Short videos, fun 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 number 1 in the download charts. But how does TikTok actually work and what makes the community grow so strongly? Is it worth using TikTok for marketing?
The Chinese internet company Bytehype made headlines in 2017: For one billion dollars, the start-up bought musical.ly, a successful dance app, but one that had been struggling with a bad image lately.
After musical.ly changed its name to TikTok in August 2018, the megahype then started. The figures speak for themselves: in the first quarter alone, TikTok recorded 45.8 million downloads, catapulting it to the top of the download charts and making its parent company Bytedance the most successful start-up in the world. Since then, no one has been able to dispute this place with them. Bytedance generates billions in revenue with the Tik Tok app and can now count around 800 million users among its community.
With such successes, TikTok is becoming one of the platforms and other social networks such as Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook will have to dress warmly.
TikTok, or DouYin (as the app is called in China, its country of origin), is mainly used by young people: Half of the user group is said to be under 24, and a quarter even under 19. Officially, the app can be used from the age of 13. There are now also many stars among the users: not only influencers who have become famous through Instagram, for example, but also celebrities such as the Jonas Brothers. Even the Tagesschau is active.
The company’s mission is to provide teens with “a home for creative videos that make for authentic, inspiring and fun experiences”(www.tiktok.com). With the different application possibilities, they seem to be on the right track in this respect.
Most people probably only associate the name TikTok with funny videos of children and teenagers making up dances to popular songs and pretending to sing. But what other functions are hidden in the app? We have created an overview for all Tik-Tok newbies:
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 underlaid with music. Users not only have an extensive library at their disposal, they can also access Apple Music.
Users can interact using functions that are already familiar from Instagram: Posts can be listed, commented on, or saved as favorites. In the user’s profile you can see at first glance how well he is received. Besides the number of followers, you can also find the total number of likes. Those who are particularly popular will have their profile marked with an orange tick.
One of the special functions is probably the purchase of coins. With TikTok’s own currency, creators can reward each other for their contributions. Users can buy between 10 and 100 virtual coins starting at $0.99 and then exchange them for gifts. They can then in turn give them away to their favorite Creators. Received gifts can then be paid via Paypal and thus exchanged for diamonds. A feature that not only lets users earn, but above all makes the company millions and sets it apart from other social networks.
The fact that TikTok is one of the most successful social media channels should put companies in a frenzy. 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 best practice example here is probably the MAC company. The cosmetics manufacturer generated 2.3 billion views with its TikTok campaign. How did they do it? Challenges are currently very popular on TikTok. To do this, users create videos around a theme and post them under a specific hashtag. This hashtag can be branded by companies: They sponsor a challenge and spread the word about their new product. In the case of MAC’s campaign, users were asked to create their own personal video using the hashtag #YouOwnIt. For this purpose, 18 influencers were hired, which caused the reach and the numbers of views to skyrocket. In this way, it was possible to playfully reach and address the target group, Generation Z, which is currently particularly active on TikTok. 16 to 24 year olds make up the majority of the user group. Accordingly, 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 looking to target teens to increase engagement. The brand’s hashtags will additionally be promoted through TikTok on the Explore page for a specific time period. This generates additional attention. A big advantage of this type of campaign is that it gets a ball rolling: Young people see the challenge on one of the TikTok stars and want to take part themselves. They produce their own video for the hashtag and thus engage creatively with the brand. That stays in your head.
Companies that have already skillfully used TikTok have not only been able to increase their reach there. Those who are active there are not only pushing 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, you should not be afraid to jump on the TikTok bandwagon. Now you have your finger on the pulse and can make a name for yourself.