What is TikTok
TikTok is a mobile app which is available on both IOS and Android. Although it was originally launched back in 2018, it is only fairly recently that the platform became a household name. The app allows users to share short videos (up to 60 seconds) and apply a range of filters, effects and audio to their content.
Where did TikTok originate from?
The app was formerly known as Musical.ly which allowed users to share 15 second videos that usually involved lip-syncing to music. Although Musical.ly was popular at the time with over 100 million users worldwide, when it was acquired by a Chinese company called ByteDance in 2017, the new owners wanted to move away from the app’s origins as a lip-syncing app. They launched TikTok in its place and moved all of the existing users and content over to the new platform - with exception to users in China who use a separate app known as Duyin.
How to get found on TikTok
Although there are some fundamental differences, the way in which content gets found on TikTok works in a similar way to other social media platforms. Like Instagram or Twitter, TikTok users can leverage the power of hashtags to increase the reach of their content. This has been effective not only on a global scale, but also to increase the reach of content locally as users can engage with trending hashtags on the platform in their country or region. These localised hashtags often include contests or challenges as a way to increase engagement amongst users of the platform.
Why use TikTok?
At this stage, you are probably wondering whether you should be using TikTok. The platform has after all, seen an influx of new users during the lockdown. Whether it was the lockdown itself that drove them to download the app or simply the ‘fear of missing out’, it’s difficult to ignore the rising popularity of the platform amongst the general public. The real reasons behind using TikTok are perhaps however, more focused around what sets it apart from the other social media platforms. When opening the app, users are presented with a stream of fresh content from creators that they don’t already follow. Unlike Instagram or Facebook, the TikTok algorithm puts precedence on finding new content that will interest users and focuses less on the creators that they are already following. This makes it easier for creators to rise to fame quite quickly on the app in comparison to other social media platforms.
Marketing on TikTok
So, what does this mean for your small business? Unlike other social media platforms, TikTok does not provide any advertising opportunities for businesses but this does not mean that brands aren’t already utilising the platform to promote themselves organically. Some have already implemented successful campaigns either by using hashtags or through encouraging user-generated content. So while TikTok is an unlikely fit for your small businesses’ social media strategy right now, it is too soon to discount the platform which holds so much potential as a marketing tool.