TikTok Q&A with Rob Forshaw, Executive Chair at Takumi

Potential TikTok restrictions are under increased scrutiny. What will happen on March 23rd when TikTok’s CEO, Shou Zi Chew, testifies before Congress amid security concerns?

There is no room for speculation. At TAKUMI we are working closely with our clients to plan for all scenarios. 

In the midst of these times, however, one thing is certain. Social media is a dynamic, at times even a volatile, space. Meta has been there. Now it could be TikTok. The threat of potential restrictions on one of the best performing platforms has, in fact, encouraged brand marketers to think even more strategically about Influencer Marketing. 

We sat down with our Chairman, Rob Forshaw, to discuss how brands can approach the current TikTok climate and remain resilient during uncertain times.

Should brands be worried about the future of TikTok?

TikTok has proven to be a huge success with audiences, creators and brands. We believe, as a platform, it should be celebrated for its achievements. However, there is clear uncertainty and we need to be mindful of all the potential risks to its current state. I don’t think brands should be worried but there is certainly merit in working with partners to plan contingencies for all possible outcomes.

What is the best way to navigate this type of uncertainty?

At TAKUMI we have created a 5 step plan for brands so they can attempt to de-risk any future uncertainty. We will continue to produce relevant guidance, over the following weeks, which can be used industry wide. The best way to navigate is always with a map then you can plot all available routes through this. Your contingency plans become your map.


Do you perceive any behavioural change among consumers?

We believe that TikTok has been a powerful tool in further democratisation of media to a new generation of creators, born on TikTok first. The short-form video content format has really advanced on TikTok and it has been an exciting development to be a part of. There is real power that is harnessed between creators, brands and their audience on TikTok. 


In terms of discernible change our data does not suggest any radical audience changes in behaviour, however we are working closely with our creator community to ensure they are equally able to navigate this with the minimal disruption.


Do you believe the threat of TikTok restrictions is receiving enough attention and action among the marketing industry?

I don’t think it is really for me to comment on the industry. All I can say is that we are working very hard to ensure that we maintain performance on behalf of our clients, both now and in the future regardless of what the future holds.

How can brands future-proof Influencer Marketing campaigns, both, short and long term?

There is no imminent reason to change but if some of the more pessimistic scenarios were to unfold, change could strike fast. It is important to be well prepared. Not only by working with your influencer partners but working with stakeholders, internally, to ensure strong alignment on a way forward. You can, really, only move as fast as the slowest stakeholder within the brand, creator and platform ecosystem. 


Have a look at the recent video from Jess Smith, VP of Client Partnerships at TAKUMI, for tips on how brand marketers can navigate changes whatever the social media climate.

What is your perspective on the role of a performance platform, like TAKUMI, in responding to unexpected changes in the social media landscape?

TAKUMI’s technology minimises friction across the entire campaign life cycle. When it comes to unexpected change, we are uniquely positioned to continue delivering impactful campaigns as a result of our end-to-end capabilities. 


I would say that a platform is a foundational layer for continuity planning, there are some excellent platforms within the industry. Coupling platform capabilities with strategic managed service offering, like we do at TAKUMI, can really help brands optimise performance and work seamlessly towards achieving their own brand goals.


How important is it for brands to sustain long-term influencer marketing plans, and what should this strategy involve?

I’m not convinced that plans should be long term but I do think goals should be. There are many macro and micro events that are causing widespread disruption globally. Whilst flexibility is key, you must always think of your target audience first. Even before the social media platform comes into play.


I’m not saying don’t have plans but be flexible, keep your ear to the ground, and use data to continually optimise performance. If the worst case scenario unfolds and you’re unable to reach your desired audience on TikTok, work with your influencer partner to identify the most effective ways to reach and engage them elsewhere.


What emerging trends can brands expect as a result of this?

I’m not sure what trends will emerge although I’m sure there will be winners and losers. It is clear that this will be a breakthrough year for generative AI and we will see widespread innovation within the creator ecosystem. I can’t say too much but watch this space.


How do you expect the current TikTok uncertainty to impact the creator ecosystem?

To get ahead of any potential change, some creators have already started implementing protective measures to shore up income by increasing focus to other platforms. There are also brilliant examples of creators boldly asserting the power and value of TikTok, in particular, and how it has been transformational for them – personally. For most, I believe, it is very much business as usual.

What opportunities do you foresee, opening up to brands, as a result of a threat to any given social media platform? 

Well, uncertainty can present a great opportunity for gaining a competitive advantage. There is a lot of sense in the preparedness for all eventualities, which we have made sure is the case for the brands that partner with TAKUMI, many of whom are global category leaders. 

The 5 step plan for brands outlines some things that brand marketers can do now, in the face of uncertainty, while it also underlines the importance of staying ahead of the curve rather than having to play catch-up.

At TAKUMI you will often hear the expression, “Never miss a good crisis”, which we believe is a good mantra when change can feel overwhelming. 


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