What is TikTok? (A primer for those of us over the age of 18)

by | Oct 15, 2019 | Blog, Social Media | 0 comments

Do you know what the most downloaded app of 2018 was in the U.S.?


TikTok (Okay, the title of this post gave that away!). Are you one of the millions of people scratching their heads saying, “Huh? What is TikTok?” From their website:

[Tiktok’s] mission is to empower and share the world’s imagination, knowledge, and moments that matter. The platform is a home for creative expression through videos that create a genuine, inspiring, and joyful experience.

According to the September 30th issue of The New Yorker, TikTok has been downloaded more than a billion times since its launch, in 2017, and reportedly has more monthly users than Twitter or Snapchat.

Owned by a Chinese parent company (ByteDance), TikTok had a valuation last Fall of more than 75 billion- the highest valuation fo any startup in the world. Fun fact: The app isn’t even available in China! (But they have their own version called Douyin).

So what is TikTok anyway?

TikTok is an app that lets users create short videos (3-15 seconds for music videos, 3-60 seconds for looping videos). They are usually built around music and have a lot of lip syncing and dancing. As of May 2019, 25.8% of the users in the United States were ages 18-24, while ages 25-34 make up the next 24%.

The biggest market for TikTok is in India where they have 200 million users. New downloads of TikTok were even banned earlier in 2019 due to concerns over issues like sexual predation and pornography on the app. Also interestingly, at least 3 people have died in India while creating TikTok videos (Don’t film yourself up on train tracks, kids).

To be cool, you should tell people you’ve seen the viral thread about the Mennonites and Amish now being on TikTok. Check it out here.

If you don’t have time for all that, you have to at least watch my favorite Amish TikTok video to date:

(Note, it is ironic that we’re sharing TikTok videos via Twitter and Instagram in this post, we get that!)

Why should TikTok Matter to Marketers and Brands?

So yes, TikTok has funny videos made by kids, but WHY are we telling you about this? Why do brands/businesses and marketers need to know? Well, brands are killing it on TikTok.

My favorite is The Braces Guy with over 800,000 fans on TikTok. He’s a verified TikTok creator and he’s an orthodontist from Wisconsin. I learned about him from a friend whose daughters see him for their braces. Her girls found him on TikTok, followed him and said, “MOM- We will ONLY use The Braces Guy for our braces.”

Just check out some of these amazing videos to see what the fuss is about:

Don’t you want braces now??

He also does this incredible photo sessions with clients after they get their braces off:

It’s brilliant, viral marketing.

Brands can pay for ads on TikTok, but with great organic contact like what is coming out of The Braces Guy’s account, ads aren’t necessary!

TikTok isn’t for every marketer and business. It still skews young. It takes a lot of creative time and content to do well, but you should be aware of what TikTok is and watch it as a place to potentially move your marketing strategy. Savvy brands get in early, so if that’s your thing, reach out to us. We’d LOVE to make an amazing viral Amish video for an Amish wood-working business (Or… whatever it is YOU do!)

So, now you know what TikTok is.. you’re going to be so cool with the kids!

Are you using TikTok?


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