Unless you are a part of Generation Z or an early social media adopter, chances are you haven’t caught on to the TikTok trend…yet. You might have seen short videos on other social platforms, like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat and noticed the TikTok logo in the top left-hand corner. But what is this application, and why is it gaining popularity at record-breaking rates?
Despite seeing a 416% increase in total downloads within one year, TikTok has a tight demographic compared to other social platforms and isn’t well known to people outside of that narrow age range. However, this is no excuse to overlook the application and its influence. Brands should consider joining TikTok as a tool for brand awareness and audience engagement because this app captivates millions of users in a way other top social platform have not and offers an enormous opportunity to reach diverse audiences.
What is TikTok and how big is the App?
TikTok is a short video sharing application allowing users to scroll through a generated feed of looping videos. The application allows users to create video content, capturing moments up to 60 seconds in length, which can be edited with effects and overlapping popular phrases or songs. Most videos are lighthearted and fun while including popular trends and current events.
TikTok was created by a Chinese tech company, ByteDance, who first launched a version of TikTok in China, called Douyin, in 2016. After buying Musical.ly in 2017, they launched an international version of Douyin, which is the TikTok app used by millions today.
In 2018, TikTok skyrocketed on charts nationally and made international milestones. In the United States, TikTok Rose from #7 overall in June 2018 to #2 by November 2018, based on eMarkerter analyzes from a combination of popular app stores. TikTok has also ranked at #3 in the world on app downloading platforms, including Apple App Store and Google Play. By the end of 2018, TikTok hit one billion downloads worldwide and is now available in 154 countries and 75 different languages.
Why are users drawn to TikTok?
As soon as you open TikTok, there is a feed entitled “For You” previewed on your page with a vast amount of content chosen based off of your past likes and views. The biggest difference between TikTok and other platforms, like Instagram or Twitter, is the application’s use of artificial intelligence to customize your feed.
Traditionally on other platforms, you have control over your feed based on who you follow. While platforms may make follower recommendations, feeds are ultimately under control and construction of the user. TikTok’s use of artificial intelligence to recognize your interests and configure them into a feed specifically for you is the main distinguisher of TikTok user strategy, which has seen success in driving user engagement on the application.
How are Brands and Influencers using TikTok?
Some innovative brands are already using TikTok to promote brand awareness and find creative ways to interact with audiences:
GUESS was the first brand to launch a challenge on TikTok. By using the hashtag #InMyDenim, users could create videos wearing their GUESS denim attire with the song “I’m a Mess” by Bebe Rexha to participate in the trend. The challenge was launched by GUESS and TikTok shortly after the application launched. They recruited TikTok influencers to kick start the challenge, including @ourfire (2.3M fans), @madison_willow (+983K fans). As of today there are 38.7M views on the #InMyDemin challenge.
<iframe width=”340″ height=”700″ src=”https://www.tiktok.com/embed/6596452228129623302″ frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe>
While the NBA’s Instagram and Twitter highlight clips from games and display statistics, their TikTok profile follows the comedic and personalized feel of the app. They use the hashtag #UltimateFanCam allowing players to talk directly to fans as well as showcase funny clips, including Joel Embiid hitting a slam dunk with High School Musical’s song “We’re Breaking Free” playing in the background.
<iframe width=”340″ height=”700″ src=”https://www.tiktok.com/embed/6741782750551936262″ frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe>
These short, feel-good videos allow users of the app to form a personal connection with players in the NBA. Allowing their audience to identify with players and the brand strengthens consumer brand loyalty and gauges new audiences. Regardless of their brand goals, the NBA has secured a large audience on TikTok, accumulating over 5.5 million fans and over 77.4 million likes.
The Washington Post
The Washington Post is an elite news outlet with a storied and iconic brand. However, on TikTok these journalists showcase a comedic, behind-the-scenes look at the office space and employees. For example, they created a short spin-off of the democratic debates by creating the bachelorette brainstorm session.
<iframe width=”340″ height=”700″ src=”https://www.tiktok.com/embed/6720235328415747333″ frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe>
Although the newspaper is well-known as prestigious and well established in the media, they recognize the crowd and atmosphere of the new social landscape and tailored their content to fit the user preferences of the application. Like the NBA, this allows them to reach and engage new and younger audiences.
Emma McClain is an intern at Flackable, a national, full-service public relations agency headquartered in Philadelphia. To learn more about Flackable, please visit www.flackable.com.