It’s 2020 and odds are, even if you haven’t used TikTok before, you’ve at least heard of it, or possibly even seen a few TikTok videos for yourself (one of my personal favorites is the always classic Kombucha Girl). The short-form video app has not only become a social media sensation but also a cultural force that has changed the way we both use and consume media.
By The Numbers
This past year, TikTok was the world’s fastest-growing social media app with 1.5 billion downloads globally. According to App Annie Inc., a mobile data and analytics firm, TikTok had approximately 26 million monthly active users in the U.S. as of December 2019 – an 85% increase from the previous year. In addition, the majority of its user base is young social media users, with 60 percent of the app’s monthly active users being 16-to 24-year-olds.
Though it may be known to many as the “lip-syncing app” given it’s Musical.ly roots, TikTok has grown to be much more. Users can now find comedic sketches, informational videos, memes and an array of “challenge” videos. Users are also encouraged to engage with other users through “duets,” where users can duplicate and recreate videos. And hashtags play a huge role as an organizational tool for trending challenges, jokes or other popular video formats.
A New Way of Doing Social
Users navigate through videos by scrolling up and down, like in a feed, not by tapping or swiping side to side. The user experience on TikTok relies largely on an algorithm that caters content for the user in a “For You” section, contrasting other social media apps, which are largely self-directed. It’s an algorithmic feed that curates an endless scroll of content based on videos users have interacted with, or even just watched. Samsung has even made a TV for the TikTok generation, which can switch from landscape mode to portrait orientation to accommodate vertical video.
The good news for marketers is that TikTok presents a unique opportunity. Market research company eMarketer has stated that only four percent of American marketers are on the platform. And Digiday recently reported on how TikTok is in an experimental phase, as they consider a variety of ad models to implement moving forward to create value and opportunities for advertisers. Currently, marketers can take advantage of certain advertising opportunities, including in-feed ads, branded hashtag challenges and influencer engagement. The platform is expected to roll out a self-serve ad platform sometime in 2020.
Social Good Advertising + TikTok = Perfect Match
TikTok is diving in to social good communications as well. The platform has established TikTok for Good – a program aimed at inspiring and encouraging its young users to create a positive impact on the world around them. Organizations like the ASPCA, the International Federation of Red Cross, Red Crescent Societies and the World Wildlife Fund have collaborated with TikTok to create campaigns aimed at addressing issues like animal welfare and climate change awareness, among others. Some TikTok stars are also taking it upon themselves to use the platform to create a better world for others, like 15-year-old Charli D’Amelio, who helped raised thousands of dollars for a charity that supports people with special needs.
The cultural impact that TikTok has created is undeniable, and only time will tell how both organizations and individuals will tap into TikTok’s immense power.