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The Clock Continues to Tick for TikTok

It wasn’t all that long ago that TikTok, the hottest social media app in the world, was predicted to be on the verge of being forced out of business in the United States. With more than 800 million followers, TikTok was suspected of sharing the personal information of its users with the Chinese government. November 12, 2020, was the day that President Trump set as a deadline for the app to shed Chinese ownership in order to minimize a potential national security risk. The deadline was averted following negotiations between TikTok’s international owners and potential buyers for the app’s U.S. market. After a steady decline in new monthly installs last December, downloads of the app have surged since the beginning of 2021. The new Biden administration is keeping an eye on the popular app’s new management and promises to take quick action should the Chinese owner fall-out of the U.S. Government’s good graces. It appears that the clock continues to tick for TikTok.

Young people between 16 and 24 are the social media platform’s most avid users. Generation Zer’s spend an average of 12 hours a day using social media platforms. The soon-to-be world’s largest generation favors authenticity and individualism and often seeks advice and guidance from others before they make a purchase. Micro-influencers, generally those who have less than 100,000 social media followers, are finding favor with generation Z. Many brands are discovering that Micro-influencers appear to be attracting a better return on investment (ROI) by attracting more significant numbers of consumers who see them as experts. The smaller, more focused niche of performers connect on a more personal level with followers.

TikTok’s easily searchable hashtags and its many influencer accounts have fashion retailers responding to viral product offerings. Teens are using TikTok as the go-to platform for apparel and accessories. “TikTok has the ability to make something go viral much quicker than anything we see on Instagram,” said Jessica Ramirez, retail research analyst at Jane Hali & Associates. “For retailers, that is a huge advantage.” Ben-Shabat, author of the upcoming book “Gen Z 360: Preparing for the Inevitable Change in Culture, Work, and Commerce,” says, “Users of TikTok don’t want to see brands trying to push something to them. They’re looking to influencers for inspiration. They also, in many ways, feel as if they’re their own influencers within their smaller networks.”

TikTok is rolling out a new option to all users to create videos as long as 3 minutes in hopes the move will be even more appealing to influencers and creators who want to share longer-form content. The social media platform has numerous creative campaign tools that make it easier for sellers to connect with the right influencer. The functionality of TikTok means that brands have access to innovative and engaging content for use with campaigns.

TikTok has revealed new content rules that are more restrictive than competitor apps, that discourage influencers from promoting investment and cryptocurrency campaigns on the youth-friendly platform. The rules also restrict influencer activities regarding content for legal services and dating sites.

Soon users will no longer be able to opt out of personalized ads based on the data TikTok collects from a user’s actions on the social media platform, although users will be able to opt out of ads based on data TikTok that gets from its “advertising partners.” “Our goal is to help businesses reach the people they care about in a creative and meaningful way, while also respecting the privacy of our users,” says a TikTok source. “As our advertising platform matures, we continue to be transparent with our users about their choices with respect to personalized advertising on our platform.”