TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social media apps in the world right now. It is in the top five most downloaded apps on both mobile app stores. Google Trends suggests that search volume and interest has been increasing over the last 12-months. There’s no sign that this interest is going to slow down any time soon. Now, that said, TikTok is way past its early adopter phase. There are already well-established creators on the platform, meaning growth may not be as explosive as people have already experienced. Does that mean you should skip it? No, there are still plenty of opportunities to build an audience on TikTok, and learn from the current group of creators. Here’s why you SHOULD be on TikTok.
What is TikTok and what kind of content is created there?
TikTok is a short-form, video social media app that is especially popular with younger audiences. Videos are 15-seconds long and are often used in conjunction with speed adjustments, filters, and added music. The current most popular type of content is overdubbing a popular song or quote and making it your own. There are always easy ways to collaborate and remix other users’ content - especially useful when capitalizing on memes. But there’s plenty of other types of videos as well. At the core, creativity and entertainment is the main driver of content.
TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company that launched “ByteDance” in 2016. In 2017, they purchased Musical.ly and merged them into the newly formed TikTok in 2018. While both former apps created new markets in social media content, TikTok actually fills a void that was left since Vine shut down in 2017. TikTok is now the go-to platform for short, ephemeral videos that drive new meme creations.
You should be on TikTok
TikTok is still growing rapidly, especially in the North American market. According to data from eMarketer, TikTok is only currently being used by 3% of social media users (as of October 2019). That number will likely increase as interest and awareness of the platform continues to grow. Demographically, TikTok users skew young - 20% are under 20, 33% are 20 to 24, and 25% are 25 to 29. Those users are ideal for YouTube creators as they show a clear interest in both video and entertaining content.
TikTok audiences are also very accustomed to following their favorite TIkTokers on other platforms. Most current successful creators drive their audiences to YouTube, Instagram, and Twitch. These platforms allow them to better monetize their content and turn their audience into a career as influencers. Currently, there isn’t enough awareness or data about TikTok for marketers to invest heavily in campaigns there, but again, that is likely to change.
Beyond the potential as a creator to grow an audience on TikTok, it's also an excellent tool for research. As previously mentioned, TikTok is a meme leader in the video space. A lot of content that gets popular on YouTube and Instagram was originally created on TikTok. As a creator, this offers excellent insight into what kind of content you want to create (or at the very least how to incorporate fresh memes). The value of memes are surprisingly important as they tend to have cultural value and lead trends.
Possible threats to TikTok
While there is a lot of upside to being on TikTok, there may be some issues for the platform itself. While you as a creator will likely have nothing to fear, TikTok could experience the wrath of the US government. The simple fact that TikTok is owned by a Chinese company immediately brings some insecurity to its access to the USA. However, more to the point, Musical.ly was hit with a $5.7M fine last year after it received a major COPPA violation. (The same COPPA that YouTube creators are terrified about right now). There’s also the possibility that TikTok is just a flash in the pan and drops out of favor as quickly as Snapchat has since Instagram released stories. Only time will tell, but for now - you might as well at least download the app and explore it’s potential value to you as a creator.
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