TikTok’s fourth annual trends report has told agencies and brands to tear up the rulebook in 2024.
The What’s Next Report has identified three trends, named “curiosity peaked”, “storytelling unhinged” and “bridging the trust gap”.
The second, “storytelling unhinged”, has demonstrated that users enjoy a non-traditional arc in a video, which TikTok’s researchers think marketers should embrace.
On the platform, multiple story arcs will frequently take place within one video, and TikTok creators will often make up fictional characters that have a long-running narrative on the app.
Sofia Hernandez, global head of business marketing for TikTok, said: “For brands to be discovered they need to create something that is unexpectedly delightful, unexpectedly surprising and unexpectedly engaging creative.
“There are so many ways that brands can engage with their communities and their audience by not following [storytelling] best practices.”
As a result, the report recommends that marketers jump into an “existing conversation” on the platform or invite co-creation by incorporating users’ comments into subsequent videos.
For instance, eyewear brand Warby Parker jumped on the popularity of the creator @octopusslover8, who creates skits based on users’ comments. In this branded content video, he responded to the brand’s comment and pretended to be a pair of glasses which found out that contact lenses had been invented.
@octopusslover8 Replying to @Warby Parker ♬ original sound - Jake Shane
According to the report, intriguing narrative structures encourage viewers to stay 1.4x longer.
Hernandez added: “Consumers are saying, we want to see you here, but we want you to show up the right way and like one of us. I always say, ‘Think like marketers, act like creators’.
“It’s not easy for brands to lean in and be creative this way. This is why this trend report is crucial because we want brands to be able to see the opportunity that exists to connect with their audiences on the platform."
Jorge Ruiz, global head of marketing science at TikTok, added that it was the “unexpected newness” that kept users coming back.
This leads to the other trends in the report.
“Curiosity peaked” focused on how users were open to new interests and "rabbit holes" on the platform. The report said users were 1.8% more likely to agree that TikTok, compared with other social media, introduced them to new topics they didn’t even know they liked.
The report recommended that brands dig into the communities their audiences are already part of and create content that aligns with their needs and curiosities.
But consumers on the platform also need to be able to trust the brand, leading to the third trend: “Bridging the trust gap.”
Users increasingly expect more transparency from brands as well as positive societal action. Establishing trust and core values are essential, and creators can be leveraged to gain this trust.
The report also recommends that brands understand and adopt the “language” of the platform, which creates an immediate connection with the audience. This then lets audiences know that the brand is not just “here to sell” but also to laugh with them.