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Hardly a week goes by without a debate about what exactly TikTok means for finance. We’ve seen the rise of a whole new set of financial influencers, along with brands figuring out whether or not they belong on the platform. 

Unsurprisingly for conversations like these, there’s been no consensus here at Cognito. So I asked several of our colleagues to give their thoughts on the platform, across age groups, areas of focus and disciplines. 

What should financial brands do on TikTok today?

“I was really impressed with the way some of our news organisations in the UK engaged with TikTok during the pandemic. They understood it was an important channel to communicate with Gen Z and younger people about what was going on with Covid-19. They weren’t afraid to leave accounts in the hands of their younger reporters.

 The stats don’t lie. Nearly 60% of TikTok users are between the ages of 16 and 24 and the majority of users are female. So unless this is your target demographic I’m not sure you need to worry. If you are trying to court this cohort, how about collaborating with an influencer rather than starting your own channel? This is a way to experiment and see if the platform is right for your brand.

TikTok also is full of tips and tricks and part of the reason many people have the app, whether it is how to cook a new dish or style your hair using the belt from your dressing gown (yes, really). What education can your brand offer to Gen Z and how can you make sure this comes across in an engaging and visual way? Focus here.”

– Hannah, Senior Account Manager, London

“Given the average age of a TikTok user, I would say financial brands ought to use TikTok as a tool to grow overall brand awareness among young consumers; to educate them on personal finance issues as they begin their financial journeys; to provide verifiable and compelling insights and comments on recent financial news stories. As for the financial advice being offered on there –I think many finfluencers actually have little training and therefore my levels of trust on TikTok are very low. I would prefer to consult another source.”

– Olivia, Account Executive, London

“TikTok says one billion people use the app each month – that’s a lot of eyeballs. From using the app myself, I can see their business model moving towards advertising. But I can also say that I swiftly and confidently push corporate content away with no fear that I’ve missed something I will regret. 

The only way a business can truly make me listen to what it has to say is by striking a meaningful partnership with an influencer I know. While rare, this does happen. It can be to promote a product or service, but it has to come in the form of reviewing or educating, rather than having someone read  ‘provided copy’.

And if it’s appropriate to influence Gen Zs and Millennials about the latest in fashion, mindfulness, or travel destinations, why not also use the platform to educate about financial services?”

– Viali, Account Manager, London

“​​TikTok is a glimpse into how younger generations consume and engage with friends, brands and information. Growing up in today’s hyper-digital and connected world, young consumers are looking for content that is useful and relevant, informative and entertaining (humour being one of TikTok’s unique selling points). It is a lot for brands to consider, and one of the main reasons why they opt for alternative routes of engagement.

TikTok can be an excellent platform for financial organisations looking to increase brand awareness in a unique and creative way. From behind the scenes of what happens to money once it goes into a bank to audience participation for a new product name – the content opportunities are limitless. 

Not all financial brands necessarily need to be on TikTok. However, knowing “what’s poppin’” can help to understand younger audiences better and adapt to new trends.”

– Angelina, Associate Director, London 

"Ask some of our new joiners where they spend most of their ‘social media time’ and the universal answer is TikTok. The rapid rise of this channel is the first time as both a consumer, and a digital marketer, where I’ve felt ‘uncool’ (I just can’t stick with the constant flipping between videos and repetitive soundtracks or dance moves). 

However, we know it’s where Gen Z in particular is hanging out online. And according to a 2021 survey from Credit Karma, more than half of Gen Z respondents said they’re actively seeking out financial advice through social media. Conversely, TikTok is aware of the challenges here with unverified advice (as of this summer it’s banned creators from publishing sponsored content related to finance, including investment services and cryptocurrencies, for example).

So should financial brands be getting in on the action? As with any channel, jumping in without a solid strategy - or the ability to effectively resource it - could do more harm than good. Even more so than other social channels, TikTok requires true authenticity, a willingness to join in with the trends, and a sense of humour. If you’re all about financial education for this younger audience, it’s one to test out through targeted partnerships. If not, I’d be keeping an eye on the opportunity for now rather than making it the focus for my Q4 planning."

– Jade, Head of Digital, New York