By Brett Armstrong, General Manager, Global Business Solutions, TikTok Australia

It’s fair to say that as a nation, Australia is near the top of the charts when it comes to our levels of competitiveness. Scratch that, we’re so competitive we wouldn’t settle for less than first place.

Whether it’s a game of backyard cricket at work or a viral dance challenge, it’s a very Aussie trait to want to take part and do the best we can. 

It’s also unsurprising that in recent times, while the global news headlines have been bleak, and fun as we knew it has been in shorter supply, people have been seeking out more good news, more joyous forms of connection - more positivity. 

I think it’s this combination of fun and competition that have drawn so many Aussies, and people from around the world, to download TikTok in the past few months. The growth has been enormous locally and globally, and I think it’s helped create a new movement, a search for Competitive Positivity.

For those not in the know, TikTok is a short-form mobile video platform packed with millions of short clips from people across the world channelling their creativity - and indulging their competitive streaks with hashtag challenges. 

It’s a format which lends itself to some really upbeat and engaging moments, for both users and brands. Hashtag challenges are a common theme, and you’ve probably seen a few of the quirky dance videos permeating the internet. 

Even Last Week Tonight host John Oliver has been in on the act, recreating a handwashing dance challenge – started by the Vietnamese government – on his HBO show.

This mood is definitely carrying over into Australian consciousness as well. You just have to look at movements like #heapsgood, which we launched here to encourage acts of human kindness. This homegrown pay-it-forward movement saw everything from coffees being bought for essential workers to Easter egg drops for entire apartment buildings, and got support from news presenters to international sports stars. The thousands of videos on this hashtag have had more than 650 million views.

Brands have also been harnessing the idea of Competitive Positivity. Optus’ #newinterns campaign - encouraging people to share videos of their new WFH coworkers, be they pets, partners, kids or housemates - amassed more than 20 million views.  As COVID-19 spread across the world, a lot of brands pivoted their messaging to embrace a more sombre mood. But as we start to emerge from lockdown the tone needs to change again - it’s time to embrace Competitive Positivity to connect with new communities.

There’s an opportunity to make your messages and brands more memorable by creating campaigns people can take ownership of, participate, and try and one-up their mates with.

Aussie-based global charity movement Movember is a great example of a brand which has evolved its thinking, from using TikTok to driving traffic from new audiences to things like its May Eight virtual festival, to launching a new campaign encouraging men to check in on a mate - Movember Conversations.

As Marketing Director Jason Olive explained to me: “When we first started engaging with TikTok, we used more of a content distribution approach, so it was more a platform for us to deliver a particular message. Where we’re starting to pivot and see the real and potential impact, is building more advocacy in the platform. By putting a message out to the audience and allowing them to develop and evolve that message, rather than just us speaking at them.”  

As Movember’s ANZ Country Director Rachel Carr says, 2020 has been a “pretty dark year” so far, and the opportunity for brands now is putting messages out to people which give them more hope. She adds: “What we really hope for is that by the time we get to November, we’ll be able to bring some light into people’s worlds, have an opportunity to connect and have that sense of belonging and purpose once again.”

People are looking for the positive, for fun, excitement, perhaps a little escapism, and of course a sense of community and connection they have been missing in these last few months.

The news might not get a lot more cheery for a while yet, so it’s up to everyone, including brands, to come together and create these places where movements can flourish, and positive actions can be rewarded.