We met Ricardo Pires, Communication Specialist at the UNICEF Office for Relations with EU Institutions, to talk about the #RealChallenge Campaign launched on Tik Tok with the European Union on the 30th anniversary of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child.
The #RealChallenge in a nutshell
UNICEF and the European Union decided to join forces to create a campaign for and by children about children’s rights. The 4 child rights issues we focused on were child labour, gender equality, family unity and bullying.
What was the aim of the campaign?
The aim of the #RealChallenge campaign was to reach children and teenagers in a popular virtual space. We wanted to allow children to express themselves around the subject of child rights and create content in their own way.
How did the campaign work?
After we’d chosen the 4 child rights issues we wanted to focus on, we hired a creative company to produce 4 originals videos that would be posted on the #RealChallenge Tik Tok account created for this campaign. We launched the campaign and asked Tik Tok influencers around the world to participate by replicating the videos and by inviting their followers to do the same.
A big element of the #RealChallenge campaign was to be innovative, and, after doing some research, we realised that Tik Tok was the best solution. The platform is relatively new for our audiences and it allows for more creativity. It also allows the audience/users to express themselves in a different way through 15-second videos.
Working with Tik Tok was an obvious choice?
When the creative agency proposed Tik Tok as the platform for the #RealChallenge campaign, I was initially quite sceptical and borderline negative about it. I had heard a bit about Tik Tok and the content wasn’t what we were looking for. However, Tik Tok later proved me wrong.
I think Tik Tok is such a new platform that it invites many questions and concerns, mainly from those who don’t really understand the ever-evolving world of social media. In light of this, we had to prepare ourselves to answer a lot of questions and make sure that people understood the idea behind #RealChallenge.
It was really interesting for us to learn that Tik Tok was not only a new platform in Brussels, but also across international organisations, and that, thus far, very few have tried to engage in it. For us, the fact that so few organisations have utilised Tik Tok meant that one of the main goals of our campaign had been achieved; to innovate and create something different with children and young people to highlight child rights.
How did you contact with Tik Tok?
We knew Tik Tok had a corporate social responsibility office in Beijing and we managed to get in touch with said office and explain the campaign to them. Fortunately, Tik Tok’s corporate social responsibility office believed in our campaign and managed to convince their local promotion offices to get on board, too.
Can you quantify the campaign’s success?
The results were very good, and we consider the campaign a great success. All together, we received over 300 M views of our content and our hashtag. We had 1.2 M shares and 19 M likes for the 4 videos we produced and at least 51 000 pieces of content generated. This means that at least 51 000 videos were created from the 4 original videos we posted on the #RealChallenge account on Tik Tok.
How did you achieve such good results? By unlocking the secret of the Tik Tok algorithm?
The Tik Tok algorithm remains a mystery to us. We have no access to their back end operations… Every promotion launched within Tik Tok was done via Tik Tok offices. We didn’t take any action to promote the #RealChallenge on the platform; that was all done by Tik Tok.
What are the ingredients of a successful Tik Tok campaign?
In my opinion, there are three main ingredients for a successful campaign on Tik Tok. Number one: have a good idea that will resonate with your audience; in our case, children and young people. Number two: make sure your videos are well produced and the storytelling is cutting edge. And number 3: make sure you engage Tik Tok influencers across the world and bring them on board.
The success for us was really being able to engage Tik Tok influencers across the world. Without their support, we wouldn’t have been able to reach as many people as we did: over 300 M views on our campaign hashtag. We would not have reached this figure without the Tik Tokers, who interact with their audiences/followers on a daily basis, creating videos that touch on various topics. We wouldn’t have reached anywhere near as many people had we not mobilised Tik Tok’s internal forces, the influencers.
What are the advantages of Tik Tok compared with other platforms?
Tik Tok is a very new platform, at least for UNICEF. We didn’t really know what we were going to get out of this campaign other than youth engagement. However, we believed the main advantage of this campaign was the way in which Tik Tok enables children, young people and users of all ages to create very interesting cutting-edge content in a very short space of time. Using Tik Tok, you can create a 15-second video, to which you can add effects, change location, or add music, and therefore create a different type of storytelling, which other platforms still don’t accommodate.
Tik Tok has had some negative press for different reasons, which are concerns and have to be looked into. However, what the #RealChallenge campaign showed us is that there is a positive side to any story. With the right idea, the right engagement, the right strategy, you can turn any social media platform into a powerful tool for young people to express themselves, especially around issues that concern them.
What lessons have you learned from this campaign?
I think the biggest lesson we’ve learned with the #RealChallenge campaign was that children and young people across the world have a lot to say about child rights. They are creative, they are tuned in, they are concerned, and they know how to express themselves on social media with a lot of creativity and focus, if given the opportunity.
Do you think other organisations will give more power to young people via Tik Tok?
I think youth empowerment is something that is growing organically because young people are making themselves heard, and organisations such as UNICEF or the European Union have no other option but to listen. Tik Tok was an example of how that can happen. The #RealChallenge was an example of allowing children and young people to participate, tell their own stories and speak out on issues that affect them. And that can be done in many other ways, on many other platforms. All we have to do is to realise that children and young people are active citizens and that they have the right to participate.
Do you have some background stories?
For me, it was really interesting during the campaign, when the videos were up and we were still monitoring background/engagement, to see how many children and young people cared about a particular topic, such as child labour. Let’s take child labour as an example; if you are a child, you may want to use Tik Tok and play, but this is simply not possible if you have to work. As such, by uploading a video highlighting the gravity of the child labour situation in order to engage young audiences across the world, we really made a difference by informing them about this issue. Many of them weren’t aware of child labour or they’d only heard about it before because they’d seen it on Tik Tok. They were now paying attention because it was on their screens, on the tool they use every day to communicate with their peers.
It was very interesting to read some user comments on our originals videos. They were both sad and keen to help, but didn’t want to believe that child labour even existed. This just goes to show the importance of getting the message out there, and getting those are moved by an issue to spread the word.
Another story I can tell you involves a video on the topic of bullying. When we uploaded the video on the account, it went viral very quickly because it’s an issue that children and young people across the world connect with. Some of the comments I read were heart breaking; some from users who had maybe 3 followers and watched that video, and then wrote to the #RealChallenge account saying: “ This is my life “. Through this campaign we were trying to make sure that people understood that there are millions of children out there affected by issues such as bullying or child labour. And they need to be heard.
Will you still use Tik Tok in the future?
Our campaign was a success, so I see no reason why UNICEF or the European Union shouldn’t be able to use the platform again for future campaigns or initiatives. There is nothing in the pipeline right now, but should such a concept arise and we believe Tik Tok is the best platform, we could definitively use it again.
Do you think that Tik Tok will continue to be used in the future or is it just a trend?
I think Tik Tok is going to stay. It has a very specific market and a very strong strategy for reaching audiences around the world. It is very unique and it’s functional. So, indeed, I think Tik Tok is here to stay. I think all players, including international organisations, will increasingly use Tik Tok. Will it be as popular as the other platforms? Only time will tell. But the potential is certainly there.