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

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 For TikTok?

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.

TikTok 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. 

Use Sounds and Trending Hashtags 

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. 

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