Will TikTok replace annoying Instagram and Facebook? BURO. talked with Ekaterina Snegireva, co-author of the Youngzterz project and general director of the Pchela agency, about the complexities of the site, how to get involved in it, how bloggers can make money and where it all leads.
Youngzterz is the first series on the TikTok platform, a kind of “Simple Truths”, but for a new generation and on phone screens. The heroes fall in love, quarrel with their parents, get bored in math lessons and correspond in a telegram. A week ago, the project started its second season. Now the series is watched by 200,000 people, on average about 700,000 viewers watch each episode.
About working with children and why is all this
It all started for us with interest and great love for the platform, as well as an abstract idea to do something. There was no quality production on TikTok, so we brought it there. When we launched, we did not understand how everything works there, who the influencers are there and how to measure them. We knew about YouTube and Instagram: 500-700 thousand subscribers – a class, a popular channel. We conducted our own research, for example, we went to Tiktoker festivals. The first thing we understood: its audience is a small segment. Firstly, these are children aged 11-16 who are highly involved: they watch, comment, like. And the viewers are a little older – 16-23 years old, but they indulge more, because the older you are, the more important the quality of the content is for you. And children do not have such a request.
We set ourselves a task – to convey to children some positive topics and thoughts and at the same time to understand whether this is possible in TikTok. Often social projects for children are divorced from the present – this is a product not for the audience for which it is intended. We decided to consult with the children themselves – they told us how to write a script, how to design everything visually. Filmed everything on iPhone 11 Pro. But the innovation is not in this, but in the fact that we have made films for children in the language they speak.
The first season (13 episodes) has now been watched by more than 10 million people, the first episode – 1.4 million views. For promotion, we used post-seeding among TikTokers and on https://www.tiktokrush.com, spending about 400,000 rubles on this. For the whole season – a little by the standards of comparable projects. How much they spent on production, I can’t say. We had a completely cinematic: producers, dressers, actors, locations. They just filmed everything on the phone.
About the site features
Of the big players in TikTok, there is a production center “PC” – the first agency that began to work with the site. They shoot hip-hop music videos, produce artists, make a youth story more related to music. Their wards are Mariana Ro, YangGo, that is, the heroes of YouTube and Instagram, who also subscribed to the creation of content on TikTok. If you want to become a star, go to them.
There is an important point that attracts content creators: TikTok has a communist algorithm that is not tied to subscribers. The site gives out views more generously than Instagram. She has a random algorithm that promotes different videos, regardless of how many subscribers the author has. We have a hypothesis that they show the most different content in order to understand where the response, likes and comments are coming from. And then they already think whether it is worth promoting the video in general recommendations or not. Therefore, now in the section of recommended videos on TikTok, we see saleswomen from Pyaterochka dancing to the music.
This is unpredictable for business: a millionaire blogger cannot sell integration there for 100 thousand and promise the advertiser a specific result. But on the other hand, here you can get great coverage by accident. While Instagram is getting rid of likes, here you can get likes for nothing. If we continue comparing Instagram and TikTok, then the former has a serious request for content quality. For example, photos from a professional camera will promote better than photos from a phone. The text and its volume are also important: posts with text and tags will rank higher than just pictures. In TikTok, neural networks keep track of other things. For example, videos with children and animals will look better there than interiors, which are more on Instagram. The algorithms also respond well to the use of the internal TikTok editor – we added filters to the video, and they immediately have more reach.
In a strange way, stories with a traditionalist view of gender are popular on TikTok. For example, videos where a man harasses a woman – puts his hand on her knee, and she modestly removes it. It seems to me that this is some kind of trace from South Korea. Or from recent flash mobs: dancing to messages from exes. The girl turns on the voice messages of her ex-boyfriend, who yells at her that she is not dressed correctly, embarrassed him, and so on. On YouTube and Instagram, children want to appear cool, and on TikTok, they talk about their first love, how they hate school, and how their mother prevents them from filming a video. This is real life – what they live by.
As if it’s harder to cheat there: there are no masks, like in Instagram, nostatic picture and tape. You understand that different people will see you, and the audience here is very positive, I think. I haven’t seen such a positive reaction to content on Instagram. And in the comments, we meet messages like: “I give you a like, subscribe to me, come to me.” In addition, Instagram seems insincere, because it is already very cluttered with ads – it does not feel the social context there. If there are a lot of posts with face creams, it doesn’t mean that people need creams. Most likely, the brand just bought the ad. Therefore, TikTok prohibits product placement and strictly monitors it.
On the difficulties of work and monetization
TikTok representatives have very abstract quality requests. In their opinion, quality content is not one that advertises something to you directly. And one that has some kind of creatively embedded story. For example, if a brand wants to integrate into user-generated content, then there is a challenge mechanic. Although it is possible to do sponsored integration without it. All paid placements go through the ad account and are marked. If a company enters through a blogger, then the video may be wrapped for moderation.
Instagram, which appeared earlier, has collected all the mistakes, because people actually switched to this media platform from TV and newspapers. And TikTok is taking people from other social networks, and this is a new generation of users. China is very afraid of its transformation into Instagram, which now does not understand what to do with advertising. Instagram’s reach is dropping due to the sheer number of ad posts, and TikTok prides itself on 70% return (that’s a lot). In Russia, its audience recently exceeded 10 million, but from which cities people are watching us, we cannot say. The site provides fairly general statistics – by interests, by age, this is bad. Based on the available analytics, we cannot understand why one episode was watched by a huge number of people, and the other – two times less.
Why Russian TikTok likes to joke about stepfathers and snus
TikTok does not allow implementing standard Instagram promotion mechanics. In the comments under one of the episodes, we asked the audience to guess where the hero would be next, and they wanted to give the winner a prize – we were banned literally half an hour later. They also block adult content – drugs, sex, etc. However, the moderation of Russian content is not ideal. It seems to me that algorithms developed in China can analyze speech and images, but they have problems with the Russian language. Perhaps that is why Russian TikTok still has a lot of jokes about drugs, teenage sex, perverted stepfathers and alcohol.
Could a new Blue Whale emerge there? Maybe. Policy? The Russian authorities view Internet users as an electorate, and in this sense, Tiktokers are not a focal audience for them, because they do not vote. Perhaps if politicians start thinking strategically, looking for ways to work with the thinking of children, then everything will change.
YouTube and TikTok have different perspectives. The first moves away from the social media image and towards Netflix, Apple TV + and other subscription services because they show wild margins. TikTok has just entered the stage of a social network, and in terms of commerce, the story is just beginning. Instagrammers like Buzova come here and grab their piece, test the platform. But while there is no coherent analytics, there won’t be many advertisers on TikTok.
It is unlikely that we will see Gucci or Louis Vuitton ads here – rather, it will be adidas, Nike, Monki, because this is teenage fashion. Beauty giants like NYX will surely come with the “Make up with a star” format, where bloggers will duet make up with celebrities and dance. Now posting content with TikTokers is quite profitable: we paid very little to millionaires to post our series. The site is young and everyone is very energized. The older the audience and the better the content, the more advertisers there will be.
How do we plan to monetize?
Now we are thinking of creating paid projects with the same team, but for brands. For example, Badoo (a dating app) is now filming a series for YouTube and they have a great response. We think that such projects are the future of advertising.