How culture media brand Dazed is using TikTok

The younger-skewing and rapidly growing audience on TikTok has caught the attention of culture magazine Dazed.

The youth publisher is launching a verified account on Monday, July 29 along with a hashtag challenge and revealing the front cover for its latest edition, out Aug. 1, as part of a content partnership with the short-form video platform.

Dazed is one of a growing number of U.K. publishers, along with Jungle Creations, LadBible and Global, experimenting on TikTok. For Dazed, that means connecting the content it publishes in print, digital and social.

“Whatever we do in print, we want to make sure there’s a strong digital extension to that, more than a video but a narrative around the activation of content,” said Ahmad Swaid, head of content at Dazed Media. “On social, the audience isn’t an observer but participator; we’re thinking about how can we get them to participate.”

TikTok, with its community of creators and hashtag challenges, has participation at its heart. Dazed’s latest print front cover will feature Lil Nas X, American rapper popularized on TikTok for his country rap single “Old Town Road.” The Dazed issue theme, “How the West Was Won,” follows the rise in cowboy culture. Aptly, the publisher is running a weeklong #LassoChallenge plus more original content from the magazine cover shoot. Dazed will have an eye on how many people take part in the challenge in order to measure the impact.

“It was a perfect opportunity,” said Swaid. “With TikTok we’re not just distributing content but getting people involved in what we are doing.”

The platform also suits live events and music, as radio giant Global has found. In June, Global streamed Capital’s Summertime Ball — the radio show’s live music event — on TikTok over eight hours, the stream had 19 million comments, likes and shares, and average watch time of 48 minutes, according to the company.

But Global’s fastest-growing social media channel is The PopBuzz TikTok account, which added 100,000 fans in June and currently stands at 174,000 fans. Here it posts behind the scenes footage from longer-form shows that are exclusive to TikTok and short clips from celebrity interviews.

Dazed is also keen to post original TikTok content rather than repost from elsewhere. The publisher has several other content plans beyond this week that it couldn’t share details of. For now, all options are open. TikTok is a fertile place for it to find new talent, as it has done on Instagram for its Dazed Beauty community.

“Long term, Dazed is a youth platform and TikTok is a platform that today’s youth is on,” said Swaid. “It makes sense for us to explore it rather than jump on a hot shiny new thing.”

As ever, being first to experiment on newer platforms means analytics, and as a result, monetization, is more fledgling. But publisher Jungle Creations sees the impressive early growth as strong indications of future commercial opportunities.

“Historically, as a company, we build the audience first and commercialize later,” said Melissa Chapman, chief content officer at Jungle Creations. “It’s a new younger demographic, and we’re having a lot of success without over committing on resources.”

In the last month, Jungle Creation has created a verified account for one of its brands, VT. Since then, it’s grown to 150,000 fans with some videos — a woman pushing a Pomeranian in a swing — fetching 2.5 million likes and 13 million views. So far, its strategy is scouting out what’s trending or featured on the platform, then sourcing related videos from its archive. One staffer has incorporated TikTok to their daily workload.

In the U.S., a select number of agencies have access to TikTok’s self-serve platform, due for a wider U.S. roll-out this month. With this, it’s testing interest-based targeting, custom audience and pixel tracking. This is on top of targeting by age, gender, location, operating system and network on the device.

Like any platform that has an element of user-generated content, TikTok has faced scrutiny for brand unsafe environments. Its younger user base has also put it in the firing line for alleged misuse of children’s data, cyberbullying and young users feeling exploited by creators through digital gifting. Although there’s not much evidence yet that these cases will dent the platform’s ability to attract budgets from other platforms. In the U.K., Mediacom is currently not buying on TikTok as it’s considered high risk in terms of brand safety, which could stymie growth if other agencies follow suit.

For publishers posting on their own channels who have full control of what appears in their environment, this gives them an edge.

Before the end of the year, Chapman wants to get to 1 million followers on VT, a number that would signal commercial viability to brands and agencies looking to reach younger audiences.

“It’s a great place to unearth new trends and reach new audiences,” she said. “It’s exciting, but we’d want more clarity on the long-term commercial strategy before we put more of our key media brands on there.”

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