Ahead of Brett Armstrong’s keynote address at upcoming conference Online Retailer FUSION, we had the chance to grill the TikTok general manager of global solutions on what attendees can expect.
After being postponed earlier this year due to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, the Online Retailer Conference is back—but not as you know it.
The event, now known as Online Retalier FUSION, is to be offered in-person and online for the first time ever.
Among those who will share their insights at the reimagined conference is TikTok Australia and New Zealand’s Brett Armstrong, the general manager of global solutions at the social media outfit.
Recently, B&T had the chance to grill Armstrong on what to expect from him, revealing how brands can make the most of social media influencers, who he says are not going anywhere soon.
He also explained his plans for the future of TikTok in Australia, a destination he says could become an innovation hub for the company.
Brett, can you give us some insight into what you’ll be speaking about at Online Retailer FUSION, this month?
In my keynote, I’ll discuss the challenges facing retailers going into the 2020 Christmas season, and how they can tap into creative commerce opportunities to stand out against competitors. I’ll also talk about how to overcome ad fatigue and cut through a cluttered marketplace to connect with consumers and boost online sales in a mobile-first environment.
My session will also cover the importance of reaching consumers where they are and in the way that they want; how to capture consumers’ attention and keep them engaged; expanding beyond your current audience to reach and convert new followers; and how to show up not just as another advertiser but as a member of the community.
Do you think the role of ‘social media influencers’ will continue to be big business for brands in 2021?
Influencers aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, but brands will need to adapt their strategies to get the most out of their spend.
Rather than invest large sums in major influencers with millions of followers, many brands and retailers are finding more value in spreading their budget across different creators with smaller but more niche or more engaged audiences.
How can brands use the power of social media and apps like TikTok to drive growth and revenue?
The mobile-first generation is making an outsized impact on nearly every part of today’s culture. They’re quickly rewriting the rules around how we connect and what ideas and issues rise to the top. With the rising purchasing power of this generation, companies must understand the mindset and expectations of this generation to drive brand equity and stay relevant.
Since 2015, the importance of actively taking part or being involved in a brand relationship has grown by 27 per cent. It is, therefore, critical for companies to find new ways of storytelling that make co-creation possible.
Short videos are on the rise and represent a major touchpoint in today’s customer lives. Therefore, online retailers need to consider short video as a new, unique, and powerful tool to accelerate brand building and drive sales.
But simply applying existing video content strategies to short video platforms won’t meet the audiences’ requirements. Instead, brands will have to understand the nature of short videos and adapt to it, whether using organic or paid channels. It will mean to become more human and transparent; more dialogical, less self-centric, maybe even less perfect. The best brand channels on TikTok prove that once this paradigm shift is understood it will lead to success in the long run.
TikTok is a platform for creative, fun, and positive experiences. Brands we see having the most success are those that embrace the main values of the TikTok community—creativity and authenticity. We highly encourage brands to spend time using TikTok, understanding the platform and short-video formats, looking at different trends and content that are unique and very real, and getting a sense of how users engage with other creators and brands.
As a brand looking to build a presence on TikTok, it takes more than simply being where your audience is—it takes understanding how to communicate in a way that resonates with them and facilitate a conversation. Best practices for brands would be to stay true to their story, telling it how they want it told while also thinking about TikTok’s unique format, ensuring that content is authentic to the platform, and the way people use it.
What makes TikTok the powerhouse that it is? Why do you think it exploded into the market and emerged as one of the most popular social media apps among Gen Z and millennials?
We believe what makes TikTok so successful are two core aspects of the platform: creativity and discovery. TikTok makes it easy for anyone to make fun, creative content, and for anyone’s videos to be discovered by like-minded individuals. It’s not limited by your technical skills or the number of followers you have. That’s what we mean when we say TikTok is democratising creativity.
For a lot of users, it’s also about finding an escape through joyful content and community. By its nature, TikTok is highly interactive and we find that users love to get involved with things like challenges and duets. When people are stuck at home and maybe experiencing stress and uncertainty, these little touchpoints really have the power to brighten their day.
What are some of TikTok’s big plans in Australia for 2021?
Brands here in Australia really see the value in being first to things, rather than playing it safe. I’m keen to establish Australia as an innovation hub for TikTok, where we roll out world-first solutions for advertisers and marketers to meet that demand.
What I love is that Australia’s advertising culture is unlike any other. We have a long history of really creative, funny, and irreverent ad campaigns, and that’s exactly the kind of content that TikTok’s all about—so to me it’s a match made in heaven. But more broadly we’re a nation of innovators.
What do you think will be the biggest e-commerce, digital and marketing trends to emerge next year?
The fact that people around the world are spending so much more time at home is already changing the face of online retail. We expect to see these macro environmental shifts continue to drive changes at the digital level.
As people flock to online shopping more and more, retailers will need to stay ahead of their game and provide an immersive and seamless experience to keep consumers coming back.
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