If you have a teenager in your life, you’ve probably heard of the trending platform TikTok. TikTok is a video-based social media platform full of 15 to 30-second videos that are usually comedic. The app is currently filled with teenagers, young adults, and business owners who want a piece of the [trend] pie.
As a business owner, it’s always important to stay on top of up-and-coming platforms that could be used to market your business down the line. In this article, we will analyze in-depth what TikTok is and how it might impact your business now or in the future.
What Makes TikTok Unique?
TikTok is a video-sharing platform that focuses on short-videos, and it’s origin can be a little confusing, so here’s the full story.
ByteDance, a Chinese tech company, launched a short video platform app called Douyin for the Chinese market in 2016, but a year later expanded to select international markets under the name TikTok. While TikTok gained global attention, another short video app named Musical.ly was rising to fame in the U.S., but its format consisted of 15-second lip-syncing music videos. Musical.ly was created in 2014 by Alex Zhu and Louis Yang and was originally supposed to be a short-form educational platform, but the developers believed it would be a failure. In 2015, Musical.ly hit the number one spot on the app store in the U.S. and created a new generation of Gen Z influencers. When Vine closed in 2017, Musical.ly grew even larger due to new users coming from Vines’ shut down.
ByteDance bought out Musical.ly in a deal valued at $1 billion in 2017 and continued TikTok and Musical.ly as two separate apps. However, shortly after, ByteDance announced the shutdown of Musical.ly and merged with TikTok in 2018. All Musical.ly accounts were automatically transferred to TikTok. Ever since the merge happened, TikTok has been sweeping the U.S. The app is often compared to Vine but incorporates more social elements and the use of hashtags like on Instagram or Twitter. It lets you easily attach filters, stickers, lenses, and songs to your videos directly from the app or iTunes, while giving users the option to “duet” with one another or react. This collaborative format increases the chances for smaller users to become popular on the app.
Here are some examples of what you will find on the platform.
The up-and-coming app is interesting to business owners because it’s still uncharted territory for marketing opportunities. TikTok has only recently started to explore paid advertising and offers a wide variety of influencers to collaborate with, which can be beneficial when growing a brand. Analytical data shows that the platform today successfully brings in over 500 million monthly users, making it the fourth most popular platform of 2019, sitting right under Instagram.
Who’s on TikTok?
TikTok’s demographic mainly consists of young teens between the ages of 10 to 19 making up 40% of users, while 26% are made up of 20 to 29-year-olds. A bulk of the app’s users are male (55.6% vs. 44.4%). TikTok has consistently gained the attention of a young audience, but now it’s starting to attract other users worldwide due to its volume and short, engaging 15 to 60 second videos.
If your target audience isn’t currently on the app, it’s important to keep an eye on the big picture. The app is only on its starting stages and eventually will start reaching older audiences similar to Facebook and Instagram. If you can get your brand on the app now, you will have a better chance at a big reach as other generations catch up with the trend.
How to Market Your Brand with TikTok
So, now that you are all caught up with TikTok, you may be wondering how you get your brand established on the app. First, you need to know that just like any other social media platform, there is a clear difference between organic vs. paid content. As mentioned, TikTok has recently started testing paid advertising, and influencers are just now rising, so there is a ton of potential for your brand to make a name for itself on the platform if you can grasp the nettle.
To get started, let’s go over the different types of content that you can create on the app.
Getting Started With Organic Content
One of the best ways to begin growing your brand on the platform is to start by creating videos for yourself. Although TikTok is full of lip-syncing, memes, and funny videos, you don’t necessarily need to stick to the script in order to become a successful TikToker. If you are talented and passionate about your business and brand, you can simply start making content that revolves around your industry knowledge or shows the light-hearted side of your business.
Always keep your values and brand personality in mind when making TikTok videos, and you will eventually gain followers that are relevant to your brand. For example, a real estate agent that has access to multiple homes can create videos of house tours showing different homes and features that are aesthetically pleasing to viewers. Or, he or she can find a way to create funny or relatable content that will grab their audience’s attention. The app will welcome either type of video as long as it is genuine. And, through the app, there are opportunities to incorporate trending songs or hashtags in to your videos.
Once your video is recorded, the description and hashtags used are just as important as the video. Descriptions are very effective and can help your audience notice your brand’s personality, and hashtags are essential when it comes to viral content. Your content could be shared throughout the app and potentially land on one of the many TikTok pages available.
Also, keep in mind that content posted on other social media channels can be repurposed for TikTok and vice-versa. You don’t need to create original videos if you don’t have time and have already created videos for your other platforms, you just need to push quality content out to your audience.
If you don’t have time to create original content but still want to get your brand on TikTok, you can make hashtag challenges a part of your campaign. Hashtag challenges allow you to challenge your followers to post their own videos with your hashtags for others to see. To influence your followers to post, you can try turning your campaign into a contest that offers prizes or features on your channels.
Getting Ahead with Paid Content
Although TikTok is currently experimenting with paid advertising, the app only allows a few larger brands to take advantage of this feature for now. However, you should still keep a close eye on how paid advertising works on the platform so you have an idea of what’s in store for your business in the future. Understanding how paid ads work now on the platform can give your brand a competitive advantage when it launches for everyone. Digiday published an article with about a leak with some features that brands will be able to leverage in the future.
Why Start Now?
As previously mentioned, TikTok has a TON of potential as a business tool since it is still so new and not as saturated as other social media platforms. TikTok also enables your business to explore different branding aspects, such as what makes your brand fun and interesting, and the app provides a welcoming platform for this kind of content.