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TikTok — is it here to stay? Only time will tell…

Posted by Robyn Wilson on 24th February 2020

Social media is not going away anytime soon — will it ever fizzle out and be replaced with something else? Right now, I cannot see that happening but what we are seeing more of are social media platforms, the latest being TikTok.

For those living under a rock, who do not have younger siblings, children or who avoid social media like the plague, TikTok is essentially a video-sharing app were users can shoot up to 15 seconds of  footage and edit with various filters, animations and music.

Why is TikTok so special?

Being a bit of a tech geek and wanting to stay ‘in the loop’, it’s platforms like this that are very much here and now that I enjoy watching develop. What makes TikTok different to other social media apps is its use of artificial intelligence (AI) to provide users with the content that most appeals to them. It’s fair to assume that almost all of TikTok amateur users film their videos using a mobile phone, all of which will include facial recognition features.

It’s this platform’s ability to provide consumers with the content they want without much interaction that will allow it to grow, and it’s likely to stick around until a new craze takes over.

Just to prove how impressive this app’s life has been so far, here are some stats that might just blow your mind…

  • TikTok already has over 500 million users worldwide. This was achieved in three years — it took Facebook four years to hit this milestone.
  • It has already been downloaded over 1.5 billion times across the world (via the App Store and Google Play Store).
  • 41% of its users are aged between 16–24 (according to Globalwebindex, 2019), with the average users spending around 52 minutes on the app per day.
  • India has the largest number of downloads (466.8 million), with China coming in second (173.2 million) and USA coming in third (123.8 million).
  • 1 billion videos were viewed on average every day in the last year (according to influencermarketinghub, 2018)

What does this mean for other social media applications?

Platforms such as Instagram are still popular despite the spike in TikTok’s popularity, but if the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat want to survive they will need to adapt to ever-changing consumer needs. It’s the older generation who have set up communities in ‘mature’ social media apps that are likely to keep them afloat, but we cannot ignore the ongoing argument about safety on these platforms.

In response to recent safety concerns, TikTok has not wasted time and has recently announced ‘duty of care’ features that allows parents to link to their children’s accounts and control the content they see. This has gone down fairly well but it doesn’t address the issues of mental health and bullying among adults. I’d be interested to see how they tackle this challenge, which may be the turning point for social media.

What can brands take away from this latest social media trend?

Right now, brands should be cautious about jumping on the bandwagon too early. As it was with Instagram in its juvenile stages, TikTok users can easily get ‘fake’ followers, meaning it’s difficult for brands to trust that they are getting good value for paid partnerships.

That said, it’s by no means not worth testing the waters, working with what are known as micro-influencers on a non-paid basis. This kind of activity is a great way to create organic content, forming close relationships with influencers who are not ‘too big for their boots’ just yet and are eager to work with brands to help them build a more engaging channel (just so long as that brand is a natural fit for the content the influencer already produces and followers enjoy).

As a consumer PR consultant, I am keeping a close eye on TikTok, and will be intrigued to see how the platform shakes up the social media landscape.

Robyn Wilson

Joining the Wildfire team in November 2016, Robyn has over three years experience in consumer PR having previously worked for entertainment and technology agencies with clients such as Acer, Disney and Netflix. She was also responsible for organising red carpet premieres, developing interesting social media campaigns and content, and project managing various client events, from product launches to press hour tours. A Film Studies and Creative Writing graduate from Kingston University, Robyn has a passion for thinking creatively, and brings a wealth of consumer technology media contacts for both B2B and B2C accounts. As an amateur cake decorator, Robyn spends most of her spare time baking delicious cakes for all occasions, and if the British weather allows it, she loves to take her VW bay-window campervan, Sunshine, for a spin along the Devonshire coast.