what is tiktok

Launched in 2016, TikTok has grown to become one of the most popular forms of social media available today. Used as a method of delivering and consuming video content, it has a variety of categories and plays 60-second videos. TikTok has amassed a following of over 800 million monthly active users who consume an average of 52 minutes of content daily. With a variety of users, from teenagers and influencers to celebrities and brands, TikTok is definitely a phenomenon that can help highlight your business. 

What Exactly Is TikTok?

TikTok is a social media platform that allows users to share videos. Users began by uploading content that included performances like dance routines, lip-syncs, comedy sketches, and challenges. 

Seen as the natural successor to Vine, TikTok has gone beyond the Vine platform’s 6-second video reels and created substantial space for content. With 800 million active users, it should be on everyone’s radar as a potential way to market your brand or business.

One of the reasons for TikTok’s exponential growth and mass appeal is its access to music and an algorithm that matches your tastes and preferences with creators. TikTok communities have emerged from the varieties of content that the app presents for consumers. This can be found on TikTok’s ‘For You’ Page which uses the algorithm to anticipate what users will enjoy. 

Interestingly, TikTok’s algorithm isn’t interested in how many followers someone has. Rather, it focuses on the potential virality of the content. Users can peruse a large range of filters, film clips, and music when creating clips to make engaging, creative content. In 2020 alone, the app has seen over two billion downloads and is continuing to grow in popularity. 

what is tiktok
A tiktok success story: @itsdanielmac
TikTok has led to the fame of influencers like @itsdanielmac

The Origins of TikTok

While it launched in 2016, the origins of TikTok have roots in other social apps that have been well-established brands. TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance first launched TikTok under the name of Douyin when they were operating solely in China. After achieving success in 2017, it was released to international markets with a new rebrand – TikTok. 

How TikTok evolved into what we know today is due to a smart investment purchase by ByteDance in 2017. Musical.ly was purchased by Bytedance for a reported 1 billion dollars. Launching in 2014, Muscial.ly was incredibly popular in Europe and in North and South America. With TikTok thriving in Asia, combining the two apps would create a powerhouse of interactive content. 

Bringing together the two products allowed an open share of the market and open content to a wider audience who could contribute to the array of content that spans multiple interests and industries. 

TikTok continues to grow in popularity as users are able to create interactive content with a host of video-editing capabilities built into the app. This has allowed for people of all ages to become involved with content creation and opened opportunities for niche subjects to be made more accessible to the general public. 


Any want to look after nick for the day so I can have some peace #teamsmithy

♬ original sound – Smithyfamily

Why Should I Get TikTok for My Business? 

With TikTok’s massive appeal and continuing growth, brands and organisations should be making TikTok accounts to allow for others to engage with their material. Offering your material to an audience like this can open up your content to wider demographics and push brand awareness of your service or product. 

Impressively, TikTok’s algorithm isn’t based on how many followers someone has but on the potential for a video going viral. This allows exposure for any account which ensures that you can build a faithful following if you’re putting out great content. 

A feature that is soon to be released on the TikTok app is a link in your bio. This will encourage traffic to leave the app onto your website or eCommerce store. The app does give the option to link out to your Instagram and YouTube accounts, so there is currently potential social traffic for your brand. 

Most social media platforms have advertising options and TikTok is no different. They offer potential creative marketing strategies that incorporate business goals into clever content. There are also influencer marketing opportunities if you want to grow your business through others reaching your target audience.

What Content Should I Make?

What makes TikTok unique is its access to ‘trends’. People engage with TikTok because you are not limited to unique, creative content but you can make use of voice-overs or video that are copies of a current trend. TikTok became famous for its dance trends but it has advanced to incorporate so much more. 

From fitness regimes, comedic lip syncs, documentary-styled observations, challenges, pranks, to beauty trends and fashion advice, the app is littered with available content that answers consumers questions and desires and deepens their interests in other issues. 

