Interview with TikTok Director: “For us, commerce and entertainment go hand in hand”

Will TikTok replace Instagram as the go-to social platform for creators and brands? Thomas Wlazik, Managing Director Global Business Solutions TikTok Germany, gives answers and explains where the greatest potential lies.

When a platform or app is called the “Next Best Thing”, it is initially a benevolent label for an aspiring new player on the market. It is not uncommon for this to be accompanied by a hope or expectation that this player will apparently suddenly develop into a real player in the market. TikTok’s immense rise in the social media scene certainly didn’t come suddenly. But when officially one billion monthly active users were reached after the start of 2018, a social power emerged in a comparatively short time that has almost outgrown the label “Next Best Thing”.

TikTok has long been one of the most important social media outlets

Today TikTok is one of the most relevant platforms par excellence alongside Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat and LinkedIn. Both for creators – especially young ones – and for brands. The app, which started as the successor to and has topped the download charts for years, is characterized by a feel for trends and the closeness of creators to users. Instagram and YouTube have already created content formats with reels and shorts that respond to the success of the short videos on TikTok. The trends that often arise at TikTok are reproduced there – and songs that underline such trends often hit the charts. The slogan “Don’t Make Ads. Make TikToks “is the program. The platform rethinks influencer marketing and relies heavily on user interactivity. However, the platform is not only there for entertainment. As part of the TikTok World Event, the company presented various new e-commerce features. These should ensure more monetization and sales potential within the app.

The opportunities that brands open up on TikTok – and that more and more brands are already taking advantage of – should at least be considered for a social media advertising mix. Thomas Wlazik, Managing Director Global Business Solutions TikTok Germany, explains:

We do offer access to target groups that are difficult to address on more traditional channels, but a look at our demographics shows that the breadth of our users is older than many think.

In an interview with, he provides various answers and insights on current and future developments at TikTok and explains in detail why the platform is suitable for discovery marketing, how old the user base actually is, which is why the focus is only on the reach of the creators not enough and much more.

The interview with Thomas Wlazik TikTok is developing more and more in the direction of social commerce and the features are also becoming more and more commercial (adapt to the “Instagram and Facebook standards”). How can TikTok ensure not to lose the USP or the unique factor?

Thomas Wlazik: The interactivity and authenticity of TikTok make the platform so exciting for our community and this is exactly where our new products come in. We observe that the community enjoys the way in which they interact with their favorite brands on the platform and that they appreciate this form of exchange. This is not just a marketing phrase, but can really be proven by studies by Nielsen and Kantar: Accordingly say over 61 percent of our users: insidethat advertising on TikTok is more inspiring than any other platform and say seven out of tenthat TikTok ads are fun.

Popular hashtags such as #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt or #TikTokReviews have billions of views and impressively show that our community loves to exchange ideas about products. This is exactly where our understanding of social commerce comes in, without the character of the platform being watered down. We are taking another giant step forward with our new commerce products. Our tip for brands is that they should think like marketers and act like creators.

Live shopping is an ever-growing format on social media and actually follows the same principle as teleshopping a few decades ago. Are there fears that the social app will slip into the same “dubious” corner in this regard as teleshopping channels such as QVC etc.?

The “LIVE” topic is of great strategic importance for our platform. Over the past year, the number of people who go live and watch LIVE on TikTok has doubled. So we see a strong demand from our community that we want to meet. An example: Our TikTok Live with Ed Sheeran at EURO 2020 broke the record for the largest LIVE music performance that ever existed on TikTok. Over 5.5 million viewers watched the performance. We are continuously developing this area and recently introduced new options such as “LIVE Events” and “Joint LIVEs”.

© TikTok

I am convinced that LIVEs represent a trend that there is no way around and that will remain. They strengthen the relationship between creators, brands and viewers and thus offer companies the chance to present themselves in a really authentic way. Does LIVE create real added value? Is the message authentic? If this succeeds and the language and culture of the platform are understood, the community will reward it accordingly.

Instagram’s and Facebook’s designated goal is to make everything in the apps shoppable do. Is TikTok oriented towards this goal? Or becomes the third big social Media player the focus continues to be on the entertainment offer?

