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TikTok: Time to Act

Marcel Hunziker, founder of digital strategy specialist Playliveartist, talks up the benefits of developing a presence on the platform

10 Mar 2023

Marketing live events through social media can be challenging in 2023. In a post-pandemic world, traditional data sets and strategies are no longer as reliable as they once were. Meanwhile, due to the changing landscape of social media platforms, marketing has become tough for promoters, venues, and festivals who often have to work within limited budgets and tight profit margins.

Gone are the days when setting up a Facebook event, posting about it, and getting the artist to record a video message to post on their Instagram story could guarantee a good turn-out at your event. So, what’s changed?

Let’s look at the problem from the perspective of the most important player in this game: the audience, the fan, or put less romantically, ‘the consumer,’ who is either spending money on live events or deciding not to.

The good news first – not everything has changed. Running targeted digital ads with strong video creativity and consistent posting about upcoming events on both Instagram and Facebook still sells live tickets. This is especially true in cases where artists have loyal audiences who simply need to be reached and informed about an event.

However, TikTok has become a serious competitor for both Meta (Facebook, Insta) and Google (YouTube). The major change that TikTok has brought to the social media space is that the platform’s algorithm prioritises discovery over loyalty when showing content to its users. This algorithm means you are no longer posting to your followers by default but rather to people who are constantly discovering more things from the same niches and content buckets they already like. This is similar to YouTube’s discovery engine but is both more addictive and more interactive.

“Whichever genre you are looking at, it’s likely that live music fans are using or will be using TikTok soon”

Most importantly, music is the driving force behind this online fan experience on the platform, a marked difference from more traditional Meta platforms. TikTok is all about discovery and awareness from a fan perspective, and music streaming proves that it can generate “sales” with trending sound snippets breaking hit singles and streaming records overnight.

For a long time now, it’s been enough to focus on Meta and Google technology when trying to market as live venues and festivals. This has changed, with TikTok being one of the most downloaded (and used) apps in the Western world. Whichever genre you are looking at, it’s likely that live music fans are using or will be using TikTok soon. Taylor Swift fans might not be following your venues, but you will find content uploaded by them using her music and hashtags covering her fan-community-led events and parties.

TikTok is less popular with audiences 35+ and less popular in general in the UK and France. However, in the US, TikTok has replaced Netflix as the second-most-popular app for those under 35, with YouTube remaining the most popular.

While a lot of people still refer to TikTok as ‘social media,’ in reality it has become a place where young people consume more and more long-form video content around live music. And music plays a crucial role in all this, as it’s being used to soundtrack amazing moments in fans’ lives.

It can’t be overstated how this form of content consumption has become the first touching point that a majority of young people will have with “live” music. These interactions will shape both their expectations and buying decisions for attending live concerts and festivals. Ignoring this shift as a promoter could be fatal.

“Being where the consumer spends time and giving them what they are looking for will be the winning strategy when trying to create awareness for your venue and festival”

There’s a lot of work to be done with regards to music venues and festivals using TikTok. Playliveartist Ltd has non-representative research with regards to how live music venues are using TikTok creatively. The results: Not much to report! We’ve started a spreadsheet that lists live music venues we thought would be using TikTok. The reality is they don’t… yet.

In conclusion, for live music venues, festivals, and promoters, factoring all of the above into their content strategies could make a real difference to sales. Remember, fans will be searching for keywords related to themed events, genres, and subcultures they are interested in. If you want to reach these people as a venue or festival, try dominating your “niche” and populate people’s discovery feeds with cleverly edited video content from the past performances at your venue.

Being where the consumer spends time and giving them what they are looking for will be the winning strategy when trying to create awareness for your venue and festival.

Marcel Hunziker is the founder of Playliveartist, which specialises in digital strategy, paid social ads, direct-to-fan marketing, as well as digital audience and brand building.


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