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Social Media Marketing

TikTok Marketing: The Breakdown

Marketing in general, but social media in particular, is constantly changing on us. That’s why when a new social media app blows up, it’s worth your time to investigate it. The source of all the buzz this time around? TikTok.

Let’s take a look.

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What is TikTok?

Think lip-syncing with a little more flair. 

The viral app was born from its Chinese counterpart, Douyin, which was established in 2017. Douyin’s massive popularity launched it overseas to the U.S. when it bought out Musical.ly, an app with a similar purpose that was better known in the western world. Then, all non-Chinese global users migrated to the TikTok platform. 

The public downloaded TikTok 660 million times in 2018, then over 1.1 billion users installed the app  in March 2019 alone. Now, over 500 million individuals actively use the app each month. 

So, to answer your question, TikTok is a massively popular global phenomenon that your brand needs to jump on. The app follows a similar formula to the now long-dead Vine, with users uploading short, 15-second videos. While many users originally followed suit with the app’s predecessor Musical.ly of creating lip-syncing videos, many have strayed away with more original content. 

This variety boosted the app’s popularity, taking it out of a strictly music-based niche and expanding into comedy, pranks, dance, fashion, beauty, crafting, and more. Because of this, you’ll find that most influencers on TikTok are not the same influencers that exploded on Musical.ly. TikTok in general is so influential, in fact, that a number of song have launched into popularity from TikTokers using them in video trends. You’ll hear many songs referred to as “TikTok Hits,” as the app is where they originally found notoriety.

Who uses TikTok?

Generation Z is the primary user demographic, with 66% of users under the age of 30 and skewing majority female. The app is still in its early stages, however, so this is subject to change. 

Additionally, the majority of users are in the U.S., India, and China, where it all began. Douyin, the app’s Chinese counterpart, rakes in 400 million monthly users by itself.

For a guide on how to use the app in a general sense, see here.

How does TikTok social media marketing work?

TikTok is a very niche social media platform, not in its content variety, but in its use. The app has only just began to offer advertising and hyperlinking, and looping videos with musical overlays can seem like a strange way to market your brand. Despite this, many brands have used the app to create brand awareness, generate traffic, and engage the younger audiences that inhabit it. 

This engagement comes in the form of funny shorts, hashtag challenges, and participation in memes specific to the platform. TikTok gives brands a chance to show their lighter, less serious side and cater to an audience they may not typically reach. 

The Washington Post, for instance, has taken advantage of the platform to create an entirely different brand identity from their Twitter and Facebook. The normally serious hard news publication showcases a sillier side of themselves on TikTok, heavily leaning into a Gen Z brand of humor. 

The same old strategies are of no use in TikTok marketing. Like any social media marketing, you have to adjust your strategy depending on the platform, and this is a very quirky platform. It takes a lot of social media literacy to see the intricacies of the content and how/why users create it. Subtle commentary is heavy and memes aren’t always what they appear to be. 

Our recommendation? Do your research before jumping on any bandwagon, never force it, and always pay attention to how long it’s been since a trend has begun. Your credibility can take a hit if you’re caught participating in a played-out meme or challenge.

Creating Your TikTok Marketing Strategy

The app is still very new, which lends itself well to experimentation. This is a great time to be an early adopter for marketing purposes, find your groove, and fully exploit it. Show off the more eccentric side of your brand and engage with your audience. 

If you’re nervous to jump in by yourself, contact Jeff Hays, our director of client services. With him, schedule a chat about how you can create your TikTok marketing strategy. We’ve been leveraging our social media marketing expertise for over a decade. We’d love to help set yours on the right track. 

As always, feel free to contact us any time.

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