16 Mar The Rise of TikTok
The social media platform has grown in popularity exponentially, becoming the first non-Facebook app to reach 3 billion global downloads. Every minute, approximately 167 million TikTok videos are watched. Reports have predicted that the global average monthly active user base might surpass 1.5 billion in 2022 and, in the UK alone, 17 million users spend over 1 hour a day on the platform.
Evidently, TikTok is on a path of huge growth which seems unlikely to shrink anytime soon, as the app continues to gain new users. It is prepared for this growth, too, being available to download in 154 countries and 75 languages – indicating an expansive global reach.
The demographic of TikTok’s main user base is currently positioned towards Gen Z and Millennials, with 28% of users under 18 and 35% within the 19-29 age bracket. That being said, all age groups are active on TikTok, indicating that TikTok holds an appeal to a diverse array of users. As the app grows in popularity, its influence may also stretch further into older groups.
A key feature is the highly-personalised algorithmic feed that displays videos based on user’s likes and interests, known as the ‘For You’ page. This presents an endless stream of videos that users can scroll through, with options to engage with videos through liking, commenting or sharing. TikTok has recently revealed some insights into how this effective algorithm works, indicating that it analyses a range of factors such as time spent watching, and whether you share the video after.
Videos are short and often humorous, with users participating in viral trends and challenges. However, they also come in many other formats, including informational or ‘how-to’ type videos. The platform has many built-in filters and editing tools that encourage creativity as users contribute to trends, respond to other user videos, or create original content. Creation is easy, and anyone can post videos to the platform.
As the app grows, opportunities for monetisation and e-commerce increase. TikTok is making it easier to shop through the app, already establishing partnerships with Shopify and Square. Businesses can tag products, which either enable users to shop through TikTok or redirect them to their website.
Social commerce is gaining prominence in online shopping habits, with a predicted global market value of $2.6 trillion by 2026. TikTok is certainly keeping up with this trend by introducing more e-commerce features that support brands trying to sell products on the app. Brands can use traditional ad videos that are more explicit, or create original TikTok videos – the latter being encouraged by TikTok itself, with their slogan ‘Don’t Make Ads, Make TikToks’.
TikTok can also be particularly effective in encouraging purchases through trends and viral products, such as #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt. Users can show off popular products that they have bought, whilst influencing others to buy. At the time of writing, this hashtag had been viewed 9 billion times on the app.
Consumers are increasingly looking for short, snackable content that is easy to digest, something that TikTok delivers with overwhelming power. Whilst this means that it may be hard to achieve exposure initially among the expansive array of videos already on the platform, skilful use can result in great success for brands and advertising campaigns.
The platform offers a wealth of opportunity for huge organic reach, boosting consumer interaction and brand awareness at low cost. Videos can gain popularity quickly, and become viral as the algorithm includes them in increasing numbers of user feeds, as well as then being shared outside of the app on other social media platforms such as on Instagram and Facebook. Don’t forget Facebook; it’s still powerful from a numbers game, even if Instagram is more active and popular.
Marketers can engage consumers with their brand through current trends using quick, fun TikTok videos that employ a combination of the personal aspect of social media marketing with the traditional video focus of mass media marketing strategies and tactics. TikTok campaigns can be standalone or function as part of a wider brand campaign, as in the case of Hugo Boss. As part of a brand refresh in 2022, the #HowDoYouHugo hashtag was introduced. This is a dance challenge that was promoted by popular TikTok creators and published for users to try, and has already amassed 4.5 billion views.
Given that it seems unlikely that TikTok will lose popularity anytime soon, it should benefit some businesses to use the platform to interact with their consumers in new ways – particularly if their consumers belong to the Gen Z or Millennial demographic. As the app becomes more and more mainstream, all generations are likely to start using it to some degree, so it will be beneficial for most brands to take advantage of the platform. As the app offers an easy route for direct interaction with consumers, there are endless opportunities for brands to grow and develop.