Have you been thinking about whether or not to get on TikTok? Here are some facts to help you decide.
What is TikTok?
TikTok was founded in 2012. It’s owned by ByteDance, a Chinese technology company headquartered in Beijing. In China, TikTok is known as Douyin. In truth, ByteDance wasn’t the first to come up with the TikTok concept. There was already an app very popular with teenagers in the United States. It was called Musical.ly. ByteDance purchased Musical.ly in 2017 and merged it with TikTok’s features, boosting its popularity.
TikTok became one of the most popular platforms in both China and America. But it doesn’t stop there. Its popularity has spread worldwide, including to Turkey, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, and Egypt.
TikTok Downloads are Off the Charts
TikTok has become one of the fastest-growing social media apps in the U.S. In 2020, there were approximately 65.9 million users, a figure that increased to 73.7 million in 2021. Data suggests that there will be 79.6 million users in 2022.
TikTok’s user base is extremely diverse. You’ll find teachers, parents, dentists, photographers, musicians, health professionals, and… yes, brands. So is it time for you to join the crowd and get on TikTok?
How Does it Work?
TikTok seems to be sort of a counter-culture response to Instagram. Users even parody Instagram posts, creating content opposite Instagram’s artistic, high-profile, perfect shots.
The platform is meant for fun, short-form viral content. You shoot and share video clips up to 60 seconds in length. It can be a continuous feed, or you can piece together video clips. Alternatively, you can upload videos that you already have on your mobile phone.
A popular way of posting on TikTok is to capture existing content such as memes, songs, humorous clips and reinterpret them. For example, hundreds of users could lip-sync a single song, each one giving its own twist on the familiar song.
TikTok makes it possible for anyone to be creative and funny. You can easily create a video clip that goes viral with virtually no investment or effort.
Forget about formality, etiquette, and high-production equipment.
Even Facebook Saw a Future in the Format
Facebook tried to clone TikTok back in 2018, but their app, called Lasso, failed. Undeterred, Facebook instead copied some of the features that seem to be making TikTok so popular and inserted them into the platforms it already owns. Upping the game, Facebook introduced Reels to Instagram users in Brazil last November. The platform has a video-music remix feature. Users can make video clips up to 15 seconds in length using songs from the app’s database.
TikTok Hit the Big Screen at the Super Bowl
TikTok hit the Superbowl big screen this year, running an ad touting itself as “real athletes, real fans, and real videos.” But it wasn’t only fun and games for TikTok, although there was plenty of that. The platform teamed up with a few big-name brands like Hyundai, Mountain Dew, and Chipotle. Long known as an arbiter of success (or at least costly ads), TikTok’s presence in the Superbowl may very well be a reliable sign of having made it into the big leagues.
Should You Get on TikTok?
You might scoff right now, believing that TikTok is a platform for kids and immature young adults, but let’s remember, Facebook didn’t have such a mature reputation in the beginning. In fact, Facebook’s creator was looking for a way to improve the dating scene on campus. The platform exceeded even his dreams. Instagram also started as a platform for the young and was not considered worth the time for serious marketers.
Things to Think About
All of this doesn’t necessarily mean that TikTok is here to stay or that it will evolve into something more mature. Unfortunately, there have been plenty of social media app failures. But the evolving ecosystem points to many reasons why you should get on TikTok.
It’s about being ahead of the curve.
TikTok strives to be the cutting edge. It’s not out to jump on board the cutting edge; it wants to carve that edge. And this is the reason it has such appeal among the young. Teens and young adults want to carve out an identity for themselves, do something new, different, quirky, and fun. The platform makes it easy for anyone to be a creator and share that passion and creativity around the world in a snap from their mobile phone.
The question is, how many people will migrate to TikTok? Of course, an enormous population of social media users and brands are comfortable on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. But do we really want to uproot all our stuff and move to a new space? Or, add yet another platform to our already busy social media marketing calendar?
This Could Be the Perfect Time to Get on TikTok
On the other hand, the tremendous growth curve, with no sign of slowing down, makes TikTok hard to ignore.
“TikTok is the new Facebook, and it is shaping tech in its image. It may seem easy to dismiss as a quirky, short-form video-sharing app, but TikTok is an augury of the tech future to come.”
Consider these facts:
TikTok is larger than LinkedIn and Twitter, and 40% of its users are between 16 and 24. If this is your target audience, you probably should be on TikTok. And right now, the number of brands marketing on the platform is low. This means you get in early. When TikTok becomes mainstream, you will have already established yourself there.
TikTok is Authentic and Engaging
Users love TikTok because it is real. Unlike the highly edited photos and videos you see on Instagram, TikTok content is raw and authentic. If a TikTok user posts video of him or herself in Rome, let’s say, what you see is what there is. You won’t be disappointed if you decide to go to the same place. The videos are funny and engaging, which is a huge issue…it’s what we want, right? Engagement.
TikTok users love the authenticity of the platform. Posts, even from Baby Boomers, become viral if they are perceived as genuine. However, with some of the negative aspects of influencer marketing turning off millennials and generation Y and Z consumers, the possibility of producing authentic, engaging content cannot be ignored.
TikTok is Already Building Brand Awareness
According to analysts, more than one billion videos are watched every day on TikTok. So probably, it will not grow to surpass Facebook or Instagram. And, despite everything, it could even fail. But the indicators don’t point to this. So, in the meantime, it just might be worth your investment to get on TikTok.
Consider the story of 30-year old Alexander Stemplewski, who worked as an insurance actuary until his TikTok account reached more than 3 million followers. Now he’s earning money on TikTok from brand partnerships and paid song integrations. And he is using the app to recruit clients for an online photography coaching business he founded. It all started with “street photography,” brilliantly capitalizing on TikTok’s authentic character.
It’s Worth Exploring
If your audience is 30 and younger, you should definitely at least explore TikTok. But even if your consumer audience is older, don’t dismiss TikTok. As mentioned, the platform is evolving, and many Baby Boomers are starting to join. In addition, brands are starting to show up, such as Walmart, Will Smith, Guess, HP, Sephora, Chipotle, and others.
Now is a good time to get on TikTok. According to Sprout Social, 89% of marketers plan to increase their Facebook social media marketing presence in 2020, but only 4% add TikTok to the calendar. So this could be a huge opportunity!
If You Get on TikTok, What Should You Post?
TikTok is a great platform for UGC (user-generated content). You’re probably already using this tool on Facebook and Instagram. UGC will not take too much from your social media marketing budget, plus it’s authentic and more likely to get the engagement you are looking for.
Consider for instance the #ChipotleLidFlip challenge. Participants videoed themselves flipping the lid onto their bowl without using their hands. The purpose was to promote the Cinco de Mayo free delivery deal.
Clothing brand Guess was quick to jump on board and use TikTok for influencer marketing. They launched the #InMyDenim challenge, soliciting the most popular TikTok accounts to video themselves wearing new denim outfits. Users’ followers got in on the challenge, too, and started recording their own denim outfits. It was a great way to expand brand recognition and market reach in a fun and completely authentic way.
TikTok Increases Its Focus on SMBs
In a new development, TikTok announced its partnership with Vimeo to integrate ad features for small and medium-sized businesses. If the partnership succeeds, the platform could become a stiff competitor to other digital advertiser platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat.
So, should you get on TikTok?
All indicators point to a resounding “yes.”
Keep your content short, fun, creative, engaging, and most of all true. It’s a great opportunity to build your brand image or establish yourself as a reliable expert in your field.
Dip your toes in. Experiment. Be flexible. Have fun.
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