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May 15, 2024

Why ‘more isn’t always more’ for publishers on Tiktok

Head of publisher operations at Tiktok and Jungle Creations CEO share their insights.

By Charlotte Tobitt

Publishers have been told there is “no magic formula” for Tiktok but that they should focus on quality over quantity to boost how many people see their videos.

Brands were also advised how to think like influencers and told they can jump on Tiktok trends without seeming too “cringe” at a video panel at the PPA Festival in London last month.

Edward Lindeman, head of publisher operations at Tiktok in the UK, said although there is “no magic formula” for getting big reach on the platform, the algorithm which is the “secret sauce” for its For You feed focuses on “the quality of the content”.

“So some of the key things we do know that it looks at is the completion rate of the video,” he said. “Is someone watching it to the end? That’s 100% completion rate. Do they watch it multiple times? That can be 200-300% completion rate. Are they sharing it, commenting on it, liking it?

“Probably most people sitting in this room are like ‘yeah, well, that’s obvious’, but I think it was important to just state that that’s the kind of key things that the platform, I think, and most other platforms, are similarly looking at that and then it will use that to determine how many people that video should be distributed to.”

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Lindeman continued: “The reason I set that context and that scene is that you can come to the platform and create lots and lots of videos, but unless you’re getting very strong engagement and high completion rates – the video quality score, let’s call it – unless it’s high the distribution will be relatively low.

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“Tiktok is kind of different to other platforms in that regard because previously if you built a big community on Facebook, Instagram or Youtube, the distribution you would get from that community and follower base will be much, much higher than you would get through Tiktok.

“We believe that the best content should get the best reach and therefore we really lean into the idea that the video quality score has a massive influence on how many people will see it. So… really focus on the quality because if you post twice a week, but each video does 5-10 million video views, your engagement and also your follower base is going to grow much faster than posting 20 videos a week that are driving 5-10,000 video views.”

Three pillars for publishers on Tiktok: ‘Be entertaining, funny or informative’

Lindeman said that although most video views on Tiktok come from “either the creator community or normal people creating and sharing content”, the platform has “tried to lean in and build great relationships with publishing partners” over the past year or two “cause we know that actually our content ecosystem isn’t complete without really amazing videos that those publishers can produce”.

Asked whether publishers should be thinking like influencers, he said: “If your thought process as an influencer is how can I create the best content, in our case video, for my audience and people who are maybe not in my audience or they’re not in my community yet, but I would like to reach, then absolutely that’s the right thought process.

“I think the difficult thing with media groups and publishing brands is that you don’t have that individual, right?”

Referring to fellow panellist Frankie Eshun, an influencer with her family whose biggest following is on Instagram, Lindeman went on: “Frankie is Frankie and people will really buy into her as the as the individual at the heart of that brand whereas it can be more difficult… if you’re an organisation you might have some recognisable faces that people will associate with that organisation but there won’t necessarily be someone that people can necessarily directly relate to.

“So I think at that point, the challenge becomes slightly bigger, in that you need to make sure that you’re offering value in different ways. And for short-form video, the best ways to do that are to be entertaining, funny, or informative and educational. I think they’re three really great pillars to build around.”

Jungle Creations CEO: Why ‘more isn’t always more’

Melissa Chapman, chief executive of social publisher Jungle Creations whose portfolio includes food and cooking brand Twisted, said they are increasingly trying to both inform and entertain – and that although Twisted is ultimately about how to cook, “that’s not enough anymore”.

One of its new formats is therefore United Plates of America, which shows a dish from each state alongside a history of its food culture.

“Younger audiences want to watch satisfying video whilst watching something else at the same time whilst doing something else,” Chapman said.

“It’s quite scary that we kind of need three videos in one now. So when we’re putting our videos together, we try to hit all three of those notes as much as possible.”

Chapman also told the event that “for us, more isn’t always more”.

She said: “On a fundamental level the platforms will have a certain quota that you need to post regularly, needs to be consistent and so on and so forth, but don’t post for posting’s sake. So we do try to tread that balance between frequent posting, so we’re still here, don’t forget us because there’s a lot of other people here and if you go for an hour, they might forget you exist.

“But actually investing a little bit more into our formats and trying to almost keep people in that video for longer so they’re dwelling with us on a video by video level, rather than being with us for three seconds across 100 different videos that could be from anyone.”

Chapman said Jungle, which launched ten years ago, began by producing videos in studios with DSLR cameras and videographers, producers, editors and a “whole creative brainstorm process going on”.

“We were overcomplicating it,” she said, adding that Tiktok had “democratised being a content creator” by simplifying editing in-platform and allowing anyone to tell a story as long as they had a phone.

She continued: “While that’s really exciting for us as a publisher because suddenly our output tripled, we could do things quicker and become more efficient, it was also a challenge because historically our competition was other publishers and other people in the social space and then suddenly we were fighting for eyeballs with creatives as well so [at] Twisted… we thought okay, how do we start operating like a team of creatives?”

This resulted in them increasingly “putting our people in front of the camera” and “telling their stories,” Chapman explained.

“Because I think ultimately… social is by its very nature anti-social, we’ve never been more disconnected as a society than we are now, people are hungry for authenticity, for real life, for connection, and creatives really have been a great window into that in this kind of social digital world.

“So for us, it was how we work with creatives and also learn from creators in how we change our tone of voice and be less like a business and more like a collection of people around a shared passion point.”

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Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
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