What Is TikTok?

Rebecca Shortt

You may have heard of TikTok, the social video app that is taking the social media world by storm. We’re often being asked about the new platform, so we thought we’d chuck everything we know into a blog so you can learn a bit more and discover whether it’s fitting for your business! We’ve also added a section on who TikTok’s users are, so you can find out if you should be implementing it into your social media strategy.

What is TikTok?

First things first, what is TikTok? Hootsuite defines it as ‘real short videos’, which we reckon is a pretty accurate description for it! The videos can be up to 15 seconds long, but users can connect multiple clips together for up to 60 seconds. It’s currently the fastest growing social media platform out there, with over 1.5 billion users in multiple countries. It has had an 85% year-on-year increase, which is huge compared to Facebooks 8% year-on-year growth. TikTok is often mistaken as a lip-syncing app, which is what Musical.ly used to be. In 2017, its parent company, Bytedance, bought Muscial.ly for $800 million. Bytedance had already launched Douyin, the predecessor to TikTok, in China. Bytedance then merged the two platforms to form TikTok. Bytedance has now exceeded Uber as the world’s most valuable start-up and is priced at a crazy $75 billion.

How Does it Work?

TikTok is all about creating and watching short videos. There are in-app tools to create videos with stop and start recording, timers, a massive library of songs, split screens, transitions, stickers, GIFs, emoji, visual filters and other effects. The music library is integrated with Apple Music which gives it the edge over other social media platforms that use music. Supposedly, TikTok plays a big part in helping tracks to climb up the charts, as creators can add, remix, save and discover songs through playlists. Users of TikTok can follow accounts, give hearts to videos they appreciate and comment on and share videos they enjoy. There is an option to purchase in-app coins, which users can buy to give to creators. Creators are users who have a large following and create good quality videos, like an Instagram ‘Influencer’.

Now we know how it’s used, how does the algorithm work? Well, it’s the same as other social media platforms in that it’s focused on user-generated content. However, it’s all about introducing users to new content rather than showing the content posted by people you follow. The ‘TikTok For You’ feed, which acts as a homepage, is full of viral content TikTok thinks users will enjoy and will adjust based on the user’s behaviour.

TikTok is all about creating and watching short videos.

Who Uses It?

You may have wondered who the 1.5 billion users are and where they come from. Based on these stats and figures, you can then decide whether it’s relevant to use for your business. It is particularly popular with teenagers and Generation Z. 41% of users are between 16 and 24 years old with 75% of users in China being between the age of 18 and 35 years old. China is also the most popular country to use the app, however it is also used in 154 other countries worldwide, with 40% of users based outside China. It seems to have far more traction with female audiences, with 1.9 million unique users for females in the UK and 1.5 million unique users for male audiences in the UK. Similar to Snapchat and Instagram, the penetration rate by age group shows a massive majority of youngers and a penetration among older age groups that quickly drops off.

Using it as a Business

TikTok is just another platform you, as a business, can use to connect with an audience and increase your brand awareness. If your target audience is Generation Z, you should definitely consider posting content. Brands on the platform already include Nike, Fenty Beauty and Apple Music. The big businesses primarily use it for increased brand awareness, and take part in popular challenges. TikTok has been testing in-app ads since January 2019, so they will probably start rolling out more frequently soon. Influencer marketing on TikTok is also a thing, with some businesses scouting popular creators to share branded content. If joining TikTok is something your business is thinking about, here is some advice from us:

  • Only add it to your social media strategy if your audience is the same as the platform
  • Post fun or educational videos that fit in with your brand
  • Treat it like Instagram instead of Youtube, and don’t just rely on the front page for trending videos.
  • Spend a few minutes exploring different hashtags and viral songs
  • Promote your TikTok profile on your other social media platforms to drive traffic
  • Tag #ForYouPage, #ForYou or #FYP for an increased chance of being added to the For You page
  • Follow trending challenges and video styles and post videos in line with these. This will ensure users will  be interested in what you’re posting
  • Explore other content, particularly your target audience and engage with them to draw more traffic to  your profile.

What next?

We hope you’ve found our blog with an introduction to TikTok useful. The best way to get your head around any new app in practice, it is to download the app and explore it! Set up a personal profile and get to understand how others are using it, then let your creative juices flow!

Every month we send out an e-newsletter with loads more handy social media tips and tricks. Our latest blog post included one of our favourite work hacks, so make sure you give that a read!

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