TikTok: lockdown’s favourite app

If you don’t recognise these songs, you’ve probably been living under a rock and haven’t caught on to the social media fad that is TikTok. It goes on and on, and as someone who has not completely joined the TikTok bandwagon, it’s hard for me to pinpoint the allure of this new hit application. Taking off my consumer hat and putting on my strategist hat, it's only right that I attempt to understand how and why this platform has half a billion users, more downloads in 2018 than YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook and is worth more than 75 million dollars.

It all starts in 2014 with an app called Musically, created as a sample lip-syncing video platform. In 2017, a Beijing tech company that already owns a version of TikTok buys Musical.ly and merges them, and the rest they say is history.

Fast-forward to 2018, the Washington Post hires a TikTok app expert, and Buzzfeed is recruiting teens to cover the US presidential election on TikTok. By 2020, Jason Derulo has opened an account, desperate to be relevant again, ads have made their way onto the platform, along with a shoppable component. Teenagers are crazy for TikTok, millennials are crazy for TikTok, even boomers can’t get enough of TikTok.

What’s got everyone raving about the newcomer that is TikTok?

What makes TikTok especially appealing is the remix feature. Users can take other users’ videos and add themselves to it, by either mimicking the movements or making a joke. This can go on for quite a while, and people can keep the chain going until the video gets too confusing and hard to understand. Another interesting thing about TikTok is that you can create any kind of video with any song that you like, be it lip-syncing, dancing, pranks, tricks, you can make pretty much anything, alone or with your friends.

Enjoy this montage of everyone and their friends doing the Tootsie slide

Even with all the hype, not all brands and influencers have jumped on the band wagon.

*cough cough* me.

Why?

TikTok could turn out to be “fad”. Yes, I said it.

In the last few months, hundreds of millions of people around the world have downloaded TikTok. People have nothing to do and trust me making those videos are fun. But what happens when we don’t have to stay home all day and stare at our screens all day?

For brands, the virality factor is tempting but can long term strategies be built on this? Some brands have picked up on the app and run with it. Fenty, for example, collaborates with influencers to make catchy tutorial videos,

and Netflix (ever the strategy show-off) is never too serious to poke fun at itself.

But not every brand is built to meme, and strategists who work for brands should know when it is not a fit.

RULE ONE: never underestimate your social audience. They will love you and leave you.

Regardless of this, if Drake can use Tiktok to harness his song “Tootsie slide” to a number one spot on the charts, it seems like brands will need to have an open heart and open ear to the platform.

“Embracing new things is good for business”

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