TikTok’s 1 Billion Users: What You Need To Know For Social Media Marketing.

Tiktok is a social media short-form video app for creating and sharing lip-sync, comedy and talent videos. TikTok first grew in popularity in Asia and then the app’s parent company bought Musical.ly and merged the two apps under the TikTok name. In two years, Tiktok has quickly grown to 1 billion global monthly users. Unlike previous social networks that relied on organic growth, TikTok has invested in a huge advertising campaign on competing social platforms. Globally, TikTok users are younger than most other social platforms with 41% aged 16-24 years-old and 60% under 30.

Statistic: Most popular mobile social networking apps in the United States as of June 2019, by average session duration (in minutes) | Statista
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In the U.S., TikTok is the second most popular mobile social network app.

Facebook users spend an average of 13 hours per month on the app, while TikTok users have risen to 6 hours per month over Snapchat’s 3 hours. Average session length is high with nearly 10 minutes per session compared to Pinterest’s and Facebook’s 5 minute average and Snapchat’s 2 minute average. This isn’t surprising when you learn TikTok is one of the first social platforms to use artificial intelligence to show users more of what they like with advanced interest behavioral targeting.

Despite the growth and active engagement, TikTok is a niche audience.

With just 2% reach among U.S. mobile users placing it 16th behind Facebook with 91 percent reach and Snapchat’s 26 percent reach. Even among Gen Z, Instagram (65 percent), YouTube (63 percent) and Snapchat (51 percent) are still the most popular social networks based on daily use compared to TikTok (11 percent).

TikTok has unique and similar features to other social networks.

Like other social platforms TikTok users have a profile that includes a photo, username and bio. Users follow other accounts to see their videos. Popular videos are liked with a heart counter appearing over the video and organized by hashtags that appear as trending on a Discover Page. Examples of trending hashtags include #whywebrokeup, #rocktober, #facetrackingchallenge, and #MosaicZoom creatd by TikTok to promote use of a new creative effect.

The For You page is TikTok’s front page as it is the landing page when users first open the app. The For You page is based on an algorithm designed to show you more content similar to what you have liked in the past from people you do not follow. At the bottom of the page users can find content outside the For You algorithm through the Search and Explore page. This is the opposite of Instagram where when you open the app you first see content from users you follow, then you can switch over the Explore tab.

Getting on the For You page is important to going viral and is a goal of many users to grow their followers much like brand trying to get into the newsfeed of Facebook users. TikTok has not released information on what goes into a video making the For You pages, but many speculate it has to do with engagement such as likes and more people watching all the way through (retention rate). Hashtags related to what users have indicated they like also most likely matter, but many also include #foryou, #foryoupage, or #fyp trying to get on this page, gain more exposure and become TikTok famous.

TikTok enables users to create short music and lip-sync videos of 3 to 15 seconds and short looping videos of 3 to 60 seconds. Videos can be sped up, slowed down and edited with filters and background music is selected from various music genres. Users can also create short lip-sync videos to popular songs. The react feature allows filming reactions in a small window over the main video. The duet feature you can film two videos beside each other. Unlike Facebook videos the default is to have the sound turned on. Therefore, subtitles are not has important.

Businesses can participate in the social platform.

Brands can create a brand channel and uploading and sharing relevant content. Brands can work with influencers to spread messages to a broader audience. TikTok offers social ads with some creative formats. TikTok ads include standard native in-feed video, brand takeovers that run full screen, and branded lenses that use AR face filters and 3D objects. Brands can also sponsor Hashtag Challenges that encourage user-generated content such as the #JumanjiChallenge.

 

TikTok offers social media advertising options.

TikTok ads can be targeted by age, gender, state-level geo-targeting and custom audiences from CRM lists. The platform also boasts advanced interest targeting based on their AI technology. Marketers set campaign periods and budgets paying on a cost per thousand (CPM), cost per click (CPC), or cost per view (CPV) basis. Advertisers besides Jumanji include Grubhub driving app downloads and the NFL courting younger viewers. TV stars such as Jimmy Fallon have embraced the new platform. His #TumbleweedChallenge created 8,000 videos with over 9 million views in just 7 days.

