TikTok has become the fastest growing social media platform ever. The app had 1.2 billion monthly active users by the end of 2021 and this figure is expected to reach 1.8 billion by the end of 2022. There are currently around 8.9 million active users in the UK.
TikTok’s rate of growth over the last three years took Facebook four years, and Instagram six years. So just how did TikTok grow so fast? Who uses it and what for? And what are the implications for digital marketing?
The growth of TikTok
TikTok describes itself as the “destination for short-form mobile videos.” A brief history of the app is that it is a coming together of two separate apps: Douyin in China and Musical.ly in the US. In 2017, Douwin’s parent company Bytedance purchased Musical.ly. Douwin was rebranded as TikTok for the global market, though Douyin is still kept as a separate app in China, and has over 300 million monthly active users.
TikTok’s popularity rapidly increased during the Covid-19 pandemic, with many existing and new users having more time to explore the platform and more need to connect and communicate online than ever before.
Who uses TikTok – and what for?
TikTok very much appeals to younger people. The majority of TikTok users are aged under 30, with the largest age bracket – 35% – aged between 20 and 29 years old.
However, there are a growing number of adults aged between 30 and 49 who also have a TikTok account, and there is evidence that the app is retaining its users as they age.
The two most used hashtags on TikTok are #entertainment and #dance. And many TikTok videos do indeed contain music, dancing and lip-synching; and the app also features its fair share of pranks.
But there is also a more serious side to TikTok. TikTok creators use the platform to discuss a wide variety of topics including life hacks, home improvement, healthcare, and hobbies. In 2020, TikTok launched its own education campaign #LearnonTikTok, commissioning hundreds of experts and institutions to produce educational content for the platform.
And TikTok is different from other video platforms – for example, Instagram – in that it showcases creativity and collaboration amongst its users, irrespective of their age. Many TikTok users have generated a large following by posting their own creative content.
Some of these have then become widely known, one example being Sam Ryder, this year’s UK Eurovision success. Ryder began posting content on TikTok during the pandemic, and soon became an online sensation generating millions of likes and followers. This brought him to the attention of Parlophone through whom he released his debut EP, The Sun’s Gonna Rise, in 2021. Since then he has represented the UK at Eurovision, and performed at this year’s Party at the Palace and the British Grand Prix.
Many celebrity users also use TikTok, particularly as a way to remain connected to fans during the COVID pandemic. The app has also been the catalyst for several collab houses: residential properties where groups of young social media influencers live and create content for social media platforms.
How can TikTok be used for digital marketing?
TikTok has rapidly become an effective way to engage with younger audiences, particularly because it is also available in 154 countries.
There are five things that you could consider using TikTok for as part of your digital marketing strategy.
Create a brand TikTok page
It is easy to set up a TikTok page and you can then experiment with content. TikTok users are looking for authentic content, and you don’t need to spend much at all on production. The key thing is to post content that will appeal to and engage your audience.
The TikTok algorithm can enable you to attract views even if your page doesn’t have many followers. So every single piece of content can make a huge difference.
Use hashtags effectively
When planning your content, check out the trending hashtags to help you create something relevant. You could also consider a hashtag challenge, encouraging users to create videos for your campaign. Cosmetics company E.l.f used TikTok to run the #eyeslipsface campaign, which generated over 4 billion views and 5 million video contributions.
Use TikTok influencers
TikTok influencers have large numbers of engaged followers, so it makes sense to try and forge a collaboration. TikTok has its own Creator Marketplace, which aims to link brands with influencers.
Your influencer could not only gain you a large following, but their TikTok knowledge and skills can also help you learn more about how to use the platform effectively.
Advertise on TikTok
TikTok is an excellent advertising channel which can host banner ads and in-feed ads, and if you are running a hashtag challenge, you can also pay for it to be sponsored.
TikTok advertising also enables you to target your ads to a particular demographic, location or to people who have previously viewed similar content to yours.
Set up TikTok Shop
TikTok Shop is a new shopping feature on TikTok in conjunction with leading ecommerce platform Shopify. It enables brands to showcase and sell products directly on TikTok through in-feed videos, live streams and by setting up a product showcase tab.
So if you have products to sell, it is worth getting ahead of the game and becoming one of the early users of TikTok Shop.
So TikTok is on the rise, and its growth shows no sign of slowing. Why not take the opportunity for your digital marketing agency to incorporate TikTok into your marketing strategy. We predict that you will be delighted with the results!