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What is TikTok?

Oct 16, 2019

Everything you need to know about the latest viral video app, TikTok!

TikTok is a short-form, video-sharing mobile app allowing users to create, produce and share 15-second lip-sync, comedy, and talent videos. Holding the crown of being one of the most-downloaded photo and video apps of 2018, the platform has amassed over 524 million monthly global users, overtaking Twitter, LinkedIn and Snapchat. TikTok is available in 33 languages (on par with Twitter) and is supported on both Android and iOS devices, with the US being the most popular country where it’s been downloaded over 80 million times.

How did it all start?

TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company who bought over Musical.ly in August 2018, with all existing content and accounts automatically transferred over to TikTok, accounting for over 100 million users.

Unlike Musical.ly which only focussed on lip syncing to music, TikTok offers a much broader scope for video creation and is being promoted as a video-sharing social network. In China, TikTok have a separate bespoke app called Duyin, which has over 300 million active monthly users.

Why is it so popular?

Celebrity ambassadors have been a core factor in TikTok’s global expansion strategy, utilising celebrities to create content which then goes viral, generating buzz around the new platform as a result. TikTok’s paid partnership strategy involves selecting celebrities within specific regions who then promote the app to local audiences, with this tactic being utilised in various countries including America, Japan, Thailand and India.

In America, for example, TikTok gained momentum via a paid partnership with Jimmy Fallon, which involved the ‘#TumbleweedChallenge’, urging viewers to video themselves rolling like a tumbleweed and posting it on TikTok. Within 1 week the challenge had gone viral, with over 8,000 entries and 10.4 million engagements.

Localisation of content has also helped TikTok to thrive. Although the app is available globally, localised content has been key, with the app regularly running competitions and challenges tailored to local trends and cultures. Users are also targeted with local trending hashtags to provide inspiration and recommended topics for content creation.

Creating TikTok videos is also really easy, with the app simplifying video production. Due to the 15 second max limit, video creation and sharing video content via the app, doesn’t take much time or effort.

TikTok videos are snappy and addictive and automatically start to play one after the other, as soon as the user opens the app - engaging them instantly.

How to advertise?

TikTok users are highly engaged, subscribing to the app to actively discover, consume and interact with video content. The app doesn’t offer traditional advertising for brands, therefore the focus is on slightly different marketing techniques including TikTok challenges and contests, leveraging hashtags and collaborating with TikTok celebrities to create and distribute sponsored video content.

Most recently, Ralph Lauren was the first luxury brand to use the sponsored hashtag challenge format as well as being the first brand to launch a TikTok campaign associated with a US Sporting event; the 2019 U.S. Open. The campaign saw the distribution of 3 videos featuring actress, Diana Silvers which included a call-to-action for the hashtag campaign called #WinningRL, where users were asked to share an example of a time where they have won a real-life challenge. The brand also used TikTok’s latest offering called ‘Hashtag Challenge Plus’ which allowed users to shop the U.S. Open collection all within the app, making the campaign completely shoppable.

There is no doubt that this is just the beginning of TikTok and we will continue to see the platform expand and evolve - Digitonic will definitely be keeping a close eye!