At the end of 2021, TikTok announced it was launching a service that would turn its viral food videos into meals you could order and enjoy within minutes. The service, labeled “TikTok Kitchen,” was to partner with Virtual Dining Concepts and Grubhub to create delivery-only restaurants across the U.S. TikTok was poised to create an almost instantaneous connection between a virtual experience and a real-world one.
The problem? The man behind the idea, former TikTok Global Head of Marketing, Nick Tran, reportedly did not yet have buy-in from senior leadership. This was the last straw for Tran, who was supposedly already walking on thin ice with the company.
While Tran was ultimately let go by TikTok, his ideas were largely flywheel businesses that could conceivably drive revenue on their own merits, while also deepening a company’s connection to its user base. He uncovered a world of possibilities for social media marketers to further connect the virtual and real worlds in a way that brings momentum from various channels over time.
Here are a few takeaways that marketers can apply as the digital and real worlds converge.
Synergise available services
There are different combinations of goods and services that could have such immediate satisfaction from thought to experience. Delivery-only ghost kitchens are in a good position because of the availability of restaurants, the number of restaurants that already advertise as ghost kitchens for SEO purposes, and foodservice and delivery applications with delivery drivers.
Most consumer services and experiences require layers of intermediaries. But if we look at the existing abundant services and interests, we could find other companies that would benefit from these synergistic services.
Take car services and day trips, for example. Instead of only booking an Uber, one could book an experience at the zoo that would include entry tickets and a round trip car ride. Same with a day trip to an amusement park, a museum, or the movie theater. Companies that can best synergise available services for their customers through strategic partnerships will be taking an impactful step forward into the future of collaboration.
Learn from big tech
Bigger companies have historically synergised their services with greater success than smaller companies. For one, there is more capital available to diversify revenue, where it could take two years to go to market and even longer to become a revenue driver. Larger companies also have an established user base that can be targeted for new products and services.
For example, consider Amazon. Why would an online marketplace have an interest in technologies such as e-readers and home devices? It’s because it makes it quicker and easier to order more products. Amazon is building an adjacent revenue stream that complements and strengthens its core business.
And why would an online marketplace provide DevOps tools and services for managing websites? It’s because they have to invest time and energy in managing their own websites. So at a certain point, making the tools they already have available creates a new revenue stream and the opportunity to make it better through other use cases.
One more example: why would Amazon get into streaming content? Yes, you got it – It is an extension of the core business and provides a service instead of just products. The pricing creates a flywheel and invites users into the Amazon marketplace because a Prime membership includes the streaming content and free shipping.
While most will never have the extensive capital or influence like Amazon, there are still lessons to be learned. Creating new revenue streams through flywheel channels to enhance one’s core offering is something all businesses can and should be looking into.
Bridge the gap between digital and real-world experiences
Consider a user watching a video about banana bread. If they are inspired by the content, they could find a banana bread recipe, shop for ingredients, make the bread, and then eat it and enjoy the fruits of their labor. A service such as “TikTok Kitchen,” though, would take things a step beyond by enabling users to see the content and satisfy the impulse for banana bread immediately.
Right now, social media is still a few degrees removed from the real world. Digital content, ideas, and advertising link to more virtual content, but they are making a step closer to connecting with the real world to create a more immersive experience.
Where there is existing and sufficient infrastructure, expect to see more companies lessening the gap between digital and real-world experiences by synergising their services as these worlds converge. And don’t be surprised if those who manage to do so come out on top for years to come.