What the Growth of TikTok Means for Businesses

Maia Clinch Maia Clinch, Product Specialist

One of the biggest social media stories of the last few years is the explosive growth of TikTok. Many businesses and social media managers don’t pay much attention to TikTok, if they’ve heard of it at all. There are a couple of reasons for this. For one thing, it’s based in China and its popularity in the U.S. and other countries is fairly recent. It’s also a specialized site for short videos, so it doesn’t have the universal appeal of Facebook or Twitter. However, the numbers indicate that TikTok is growing very quickly, especially among young users.

Why Should You Care About TikTok?
There are several reasons that businesses and anyone involved in social media marketing should be paying close attention to TikTok.

  • TikTok’s specialty, short videos, is one of the hottest social media trends of recent years. TikTok is competing directly with Instagram and other visual sites.
  • TikTok has been downloaded 1.5 billion times, outperforming Instagram. While many of these users are in Asia, the platform is quickly growing in other countries, including the U.S.
  • TikTok is a platform that offers many interesting advertising options.
  • If your business markets to millennials or members of Generation Z, getting active on TikTok makes sense and may give you an edge over competitors who haven’t yet discovered this site. Any business that wants to cultivate a youthful and hip image can benefit. This includes niches such as fashion, food, travel, fitness, beauty and many others.
  • It’s another platform that can help you send traffic to your website and other social media pages.
  • TikTok is a mobile app, so it’s ideal for reaching the ever-expanding audience of people who prefer to access content on smartphones and tablets.

Posting Videos on TikTok
Like Periscope and the defunct Vine, TikTok is a platform for very short videos of up to 15 seconds. If you want to create something a little longer, you can connect up to four clips, giving you a total of 60 seconds. TikTok, then, is obviously not appropriate for anything that requires detailed information or a long explanation. It’s perfect, however, for capturing viewers’ attention and introducing yourself to a wider audience. You can use it to showcase a product, increase brand visibility or call attention to an upcoming event or promotion. Keep in mind that TikTok’s young users value humor, spontaneity and creativity rather than a serious or formal approach. When posting videos, make use of the special effects and filters to make them more colorful.

Live Streaming
TikTok is one of many platforms where you can live stream. If you have more than a minute of content, live streaming is a way to connect with your audience for a longer period. As on other live streaming platforms, you can broadcast on TikTok to raise awareness for your business, promote new products and services, answer questions or just get to know your audience.

Influencer Marketing on TikTok
With so many young users, TikTok is a natural platform for influencer marketing. It’s especially popular with music fans as it’s connected to another app, Musical.ly. Many bands and musicians are creating music videos on these apps. There’s also an opportunity for brands not involved directly with music to tap into this audience by working with influencers. You might consider doing a shoutout with someone who’s already popular on TikTok.

Advertising on TikTok
Many businesses are finding it a challenge to deal with the stiff competition on Google and Facebook. TikTok offers another place to advertise with a huge audience. The site currently has 500 million active users globally and is still growing rapidly. Just as importantly, it’s less crowded with ads than Facebook and Instagram, so you have a chance to get noticed.

Advertising on TikTok is, however, not cheap. Currently, many major brands are moving in to establish a presence on this site. You need to invest a minimum of $500 in advertising campaigns. If this is within your budget, it may be a solid opportunity to reach a new audience. As with Facebook, you can target your audience based on demographics such as gender, age and location.

Some of the ad types they offer include native ads, which appear in users’ feeds. You can add links and calls-to-action. TikTok also offers other types of ads including contests such as hashtag challenges where users are enticed to post videos that promote sponsors’ products. Participants are entered to win prizes. TikTok’s teen and young adult users are fond of this type of gamified content.

The Potential of TikTok Marketing
Because TikTok has only recently started to catch on in the West, it’s important to take a long-term view. Right now, the majority of users are under 30. This, to some extent, makes the platform most relevant to businesses in youth-oriented niches. However, if you look at the big picture, there could be many emerging opportunities with TikTok.

  • Market research. Even if you’re not ready to post videos or advertise on TikTok, it’s worth following. Many popular topics are likely to appear on this site before they hit Facebook. Keeping an eye on what’s popular can give you early notice about the latest trends.
  • A good way to get UGC. User-generated content provides an efficient way to get engaging content for your audience. TikTok’s members love to post videos on all kinds of topics. The aforementioned hashtag challenges are one way to get UGC. It’s also possible, however, to encourage members to submit content without investing in advertising if you have a creative and playful approach.
  • Expand your market. While TikTok is growing in many countries, it’s huge in countries such as China and Asia. Businesses that want to expand into Asian markets should research this platform as a way to reach customers in these regions.

TikTok is likely to grow even more in the coming years. Many brands are already finding creative ways to get their message across. As social media examiner reports, the companies and organizations using TikTok include attorneys, law enforcement agencies and traditional media such as the Washington Post. It’s definitely worthwhile to keep a close eye on TikTok and decide if it’s worth adding to your social media strategy.