TikTok has been a growing social media platform in the past year. Here are some TikTok stats to get you familiar with what this little known app has accomplished in little time:

  • 2nd most downloaded free app in 2019
  • Users are in 154 countries (that’s about 80% of the countries in the world)
  • 800 million monthly users (this is inching up pretty close to Instagram’s 1 billion monthly users)

So, it’s little wonder that this little app is drawing attention from businesses big and small. It’s a new platform that has gained attention, but is still not that easy to use for business purposes.

I’ve done some research and have found some surprising information about TikTok. In this article, I’m sharing how TikTok is used (or rather, not being used) in business and what’s lurking behind the curtain.

A little history about TikTok

Douyin (the original name for TikTok in China) was released in 2016 and introduced overseas the following year. It’s primarily a video sharing platform that is a sort of cross between Vine, SnapChat and Myspace. It’s popularity began in China, but has quickly caught on in North America.

What TikTok has accomplished since its global release in 2018 is pretty astounding. It’s given rise to a whole new pack of TikTok influencers. Those who are the most popular (that is, that have the most followers) include teens that lip sync and dance. Comedy, cooking, and tutorials have been other popular posts. Right now, people are spending more time on TikTok than they do on their main competitors Instagram and Snapshot.

Top 3 Influencers on TikTok

  • Charli D’amelio 63.3 M followers. Reigning queen of TikTok, dancer from Connecticut
  • Addison Rae, 45.6 M followers. Dancer from Louisiana
  • Max Mazurek only 191K followers. From Poland and is a model/dancer

Best TikTok caption:

“Be a little more you, and a lot less them.”

~ Madalyn Beck

Source: https://blog.hootsuite.com/tiktok-stats/

As shown on the above graphic, TikTok is the 6th largest social media in the world. As of 2020, consumer spend on TikTok is increasing (shown below).

Source: https://blog.hootsuite.com/tiktok-stats/

With this type of action, it’s important to consider how to use TikTok for business.

TikTok for Business

Rule number 1 in social media is to put your efforts where your target audience likes to go. So, who’s actually using TikTok? While 41% of TikTok’s users are between the ages of 16 to 24 years (Globalwebindex, 2019, the other 59% range in ages to include the moms, dads and siblings of the TikTok obessed. Add this to the fact that users spend an average of 52 minutes on this social media platform (BusinessofApps, 2019), and you’ve got something that’s significant enough to consider for both organic and paid media.

TikTok for ideal for organic media. TikTok culture focuses on creative expression through dancing, singing, or doing some form of comedy. Think that’s challenging for your business? Try educational content as the main objective of your organic posts but incorporate it into the TikTok culture to formulate more native advertising that will more likely be appreciated by followers.

TikTok has its own unique algorithm that affects how videos are ranked on the site. Here are a few tips to ensure yours get exposure.

  • Make videos the users will want to watch to the end. TikTok favors videos that are watched fur the duration.
  • The number of your followers and your account history don’t matter. Each video is a different story that has a chance of going viral.
  • Use hashtags and captions that align with your audience and consider using the same hashtags as your target audience.
  • Stay away from duplicated content.

TikTok offers several options for advertisers to reach their target demographic (Source: HootSuite.com).

  • In-Feed Video: Ads appear in the native news feed of TikTok on the For You page.
  • Brand Takeover: Ad appears when TikTok users open the app and completely take over the screen for a few seconds before turning into an In-Feed Video ad.
  • Hashtag Challenge: Ad appears on the Discovery page. It encourages users to participate in user content creation challenges. These can include a shoppable component for retailers.
  • Branded AR Content: Ad appears as branded lenses, stickers, and other 2D/3D/AR content for TikTok users to use in their videos.
  • Custom Influencer Package: Ad appears as part of sponsored content created by a TikTok user with influence in your market.

TikTok for Individuals

There is an issue with the real reason what TikTok is really about. There is a conundrum when it comes to using TikTok for individuals. According to CNBC, the app faces a slew of regulatory hurdles, privacy issues and allegations of censorship (Source: https://www.cnbc.com). That’s a concern, but what’s even more curious is that it’s parent company, ByteDance (which is valued at over 100 billion dollars), owns a host of other, more profitable Chinese apps. This alludes to the why TikTok’s revenue model is not as developed at say Facebook or LinkedIn.

According to an online discussion, one user claimed to have reversed engineered the app and concluded that TikTok is a data collection service thinly disguised as a social network. It seems the app collects hardware information, data on other apps installed on a phone, and everything to do with the network it’s being shared on. 

In fact, TikTok is now under national review in the U.S. And, the latest news is that the U.S. is thinking of banning TikTok.

If you’re interested in viewing some videos on YouTube without using the app, here’s a taste of typical TikTok posts.  

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Toni Guffei is a Marketing Strategist, writer and speaker who works with growing and changing companies to help them get the best return on their marketing investment.

Follow on Twitter: @tonironi