This fast growing social platform is not without controversy. The U.S. government opened up investigations into TikTok owner ByteBance alleging the Chinese company may be censoring politically sensitive content and questioning how it stores personal data. Users have also complained that their videos are being used in TikTok ads on other social platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram without being asked for paid. Yet, everyone who signs up for TikTok agrees to their terms of service (whether it is read or not):

“You or the owner of your User Content still own the copyright in User Content sent to us, but by submitting User Content via the Services, you hereby grant us an unconditional irrevocable, non-exclusive, royalty-free, fully transferable, perpetual worldwide licence to use, modify, adapt, reproduce, make derivative works of, publish and/or transmit, and/or distribute and to authorise others users of the Services and other third-parties to view, access, use, download, modify, adapt, reproduce, make derivative works of, publish and/or transmit your User Content in any format and on any platform, either now known or hereinafter invented.”

These terms are similar to what other apps and social platforms have included in their small print, but perhaps they have been noticed more with the high profile of Tiktok’s ad campaign. California’s new data privacy law (CCPA) takes effect January 2020 with similar privacy protection and disclosure requirements to Europe’s GDPR. Many companies will be changing the way they disclose and what they do with people’s data to avoid fines.

Despite these concerns brands have moved forward on the platform to reach its young user base. How will your brand leverage TikTok? How will TikTok fit with your larger social media strategy? Ask These Questions To Ensure You Have The Right Strategy and consider Top Social Media Channels By Category.

Social Media Reaches Middle Age. Are We Headed Towards A Midlife Crisis?

When you reach middle age life begins to change. Things don’t work like they used to, your favorite songs are now considered classics, and you start dreaming of convertible sports cars. Social media as a marketing tool has reach middle age and is maturing as a medium. Yet this doesn’t mean we are facing a mid-life crisis. It means we need to change the way we think about our social media strategies.

Social media is no longer new and has become mainstream for many.

Across the globe 3.5 billion people are active on social media. And while social media users are increasing there are signs we have entered a maturity stage. One sign of this new era is that user growth has stalled in certain markets. The number of social media users in the U.S. failed to grow for the first time last year. And Facebook’s growth has slowed in the U.S. and Canada to just 1% while growth in Europe was just 2%.

Growth has stalled in other areas as well. US daily time spent with social media fell 1 minute in 2018 after an increase of 13 minutes the previous two years. And it is predicted that time will remain flat at just 1 hour, 15 minutes through 2021. While we are spending less time on social media we are adding more social platforms. The average global social media user age 16-34 has 9 social media accounts. Even 55-64 year old’s are on 5 social media platforms now.

New social media platforms stats become more relevant.

In this new era social media managers must consider more than global monthly active users (MAUs) and overall user demographics of social platforms. Another stat to consider is daily active users (DAUs) among target audiences in specific markets. The question to ask may no longer be “What social media platform is my target audience on?”, but instead consider “What social media platforms are my target audience most active in?” This makes a difference as the table below illustrates.

Globally the top social platforms by highest MAUs are Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. But if you look at global DAUs the top social platforms switch order with Snapchat in first, then Facebook, followed by Twitter. The platforms and order further change when you add demographics and a specific country. The highest DAUs for Gen Z (age 13-19) in the U.S. now become Instagram first, YouTube second, and third Snapchat.

Flat time spent with social media, stalled user growth and more social accounts means platforms and brands have become more competitive for user’s time. And this has lead to increased social ad spending. Social media used to be thought of as “free marketing,” but no longer if you want to remain effective and drive results. While social media marketing use among U.S. brands rose 1% in the past two years (90% to 91%), social media ad spending increase 48% ($18.6 billion to $34.9 billion).

A maturing social media landscape calls for some new strategies.

What do these signs of aging mean? It means putting the top down on your social media and letting in some new strategies. Instead of using social to saturate your audience with brand content across the same channels you may need to add social platforms where you have not been before. And if you haven’t already you’ll need to use more paid social to reach those users. But this doesn’t mean spray and pray. Success comes in targeting the right audiences at the right time in the right social platforms. And it means using AI machine learning to optimize those efforts.

Yet brand posts and brand ads may not be enough. Social media strategies must also integrate employee advocacy, executive communication, user generated content, social customer care, influencer marketing, and messaging. Paid can drive direct action and increase reach, but organic can build community which can lead to advocacy.

