Just a few months ago, TikTok was little known among anyone outside of Gen Z, and many adults had never even heard of it. But, during the pandemic, the social media platform has exploded in popularity. Now, everyone from actors to professional athletes to many well-known brands are on the platforms, and the most followed accounts have tens of millions of followers. 

While TikTok is still dominated by younger generations, it’s not just something for teenagers anymore. About half of its users are over 35, and the number of adults on the platform grows every day. If you haven’t heard of TikTok by now, you probably haven’t been on the internet much lately. 

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TikTok is a space for creative, visual content– every post is a short video up to 60 seconds. But just because it’s all about video does not mean it’s another YouTube. Much of the popular content on TikTok is centered around trends where someone comes up with a dance or a challenge, and then people post their own take on it. In order to be successful on TikTok, you need content that fits this model. And, because new trends pop up every day and come and go quickly, it’s extremely important that you’re able to keep up with the latest content – both as a consumer and a creator. 

TikTok can be a great place to show a lighter and more fun side of your brand. It’s much more creative than Facebook and Twitter, and even more interactive than YouTube and Instagram. If your brand lends itself to visual content, you might want to incorporate TikTok into your social media strategy. Here are a few things to consider when deciding whether or not TikTok would be a good move for your brand. 

Could your brand benefit from a quickly growing platform?

If you think TikTok is just a fad that’s going to fade away soon, think again. TikTok is rapidly growing and is actually on track to become one of the largest social media platforms. If your brand fits with the content structure and demographics of TikTok, it might be a good idea to get started now while TikTok is still growing. 

The app has only been around since September 2016, but has already been downloaded more than 1.5 billion times. This growth has only gotten quicker during the Covid-19 pandemic. Between January and March 2020, while millions of people were stuck at home in quarantine, the number of unique users increased 48%. And, as of April 2020, TikTok had 800 million active users monthly – more than Snapchat and even Twitter, making it the 6th largest social network. By the time you read this, that number is sure to be even higher.

And again, its popularity is no longer limited to younger generations. Especially since the pandemic, there’s been a major increase in popularity across all age groups, with a number of users even 65+. 

Are you looking to engage with a new, younger audience?

While TikTok is growing in popularity among all generations, the largest portion of its users are still under 24. Gen Z were the first ones to discover the app, and they’re still the ones that use it most. Younger consumers are much more intrigued by pictures and videos instead of blocks of text, so a platform like TikTok where all the content is inherently visual fits their needs perfectly. 

If your brand caters to a younger audience, putting content out on TikTok could be extremely beneficial. Not only is it a great way to engage more with your current users, but you can also make new audiences aware of your brand. 

One word of caution, however: trends on other social media platforms indicate that as older generations move in, younger generations move out. We’ve seen it with Facebook, we’ve seen it with Twitter, and we’re even starting to see it with Instagram. As the popularity of these platforms has grown across generations, younger users have moved towards newer platforms like Snapchat and now TikTok. 

It’s a constant cycle of young users finding new things to replace the old. Though TikTok definitely isn’t going away anytime soon, it’s important to be aware of the changing demographics and how that may actually drive younger people away.

Can you present your brand in a fun, even funny, way?

We’re all familiar with the content structure on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter– some pictures, occasionally a video, but for the most part more text. As long as you have strong images, your content can quickly be tailored for Instagram as well, allowing these channels to work in a more integrated fashion. With TikTok, the content is completely different, and while there is a very specific format of audio overlays on unique videos, there are few rules. As long as it fits within a 60-second-or-less video, you can really do whatever you want with it. 

There’s a lot more room for creativity and even humor than on other platforms. Funny advertisements are better at grabbing attention and leaving more of an impression, and the same concept applies on TikTok. If you can present your brand in a humorous way, people are going to be much more engaged. 

TikTok also provides a great opportunity for user-generated content. A brand can tell users to make a TikTok using a product or completing a challenge, and that brand automatically has content of real users. The challenge is this often happens organically, rather than a campaign initiated by the brand. This may mean more widespread attention, but it also means you can’t control the message users put out. 

There are some downsides to the unique content structure of TikTok. If you fail to come up with creative content or follow the trends, it’s not going to help your brand. A recent example of this is Buzzfeed. While Buzzfeed’s content is extremely popular elsewhere on the internet, they have not been so successful on TikTok. They attempted to repurpose content from other platforms, they made posts that were unrelated to current trends, and they failed to make their videos visually appealing. These are easy mistakes to avoid, but again, you must be tuned in to the latest trends and know what users want to see. 

Above all, TikTok is for entertainment. It’s not the best place to put out serious advertisements or make major brand announcements. But, if you can present your brand in a fun, creative way that appeals to a younger audience, TikTok could be the perfect way to increase brand awareness and user engagement. Whether you decide to take the plunge and start using TikTok as part of your brand’s social media strategy or not, it’s undeniable that TikTok is a force to be reckoned with.


Photo by Kon Karampelas on Unsplash