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Research Insight | Becoming TikTok Famous: How Global Brands Engage Emerging-Market Consumers

Social media marketing can be a challenge for global brands expanding into emerging markets. With the rise of social media marketing on TikTok, how can managers increase likes, shares, and comments on their videos? The researchers study three global brands with high-involvement products—Samsung, Honda, and Toyota—as they target the Indonesian market. Videos that portray dancing were found to boost engagement, while animations, music, and sounds do not play significant roles. Global brands like Samsung, Honda, and Toyota also need to be careful when embedding language in their TikTok videos: While using English or a mix of English and local languages can generally amplify social media engagement, the researchers found that using English or mixed languages can lower engagement for posts that show dancing or product reviews. Therefore, global high-involvement brands need to be careful when embedding language in their TikTok videos for emerging markets and carefully consider the content of the video.

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What You Need to Know

  • Global brands selling high-involvement products like smartphones and cars in emerging markets can share customers’ product reviews on TikTok to increase likes, shares, and comments.
  • In this context, videos that show dancing are good for engagement, while animation, music, and sound do not have a noticeable impact.
  • Using English or a mix of English with local languages usually increases engagement with TikTok videos, but decreases engagement for videos that show product reviews or dancing.


This study examines the effects of content characteristics (i.e., informational and emotional characteristics), language, and nonverbal information on social media engagement (SME; i.e., likes, shares, and comments) in the context of global brands operating in an emerging market and implementing TikTok as a tool for social media marketing. The data set comprised 680 posts, 1,527,340 likes, 58,529 shares, and 18,743 comments collected from global smartphone brands’ TikTok accounts specifically targeting Indonesian consumers. The findings confirm that informational content mainly generates higher SME than emotional content. English and code-switched languages generally improve SME, whereas nonverbal information mostly has no significant effects. Furthermore, English and code-switched languages mainly have negative moderating effects on the relationship between content characteristics (both informational and emotional characteristics) and SME. Theoretically, this study provides a preliminary understanding of effective SME enhancement strategies for global brands targeting consumers on TikTok in emerging markets. Practically, the results of this research can provide guidelines for global brands engaging with consumers in emerging markets. These insights can also assist global brands in creating TikTok-famous content.

Risqo Wahid, Heikki Karjaluoto, Kimmo Taiminen, and Diah Isnaini Asiati (2023), “Becoming TikTok Famous: Strategies for Global Brands to Engage Consumers in an Emerging Market,” Journal of International Marketing, 31 (1), 106–23. doi:10.1177/1069031X221129554