TikTok – The New Kid on the Block. How can it Help Your Business?

Ravi Vyas October 01, 2019

Some of you about to read this blog will have heard all about TikTok. You’re clued up and here to learn even more about the new kid on the social media block. It’s fair to say though, that a significant number of readers will have absolutely no idea what TikTok is, what it does, who uses it, and for what purpose. So, for those amongst us in need of a little “bringing up to speed”, let’s take a quick delve into the world of TikTok.


TikTok Explained

Let’s start with the basics - TikTok is an extremely popular social media app. Its users create short-form, usually (but not exclusively) music-focused videos and edit them with lenses, filters, sound bites and augmented reality features. Users videos can be a maximum of 15 seconds long and often take the form of lip-synching.

Frequently described as an amalgamation of Vine, Twitter and Instagram, collaboration with other users is a major factor in the TikTok experience. Users can “split-screen duet” with fellow users by replying to their video, which culminates in long and spectacular collaborative threads of videos from thousands of different users.

All of the above (and much more) come together to make TikTok a whole lot of fun to use, and go a long way to explaining its explosion in popularity. It has completely captivated its users. As a platform it thrives on being addictive and having that all-important “binge-watching” factor.

Originally known as, TikTok has slipped seamlessly into the considerable void left by the untimely demise of Vine in January 2017. September 2018 saw TikTok surpass Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat for monthly installs in the App Store. Indeed the calendar year of 2018 saw the app downloaded more than a billion times. It has over 500 million monthly users (considerably ahead of Twitter and Snapchat) and that number is growing rapidly. Thanks to the runaway success of TikTok, its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, is now valued a whopping $75 billion. These are some serious numbers we’re talking about here.


TikTok and Marketing, how can Businesses Utilise this Opportunity?

With 66% of TikTok’s users being younger than 30-years-old, the platform represents a unique opportunity for businesses to target the attention of the notoriously hard-to-reach Generation Z. Who are Generation Z you may ask? Well, the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines Generation Z as “the generation of people born in the late 1990s and early 2000s”.

So, what types of advertisements are available for businesses to utilise on TikTok? The platform supports four types:

In-feed Native Advertising – Think along the lines of Snapchat or Instagram story ads. These will be 9-15 seconds long, will play full screen, appear in a user’s feed, and are skippable.

Brand Takeover – Allows one brand to take over the app’s launch screen for a day. These ads will be full screen, up to 5 seconds long, and will consist of static, animated or video images that display when the user opens the app.

Hashtag Challenges – Thus far these interactive challenges are proving to be the most popular and successful of the TikTok advertisement categories. Basically, a business can create a hashtag which entices users to create posts around the theme, usually with a prizes awarded for the best and most creative entries. Dubai’s own Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DDTCM) utilised this method in July 2019 with the phenomenally successful #ThisisDubai campaign. DDTCM created stickers with Dubai-themed music and invited users to capture videos all over the city. 9,800 videos were created by TikTok users and those videos were viewed over 30 million times. Jaw-dropping statistics.

Branded lenses – Again, think Snapchat and their 2D and 3D lenses for photos and faces. TikTok’s version follows similar principals.


The Rising Role of TikTok Influencers

Admittedly, TikTok influencers are not yet at the level of their established and seasoned Instagram cousins. However, that certainly doesn’t mean they should be disregarded. Quite the opposite in fact.

TikTok’s influencers’ time is coming….and it’s coming quickly. Securing the services of a TikTok influencer currently comes at an absolute fraction of the whopping cost that Instagram influencers do. There’s bang to be had for your buck here. Take the recent example of a music label (via an agency) using just 5 TikTok influencers to promote one of their artist’s new songs. The campaign reached 20 million users, produced over 1000 videos and garnered 1.3 million views using the hashtag #MoneyDanceChallenge. In total, the artist’s song reached 8 million views. Mind-blowing figures achieved at impressively low costs.


TikTok – The Future

All the signs point to TikTok continuing its rapid and immense growth. Businesses are waking up to the power of advertising on a platform that will secure them the holy grail that is the attention of Gen Z.

UAE-based brands such as Dubai Mall, Skydive Dubai, and the Palazzo Versace Dubai have already embraced and utilised TikTok to their considerable benefit. Other businesses in the MENA region could and should do the same. TikTok represents a rare opportunity to market directly to a generation on the cusp of becoming tomorrow’s mass consumers. It’s an opportunity not to be missed.



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