Deconstructing The Wonderful World Of TikTok
Before we begin, when talking about TikTok in this blog post, I will not be referring to the 2009 Hit Song by Ke$ha of the same name, nor will I be referring to the delicious Arnott’s biscuits called Tic Tocs (although both of these would be the perfect complement to this blog post).
Now that’s cleared up, let’s dive into the mysterious social media platform, which has taken the world by storm in recent years and what it means for your business.
What Is TikTok, In Simple Terms
To put it simply, TikTok is a short-form video sharing platform, where users can create and share videos of between 5-60 seconds in length.
We’ll get more into the specifics soon, but that’s a good place to start.
A Brief History
TikTok is owned by a Chinese Company called Bytedance, who launched the app internationally in May 2017. After acquiring the app Musical.ly in 2018 (for around $1 billion US!), Bytedance merged TikTok and Musical.ly into the one app, and that’s when things really started taking off!
Since its international launch, TikTok has spread to more than 150 countries worldwide and has already amassed over 1 billion users.
TikTok User Demographics
TikTok has definitely found the most success so far with young people, with over 60% of users aged between 16-24, and over 80% of users aged between 16-34 years old. Although as the app continues to grow in popularity, it’s slowing drawing in older audiences who previously thought the app was “just for kids.”
What is TikTok, In More Complex Terms?
A good way to think of TikTok is like a short-form video version of YouTube. There is no one specific category of video that people create on the platform, you can find anything from lip-syncing videos, dance videos, makeup tutorials, comedy, and vlogs, through to interviews, how-tos, educational content, or anything else under the sun, there is really no limit to the kind of content you can create.
When users create videos in the app, they can pick and choose from any number of filters, such as face filters, split screen, green screen, AR filters and more. Then you can pair it with part of a song from a very extensive music library, containing almost all of the hits and songs you hear on the radio today. If that’s not enough, users can also add voice filters to their videos to make them sound like Chipmunks, Giants, and more.
The real drawcard of TikTok is its algorithm, which uses AI to really customise what a user sees on their For You Page (the main feed on TikTok, similar to the explore page of Instagram). This feature means that any video that is posted has the potential to go viral and get millions of views, even if the poster only has a few followers themselves.
Once a video is posted, users can interact with it through likes, comments, shares, or doing something called a duet, where the duet-er can create a video alongside the original video and post them side-by-side in a single post, tagging the original poster.
A user’s profile on TikTok is quite similar to a profile on Instagram, in that you can add a profile picture, a short bio (with the ability to add clickable links to websites) and see a summary of your stats like number of followers and total likes. A feed below that shows all the videos posted by that user as well as the number of views each video has had.
Trends are a big thing on TikTok and are one of the key reasons for the app’s popularity. A TikTok trend is something where a user’s video goes viral and other people then try to recreate and post their own versions of that specific video.
Examples of TikTok trends could be a cool, choreographed dance routine to a particular song, or content surrounding a specific theme or topic such as the Ultra Instinct Challenge, where creators filmed themselves knocking something over unintentionally and then catching it before it hits the ground, backed with a specific song clip.
The latest trends are found on the Discover Page of TikTok through hashtags. In this section of the app, TikTok compiles a list of the most popular trends and challenges using hashtags, where users can see the best videos from each trend and then choose to create their own. Trending Challenges on the Discover Page usually have between half a million, and 1 and a half billion user videos attempting that trend or challenge.
Brands On TikTok
With such a high number of users on the platform, it comes as no surprise that brands are rushing to the platform in droves and creating content to reach new users who might be interested in what they have to offer.
But before you start shoving promotional content down people’s throats on TikTok, you need to first understand how brands are using the platform.
Unlike Facebook and Instagram where brands often regularly post about new products and services, TikTok content has a heavy focus on entertainment. So, when you are posting videos try to steer away from product-centric videos and instead aim to create videos that show more of your brand’s personality.
Look at current trends on TikTok and see how your brand could take part in them by adding your own twist to the challenge. This is going to be the best way to reach new audiences on TikTok.
Advertising On TikTok
At the time of writing, advertising through TikTok is still relatively new and not available to everyone yet, however it is good to have an understanding of the types of ads that can be run on TikTok so that when it’s open to everyone you can be ready!
The first type of ad you can run on TikTok is an in-feed ad. These are similar to in-feed ads you might see on Instagram or Facebook, where your ad will appear natively between videos as users scroll down the For You Page.
The next is a Brand Takeover. This type of ad will appear in the load screen of TikTok when a user first opens the app and takes up the full screen. Users must press the Skip Ad button on the top right to get out of it and start browsing the platform.
Brands can also pay to create a hashtag challenge of their own, where they sponsor a specific hashtag challenge to appear on the Discover Page, encouraging User Generated Content and Brand Awareness.
Similar to Instagram and Snapchat, brands can also pay for custom branded filters on TikTok, which users can create videos with.
The other advertising option to brands on TikTok is influencer marketing. That works just like it does on other social platforms, where brands pay influencers to create content using their product or tagging them in posts in exchange for money. There are a number of huge creators on TikTok already with followings of over 35 million, so influencer marketing here is definitely a great option.
Now You’re An Expert
Hopefully now you have a bit more of an understanding of how TikTok works and how it can be a great opportunity for brands to reach new audiences that they may not have accessed through other social media platforms.
Remember, just like any social media platform, you should consider who your target audience is and what platforms they use before you jump into creating an account and posting on TikTok.
If there is anything else you’d like to know about TikTok, feel free to leave a comment below and we’ll create another TikTok related blog post to help answer your questions! We’ve also released an episode of our podcast Like & Follow all about TikTok, which you can listen to here and watch here.
P.S. we have our own TikTok account if you’d like to keep updated on what goes on at the Milkbar Digital office! https://www.tiktok.com/@milkbardigital
Callum is a Social Media Coordinator at Milkbar Digital. He loves visual content creation through photography, but also enjoys coming up with creative copy to back it up. When he’s not crafting content you can find Callum listening to podcasts, binge watching the latest Netflix series or discovering new cafés.
Milkbar Digital is a Melbourne social media and digital marketing agency here to help business small and large. If you need help with your social media or don’t know where to begin, get in touch!