The most successful content is usually the content that makes users laugh the most. This usually incorporates lip syncs or animals doing something outside of the ordinary. If you are beginning your TikTok journey, heading to the discovery page will help you gauge what your demographic is interested in and what is trending in your geographic area.

IT also includes a breakdown of popular videos which are sorted by category. You will also be able to see all the trending hashtags of the day and curate your content around what you think will be successful. Putting your own unique spin on something that is an established trend is a sure-fire way of attracting attention to your brand and bringing it to the forefront of people’s minds. Think about what your brand’s unique selling point is and highlight that through the content. Taking the time to curate and modify your content can take time, but persevering and posting consistently will eventually bring traction to your profile and, thus, your brand. 


Where you AWARE of this?😳🥵 (Tag 3 Friends who MUST see👀 this!)

♬ Arise (From Marvel’s “Cloak & Dagger”) – The Seige

How Do I Use TikTok? 

While it has a web solution, TikTok is best when hosted on a mobile device as the videos are designed vertically to be watched on a small screen. You are able to interact with the content you enjoy by saving it or giving it a like through a ‘heart’ which indicates your interest in a video. 

Immediately after downloading the app, TikTok will begin playing video content without you having to go through any fields of interest. These videos are simply featured videos of TikTok and give you a flavour of what is to come. 

If you follow users, you are able to switch over from ‘Featured’ to ‘For You’ which shows the content that you have specific interest in. If you click on the home button in the bottom left corner, you will be able to upload your custom material to your profile. 

You might want to explore TikTok further to get a clearer picture of the content available to you. To do this, you can click on the magnifying glass icon which serves as a search function. Here, you can input hashtags or keywords that are directly related to the content you wish to peruse. 

While watching videos, it is possible to interact with the content and its creator. You can tap on the screen to pause or rewind the video. On the right side of the video, you will see a selection of options for you to interact with. This will show you the video’s creator which you can click to see what other videos they have made. You can also tap on the ‘Heart’ emoji to show your support for the video and if you enjoyed it. You are also able to click on comments and also engage with the commentary if you so choose to with these right-side icons. 

A popular feature for creators is to include captions in the video. This is ensuring accessibility for users who may be hard of hearing. If a user has sampled a song in their video, you will be able to see this at the bottom of the video with a caption. If you click on the caption, you will be able to go through a host of material. TikTok has a massive catalogue of sounds and songs to explore but it also allows you to upload your own original sounds. This is a great way of gaining exposure for jingles or earworms you may have worked on.

Getting Noticed: The TikTok Algorithm 

The TikTok algorithm is certainly up for speculation because ByteDance has refused to divulge how their ‘For You’ page is formed and how it decides what content is relevant for users to see. Having a faint understanding of the algorithm does help to push valuable content out though and allows for your ideas to be experienced with multiple people. 

Get Exposure through Video Performance

What makes TikTok entirely unique is that it bases exposure on how well individual videos perform rather than a whole profile. This means that you don’t have to worry about your follower count to ensure that the content you are creating is reaching a vast audience. 

How TikTok works out whether a video will do well is by using demographics. It serves your video to a small number of people on their ‘For You’ page. If this small amount of users react favourably to your content, then it is presented to a larger pool of users who are able to continue the interaction with your content on their feed. 

Geography Matters for Exposure

When you are creating content, your video is usually shown to those in a similar geographical location to yourself. This is a really clever feature as it allows potential users to create brand awareness for smaller businesses. 

If your TikTok content proves popular within your geographic area, then it is rolled out to an international audience to enjoy. This means that your brand could be exposed to the world within a few hours. 

Unsurprisingly, hashtags and sounds are how to boost your content to a larger audience. TikTok videos which apply to relevant hashtags are pulled into relevant Discovery pages and can even get boosted to more ‘For You’ pages. 

