A country hit might normally sound out of place on CHR stations, but not one driven by a series of TikTok videos, as is Walker Hayes' “Fancy Like,” currently at No. 16 on MRC Data's BDS Mainstream Top 40 airplay chart. Along with other CHR hits, the popularity of which have been powered by TikTok dance challenges – among those The Weeknd's “Blinding Lights” and Lil Nas X's “Old Town Road” – the format is literally keeping an eye on the social media site, and should, in order to reach GenZ listeners, as recommended in Coleman Insights' latest “Tuesdays With Coleman” blog.
“Just because radio is 'legacy' or 'heritage' media, it cannot be an obstacle to reaching younger consumers,” Coleman Insights Associate Consultant/Marketing Director Jay Nachlis says. “If contemporary radio’s biggest challenge is attracting younger listeners to the format, and those potential listeners are on a massive, often music-based, platform for an average of over an hour a day, shouldn’t strategic discussions involve that platform?”
Launched internationally only four years ago, TikTok has been downloaded over three billion times and generated an estimated $1.9 billion revenue in 2020, a 457% increase year-on-year, according to statistics referenced by Coleman. “While we were all in stir-crazy mode during the pandemic, TikTok was experiencing a flame-throwing growth curve,” Nachlis says. Indeed, the site has grown from 667 million users worldwide a year ago to over a billion TikTokers today, with six of ten female, three in ten under 18 and more than six in ten under 30 – well in line with the 9-to-24-year olds that make up the GenZ demographic.
Among the brands focused on reaching GenZ with TikTok, as noted in Coleman's blog, are the NBA, Levi's, Guess, Chipotle, even The Washington Post. “The Post has over one million followers on TikTok,” Nachlis says. “It’s TikTok page is filled with memes, skits and behind-the-scenes videos.” Chipotle, according to the blog, has hired a team of “culture hunters” charged with turning viral trends into social media campaigns, such as its “Guac Dance Challenge.”
Coleman's recommendations for how stations can use TikTok to reach and keep younger listeners include: designating a younger member of the station team, and heavy TikTok user, as a “culture hunter” to monitor trends; creating channels to regularly brainstorm ways to integrate the station into these trends; finding TikTok users that are already fans of the station; mobilizing station personalities on TikTok; and testing ad campaigns on TikTok and tracking their success.
“None of the brands [using TikTok] are particularly new,” Nachlis says, noting the 28-year-old Chipotle is the newest of those, suggesting this should not a bar to entry for radio. “If The Washington Post can figure out a TikTok strategy, I feel pretty confident radio can do it too.”