Finally, with the increase in social ad spending this means more than ever you’ll need to connect social strategy to business objectives using analytics to measure outcomes with a good Social Media Measurement Plan. Avoid a midlife crisis. Take the time to adjust your social media strategy. A good first step is to Perform A Social Media Audit of your existing strategy following a Social Media Audit Template. Social media author and consultant Jay Baer says, “If your social media strategy is older than a year, you don’t have a strategy.” As social media has matured and spending has increased after COVID-19 Ask These Questions To Ensure You Have The Right Strategy.

Social Media Etiquette & Ethics: A Guide for Personal, Professional & Brand Use.

With 73% of the world’s Internet users active in social media, 83% of Fortune 500 companies with social media accounts and 92% of recruiters using social media to find candidates it is too important not to carefully consider your actions. Social media brings together our personal, professional and working lives in a way no other medium has before. How do we navigate this social landscape where our worlds collide and brands communicate like people in one-on-one conversations with consumers?

Etiquette is the proper way to behave and Ethics studies ideas about good and bad behavior. Both combine into Professionalism, which is the skill, good judgment, and polite behavior expected from a person trained to do a job such as social media marketing. Because social media blurs the lines between our personal and professional lives it is useful to look at actions in social media from three perspectives: Personal (as an individual), Professional (as an employee or perspective employee) and Brand (as an organization). To simplify the discussion I have created questions for each category in the Social Media Etiquette and Ethics Guide below.

Personal Social Use

If you think what you do in social has to do only with your personal life, there are facts you should consider: 60% of employers use social sites to research job candidates, 41% say they use social networking sites to research current employees and 26% have found content online that caused them to reprimand or fire an employee. Even if you try to keep your social profiles completely private 41% of employers say they are less likely to interview someone if they find no information about that person online.

The top types of content that turns employers off should not surprise you: Inappropriate photographs, videos, drinking/using drugs, discriminatory comments, bad-mouthing a previous company or fellow employee, and poor communication skills. The good news is employers can find information that causes them to hire a candidate including: background supports job qualifications, a professional image, personality fits company culture, a well-rounded range of interests, and great communication skills.

What about ranting? Rants blow off steam and make you feel better right? Research has found people’s moods decline after reading rants, and after writing rants they became more angry, not less. Forum moderator Bill Horne describes ranting as “watching others being burned at the electronic stake as they abandon logic, courtesy, common sense and self-respect.” In the end no one feels better. Recruitment professional Kate Croucher says about candidates, “If they are sharing lots of interesting things, and making insightful comments or forming strong opinions, and interacting with others in a positive way, it shows their ability to rally people behind them and develop effective relationships.”


Before you post or comment in a personal capacity consider:

  1. Is it all about me? No one likes someone who only talks about themselves. The same applies in social media. Balance boasting with complimenting.
  2. Am I stalking someone? It is good to be driven and persistent but be careful not to cross the line into creepy. Don’t be too aggressive in outreach.
  3. Am I spamming them? Not everything or even the majority of what you post should ask for something. Don’t make everything self-serving.
  4. Am I venting or ranting? Venting and ranting may feel good, but research says it doesn’t help and no matter how justified you feel, it never presents you in a positive light. Do not post negative comments or gossip.
  5. Did I ask before I tagged? You had a great time and want to share those memories, but your friends, family or employer may have different standards. Check before you tag people in posts.
  6. Did I read before commenting or sharing? Don’t make yourself look foolish by not fully reviewing something you are commenting on or sharing with others. Don’t jump to conclusions.
  7. Am I grateful and respectful? Don’t take people for granted. Respond and thank those who engage with you.
  8. Is this the right medium for the message? Not everything should be said in social media. Consider the feelings of the other person. Some messages should be given in person, by phone or email.
  9. Am I logged into the right account? There are too many corporate examples of embarrassing posts meant for personal jokes that went out on official brand accounts. Always double check which account you are on. Don’t post personal information on brand accounts.

Professional Social Use

As seen above, social media has blurred our personal and professional lives. As an employee or contractor you should consider how your social use impacts your employer. When hired you should always refer to the company’s social media policy, but here are some general guidelines to consider. Not only should your social media not hurt the company, but many companies today see your active personal social media use as a medium of advocacy for the brand. Also, anything you post now may impact your professional image as a potential employee at another company or organization.


