Marketing, Strategy
January 9, 2020
All About TikTok: What’s this viral platform and how can you use it?
All About TikTok: What’s this viral platform and how can you use it?

By Ivie Ndep

What’s the hullabaloo about TikTok anyway? TikTok is currently one of the most interesting, fun, creative, and popular social media apps out there today. The platform is owned by ByteDance, a Beijing company founded in 2012 by Zhang Yiming. It is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms and currently has over 500 million users worldwide.

The platform allows users to upload 15-second lip sync, comedy or talent videos with music filters. These videos tend to be exciting, innovative, and creative. Whether you are a fashion fanatic, or a dance, music, sports, or even pet lover, there’s something for everyone to watch and engage with. Personalized video streams are even shown based on user interests and location. This platform allows for self-expression in so many ways!

How Does TikTok Work?

Users can sign up on TikTokthrough Facebook, Instagram, a phone number, or an email address. Once logged into the platform, you can either upload content or view videos on the “For You” feed which uses your interests and location to suggest popular videos. There’s also the option of viewing videos from people you follow by switching to “Following”.

Although TikTok allows users to upload their own content, many users don’t create content themselves – they just use the app to find and follow popular creators. The “Discover” tab shows trending hashtags and allows them to search for videos. Names of popular creators, categories (comedy, fashion, animals, sports) and hashtags can be used to find videos.

TikTok Screenshot

Source: SongBird Marketing Communications

Who are the Users/Creators on TikTok?

TikTok is especially popular with Gen Z. According to the Global Web Index, 44% of TikTok users are between the ages of 16-24. The app is all the hype among teens, but many curious adults can also be found engaging on the platform.

What can the Platform Do?

Users can select songs they wish to use in their videos, then record themselves miming or lip-syncing to the music. It is also possible to record your video first and then select a song that goes with the video. The app has a lot of features for users to add – AR filters, cool effects, play speed, transitions, trim, rotate, stickers. Viewers can also view videos under trending hashtags and submit their own videos with these hashtags.

What Types of Content Work Well on Tiktok?

Comedy/funny videos – Comedy gets the highest engagement on Tiktok and it is by far the most shared type of content.

Inspirational/emotional content – the great thing about TikTok is content that is raw and authentic usually resonates with people using the platform so it can allow you escape the perceived superficiality of Instagram and just be your natural self.

Hashtag challenges – Just like Instagram, hashtags are the bedrock of the platform and the key to making your content go viral. Hashtag challenges are frequently hosted by Tiktok with the video challenges being quite popular – for example, #lipsyncchallenge and #comedychallenge. Entering these challenges enables users to get eyeballs on their content. A lot of regular Joes have gone viral and become very popular through these hashtag challenges.

How Brands Use Tiktok for Marketing

The most popular way brands are using TikTok right now is through the Hashtag challenges.  This tactic has worked well with so many brands.  The challenges are usually started by influencers who then encourage their audience to get involved by using that same hashtag and songs to create their own personal content.

Many brands have experimented with marketing on TikTok. A great example is Chipotle’s National Guacamole day #Guacdance challenge which is currently one of TikTok’s highest performing branded challenges with over 250,000 submissions and 430 million video starts in just 6 days!


The TikTok challenge, #GuacDance, was inspired by Dr. Jean’s viral guac song. Source: PR Newswire

Challenges with TikTok

As with any other platform, TikTok has downsides. TikTok has been under intense scrutiny because of privacy, censorship, and national security concerns. There have been complaints of adults contacting children inappropriately and cases of bullying, especially of the LGBTQ community and people with disabilities. Popular TikTok teen stars also recently sparked a riot at Eaton Centre in Toronto where police had to be called for crowd control. Welcome to the age of TikTok!

TikTok is still very much underdeveloped and they have been working hard to get celebrities and influencers to sign up on the platform. The platform is, however, growing rapidly and any brand trying to reach Gen Z should look at getting on the platform. Although, as with any platform, marketers must explore and decide if the platform is right for their brand.

If you’re trying to figure out what social media platforms are right for your business – or you want to hop into the world of TikTok, email us at!

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