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Should Your Brand TikTok?

This past year, TikTok (formerly Musical.ly) hit 800 million users, according to a pitch deck leaked by Ad Age

Users are Gen-Zers, with 41% aged 16-24, living in 154 countries, according to a report in Influencer Marketing Hub. While information on what the Chinese app company is really earning is scarce, it’s reported that 42% of revenue is coming from the U.S., with over 14 million unique visitors last year.

According to Marketing Charts, the app is the top download on Google Play and ranked number one last year in the Apple App Store for free entertainment downloads. Global penetration represents one in eight adults aged 18-24. The same report states that 37% of U.S. users have household incomes of more than $100,000 — so they must be living with Mom and Dad.

All of these stats point to a social media channel that has arrived — but it is right for your brand?

First, understanding the format is key. Short videos of three to 15 seconds with a music track, or 60-second story formats, are the norm. Users swipe up to see the next video. It’s fast-paced and user-generated/lower quality videos, unlike Instagram.

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TikTok does have an algorithm to find similar videos you’ve liked or content creators you follow. Since content creators are all over the world, the humor can be a cultural disconnect and sometimes strange to even weird — lots of inferences as to what animals are thinking, for example.  But the object is to make people laugh, so it’s done in the right spirit. 

While a majority of users are in China and other Asian countries, it’s hard to deny the popularity taking hold in the U.S. and with segments like Spanish speakers.

Rapper Lil Nas X   became a music sensation thanks to TikTok, going so far as to give credit to the platform during the recent Grammy Awards The 20-year-old artist is the epitome of a TikTok user.

On the other hand, you have the Washington Post,which is using the platform to maintain relevance. The company’s videos don’t try to sell anything, but manage to remind the viewer how important its reporting has been without being too self-serving. 

There are very few brands on TikTok, partly because of fears that it’s not regulated like the giants Facebook and Instagram. There are also concerns about privacy with the company being based in China. It’s also so fast-paced that brands can’t do the same old social media thing, either. 

While fast food and some environmental cause brands are starting to embrace the channel, it’s surprising that categories like pet food, pet suppliers and retailers haven’t jumped in. They are the right fit with the format/content and the younger target audience.

So, when will brands take to the platform to engage with Gen Z? Time will tell for TikTok.

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