What Is TikTok And How Can Brands Use It?

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve probably heard of TikTok. You need to check out the app. And, while you’re there, claim your user name because TikTok isn’t going away anytime soon! While there, you’ll probably want to learn about and create a TikTok marketing strategy for your brand. So, while TikTok is downloading, please read on.

What Is TikTok?

TikTok has rapidly become one of the most popular social networking apps in existence. The original iteration was created in 2012 and comes out of Beijing by way of an app company called ByteDance. In 2017, ByteDance was bought by Music.ly, which then merged into TikTok in August of 2018. 

Users create short-form videos and upload them to the app. Similar to other social networks there are hashtags, music, challenges, and other interactions. 

Like all other social networks, there are ways for users to comment on and “like,” these uploaded videos. Videos run between 15-60 seconds if recorded within the app. For videos recorded outside of the app’s interface, videos can be a bit longer. 

The TikTok app is available in over 150 countries and is gaining in popularity. Right now, in 2020, there are over 1 billion TikTok users across the globe. In the US alone, there are approximately 60 million active TikTok users, the most massive demographic falling in the 16-24-year-old age group. 

Why Is It Popular?

It’s all about visual, and TikTok is just that. In the same vein as ill-fated Vine, TikTok calls themselves the destination for short-form mobile videos. It plays on and embraces meme culture, and holds a strong appeal across its broad spectrum of users. Viral dance routines, makeup challenges, comedic sketches, and more allow users to watch or participate with access to a variety of filters, time effects, split screens, and so much more. 

Tik Tok, like so many other social platforms, prey on the users “FOMO” or fear of missing out. However, Tik Tok got so big that it caused a ripple effect throughout social and non-social media users, prompting them to download and use the app.

Tik Toks educable algorithm dictates the “For You” feed, allowing the users to pretty much tell Tik Tok what they want to see. And shockingly, Tik Tok obliges by showing you videos you may enjoy. 

TL;DR: Tik Tok is popular because it operates how social platforms should–using an algorithm that bases the user’s feed on content the user engages with. Viral trends tend to move quickly, so don’t blink!

What’s The Deal With The For You Page?

TikTok’s “For You” page is a personalization recommendation feed curated by the app for you, the user. The more interaction with videos, the more personalized the feed becomes. The algorithm is TikTok’s guarded secret, and no one outside of the company truly knows how it works. It’s the goal of many TikTok influencers to get onto that enviable For You page, and hashtags such as #fyp, #foryou, and #foryoupage are used in hopes of landing there. 

How Are Brands Using TikTok

Many big brands are incorporating Tik Tok into their digital marketing strategy. Companies like Nike, Chipotle, NBA, and The Washington Post (who is doing a fantastic job) are early adopters reaching new audiences and doing exceptionally well on the platform. 

Any brand, no matter the size, should be paying close attention to TikTok. With the majority of the audience in the GenZ demographic, TikTok is the perfect place to humanize your brand and introduce it to a previously unattainable audience that could give it massive amounts of traction. 

How To Develop A TikTok Marketing Strategy

There are a few different ways to optimize Tik Tok into your marketing strategy. The commercial platform at the time of this article was still in beta mode, allowing only certain brands to gain access. But, that’s good news for the rest of us because it gives us a few minutes to see what brands are doing, and to use those lessons in their TikTok marketing strategy. 

Tik Tok advertising options for brands include:

  • Brand Takeover: A 3-5 second full-screen ad displayed when a user opens TikTok. One brand per day is allowed.
  • Hashtag Challenge: A brand-sponsored video and hashtag that challenges users to record and use the hashtag.
  • In-feed native video: A 15 second branded music-related video that pops up when the user explores the content.
  • Influencer outreach: Partnering with a TikTok influencer who creates content paid for by your brand. Similar to any other branded partnership. 
  • Branded lens/effects (similar to a branded Snapchat filter): Brands can use AR, 2D, or 3D filters allowing the user to experience your product before purchase. 

TikTok is supposed to be fun; brands who take themselves too seriously most likely won’t find success. Because the demographics are so concentrated in the GenZ and younger millennials, content needs to be geared toward them. That will change as more GenX and Boomers begin to find their place within the TikTok community. 

At the moment, TikTok is still relatively uncluttered by brands but it’s not the perfect place for all. But, that will quickly change, and it’s a good idea to be ready to strike. 

Whether you need help with a marketing strategy, execution, or both, give Adapt Studios a shout!

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