What Social Media Marketers Need to Know About TikTok


New social media apps and platforms are launched often, but not all get the same amount of coverage. I’ve been receiving email newsletters about ‘the hot new app agencies are eyeing’: TikTok. So, in an attempt to save you a little time doing research about this ‘new’ app, read my coverage of what TikTok is, how it’s used, and if Social Media Marketers will be scrambling to use it for their clients or brands.

What is TikTok

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TikTok is the latest video-sharing app gaining popularity in the U.S. It’s actually not all that new of an app; it’s just been re-branded. Long story short —  TikTok used to be musical.ly but was acquired by ByteDance, who already owned an app called TikTok. So, they merged musical.ly and TikTok into one and kept the name TikTok.

TikTok is kind of like the once popular Twitter-owned app, Vine, in the sense that it allows users to post quirky short videos. However, TikTok is a bit more robust in that it allows users to watch musical clips, lip-sync to songs, and edit their videos with built-in special effects, filters, and stickers. There is also a feature called “duet” in which users can create a new video side-by-side with an existing video.

The New York Times described TikTok as “a quirky hybrid of Snapchat, the defunct video app Vine, and the TV segment, Carpool Karaoke”.

How Popular is it?

TikTok currently has more than 500 million users worldwide. It has skyrocketed to the top of the charts in Apple’s App Store, beating out Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat as the top free app. Celebrities like Jimmy Fallon, Khloe Kardashian, and Nick Jonas have helped spread the word about the app, too, which has definitely boosted its popularity.

Despite increasing popularity and a large number of downloads, TikTok is still far behind its social media competitors when it comes to active engagement. According to tubefilter.com:

TikTok: 28.56% engagement rate

YouTube: 94.91% engagement rate

Facebook: 95.5% engagement rate

Instagram: 94.99% engagement rate

Snapchat: 94.98% engagement rate


It’s always fun to make predictions about the latest social media apps and how they’ll fend long-term. I’m looking at you Google+, Peach, and Ello. It feels like we’ve come to rely on the big 4-5 platforms we use in our daily lives, but do we have room to add one more? Is TikTok it?

All-in-all, I think TikTok has potential to be successful as a niche app, but will it pack the same social media power as Facebook or Instagram? Doubtful.

As a user, it may be a fun way to blow some time, especially for the younger demo. It’s kind of like one of those apps you open on your phone because you’ve already checked all of your other social media accounts, but are still bored and have some free time.

As a marketer, I don’t see it being something brands will come to rely on or integrate into their social strategy on an on-going basis — at least not in its current state. Perhaps if you have a younger demo and a strong interest in collaborating with an influencer, some sort of sponsored video would be worth trying - but that only translates for a small percentage of companies.

I should mention that as of now, TikTok has no paid advertising. The app makes money by in-app purchases. Users can purchase digital gifts and special emojis to share with TikTok users during live streams. And without any direct paid advertising opportunities, smaller brands may hold off on jumping aboard TikTok, much like they have done with Snapchat.

I’d love to hear what your predictions are for TikTok and how you feel about the app. Tweet us @ThinPigMedia