High traffic hashtags are a great way to engage your audience but you should also include niche hashtags that are relevant to your target audience and can bring users to see your brand. This is important for the algorithm as well as you are letting TikTok know what your content is about and who might be interested in it. 

Using trending sounds or popular earworms is another way to encourage interaction on your video. This can help boost content’s visibility as users click on a sound to see all videos associated with the music. 

Multiple Indicators for a Viral Video 

TikTok is an incredibly perceptive tool that takes into account multiple factors that may make your content successful. If your content meets an array of these indicators, TikTok will push your videos in more ‘For You’ pages driving a larger audience to your work. 

If your video is helping a consumer by answering a question or is genuinely engaging, creative, or funny, TikTok will recognise this and reward it. TikTok surveys how many rewatches your video has had, has it been shared or downloaded? Does it have any comments on it or likes? How many people completed watching the video? Once it has gathered its evidence based on these factors, it decides whether or not it should be met with a wider audience. 

Content Always Has Potential. 

Content really is King on TikTok and it isn’t guided by newer videos either. Videos that may have not gained much attention can, all of a sudden, be instant viral successes overnight. This is due to the TikTok algorithm consistently monitoring the performance of your videos on your profile. It doesn’t make a snap decision on fresh content which allows for your videos to age well, in many cases, as they may become relevant by a trend or activity that has happened in reality. 

Your video can get an uplift in engagement if a sound you have used or even a hashtag becomes relevant, exposing it to a wider audience and driving engagement with your content. 

Is TikTok Worth It? 

With its broad appeal and potential for brand exposure and engagement, it seems like a worthwhile investment for businesses and brands. Setting up your social media platforms to perform with video content is a great way to highlight your USPs to your target audience and to reach a wider audience that may not have realised what you can offer them. 

Dive into the World of Features: Exploring the Heart of TikTok

Beyond its addictive short-form videos and trending challenges, TikTok boasts a treasure trove of features that empower creators, foster engagement, and fuel the platform’s dynamic ecosystem. Let’s delve into some of the most popular features that make TikTok unique:

1. Duets:

  • Description: This feature allows you to create a video alongside another user’s content, offering opportunities for collaboration, reactions, and creative storytelling.
  • Why it’s popular: Duets foster community engagement, enable hilarious responses and interpretations, and provide a platform for smaller creators to collaborate with established ones.
  • Examples: Musicians using Duets for harmonies, comedians creating witty responses, and dancers collaborating on synchronized routines.

2. Stitch:

  • Description: This feature lets you incorporate clips from another user’s video into your own, adding a layer of interactivity and building upon existing content.
  • Why it’s popular: Stitch fuels remixes, challenges, and educational content, allowing creators to build upon trends and engage in interactive storytelling.
  • Examples: Educational creators using Stitch to add context or explanations, artists creating remixes of trending songs, and comedic creators using it for parodies and skits.

3. Live:

  • Description: TikTok Live allows you to host real-time interactive sessions with your audience, fostering deeper connections and community building.
  • Why it’s popular: Live sessions offer opportunities for Q&A, live performances, product launches, and real-time interaction, creating a dynamic and engaging experience.
  • Examples: Musicians performing live concerts, influencers hosting AMAs, brands showcasing new products, and experts conducting live workshops.

4. Q&A:

  • Description: This feature allows viewers to submit questions during your Live session, enabling direct interaction and building a sense of community.
  • Why it’s popular: Q&A fosters deeper audience connection, allows creators to address specific interests, and personalizes the Live experience.
  • Examples: Influencers answering fan questions, experts addressing audience queries, and businesses conducting product-related Q&As.

5. Hashtag Challenges:

  • Description: Hashtags act as thematic labels, and challenges encourage users to create content based on specific prompts or trends, fostering community participation and virality.
  • Why it’s popular: Challenges spark creativity, unite creators around common themes, and offer opportunities for discovery and virality.
  • Examples: Dance challenges, cooking trends, DIY projects, and social awareness campaigns.

