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TikTok is one of the fastest growing social media networks in the world right now. With a total of 660 million downloads, and more downloads in the fourth quarter of 2018 than Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or YouTube, TikTok is a social network that businesses and marketers need to have on their radar. 

With all the hype, marketers want to know if they should be using TikTok for their business and what kind of strategy should go along with it. In this article, we’re going to analyze the app, it’s origins, it’s core audience, and what kind of businesses can benefit from adding TikTok to their social media marketing strategy.

A Quick TikTok History Lesson

Before we get into what the app is all about, let’s take a brief look at the history of TikTok to give you some insight on how quickly the app has grown. 

TikTok was created by a Chinese internet technology company called ByteDance. Before TikTok, the company created a similar social video sharing app called Douyin and a popular Chinese news aggregator called Toutiao. ByteDance, as a company, has over 800 million active monthly users and has been valued at $78 million as of November 2018. 

The Douyin app was initially launched in 2016. Although Douyin and TikTok use the same app platform, they operate on different networks in order to comply with Chinese censorship laws. 

After seeing a significant amount of success in the Chinese market, the developers at ByteDance decided it was time to release their app to the global market. In a strategic move, ByteDance purchased, a similar musical app, and combined the two apps and into a single platform then launched it under the TikTok name.

The idea behind the app is to give users the ability to share and discover short sing-along music videos. The creators had the idea of making an application for karaoke that had a social aspect to go along with it. 

Since its global launch, the application gained a substantial amount of popularity and became the most downloaded app in the US at the end of 2018. As of right now, the app is available in over 150 markets in 75 different languages. In February 2019, TikTok and Douyin together hit one billion downloads globally. Those are some pretty impressive numbers for an app that is still in its infancy. That’s TikTok’s history in a nutshell!

What is TikTok?

Now that you have an idea of how TikTok came to be and how fast it’s grown, let’s go over what TikTok is capable of as an app and what makes it so popular. 

The idea behind TikTok is creating short, bite-sized videos to share within the app’s news feed. Users can create clips that are 3-15 second long, or clips that are up to a minute in length while using popular music that is available within the app. 

Like Instagram and Snapchat, TikTok videos utilize a vertical content format. When viewing posts in your TikTok news feed, all video posts take up the majority of your device’s screen. This creates a very engaging and immersive user experience.

How to Use TikTok

Most business owners are probably wondering how to use TikTok. Once you have filmed a clip or uploaded one of their saved videos, they have the ability to edit their clips with a variety of different filters, effects, they can add popular music, and share their videos on other social platforms too.

TikTok Users are able to like, comment, and share posts directly from their news feed. Similar to Instagram’s explore page, TikTok also has a “For You” feed where users can browse popular posts and follow users that create content the app thinks that particular user may be interested in.

What Demographics are using TikToK?

Most people are under the impression that TikTok has been targeted at Gen Z’s and Millennials that want to make sing-along videos and funny short clips.

Statistics show that 66% of TikTok users are under 30 years old. Although the majority of the app’s users are younger, there are still some older TikTok users out there. 

Given that the app has a strong Gen Z and Millennial presence, TikTok can be leveraged to generate exposure and awareness for your products if you’re targeting a younger demographic.

TikTok’s User Base

Statistics show that a significant portion of TikTok’s user base is located in India. Roughly 43% of all TikTok users live in India. Given that the Chinese market solely uses the Douyin version of the app, the other 57% of TikTok users are located outside of the Indian and Chinese markets. There is a strong global presence on the app, and it would be a great way for larger brands that are targeting multiple different markets to gain exposure.

Roughly 60% of the app’s monthly users are 16-24 years old. In total, there are 500 million monthly active users on TikTok, and 26.5 million of those users are located in the United States. Although the app is available globally, there is a large number of users that are based in the US.

If you are currently considering an Instagram influencer strategy to generate awareness with Gen Z’s, you may want to consider using TikTok Influencers as well. Instagram has a strong Gen Z and Millennial presence, but the majority of TikTok users are from 16-30 years old. This makes TikTok a great addition to any marketing campaign looking to target a younger demographic.

