“[Tik Tok has] an algorithm that changed the game- you don’t have to be following someone to consume their content,” says Abigail Justice, the Student Housing Director of Marketing at the University of Mississippi.
The buzzing app came onto the scene in 2016 but actually boomed in February 2019 as the rise of COVID-19 started to spread. By March of 2020, the United States — along with other countries — entered quarantine, when people were desperate for a connection with others and looking for entertainment.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, [Tik Tok] connected people from all over the world in ways that they were craving,” Justice said. “It quickly, more than social apps had done before, connected people from every corner of the world.”
What started as a way to connect with others when populations could not has now boomed into a part of everyday life. Journalists and marketing professionals are now realizing that in order to reach their target audience, they must adapt and use what their clients, readers, and viewers are using.
News outlets like NBC, The Washington Post, and even Cosmopolitan have started using the platform to reach users. Although the majority of their videos are mostly lighthearted, the short clips still spark interest in users.
According to Wallaroo, a social media advertising agency, Tik Tok has around 80 million monthly active users in the United States. Their statistics state that 60% of users are female, while 40% are male and 60% of users are between the ages of 16-24 years old.
Marketing experts are quickly learning that this platform is growing fast, and in order to keep up with their market, they need to be advertising on Tik Tok.
“I think ads on Tik Tok tend to be less ‘in your face,’ if you will,” Justice said. “I also feel like they seem less fabricated or forced on TikTok, even though that isn’t necessarily true. Tik Tok is also entirely based on trends — sounds/dances/jokes/products — it’s easy for a promoted ad to just seem like a trend.”
Justice and her team have started using Tik Tok very often in their marketing strategies. She states that she gives creative freedom to her team of students since they are at the peak of the demographic, and can directly relate to the audience they are trying to reach. She even encourages them to come up with new trends based on what is happening in pop culture, as well as on campus.
“Oftentimes things that start as an ad evolve into a trend,” said Justice. “Sometimes, companies catch a Hail Mary and their product takes off on Tik Tok without them having to do anything.”
Tik Tok has not only become a way for established businesses to thrive but has also created a community for those creating and running new small businesses.
Tik Tok for Business states that small businesses are growing, and so is the Tik Tok platform. According to them, when the two combine forces they can create an all-new power that can drive positive results.
“Tik Tok has also connected me to small businesses from all over the world,” said Justice. “People who wouldn’t normally have the means to take out large ads on social media get a level of exposure that would not otherwise be popular.”
Tik Tok allows its creators to share stories, even if it is under the format of a funny 10-second video. As for Justice and her team, she says that they will continue to use the platform since it connects so well with their audience.
“I am interested to see how this app evolves over time — is this type of media sharing a sustainable platform? Unclear. What will come of the influencers that got their fame on TikTok? At the root of it, TikTok itself is a trend. By definition, trends fade,” said Justice. “The platform itself is so simple, is there any room for it to grow beyond what it is to keep up with evolving trends? We will have to wait and find out!”