6. Effects and Filters:

  • Description: TikTok offers a wide array of visual and audio effects, filters, and transitions that creators can use to enhance their videos and express their unique styles.
  • Why it’s popular: Effects and filters add creative flair, allow for experimentation and self-expression, and contribute to the platform’s visually engaging content.
  • Examples: Beauty filters, green screen effects, trendy transitions, and AR filters that transform the user’s environment.

7. Sounds and Music:

  • Description: A vast library of music clips and sound effects fuels creativity and allows creators to add audio layers that complement their visuals.
  • Why it’s popular: Music and sounds enhance storytelling, evoke emotions, and create trends that users can participate in and build upon.
  • Examples: Trending songs used in dance challenges, sound effects for comedic skits, and original music compositions by creators.

8. Monetization Features:

  • Description: TikTok offers various monetization options for creators, including brand partnerships, virtual gifts, and the Creator Fund, allowing them to earn income from their content.
  • Why it’s popular: Monetization empowers creators to turn their passion into a sustainable career, attracting and retaining talented individuals on the platform.
  • Examples: Creators partnering with brands for sponsored content, receiving virtual gifts from fans during Live sessions, and qualifying for payouts from the Creator Fund.

While individual creators thrive on TikTok, brands haven’t been left behind. The platform presents a unique opportunity for businesses to connect with diverse audiences, build brand awareness, and drive engagement through various marketing strategies and collaborations with influencers. Let’s explore this dynamic landscape:

1. TikTok Marketing Strategies:

  • Organic Content Creation: Develop engaging short-form videos showcasing your brand personality, products, or behind-the-scenes glimpses.
  • Hashtag Challenges: Launch branded challenges to encourage user participation and generate buzz around your product or message.
  • Live Shopping: Utilize Live sessions to showcase products, interact with customers, and drive real-time sales.
  • AR Effects and Filters: Create branded AR filters or effects that users can incorporate into their own content, increasing brand visibility.
  • Collaborations with Influencers: Partner with relevant content creators whose values and audience align with your brand for sponsored content or product placements.
  • Branded Sounds and Music: Create your own unique sound or partner with artists to create a branded song that users can incorporate into their videos.
  • In-Feed Ads: Leverage TikTok’s targeted advertising options to reach specific demographics and interests with engaging video ads.

2. Influencer Marketing on TikTok:

  • Micro-Influencers: Partnering with smaller creators with engaged communities can offer high engagement rates and authenticity.
  • Macro-Influencers: Collaborating with established creators can reach a wider audience but might require larger investments.
  • Niche Influencers: Target creators specializing in your industry or relevant to your brand’s values for focused reach and credibility.
  • Branded Hashtag Challenges: Partner with influencers to launch challenges that leverage their audience and creativity, amplifying reach and impact.
  • Product Reviews and Tutorials: Partner with creators to showcase your products in action through reviews, tutorials, or creative uses.
  • Contests and Giveaways: Collaborate with influencers to host contests or giveaways, incentivizing user participation and brand interaction.

3. Benefits of Influencer Marketing on TikTok:

  • Authenticity and Trust: Creators build trust with their communities, making their recommendations more impactful for brands.
  • Reaching Younger Audiences: TikTok skews young, making it ideal for brands targeting Gen Z and Millennials.
  • Creative Content Formats: Influencers excel at creating engaging and shareable content that resonates with their audience.
  • Increased Brand Awareness: Collaborations with popular creators can significantly boost your brand’s visibility.
  • Improved Engagement: Influencer content often drives higher engagement metrics like likes, comments, and shares.
  • Measurable Results: Track campaign performance through analytics to assess the impact of influencer collaborations.

