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“We are honoured to be a home for immensely diverse communities who transform themselves into stars”

In conversation with Faiza Zafar, Partnership Manager, Global Business Solutions, Pakistan – TikTok, on how TikTok has managed to become one of Pakistan’s top-used social media apps.
Updated 14 Apr, 2023 01:23pm

ZEENAT CHAUDHARY: Since TikTok launched in Pakistan, in what ways has TikTok created awareness about itself among potential users and brands?
FAIZA ZAFAR: We have been conducting workshops called TikTok 101 with key clients that focus on key events, creative audits, and creative workshops; we will be hosting digital Ramzan events next month to help brands understand how to engage with, and be part of, the TikTok community during the holy month. When we launched TikTok for Business, our objective was to empower businesses of all sizes to tap into the power of TikTok to strengthen their brand. We introduced tools to measure the value of native advertising value and its impact. Today, the roster of local, regional and international brands who have chosen to explore the platform’s capabilities continues to grow, and so does the impact. These brands are leveraging TikTok as a pathway to have conversations with communities.

ZC: What were the challenges, if any, in pushing the social media platform in Pakistan’s marketing industry?
It takes time for an industry to adapt to the rapid shifts in the marketing ecosystem. However, brands and businesses are realising the importance of engaging with their communities and speaking to them. For our brands and advertisers, there are three key areas we like them to keep in mind. Firstly, ‘Don’t just speak to your audience but through your audiences’. This means leaning into the creator communities and consumer cultures emerging on TikTok to present their authenticity and realness as a brand; TikTok communities are powerful and there is one for everyone, whether you are interested in cars, books, tech or food. Secondly, ‘Reach is good but relevant reach is better.’ This is because we have seen that relevancy drives benefits across the full funnel for brands, increasing both brand affinity and bottom-line sales impact. TikTok’s ability to create movements is reflected in hashtags such as #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt or #AsSeenOnTikTok, known to move products off the shelf at unprecedented speeds. Lastly, ‘It’s easy to get started.’ We truly believe in leaning in with brands to help them address their business objectives and we have made our tools simple and effective to use. Our products deliver to every marketing touchpoint and allow for rich storytelling. All are seamless, full-screen, and sound-on and provide unparalleled immersive experiences, appearing natively for the user without disrupting their experience.

ZC: What does TikTok’s user base look like today in Pakistan?
While we don’t share specific demographic data, I can tell you that in September 2021 we celebrated hitting the one billion users milestone on the platform globally, and we are on a steady growth trajectory in the region. Our mission is to inspire creativity and bring joy as people around the world use TikTok every day to be entertained or discover something new. We are honoured to be a home for immensely diverse communities – families, businesses of all sizes, and creators who become stars. TikTok has become a beloved part of life for people in Pakistan and across the world because of the creativity and authenticity of our creators. Our global community is remarkable in its ability to reach millions of people, across generations. From music, food, beauty and fashion to art, and everything in between, culture truly starts on TikTok.

ZC: For someone who still may not have a complete understanding of how TikTok works, how does the social media tool help them understand what TikTok can do for their business?
With TikTok For Business, our goal is to give businesses of all sizes the tools to discover and connect with their communities. To truly understand the importance of TikTok as a marketing tool, we first need to look at how the content itself has evolved and what that means for the wider marketing ecosystem. Over the past few years, we have seen a paradigm shift and content creation has been simplified and is now accessible to anyone and everyone. TikTok has essentially provided an easy way to produce content, allowing everyone to be a content creator by putting a studio, music, effects and editing tools into everyone’s pockets. This paradigm shift has resulted in the content library growing exponentially, and many new content genres have flourished. We expect this growth in genres to continue because the consumer is now in the driver’s seat when it comes to the type of content they consume. Consumers on TikTok are served content that is relevant to them at that moment based on their consumption patterns and interests, rather than what they are explicitly looking for, or what their friends, family or people they follow are posting. Hence, people consume content they genuinely find engaging, exciting and educational, and as long as this continues, there are endless possibilities when it comes to the genres of content that will continue to grow on the platform. Our consumers gather into content-driven communities, and as such, the evolution of content is as diverse as these communities themselves. Because of this, we are seeing the birth of a new kind of word-of-mouth, one that not only leads to different movements and content flourishing on the platform but also drives real-world business impact. When it comes to brands, TikTok’s growing suite of solutions can cater to diverse businesses and marketing needs, helping them embrace the TikTok experience and reimagine how they can best connect with their communities to drive relevance and action. There is really no limit to creativity on the platform, and we have provided tools that can help businesses get started, such as the TikTok Creative Exchange (TTCX), which gives advertisers instant access to a selection of the industry’s best creative partners that understand how to succeed on TikTok, provide end-to-end support from concept creation to video production, and facilitate efficient collaboration at scale.

ZC: How would you describe the future of TikTok in Pakistan?
We are absolutely committed to supporting brands in their journey on TikTok, and we predict that the platform will continue to be an essential part of the marketing mix in the future. Digital platforms have created an environment where consumers seek and have access to infinite information. People are now taking control of what they want to see and when they see it. This has fuelled an entirely new way to discover products, services and brands. As a result, a new culture has emerged and it’s rooted in community, creativity and most importantly, entertainment. Brands have understood that they must continue to evolve alongside their consumers and audiences; what this means is that they need to embrace digital platforms like TikTok, ensuring that they are speaking with the community rather than to the community. On TikTok, we have seen how entertainment fuels product discovery and it’s clearing shelves for brands. We have seen marketers showing up as part of the community and inspiring co-creation and engagement regularly. For example, the #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt hashtag showcases the products the community discovered on TikTok and has generated over 40 billion views. From hashtags like #AsSeenOnTikTok to #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt, TikTok has fast become a destination for people to discover the biggest trending items across beauty, food and tech to name a few. Brands in Pakistan have been engaging with their target audiences successfully on the platform, including Daraz, Garnier, Outfitters and Pepsi. We continue to explore a variety of opportunities for our brand partners, with the focus being on creating a great experience for our community. We aim to provide a platform for brands of all sizes to build a meaningful presence, and we are excited to continue investing in solutions that give brands a platform to inspire others, be discovered, and meaningfully connect with the TikTok Community.