TikTok could be the biggest brand opportunity that we’re not quite sure what to do with yet. According to a recent survey from CloudApp, 40 percent of Gen Z spends 5+ hours a day watching YouTube or other social video content. 1 in 5 Gen Z office workers confessed to using 10+ hours of their workday on TikTok or other social related video.
It’s a massively popular service with more than 500 million active monthly users, but it trends young and weird with a fast turnover. This has kept some marketing companies away from TikTok, but that shouldn’t be the case if any of your customers are young.
Major brands are doing well on the service, some small groups are becoming breakout stars, and there’s plenty of room for you in there too. If you’re worried that it might be too soon or you just don’t know enough, keep reading and we’ll lay out why you might want to get your company on TikTok.
Hootsuite has a very popular definition of TikTok: Real short videos.
That’s a great starting point for any company or marketing department. The point of TikTok is to be brief, make an impact, and then get someone to keep consuming your content. For us older marketers, it’s the latest video-focused solution, becoming a sensation on its own. It’ll remind you of Vine, but the focus (largely due to the short nature of content) is to be funny and a little quirky.
The ability to get weird is a major driving force for its popularity, and it’s the natural evolution of brand-focused marketing. We’ve all seen Wendy’s and other companies get meta on Twitter, and this is the next, more creative iteration.
The company has more than one billion installations on mobile devices, is valued at around $75 billion, and makes a few million dollars per year thanks to in-app purchases.
It started in China and still goes by its original name of Douyin there.
TikTok targets young users heavily. Across the globe, nearly half of users are under the age of 24. When looking specifically at China, it’s largest market, 75% of users are between the ages of 18 and 35. It tends to be popular among the age groups that are most active on mobile devices.
So, if Gen Z is your target, it’s time to get on TikTok.
What’s a bit surprising is that TikTok is growing rapidly among adults. In the past 18 months, its US adult userbase has grown 5.5x. While teens still dominate, it is expanding. One likely culprit is the ability to share TikTok video on other platforms like Twitter.
TikTok has slightly more male users — 56% men compared to 44% women — but all people average about an hour per day on the social app. Roughly 90% use the app multiple times per day. And, about 30% of its 500 million active daily users live in China, while the rest are spread among 154 other countries.
One important thing the service has in its favor is that it has responded well to concerns, including some child privacy law violations. TikTok has put greater security measures into places and run some online safety campaigns as well. In short, you shouldn’t face any brand risk if you make a TikTok account.
TikTok is all about creating and watching video, so its built-in tools are designed to make creating engaging content easy. This means the service has expanded to support a few different, common themes of content.
Let’s look at some of these core features and tools to understand what you’ll be seeing when you start hanging out on TikTok.
Right now, there are a few major types of videos dominating the TikTok scene. That said, as soon as we hit publish things may change. These are where you’ll want to spend most of your time creating for your company to game steam.
Everything must be new and trending, but the service’s algorithm is designed to make it easy for people to find new things. That means consistent creation gives you a great way to continually find new eyes.
So, here are the ones that will most likely stick around:
Companies make a splash on TikTok by being a good user and content creator. This means treating it largely as an advertising channel that gets people to notice you, watch some videos, and click through to learn more about you.
Large companies are focusing on content generation and seeing what they can do that’s funny, engaging, and often a little out of the norm. That keeps people viewing and sharing their videos. They’re also targeting large hashtags, like the Chipotle video below that features #oneyearoftiktok.
For small or regional companies, there are plenty of hashtags based on your local community. We’ve seen many items for Memphis, New Orleans, and Phoenix, as well as the largest markets around the world.
Branded hashtag challenges are a common brand event now. Guess was essentially the first to rollout with this in a big way as part of an effort directly with TikTok, back in September 2018. It did a “#InMyDenim” challenge that involved getting popular content creators to show how they could use the company’s denim products to jazz up an outfit. It picked up about 37 million views and more and more companies have been running efforts ever since.
You can make direct insertion order ad-buys, but they tend to be very, very expensive and have some limitations in terms of format and market. So, most companies are focusing on quirky video over ad campaigns.
While ads aren’t in every market, there have been tests since at least January 2019 of in-app ads and cards. The Chinese version of the app (Douyin) sells a variety of ads right now and the come in units including native video, branded hashtag challenges, and items with in-app purchasing.
One ad-like item that is available now are the branded AR stickers available on the service. It’s focused on sports and has garnered major leagues around the world. This should open up a clear path forward for other brands, though TikTok may serve as a content and regional gatekeeper.
On top of that, Douyin is working with Chinese influencers to start building up a more active community and we may see some direct brand tie-ins in the future.
In 2018, TikTok average 1 million video views per day, and 2019 is poised to smash that record. People are responding to video, whether it is ones they create with friends or those coming from influencers, celebrities, and companies.
You can capitalize on it and potentially go viral when you find a way to insert your brand into the TikTok mindset. This means making a strong strategy that is based on what’s happening on the service. Learn and play on TikTok first, so you can see how it operates in real-time and ensure that what you’re creating is right for that audience.
A few things to focus on are showing a silly or creative side of your brand, no matter your industry. You’ll want to experiment with various kinds of content and video types and be sure to have someone ready to engage.
It’s easy to be a star, but you’ll also need some great videos. If you’re more comfortable building on a PC and then going to mobile, CloudApp has plenty of support. You can actually take your videos and create reaction GIFs, add extra features and highlights, and tackle the latest trends with annotations and more. We make it easy to build a powerful baseline image that then gets the final TikTok treatment within the app.
Joe is VP of Marketing and Strategy at CloudApp. He is also the CMO of Stockchain Global and Advisory Board Member at Ylixr. He has over 10 years experience managing various areas of marketing including research, media buying, social, and overall strategy. His analyses have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Associated Press, and Forbes. Joe holds a BSc in Finance and MBA in Strategy & Marketing from the University of Utah. He also has an Executive Degree in Entrepreneurship and Innovation from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.