Frederic Gonzalo’s Blog

TikTok Travel

Should Your Brand Even Bother With TikTok?

Back in January 2020, I wrote an article detailing why TikTok matters for travel brands. Now this was before the pandemic and the meteoric rise in popularity we have all witnessed with this social platform. Yet, even today, I am baffled to see how many organizations are still on the fence about having a presence or not on what is wrongfully perceived a “social media for teens only”.

3 stats that should make you go hmmm…

Before I answer the question raised in the title, allow me to share three key stats that should make any travel marketer think hard about the opportunities with TikTok.

TikTok Users by Age. Source: Statista, 2021

1. 53% of TikTok users are over 30 year-old

Nobody is denying that TikTok was at first hugely popular with teens and tweens, which remain their userbase that spends the most time on the platform. In fact, children aged 6-15 spend on average 75 minutes per day on TikTok! Yikes!

But… there was a pandemic, remember? During confinement, many parents discovered TikTok through their kids, friends and relatives. So much so that users aged 30-49 were the fastest growing segment for TikTok in 2021. And today, 53% of its total userbase is now aged 30+. That’s right, more than half!

Thus, the content as well tends to be much more varied than it once was. It’s no longer just about dance choreography or pranks, as there are tutorials, food hacks and a wide array of topics and community developing within the platform.

2. Average users spend 38 minutes per day on TikTok

Because of its effective – some would say addictive – algorithm and “For You Page”, TikTok is in a category of its own when it comes to delivering content its users want to see. The proof is measured by time spent on the platform! And as you can see from the chart below, TikTok is number #1 here as well, with users spending an average of 38 minutes every day viewing content.

Source: emarketer (via Oberlo)

And growing, too!

Now, if this was the result of an up and coming emerging platform, some marketers might discard this fact by prefering to bank on the popular platforms such as Facebook or Instagram. Right?

Well, it should be known that TikTok reached the 1 billion active users threshold in the Fall of 2021 and is expected to reach 1.5 billion active users by end od 2022. Do you know of any other social platform seeing a 50% growth, with a starting base of already 1 billion? Me neither!

In fact, just look at how Facebook and Instagram are both trying to become like TikTok lately with important changes in their layout, user experience and algorithm developments. They are playing catch up… while TikTok is pushing ahead with its own evolution.

3. Average engagement rate per post is 8.74% in travel

That’s HUGE! TikTok is wayyyyyy ahead of its rivals with this metric, which is a key performance indicator when it comes to evaluating a brand presence on social media. Without looking at any industry in particular, TikTok is the most engaging platform of the moment, with an average engagement rate of 5.96%. This is well above other network:

  • Facebook: 0.13%
  • Twitter: 0.05%
  • Instagram: 0.83%

The folks at Social Insider took a deeper dive into 12 specific industries, including travel and hospitality. The finding here are perhaps even more telling.

Source: Social Insider

Instagram scores better in the travel industry with an average engagement rate of 1.41%, versus Facebook at 0.27% (let’s not even bother with Twitter). However the results show a clear picture: organic engagement in 2021 was in a downward spiral for both Facebook and Instagram. The silver lining is with TikTok, as these indicators clearly suggest.

So, should you be on TikTok?

Despite of all the arguments brought forward thus far, being on TikTok may not be the right move to make for your brand. As always, the real question here lies in attaching your actions with goals and objectives for your brand. In fact, there are many questions a travel brand may want to ask itself:

  • Is your target audience on TikTok? (Most likely, yes)
  • Where would TikTok fit in your storytelling mix?
  • What type of content should you post here and how does it complement what is already being done on other plaforms? (Many synergies possible between Instagram, YouTube and TikTok)
  • Do you have the resources to manage an extra social media? Perhaps it’s time to revisit your presence and/or posting frequency on other, less performing platforms?
  • How will you measure your efforts on TikTok? Reach and awareness? Engagement rate? Referral trafic to your website?

Travel brands are moving to TikTok, slowly but surely

When I was asked the question during a keynote I was giving on this topic, last June, my answer was simple. “As a marketer, you should minimally have TikTok downloaded and on your mobile phone”, I said. “You may not want to create content, per se. But it’s your responsibility to watch and observe how restaurants, hotels, airlines, destinations and cruise lines are posting and interacting on this platform. How else will you know know what works and what doesn’t? What funky trend your brand might want to jump on?”

In other words, as a marketer, YES you should be on TikTok. As a travel brand, IT DEPENDS. As stated above, there are questions to answer before deciding to jump into this environment that shows little mercy for content that is too corporate. That simply won’t work.

Booking.com’s TikTok campaign, launched in July 2022

It will be interesting to see how some recent initiatives play out, such as Booking.com’s campaign #TikTokMadeMeBookIt, which is a cute wink to the hugely popular movement #TikTokMadeMyBuyIt. It has already garnered over 34M views in 4 days since its launch, which is a pretty good start. It’s obviously nowhere near the popular hashtags such as #tiktoktravel with its 32.2B views (that’s billions) or #traveltiktok and its 10.8B views.

Questions or comments about TikTok in travel? Leave your comments below and let’s discuss!