Vaynerchuk to SMBs: Spend Time Getting To Know The TikTok Video App

Frank Hughes

Gary Vaynerchuk, the entrepreneur turned social media evangelist, recommends that companies of all sizes who want to leverage the next big social media platform should familiarize themselves with the TikTok video app.

Vaynerchuk, speaking at SAP’s Innovate LIVE event, which was live-streamed to more than 50,000 viewers, recommends that every marketing-minded executive should put the TikTok video app on a must-have list that should already include Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and LinkedIn.

The short-form mobile video app is popular among the younger generation – and that’s precisely why Vaynerchuk says that now is the time to start to leverage the medium. In other words, don’t dismiss it because you think teenagers aren’t your target audience.

“We are in a culture where people say no without knowing if the answer is yes,” Vaynerchuk told host Ramon Ray. “You have never heard of a 16-year-old who has so much equity in their household that, when they see a piece of your content, they may bring that up at the dinner table?

“Do you not see the data that teenage girls now carry more weight than ever in their households, because moms want to be their daughter’s friend instead of their mom, and thus what [her daughter] thinks is part of the decision-making in the family household?

“People are so one-dimensional, so quick to say no, for no reason. We just don’t innovate. We are fear-based, we are no-based. So many people say no without realizing that if they say yes, they can do a double leapfrog.”

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The TikTok video app has garnered a lot of attention recently because of fear that the Chinese company will violate US privacy laws. The US Treasury Department recently said it was going to start investigating TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance.

In a post-Innovate LIVE interview, Vaynerchuk said he thinks the concerns over the TikTok video app are overblown.

“The reality is, we need to be much more thoughtful,” Vaynerchuk said. “It is being investigated because it is a Chinese company, and we are in an absolute Cold War with China that we don’t admit.

“But, secondly, what privacy? In a world where Visa and Target and the IRS have been breached, every single American’s credit card and social security number is in play. So, the question is, what privacy does TikTok have access to? If it is spidering your phone to see everything else, what would it have?

“I believe privacy is the great overrated issue of our society that humans don’t care about anywhere close to the degree that they philosophically are supposed to care about it.

“But here’s my answer: It doesn’t matter what I think TikTok’s upside potential is. If you are scared to use it because of privacy issues, then you should not use it.”

Vaynerchuk is an early adopter of leveraging social media platforms, such as TikTok video, as a marketing tool, eschewing more traditional methods of advertising and brand-building. He understands, he says, that marketers and C-suite executives are probably uncomfortable with changing their focus toward something with which they are less familiar. But we no longer live in the days of Mad Men; newspapers, after all, are dying.

“In a world where people are scared to spend money on something with which they don’t have a comfort level, I try to challenge them (to) understand that they are spending more money on stuff that they have ‘always’ spent money on,” Vaynerchuk says.

“The amount of money that is spent to sponsor a B2B conference in Las Vegas or Orlando, where you spend more money to build out the booth than you spent on LinkedIn ads in a year, is laughable in 2019.

“We are willing to run full-page ads in a print magazine … versus running 20 pieces of content on LinkedIn for a fraction of the price. So you have completely out of touch marketers, who are sitting in ivory towers playing political games for advancement and knowing what is acceptable by the CEO and the board instead of making decisions on the consumer level and the reality of contemporary consumption.”

One of the largest topics at a recent Democratic presidential debate was the potential of breaking up what are perceived to be monopolistic companies like Facebook and Google. Vaynerchuk says that topic does not scare him, if for no other reason than marketers need to be nimble and agile.

“If they get broken up, then I will have to evaluate the capabilities of the platforms,” Vaynerchuk says. “If you told me that the Internet has to be shut down right now, I’d be happy to do direct mail or television ads. From a marketing standpoint, I really don’t care. I’m just prepared to adjust to the reality. I’m a day trader of day-to-day underpriced marketing attention, and if those platforms are unable to deliver that, then I will find what will.”

Even if the TikTok video app does not make it as a growing social media tool, Vaynerchuk says marketers should use the platform now to learn skills from producing videos in this manner. Those skills could help down the road.

“The reason that everybody should make a TikTok video is not because you have a product that is selling to 80-year-olds and you have 12 year-olds on the platform,” Vaynerchuk says. “But the real reason is that when you create for the platform, you may find a nuance there that three years later may matter in storytelling on (another) platform that does age up, and you can use that nuance.”

Dig deeper into “Multichannel Engagement In The Experience Economy.”

Frank Hughes

About Frank Hughes

Frank Hughes is a contributing writer for SAP Global Partner Marketing. Hughes has been a contributing writer for multiple publications and has been a staff writer at The Washington Post, the Washington Times and the Tacoma News Tribune. He currently resides in Los Altos, CA.