TikTok Influencer Marketing

We’ve gone over the impact Instagram influencer marketing campaigns can have on your brand in the past, but would using a TikTok influencer strategy be as effective as Instagram? 

This is where things get interesting. Gen-Z’s are moving away from the big players in the social media world like Facebook and Instagram and gravitating towards more organic, fun apps like TikTok. Because of this, TikTok can be a great way to reach younger audiences. 

As stated above, the majority of the app’s users are 16-24 years old. If your brand is targeting a younger demographic or Gen Z’s, a TikTok influencer marketing campaign could be a great way to reach your target audience. 
Some of TikTok’s users have a massive following! Take Antonie Lokhorst, for example. He has 4.1 million fans on TikTok. Brands like Gymshark have created paid promotions with him in the past as a way to educate users about their products and to generate awareness. If you are looking to generate awareness with Gen Z’s, TikTok is one of the best platforms to reach them.

Brands Using TikTok Influencer Marketing

Although influencer marketing isn’t huge on TikTok yet, major brands like Google, Coca-Cola, Universal Pictures, and Sony have already worked with popular TikTok users to raise brand awareness and to extend the reach of their recent promotions. With big names like that beginning to utilize TikTok influencer marketing, we could start seeing more of this in the near future as other brands catch on. 

Statistics show that Instagram influencers generally charge about $100 for every 10,000 followers they have for a basic photo post. Alternatively, TikTok influencers with 2.5 million followers are charging roughly $500-$800 per video post. 

Brands that are targeting a younger demographic may want to consider using a TikTok influencer. There are opportunities to work with TikTok influencers for less money and get a comparable amount of reach from a paid promotion. This is a win-win for brands that are looking to generate awareness for their products!

TikTok Advertising Platform

TikTok started beta testing paid advertisements back in February. The ad products are geared more towards brand awareness and are currently only available with larger advertising packages that may not be viable for smaller businesses. This may change in the future as it’s rumoured the brand may offer a self serve advertising platform. 

TikTok Hashtag Challenges

TikTok hashtag challenges turn TikTok users into content creators for your brand. With the hashtag challenge, brands set a theme that relates their brand and creates a challenge for TikTok users to create short videos to participate in the challenge.  

Take the Guess #InMyDenim challenge for example. In this hashtag challenge, users were challenged to show how their “outfit went from a mess to best dressed” by wearing Guess denim. At the time of this article, the hashtag challenge has a whopping 38 million views and a ton of user generated content showcasing different outfits and uses of Guess denim. 

Although this type of promotion may not work for every brand, this could be a powerful way for businesses to gain a ton of exposure and brand awareness on TikTok. 

TikTok Launch Screen Ads

These ads appear when TikTok users initially open the app on their mobile device. Right now, they are a full-screen ad with static, animated, or video content that will display for five seconds. 

The main objective of the ad is to get users to tap on them and send them to an external webpage or have them participate in a hashtag challenge on TikTok. This could be a valuable way for brands to send users to a landing page or further engage them within the app.

TikTok Video Ads

TikTok also offers in-feed video ads as a native way to advertise your content on the app. Brands can pay to have their content promoted in the “For You” feed. Brands can use the ads to send users to their website, an app page in an app store, or to encourage users to participate in their hashtag challenge. 

Branded AR on TikTok

Brands also have the ability to create branded lenses, filters and stickers on TikTok. 

Similar to the AR filters brands create for Snapchat, when users select the branded filters in the TikTok camera, their video will feature a design created by the brand overlaid on their video. 

Brands can also create stickers similar to the ones in Instagram stories. These stickers are simply a small icon or animated image that can be overlaid on the video after it’s been recorded. The NFL created a series of TikTok stickers of different players like the one in the video above as a part of a recent promotion.

TikTok Business Examples 

Time for some inspiration! To give you some insight as to what kind of businesses are using TikTok, we’ve rounded up some business accounts that are great examples in terms of the content they are creating and how they are promoting their products. 

