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What is TikTok and why can’t I escape it?

May 4, 2020 - Fifteen

TikTok, TikTok, TikTok. It’s plastered all over the internet and has been talked about for around two years now.

With ad spend seemingly through the roof since isolation started and celebrities joining in, it has been impossible to avoid but if you have managed to fight the temptation, we’ll explain what TikTok actually is.

First of all, a bit of history. TikTok started in 2014 and went by the name of Musical.ly. In 2017 it was acquired by chinese firm ByteDance for $1 billion and was merged with their already existing TikTok app in August 2018 – meaning all users were moved over to TikTok.

So what do you do on TikTok? 

The company describes itself as “the leading destination for short-form mobile video. Our mission is to inspire creativity and bring joy.” But that doesn’t give much away.

The main aim of the app is to create and share videos up to 15 seconds, featuring dancing to music, lip syncing and filters.

Initially, most of it was extremely cringe worthy unless you enjoy watching 15 year olds dancing in their rooms, but the app has started to move towards comedy, which has made it more appealing to non-teenagers.

One way the app has proved a success with over 20s is through famous movie and tv scenes recreated through lip syncing. The good ones are very entertaining, like this Chris Kamara lip sync.

As we enter May, the list of celebrities on TikTok is long and features everyone from international sports stars to Alicia Keys to Justin Bieber. More and more celebs are joining as they aim to keep in touch with their fans, especially young ones, and the knock on effect has seen the platform take full advantage of the lockdown.

A lot of the features are very similar to MSQRD, which was purchased by Facebook in 2016 and shut down last month (April 2020). Looks like Zuckerberg and co missed out on a bit of a trick there, considering TikTok was valued at $75billion in November 2019, a valuation that is likely to have skyrocketed since lockdown guidelines were rolled out globally.

Why is TikTok everywhere?

TikTok has spent a lot on social media advertising across competitors platforms, especially Snapchat and Youtube. According to MediaRadar, 80% of TikTok’s ad spend, from January 2019 until December 2019, was spent on Snapchat ads. During the period, TikTok spent more on Snapchat ads than the likes of Coca-Cola and Disney according to the report.

Snapchat has a young user demographic, so TikTok are essentially trying to lure them away – something they have been successful at due to their more varied offering.

Since the turn of the year, there appears to be more TikTok ads on Facebook and Instagram, as the company looks to expand their demographics to include a slightly more mature market.

Nowadays, you can rarely go on social media without being bombarded by TikTok content and ads, and more and more people seem to be giving in. Since lockdown started, they have most likely ramped up their advertising massively and it appears to have worked well. The app has now surpassed 1 billion users as people try to find new ways of entertaining themselves whilst stuck at home.

Should I use TikTok for my business?

There’s no straight forward answer to this, but the main factors that need to be considered are the demographics of your customers. In October 2019, Social Media Examiner stated that 41% of TikTok’s users are ages 16–24, with it being common amongst children younger than 16 as well

So even though it seems like TikTok is gaining more over 25s, it’s still very much an app for young people and teenagers, hence why celebrities with majority young fan bases have been quick to join.

Some brands, such as Nike and Apple, have taken to TikTok and have put their ambassador content to good use, something that highlights another thing to consider for businesses – can you produce quality content?

Estimates seem to point towards quite expensive ad rates on TikTok, starting at $50 per day according to TikTok Ads, but this may drop with reports saying it has gone down to $20.

As an advertisement platform it may be for the bigger brands that have the financial capacity to experiment at the moment, but the future should allow for smaller brands to advertise relevant products and services.

Contact us today to find out more about our social media solutions.

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