TikTok: Serious hype?

Short videos, funny dances and challenges. Millions of users scroll through the feed of one of the most successful social networks every day. The rise of TikTok was rapid: It took three months and the app was at number 1 in the download charts. But how does TikTok actually work and what makes the community grow so strongly? Is it worthwhile to use TikTok for marketing?

Social media upside down

The Chinese internet company Bytehype has made a lot of headlines in 2017: For one billion dollars the start-up company bought musical.ly, a successful dance app, but one that had to struggle with a bad image recently.

After musical.ly changed its name to TikTok in August 2018, the megahype started. The figures speak for themselves: in the first quarter alone, TikTok recorded 45.8 million downloads, catapulted itself to the top of the download charts and made the parent company Bytedance the most successful startup worldwide. Since then, no one has been able to contest this position. With the app Tik Tok Bytedance makes billions in sales and can now count about 800 million users to its community.

With such successes, TikTok is becoming one of the platforms and other social networks like Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook have to dress warmly.


Where teenagers give free rein to their creativity

TikTok, or DouYin (that’s the name of the app in China, its country of origin), is mainly used by young people: Half of the user group is supposed to be under 24 years of age, a quarter even under 19. Officially, the app may be used from 13 years on. Meanwhile there are also many stars among the users: not only influencers, who became known through Instagram for example, but also celebrities such as the Jonas Brothers. Even the Tagesschau is active.

The company’s mission is to offer young people “a home for creative videos that provide authentic, inspiring and fun experiences” (www.tiktok.com). With the various applications, they seem to be on the right track in this respect.


More than funny videos

Most people probably only associate the name TikTok with the funny videos of children and young people who think up dances to well-known songs and pretend to sing. But what other features are hidden in the app? We’ve created an overview for all Tik-Tok newcomers:

Mainly, TikTok is used for creating and watching videos. The short clips in portrait format are a maximum of 15 seconds long and can be extensively edited directly in the app. The clips can then be accompanied by music. Users not only have an extensive library at their disposal, they can also access Apple Music.

Users can interact using functions already familiar from Instagram: Contributions can be listed, commented on or saved as favorites. In the user profile you can see at first glance how well they are received. Besides the number of followers, you can also find the total number of Likes. Who is especially popular, his profile is marked with an orange tick.

One of the special features is probably the buying of coins. With TikTok’s own currency the creators can reward each other for their contributions. Users can buy between 10 and 100 virtual coins from $0.99 and then exchange them for gifts. They can then give these to their favorite Creators as gifts. Gifts received can then be paid out via Paypal and exchanged for diamonds. A feature that not only lets users earn, but above all, earns the company millions and distinguishes them from other social networks.


TikTok should be taken seriously

The fact that TikTok is one of the most successful social media channels should put companies in the mood for action. In terms of reach, this network is right at the top and should definitely not be ignored. But which brands does TikTok fit as a marketing tool and how can it be used efficiently?

The MAC company is probably the best practice example. The cosmetics manufacturer generated 2.3 billion views with its TikTok campaign. How did they manage that? Challenges are currently very popular on TikTok. Users create videos for a motto and post them under a specific hashtag. This hashtag can be branded by companies: They sponsor a Challenge and thus spread their new product. In the case of the MAC campaign, users should create their personal video for the hashtag #YouOwnIt. For this purpose, 18 influencers were hired to boost the reach and the number of hits. In a playful way, the target group, Generation Z, which is currently particularly active on TikTok, could be reached and addressed. The 16 to 24 year olds make up the majority of the user group. Therefore, it is particularly relevant for companies with a young target group to include TikTok in their marketing strategy.

A Branded Hashtag Challenge is currently one of the most effective tools in social media marketing for companies that want to appeal to young people in order to increase engagement. The branded hashtags are additionally promoted by TikTok on the Explore page for a certain period of time. This generates additional attention. A big advantage of this type of campaign is that a ball is set rolling: The young people see the challenge at one of the TikTok stars and want to take part themselves. They produce a video of the hashtag themselves and thus deal creatively with the brand. That stays in their minds.


Pioneers profit from TikTok

Companies that have already skilfully used TikTok have not only been able to increase their reach there. Those who are active there not only boost their reputation with Generation Z, but also their other social media channels.

Our conclusion is: If you want to inspire young people with your products, don’t be afraid to jump on the TikTok train. Now you’ve got your finger on the pulse and can make a name for yourself.