Before you post or comment as a professional consider:

  1. Does it meet the Social Media Policy? Most organizations have official social media policies that you probably received when hired. Don’t assume you know what the policy says. Many employees have been fired for not following company social media regulations. Make sure you know and follow employer or client requirements.
  2. Does it hurt my company’s reputation? No matter how many disclaimers you put on your accounts such as “views are my own” certain content and behavior will negatively impact your employer. If your bio states where you work, your personal account represents your employer.
  3. Does it help my company’s marketing? Employee advocacy is an important strategy. Have a positive impact on your company’s image and when you can advocate for your brand in social.
  4. Would my boss/client be happy to see it? You may not have “friended” your boss or client but a co-worker may have and your post is only a share or screen grab away. Even private accounts are never fully private.
  5. Am I being open about who I work for? It is good to post positive content about your employer and it is nice to receive gifts, but if you are trying to pass it off as unbiased opinion that is wrong. Be transparent about your financial connections.
  6. Am I being fair and accurate? Everyone is entitled to their person opinion, but if your opinion tends to always be unfounded and seems to have an agenda it will reflect negatively upon you. Criticism is welcome when it is constructive and opinion is backed by evidence.
  7. Am I being respectful and not malicious? People can get very insensitive, judgmental and angry in social media posts. That does not convey a professional image. Don’t post what you wouldn’t say in person. Even an outburst in person fades in memory, but a malicious post is there forever.
  8. Does it respect intellectual property? Not everything on the Internet is free. Check for or get permission to post company or client brand assets and content.
  9. Is this confidential information? As an employee or contractor you are granted access to privileged and confidential information. Don’t assume it is fine to share. Do not disclose non-public company or client information.

Brand Social Use

For those who are responsible for creating and sharing brand social media content there are additional considerations to ensure you are helping to meet business goals and following laws and regulations. With 92% of S&P 500, 100% of Down Jones companies active on social media and 91% of retail brands using two or more social channels chances are your company is participating in social media through brand accounts.


Before posting or commenting as a brand on a social account consider:

  1. Does it speak to my target market? Social media is unique from traditional marketing and requires a different perspective to be effective. Be sure to focus on your target’s wants and needs not yours.
  2. Does it add value? Social media only works if people view and share it. Make your content educational, insightful or entertaining to grab interest and draw engagement.
  3. Does it fit the social channel? Don’t post content ideal for Twitter on Instagram or Reddit. Each channel has its own culture and community. Make sure each post fits the channel’s environment, mission and policies or standards.
  4. Is it authentic and transparent? Trying to trick people into clicking a link or making a purchase will get you nowhere. Don’t hide or exclude any relevant information.
  5. Is it real and unique? Bots can automate tasks and be a great time saver, but use them for the right actions. Don’t use auto responses and create anything that could be perceived as spam.
  6. Is it positive and respectful? It may be fine to talk trash about competitors or complain about customers in the office, but not in social media. Don’t badmouth the competition or customers.
  7. Does it meet codes of conduct? As professionals we are part of trade associations that set standards of conduct. Be sure you are meeting these ethical standards such as the Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s Code of Ethics.
  8. Does it meet all laws and regulations? Government has been catching up with social media and have issued regulations and laws you must follow. See guides on requirements like the FTC social media endorsement guidelines.
  9. Does it meet the Social Media Policy? Most likely your brand or a client’s brand has a social media policy. Ensure you follow your own company standards.

The last consideration in all social media action from a personal, professional or brand perspective has to do with listening. A recent study showed that listening can influence up to 40% of a leader’s performance. Listening improves relationships and social media is based on relationships with friends, colleagues and customers.

The last question to ask before posting or commenting in social media is:

10. Have I listened twice as much as I am talking? Do you fully understand the person, organization or situation you are commenting about? We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Taking the time to pause and listen has saved many a person or brand from putting their foot in their mouth and given valuable insight into creating successful social media efforts.

This guide just touches the surface of social media etiquette, ethics and professionalism. For formal legal advice you should consult the official documents or more in-depth resources. The lesson here is to take the time to ask questions and think before you post.

To consider the bigger picture in social media marketing Ask These Questions To Ensure You Have The Right Strategy.