It is important to understand: TikTok is not just a social network, but a content platform, an entertainment platform. The focus is on the content and around this the exchange between users, brands and creators takes place. For us it is very important to offer our community a positive, authentic and entertaining experience. Our advertising formats are also based on this mission: “Don’t Make Ads. Make TikToks “. Commerce and entertainment go hand in hand with us.

Everything is designed for interaction, authenticity and creativity. When campaigns rely on authentically interacting with the community, you experience the unbelievable potential of the platform. A very successful local case in the recent past is, for example, Volvic, who very cleverly used the global #pinkdrink hype on our platform to link their organic tea hibiscus with it. At the absolute heyday of the trend in April, retail partners of the brand were able to report a 150 percent increase in demand. This illustrates the enormous potential that lies in well-made campaigns.

TikTok’s target group is, on average, a little younger than others Platforms. Are there any special features that go into developing social Commerce features need to be considered? Does TikTok sometimes take advantage of this fact (younger target group = less skepticism about buying something mobile, greater willingness to spend money)?

We do offer access to target groups that are difficult to address on more traditional channels, but a look at our demographics shows that the breadth of our users is older than many think. More than two thirds of our community are over 25 years old. Much more important, however, is that we don’t segment our community according to their age, but rather according to their way of thinking or their mindsets. We looked at it this year together with the consulting firm Clear M&C Saatchi and identified access via mindsets as much more valid than segmentation along demographic data.

What many TikTok users have in common in their attitude is the desire to “discover” new things. They are on the platform to discover relevant content and trends as well as products. A survey (TikTok Marketing Science, Holiday Shopping Behavior Research, 2020, carried out by Walnut Unlimited) among TikTok users from Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy and Spain shows that 71 percent of the users surveyed made unplanned purchases while using the platform. A really high value!

On TikTok there are various entertainment, edutainment and, for example Music content, but also politically questionable or very strongly sexualized content (as on all social media). A democratic platform needs to be part of this possibly also withstand undesirable diversity in order to be a permanent user and enable commercial growth?

Providing our users with a safe environment in which they can express their creativity is an absolute priority for us. The same applies to brands and the environment in which they advertise and present themselves. When we talk about diversity, we have to distinguish between individual tastes and content that we do not tolerate on the platform. Our moderation is based on the community guidelines and terms of use. They reflect our values ​​and define a uniform code of conduct for users of our platform. We will remove content such as videos, audio files, images and text that violates these guidelines. We also suspend or remove accounts that are involved in serious or repeated violations. With tools like the companion mode for parents or automated restrictions of some functions for young people, we promote a safe and age-appropriate experience. Creative diversity, on the other hand, should and will always exist with us and that is ultimately what makes TikTok what it is.

What do creators do better on TikTok when dealing with brands than on other platforms?

The TikTok community is diverse, authentic and cross-generational. She advocates mutual understanding, inclusive behavior and breaking stereotypes. This is also reflected in the collaboration with brands. The most successful campaigns really work with creators and don’t just leverage their reach. With us, success comes from the content, not the person. If a contribution is not authentic, it will not develop any commitment or virality.

For us, the most important thing is that our community and creators feel comfortable. For example, we only recently got our first one Creator Council launched, where we have regular conversations between the TikTok team and a changing selection of creators in order to receive first-hand feedback and continuously improve.

TikTok also wants to encourage the development of creators into human resources Develop a business brand that sells products directly via the platform and there So find a holistic solution for content and business solutions?

The creators are the heart of our community. Therefore, we offer them various tools, funds and programs to support them. Your success is our success and we want to give you the best support to grow and develop. The Creator Marketplace is a platform that enables brands, agencies and marketers of all kinds to find popular and up-and-coming TikTok Creators, to get in touch with them and to come together for cooperation.

We are always eager to follow success stories – such as that of Iris Gavric, who, as the owner of a creative agency, is now a successful creator on TikTok and now has a podcast with her partner that is going through the roof on Spotify.

Thank you very much for the insights from Thomas Wlazik and TikTok, which he made available to us in a written interview.

You can hear even more insights about TikTok in our Digital Bash Podcast. Explained in it David Roland, Brand Partnerships Leader at TikTok, including why inauthentic glossy advertising doesn’t work on TikTok.

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