By now, you’ve probably heard of it. Maybe you’ve even seen it in action or have your own account for endless scrolling. Not to be confused with the 2009 pop hit by Kesha, TikTok was the social media app of 2020 and continues to gain traction, with 1 billion active monthly users from around the world (as of June 2021). The short-form-video sharing platform, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, took off in popularity during the pandemic as people sat at home looking for new forms of entertainment to keep them occupied. It even made headlines when former President Trump tried to ban the platform from the U.S., citing “national security concerns.”
What Is TikTok Exactly?
Isn’t it just an app where teenagers make silly videos?
Yes and no.
TikTok has gone through a full transformation since transitioning from its former identity as Musical.ly—which was known for its lip sync videos—into the fastest-growing social media app in the world. Yes, there are still plenty of people lip syncing and dancing on the app, but there is so much more now. Videos, which can be up to three minutes long, range in genres from fashion and skin care to comedy and education. The algorithm shows you an endless stream of videos that it thinks you will enjoy (psst, it’s usually right) on the infamous “For You Page” or FYP for short.
Since TikTok has grown in popularity, other apps, like Instagram and Snapchat, have tried to mimic its short-video format and features. With the average attention span of a millennial at 12 seconds and the average attention span of a Gen Zer even lower, at eight seconds, it’s no surprise more apps are moving toward short-form video. Marketing teams, in turn, will need to begin experimenting with their messaging to determine how to fit this format into their strategies.
How Can Businesses Utilize TikTok?
Many brands, big and small, who have adopted TikTok into their marketing strategy have seen great success, whether it be through organic content or paid promotions. TikTok has the power to sell out products with a few viral videos (just ask CeraVe and several others). Some brands are even taking the extra step and creating their own audio to go along with their campaigns on the app (hey, e.l.f.).
So, how does one get started?
1. Find Your Audience
You may be thinking, “I understand that it’s popular, but my audience is not Gen Z.” While Gen Z is very active on the platform, a majority of users are not in their teens and early 20s. In the U.S., TikTok is almost as popular among millennials and Gen X as it is with Gen Z.