Memories of the early days of the COVID-19 quarantine are littered with quirky comedic phrases and songs that dominate the video-based social media app, TikTok. Younger generations were beginning to hum the tunes of songs that were trending on the app, and people of all ages began to pass time by learning TikTok dances or creating their own content to match the current TikTok trends. Since then, TikTok has grown into becoming one of the most used forms of social media with over 1 billion users across 150 countries, targeting audiences between the ages of 13 and 60. TikTok has single-handedly transformed the influencer marketing industry.
Now the fastest growing social media platform in the world, TikTok was first founded in 2012 and was originally known as Musical.ly. TikTok users connect by sharing quick videos that range from being completely unedited to having background music, filters, text, and stickers.
While TikTok has a wide age range of users, according to Wallaroo, the most popular audience is aged 10-19, with users aged 20-29 falling as a close second. TikTok is a platform that mostly attracts a younger audience, meaning influencers on TikTok can reach young people more easily than influencers on other social media platforms, and they use particular strategies to keep these young, forward-thinking people engaged with their content.
TikTok’s unique integration of music and creative filters has allowed influencers to add a fun twist to their typical ad campaigns. While on platforms like Instagram or Twitter, influencers typically post photos with basic text captions about their products. On TikTok, influencers find themselves sharing products with dancing videos and creative edits to catch the eye. The short-form video content that dominates TikTok has created a new form of advertising content that is ultimately more captivating, especially to younger audiences. The repetition of editing and music-oriented trends allows for advertising content to be seamlessly integrated into the flow of organic, user-generated TikTok content.
But what keeps users coming back to TikTok? TikTok has a unique algorithm that learns users' content preferences and curates their feed accordingly. This algorithm feeds binge-worthy content into the hands of users, often encouraging them to interact with the app for an extended amount of time. Because of this, influencers’ videos will always land in the feed of a person who will be interested in their product, allowing for the most success for the influencer and a satisfactory ad experience for the TikTok user.
Most importantly for both the influencer and user experience, ads on TikTok just don’t feel like regular ads. Influencers have the freedom to post tutorials, use comedy, and speak casually and personally about products because of the nature of the TikTok platform. TikTok ads are expected to be less refined than ads on other social media platforms and are instead more about entertainment, which is what keeps users so interested and ultimately makes TikTok such a useful marketing tool.
The near-instant success of short-form video content that lives on TikTok has influenced other social media platforms to add similar features to their apps. In 2019, Instagram first launched “Instagram Reels” which has since been coined as a “TikTok copycat” according to Hootsuite, as it is essentially the same thing as TikTok, and has allowed influencers to create TikTok-like videos and upload them to Instagram. Shortly after, in 2020, Snapchat launched “Spotlight,” its own version of TikTok or Instagram Reels that allows Snapchat users similar experiences to those found on TikTok. Despite these competing platforms, TikTok has remained a valuable platform for influencer marketing.
The only thing left to wonder is will the growth of TikTok ever slow down? It has become so popular so quickly that one has to wonder what is next for TikTok. Will influencer marketing continue to be revolutionized by this platform, or is there something new coming that will take it to new heights? Only time will tell, but until then, join the TikTok craze to see just how easily it pulls users in.