TikTok’s 500M 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 500 million 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
Find more statistics at Statista

In the U.S., TikTok is the second most popular mobile social network app behind Facebook. 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.

Yet 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).

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 watch 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 by default have the sound turned on. Therefore, subtitles are not has important.

Businesses can participate in the social platform by creating 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, 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 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?

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