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Around the world in 15 seconds via TikTok

27 Oct 2021   ·   

Since the pandemic started, sport has been through unprecedented changes. With fans banned from stadiums, sports clubs have flocked to social media to engage with their supporters. Teams received their support on screen, not in person. Fans missed the atmosphere and excitement of being in the pitch and social media played an ever-increasing role to keep fans engaged.

The options available through remote viewing and virtual engagement have developed significantly in the last year. More than ever before social media platforms have been a good way to connect athletes with their fans in a very authentic way.

The way sports brands and clubs communicate with fans is continuously evolving. The emergence of new apps like TikTok has made it vital for clubs to understand how, where and when fans are engaging in order to evolve alongside their TikTok fans. It is a video sharing platform that allows users to easily shoot, edit and publish 15 second videos. Videos are often set to music and include animations, emojis, overlay text and more.

TikTok has become the hottest social media platform outpacing all other platforms in user growth. Sports organizations that are on TikTok often engage with users by posting lighthearted dance videos to accompany athletic highlights and promotional videos. Teams like LiverpoolReal MadridFC BarcelonaBayern Munich, and more have used the platform to engage with their global audience. FC Barcelona uses TikTok to showcase their talent, give fans some behind the scenes views and have some fun.

Rise of TikTok during the pandemic

Video content is the most effective format for sports clubs to generate passion and excitement around matches, events and other news. When a video is original and creative it performs much better. In general, video has a higher share rate compared to static image or text, which could explain why now over 80% of online marketers use video content.

TikTok has been a highlight with fans during the pandemic because it feels more ‘behind the scenes’, with honest content and humour in videos. During the past year “challenges” have come in all sorts. Athletes have been posting performance-related videos offering a glimpse into their at-home training routines and setting many challenges for their fans.

The UK government jumped on the TikTok bandwagon, with health secretary Matt Hancock uploading TikTok videos urging people to stay at home. There was also the #stayathomechallenge, where NHS workers and TikTok creators urged users to stay indoors and shared exercise routines or cooking tips.

Back to April last year, worldwide sports-related social media pages saw a clear decrease in post interactions as nearly every sport was on hold. At the end of April 2020, Instagram’s relative interactions hit their lowest point in the last 21 months, while Facebook’s relative interactions were at their lowest since March 2019. By contrast in the first quarter of 2020 TikTok generated the most downloads for any app ever in a quarter, accumulating more than 315 million installs, according to Sensor Tower. TikTok is estimated to have now surpassed two billion lifetime downloads.

TikTok videos can be easily created making it accessible. During the difficult months of lockdown it has offered escapism with funny dances, challenged moves or jokes. TikTok users created a fun and new way for people to stay healthy when gyms were closed. Millions of people around the world turned to TikTok for their workouts.

Get fit and have fun

Even vloggers who made their name on YouTube turned to TikTok. Cassey Ho, the woman behind Blogilates, one of the most well-known fitness channels on YouTube, condensed versions of her pilates-inspired HIIT routines. There has been lots of push ups, planks, tennis, football and dance challenges. And while getting fit, people are having fun by interacting with others.

The NFL partnered with TikTok during Super Bowl LV for a #TikTokTailgate concert featuring Miley Cyrus, Joan Jett, and other artists. The live stream via the app had over 1.9 million viewers and content featuring the #TikTokTailgate hashtag had almost 300 million views.

Another popular dance on TikTok was the “Renegade,” which was choreographed by 14-year-old Jalaiah Harmon. A video of Harmon performing her dance at the NBA All-Star Game has been viewed 34 million times.

Tik Tok is taking the world by storm. Its user base is between the ages of 16 and 24 years old so it is dominated by Generation Z users who are consuming and producing content each day. Sports leagues, teams, and brands are embracing this platform because the demographics are favourable for engaging with the next generation of fans. Unlike Instagram or YouTube, even accounts with small followings can get millions of views because the algorithm rewards good content and short videos can get viral in seconds.

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