4. Choosing the Right Influencers:

  • Alignment with Brand Values: Ensure the influencer’s values and content resonate with your brand identity.
  • Audience Demographics: Consider the influencer’s audience demographics and their relevance to your target market.
  • Engagement Rates: Look for creators with high engagement rates, indicating an active and receptive audience.
  • Content Quality and Style: Choose creators whose content style aligns with your brand aesthetic and resonates with your target audience.
  • Transparency and Authenticity: Partner with creators who disclose sponsored content transparently and authentically.

5. Tips for Successful Influencer Marketing Campaigns:

  • Set Clear Goals and Objectives: Define what you want to achieve through the campaign (e.g., brand awareness, website traffic, sales).
  • Develop a Compelling Campaign Brief: Clearly communicate your brand message, target audience, and desired outcomes to the influencer.
  • Grant Creative Freedom: Allow creators flexibility to express their unique style while ensuring alignment with your brand guidelines.
  • Track and Analyze Results: Monitor key metrics to measure the campaign’s effectiveness and optimize future collaborations.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):


  • What is TikTok?
    • TikTok is a social media platform for creating and sharing short-form videos.
  • Who uses TikTok?
    • People of all ages use TikTok, but it’s particularly popular with Gen Z and Millennials.
  • Is TikTok free to use?
    • Yes, TikTok is free to use, but it offers optional in-app purchases for things like gifts and virtual currency.

Content and Features:

  • What kind of content can I find on TikTok?
    • You’ll find a wide variety of content on TikTok, including dance challenges, comedy skits, educational videos, lifestyle tips, and more.
  • What are some popular features on TikTok?
    • Popular features include Duets, Stitch, Live streaming, Q&A, Hashtag Challenges, and Effects & Filters.
  • How can I monetize my TikTok account?
    • Several options exist, including brand partnerships, virtual gifts, the Creator Fund, and in-feed ads.

Safety and Privacy:

  • Is TikTok safe for kids?
    • With parental controls and open communication, it can be a safe and enjoyable platform for young users.
    • Remember, the app has an age restriction of 13+.
  • What privacy settings should I use?
    • Customize settings to control who can see your content, message you, and download your videos.
  • How can I report inappropriate content?
    • Use the in-app reporting tools to flag offensive content.

Marketing and Business:

  • How can I use TikTok for marketing?
    • Create engaging content, utilize influencer partnerships, and leverage advertising options.
  • What are the benefits of influencer marketing on TikTok?
    • Authenticity, reaching younger audiences, creative content formats, increased brand awareness, and improved engagement.
  • How can I choose the right influencers for my brand?
    • Consider alignment with brand values, audience demographics, engagement rates, content style, and transparency.

Additional Questions:

  • How can I download TikTok videos?
    • Downloading options vary depending on the device and video settings. Some creators allow downloads, while others don’t.
  • What are some alternative platforms to TikTok?
    • Popular alternatives include Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, and Likee.


From its humble beginnings as a lip-syncing app to a global phenomenon brimming with creativity, entertainment, and even educational content, TikTok has redefined the way we consume and create online. This dynamic platform offers immense potential for individuals and businesses alike, but it also comes with its own set of challenges and considerations.

For creators: TikTok provides a platform to express yourself, build a community, and explore your creative potential. However, responsible content creation, understanding community guidelines, and navigating safety features are crucial for a positive and enriching experience.

For businesses: TikTok offers a unique opportunity to connect with diverse audiences, build brand awareness, and drive engagement through creative marketing strategies and influencer partnerships. However, understanding the platform’s nuances, targeting the right audience, and measuring campaign results are key to success.

For parents and educators: While TikTok can be a source of entertainment and learning, ensuring a safe and responsible online experience for young users is paramount. Utilize parental controls, open communication, and discuss responsible content consumption to empower them to navigate the platform safely and productively.

Overall, TikTok presents a unique landscape with both opportunities and challenges. By understanding its features, navigating its complexities, and prioritizing safety and responsible use, we can unlock its full potential for creativity, connection, and positive online experiences for all.

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