their content to get the best return on their efforts. Although, the app is similar in functionality to Instagram Stories and Snapchat, its key difference is the focus is to create and build trends. Brands must show their individuality in order to gain exposure on TikTok. Treating the platform as just another place to push social media content is unlikely to result in much success.

Nike has taken an interesting approach to TikTok. Rather than posting public video content of their own, they’re cashing in on user-generated content (UGC). If you look at their TikTok profile, you’ll see that their account is private, and you must request access to view the content.

Search the hashtag #nike to see the real marketing magic. More than 929 million users have viewed the hashtag and millions of TikTok posts include it. As you scroll down, you’ll see videos and GIFs of users wearing their Nikes, painting their Nikes, dancing in their Nikes, and more. This UGC is free advertising for the brand.