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How and Why to Consider TikTok

22 Aug 2019 Caroline Valenzano

in Social Media

Instagram has eclipsed other social media platforms in recent years—at least, until this year. TikTok, which just had its first birthday, received 663 million downloads last year*, compared to 443 million for Instagram. And while likening a fresh platform to one now in its eighth year is not a clean equation, that statistic is quite telling. In my day-to-day at Stella Rising managing social strategies and implementation for clients, I focus on what is and is not working in the social media space, which platforms are gaining and losing traction, and where brands should direct their resources.


TikTok resonates because it is, in many ways, a reaction to the polished world of Instagram. TikTok plays short-form (:15 to 1:00) videos, auto-served and set to music or sound. And not only is it really easy for people to create content, but the platform’s highly powerful algorithm accelerates engagement. Funny and entertaining, TikTok feels casual, relatable, and, as writer Taylor Lorenz described, “free from toxicity.” While the setup of the app is similar to Instagram—TikTok includes an explore page and a main feed—the content is not as far-fetched in its faultlessness. For a generation like Gen Z, with whom the app is particularly popular, TikTok is less overwhelming and intimidating. Filled with challenges, memes, and even lip-syncs, TikTok is captivating; when reviewing monthly time spent by adult UK internet users, TikTok was second only to Facebook, with 424 minutes.  


TikTok’s Beijing-based parent is Bytedance Inc., a company now considered one of the world’s most valuable startups. Bytedance rebranded TikTok from Music.ly in August of 2018 and has spent a rumored $1B on advertising for the platform this year. Not only has Bytedance considered buying Snapchat, but the company’s estimated value is $75B and an IPO may be on the horizon this year or next. TikTok is currently building out a greater set of ad options for marketers and investing further in direct-response or “shop now” capabilities. TikTok’s incredible growth has potent backing by a powerful Chinese consumer-tech company seeking authority in the social media market.


Brands like Chipotle and Hollister have successfully navigated ad campaigns on TikTok through clever use of video. TikTok makes “going viral” easier. Accordingly, brands that wish to reach Gen Z and that are capable of crafting the type of organic content that befits the channel should see TikTok as an opportunity. For those brands, I recommend considering TikTok a player on the go-forward.


At Stella Rising, we help brands navigate shifting media landscapes to connect with new, passionate consumers. If you are seeking to ensure that your social media strategy is a strong one, connect with us now.


*Figure does not include installs from third-party Android stores in China.

Sources: eMarketer, Comscore Mobile Metrix December 2018, Digiday, “The Atlantic’s Taylor Lorenz: People like TikTok because it’s free of toxicity,” The Wall Street Journal, “TikToks Videos Are Goofy. Its Strategy to Dominate Social Media Is Serious”

Social Media