Xenia Gonikberg is a freshman journalism major and TikTok user.
The video app, TikTok, is surprisingly becoming more and more popular among corporations. Originally known as musical.ly, TikTok allows you to make short lip-synch or dance videos and customize them with special effects, music and text. Although the app’s main audience consists of teenagers and young adults, more companies have started using TikTok as a platform to brand themselves.
Brands like Chipotle and media outlets like The Washington Post are taking advantage of the app’s popularity to appeal to a wider audience. This could prove to be a smart move for the future because TikTok can provide new ways for these companies to be more creative with their advertising, besides just banners on the top of a screen, especially to a younger audience.
The number of TikTok users has grown substantially since its creation in 2016 when it had over 500,000 users. Within the last year, the company has had 80 million downloads and gained over 75 million users as of December 2018. Furthermore, 41% of TikTok users are between the ages of 16 and 24.
A big reason why companies are starting to move away from traditional advertising tactics and onto social media platforms like TikTok is because of its relatability. The Washington Post’s TikTok account mainly consists of several staff members showcasing the different elements of producing stories by incorporating trending songs and current events into their videos, but with a comedic twist. On the other hand, other apps like Instagram essentially only show certain elements of a person’s life. By having a platform that showcases the people behind the company, it makes the company more real and authentic. Most of the time, it isn’t the brands themselves — but certain employers — who are advertising on TikTok.
Using TikTok as a marketing tool is a really smart way to get more people invested in one’s brand or company. According to Fast Company, Gen Z is the type of consumer that prefers content that is easily accessible and authentic. Gen Z is much more creative and responsive to trends and social media in general. Viral challenges, like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, have become super popular over the past decade. These movements are helping spread awareness for various causes or simply just for gaining notoriety. For example, the Ice Bucket Challenge raised money for ALS research.
These viral movements are just a few of the ways that brands can get recognition. It can help set an image for the company that can be marketable later on. However, it is super important to use social media marketing properly; a lot of times, older generations can seem “out of touch” because they fail to connect with younger audiences in a genuine way.
Most of the time, when brands try to market themselves, they do so through sponsorships and collaborations. Recently, ad campaigns that use hashtags, like #MyCalvins, usually get more engagement because they are reaching a wider audience and focus on body positivity and inclusivity. These are the types of campaigns that get recognition and go viral, because they focus on something that audiences can relate to, like learning to be comfortable in your body.
As someone who watches TikToks semi-frequently, it’s nice to see brands making an effort to connect with the younger generation. Brands are showing themselves in a more vulnerable way and it seems to be paying off. While there are many more social media outlets like Instagram and Facebook to market on, TikTok is rising in popularity because it is so unique and different from these other platforms.
In this day and age, humor and creativity are what draws an audience in, not so much perfectly-edited content that has no personality. Brands who haven’t dipped their toes into TikTok as a marketing tool should really consider it because it has become a good way for brands to promote themselves and resonate with their fanbases.