TikTok is the biggest network most brands don’t know
You could be forgiven for thinking stand-alone short-form video networks were a flash in the pan. But that doesn’t stop TikTok being one of the most-talked about platforms on the planet right now.
In March it surpassed the 1billion installs mark, and is currently the third most-popular app of any kind for Android and iOS.
Starting out as two networks— musical.ly in Europe and the Americas, TikTok in Asia (or Douyin in China)— before merging under TikTok in 2017, its community is huge there. But who’s using it, why, and how? And, more importantly, what’s the brand potential and what are the potential problems.
Let’s take a look at TikTok
Who’s using it?
500million monthly active users worldwide, broken down into the following demographics:
55.6% Male —— 44.4% Female
10-19 years — 39.9%
20-29 — years 26.1%
30-39 years — 10.2%
40-49 years— 16.8%
50+ — 7%
How does it work?
Users post 15-second clips to the network, engage and interact with other members of the community. TikTok was originally dominated by homemade music videos, largely involving someone lip-synching to popular songs.
Its library has a seemingly endless supply of music available to soundtrack clips. However, these days people are increasingly producing entirely original audio-visual content.
What content is most popular?
Last November the Wall Street Journal commented that “2017 will be remembered as the year musical.ly transitioned from an app primarily for posting music videos to a broader social-media entertainment platform”. People are particularly fond of…
Are there stars and influencers?
It’s not a real social network without real social media stars and influencers. TikTok is home to a number of high-engagement and high-follower count super users. These include:
Lisa & Lena
We recently published a thought leadership white paper on the future of influencer marketing—click here to download your free copy.
What about brands and publishers?
Publishers and companies are far from behind when it comes to TikTok. Prominent accounts include:
What’s the real appeal?
People are flocking to TikTok for two primary reasons. Firstly, watching a short and (ideally) sweet video, then moving on to the next is incredibly addictive fun.
One look at the core age-range also speaks volumes. Much as we have seen in the past with Snapchat, kids don’t want to share their content on the same networks as their parents. As such TikTok offers a safe space away from those prying eyes.
With around 300% year-on-year growth expected by the end of 2019, TikTok seems to be winning on all fronts. But there are issues, and significant ones at that:
An immature advertising framework coupled with the vast amount of user generated content is always going to be a red flag for brands.
TikTok is currently failing to attract the level of brand investment it could because it cannot guarantee safety. In April 2019 the app was temporarily banned in India, one of its biggest markets, for reasons including inciting hatred and abuse, and distributing sexually explicit content.
It’s far too early to judge what Facebook’s direct TikTok competitor, Lasso, will do.Launched in November, it doesn’t have the same legitimate youth credentials because it’s owned by Facebook‚— a dinosaur network by today’s standards.
But it does have the biggest and most valuable social platform on the planet behind it. As such it’s either going to be left dead in the water or make significant inroads in regions where TikTok is still emerging; for example the UK.