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Is TikTok the next marketing powerhouse?

The short answer, yes.

TikTok's success story is unprecedented. This year it was the most downloaded app worldwide, breaking record after record becoming the fastest social media app to reach 1bn monthly active users. (source)

Bytedance, the Chinese company behind TikTok, is now valued over $400 billion after TikTok made $1.9b in revenue in 2020 (that’s a 457% YoY increase!). (source)

Why am I giving you all these numbers? Pretty much to tell you that TikTok is here to stay, which makes it one of the most significant marketing opportunities in the last decade.

Despite these stats, the number of times I’ve heard “TikTok is a fad”, and “it’s only teens doing dance challenges”, is too high to count. Businesses think that unless their target market is teenage girls, they should ignore TikTok when planning their marketing strategy. Let me tell you why that’s not the case.

1) Your customers are on TikTok

TikTok’s explosive growth has meant that 18% of people aged 16-64 globally use the platform. Beyond that, 67% of users are over the age of 20, busting the myth that TikTok is just for kids. This means that no matter what product or service you sell, many of your future and target customers are already using the app. (source)

Personally, I’m currently on a bit of a TikTok detox - why? Because their algorithm is too good. The app is so good at knowing what content I want to watch - when I use it I end up spending hours on my phone when I tell myself I’d only watch it for 10 minutes max.

The average watch time on the app is over 60 minutes and continues to rise. This is more than many other social channels, even Youtube. So not only are over a billion people using TikTok, the available opportunity to show them your ads and get them to buy your products is plentiful. (source)

2) Their advertising platform is developing fast and is already class-leading

From my years of experience in digital marketing, I’ve seen countless paid social channels trying to develop their ad platform to a level close to Facebook's world-class product, but none have come close. That is until TikTok. 

In the last year, they’ve rolled out feature after feature, developing their ad platform to something that is very comparable to Facebook. Conversion tracking works flawlessly; targeting is detailed; bidding is advanced; and best of all - the ad management platform is snappy, simple, and powerful. 

This is all due to the massive investment TikTok is putting into the long-term success of their business offering - which brings me to point 3. 

3) They’re investing big for the long-term!

TikTok has been scooping up top talent from other tech behemoths like Facebook, Alphabet, and even Disney Streaming (source, source, source, source) to continue their meteoric growth.

Alongside this, they’ve undergone a massive (wider) hiring push - doubling their European headcount between December 2019 and May 2020 (source). This growth is not stopping, and their ambition to be the world’s leading social media platform is well underway.

This increase in headcount has helped TikTok develop their ad product at an incredible pace. Ensuring that, alongside their massive audience base, their advertising offering can keep up with the growing demand from businesses that want to leverage their platform to see ROI and growth.  

With growth comes criticism - or does it? 

However, despite some negative press, TikTok have been relatively immune to the criticism faced by top tech like Facebook (sorry, Meta), Twitter, and Youtube about misinformation, hate speech, and generally breaking down the fabric of democracy. 

Through TikTok’s mission to “inspire creativity and bring joy”, they’ve been clamping down hard on content that betrays this mission by having clear content policies on hate speech & misinformation - and championing transparency with their Transparency Report which highlights all the work they do to take down millions of posts, comments, and accounts using both AI detection and manual moderation. (source, source, source) This proactive rather than reactive approach to moderation has been key to avoiding the criticism faced by other big tech.

Think differently.

The difficult part is managing to leverage this incredible platform successfully. TikTok isn’t like other paid social channels, and requires a very unique advertising approach. To fully take advantage of the platform, marketers and advertisers have to think differently, and that is the key to success on this channel.

But, I could write a whole other article about how to do that. Something that I think I might just do…

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