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TikTok’s Pandemic Popularity Got Advertisers’ Attention, New Data Shows

A new survey of U.S. advertisers shows just how much the pandemic put TikTok on their radar. Some 68% of those polled in March say they expect to use influencers on TikTok to sell their products, up from 16% in February 2020. 

Marketing firm Linqia polled 163 companies and agencies for the survey, a relatively small pool but one that included Clorox, L’Oreal, PespiCo and Starbucks. The results showed how TikTok’s momentum during the pandemic shutdowns, when U.S. users hit 100 million, got big brands to take notice. 

Instagram and Facebook, while dominant, lost some loyalty. Some 93% of companies surveyed said they planned to use Instagram influencers for marketing, such as sponsored posts in feeds, down from 97% last year. For Facebook the decline was even more noticeable. 

Joe Gagliese, CEO of Toronto-based marketing firm Viral Nation, attributes some of that drop-off to Facebook’s shift in recent years to showing more posts from friends and family and other algorithm changes that hurt the ability for online stars to attract attention.  

“Those creators abandoned ship to other platforms,” said Gagliese. He’s seen a much higher appetite from brands wanting to tap into TikTok, especially since the end of the Trump administration, which threatened to ban it last summer.

Brands are also recognizing the sway TikTok has over Gen Z consumers, or those born after 1996, said Jasmine Enberg, analyst at eMarketer/Insider Intelligence. That demographic is more likely to be on TikTok than Instagram by the end of 2021, according to a recent forecast from her research firm.

Of course, influencer marketing is still a drop in the bucket compared to overall digital advertising. Even if advertisers are reining in some of their spending on Instagram influencers, they’re still shelling out big bucks for the social network’s digital ads. That much was clear during first quarter earnings, when its parent Facebook reported a 46% jump in advertising revenue. Still, the snapshot illustrates why CEO Mark Zuckerberg is so gung-ho on keeping creators happy. 

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