Specialized Bikes 

Specialized is doing an incredible job of utilizing TikTok to promote their brand and products to a younger generation. 

Their TikTok feed is full of exciting and engaging content that has been created just for TikTok. Aside from videos of their pro-riders riding big jumps and in remote locations, their social media content usually has a pretty professional and corporate vibe on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. 

For their TikTok account, their marketing team has gone all out to create fun, engaging content for a younger demographic. They’ve created completely new content with a different tone just for TikTok, and it seems to be paying off. The content is more focused on their “lifestyle” customers that would purchase commuter bikes and other associated products instead of their core users and athletes, but the content works well for the demographic they are trying to appeal to.

With 177,000 followers and 2.8 million likes, they definitely have a substantial amount of reach on TikTok. This is a great example of how a brand that puts time and effort into creating the right content on TikTok can reap the rewards! This is a great TikTok business example.

Apple Music

Apple Music is using TikTok to promote new releases and showcase different artists. Take the example above, for instance; they interviewed Dillon Francis about his perfect day in Los Angeles to create a post for the #PerfectDayIn hashtag challenge. This is a great example of how using TikTok’s hashtag challenges can be a great way to promote your business. 

Alternatively, Apple Music is able to promote new releases with TikTok. Given that you are able to use clips from different songs on the app, TikTok is the perfect platform to create content for new music releases. Here’s a TikTok post announcing the latest album from Post Malone. 

If music is an important part of your business, TikTok is the perfect platform for you. Additionally, if you are ever stuck trying to figure out what kind of content you should be creating, you can simply participate in one of TikTok’s hashtag challenges and find a way to relate it back to your business.


Gymshark is an example of a smaller brand utilizing the fun nature of TikTok to promote their products. They create multiple lines of men and women’s workout clothing and use the app to showcase gym culture and how working out can be fun. 

To appeal to the younger Millennial and Gen z demographic, Gymshark has ran a number of different TikTok advertising campaigns to generate awareness. They ran the #Gymshark66 hashtag challenge where users had 66 days to document a lifestyle change to get in shape. This hashtag was a great way to highlight their brand, active lifestyle image, and made a great opportunity to highlight their workout clothing. 

They’ve also worked with various TikTok influencers to promote their content and their challenges to supplement the campaigns. Thanks to their influencer campaigns, the challenged racked up over 118 million views!

Is TikTok for Businesses?

Time to answer the burning question that most business owners want to know! This is more of a subjective answer, and it will depend on your particular business.  

First off, there are some questions you are going to need to ask yourself as a business owner. Will you be able to create original content for TikTok and are you able to use that style of content to promote your brand, or at least adapt it to suit your brand? 

As seen above, brands like Specialized that typically have a more corporate tone have been creating a more youthful and fun style of content for TikTok and the results speak for themselves. 

Secondly, what is your target audience? If your brand is looking to target a younger demographic such as Gen Z’s or Millennials, then TikTok marketing will be a great way for you to gain some exposure. If your brand is targeting an older demographic, you may be better off investing in Facebook, Instagram, or other more established marketing campaigns to generate awareness. 

TikTok Marketing in a Nutshell

If your brand is targeting a younger audience and is able to create original content for TikTok that fits the style and culture of the app, a TikTok marketing campaign could be worth the investment. If your brand does not have the resources to create original content for TikTok or you’re targeting an older demographic, it won’t be worth your time right now. 

That’s a Wrap!

Well, there you have it! We’ve done our best to immerse ourselves with TikTok to get a pulse on the culture and users of the app and what it means for your business. We always stay on top of the latest social media trends so we can generate the best possible results for your business. As always, Konstruct is happy to help you with all of your social marketing needs. From social strategy to executing your campaigns, we can help you grow your online presence and generate more leads for your business.

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Joey Reinhart

Content Specialist

Entrepreneur, social media marketer, web developer, cyclist, student, and volunteer. These are all titles that can be used to describe Joey. He has years of experience working with organizations of all different shapes and sizes to help achieve their social marketing goals. Joey has a vast skill set and is continually educating himself to stay on top of digital marketing trends.