It’s been atop the list of most noted and discussed topics in social media platforms for some time, and it doesn’t appear as though it is going to be toppled from the discussion list any time soon. TikTok, the social platform that first debuted in the U.S. in late 2016, has captured more than 1 billion global users every month. Initially, the quirky social media platform attracted mostly young, creative users posting short amateurish videos on just about any subject.
Even after five years, 47% of TikTok users are between ages 10-29, but the popularity of the site is beginning to shift upward in the age category. In 2021 the platform’s user base rose to include 42 percent of those between the ages of 30 and 49. The user base is trending to include 61% of females with the majority of creators on the platform being young adults aged 18-24.
The ascending shift is difficult to explain to many social media watchers but Matt Cleary, TikTok’s Vertical Director for Retail and Restaurants, says, “People don’t go on TikTok to check in and see what’s going on with this one ecosystem of friends, family or peers. They go on TikTok to be entertained and to discover something new.”
Marketers have been watching the emergence of the engaging platform in order to determine whether TikTok is a worthy candidate for shrinking advertising budgets. The upward move in age demographics is beginning to get attention from traditional brands that, until now, have been sitting on the sidelines. The unpolished nature of the platform’s content concerns many marketers who typically insist on a more buttoned-up brand performance. “Our community is naturally very inclusive, and they expect brands to be the same way,” said Cleary. “They like it when brands are unpolished or show a side that’s a little bit different. It’s not always just the successes either, sometimes the fails are just as engaging and entertaining — they show a true side of yourself that resonates with the community. It doesn’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to overthink it, it’s more about being participatory than being perfect.”
Because of the unique community environment, preexisting marketing content used on other platforms needs to be customized in order to connect effectively with TikTok’s audience. But for brands looking to bridge the generational divide, the platform’s popularity is growing. Hootsuite’s 2022 Social Trends Survey found that “24% of marketers considered TikTok effective for reaching their business goals, compared to just 3% in the previous year, a 700% increase.” So, is TikTok a good play for your brand?
Before fashioning an effort to introduce a brand to TikTok, it is advised to consider that the effort may not be surrounded by all good news. Despite becoming the 6th most used social platform in the world, many internet users and observers in the U.S. continue to express concerns about the app’s content and the developers’ handling of users’ personal data. It is also interesting that, contrary to its immense popularity, only 4.3 percent of internet users selected TikTok as a favorite among the internet’s social media applications.
TikTok is updating the app’s user guidelines in response to public concerns and is working with its 100,000 creator- influencers to improve content quality and performance. A TikTok spokesperson said, “We’re always thinking about new ways to bring value to our community and enrich the TikTok experience. Currently we’re experimenting with ways to give creators additional formats to bring their creative ideas to life for the TikTok community.”
With 73% of TikTok users reporting that they feel a deeper connection to companies they interact with on the platform, the decision to make it a part of a brand’s marketing strategy comes down to determining if the TikTok shoe fits; is the style compatible to the brand’s established image and if wearing it is likely to find a targeted consumer.