HomeDigital marketingTikTok: Marketing Opportunities for Brands Pointing to Generation Z?

TikTok: Marketing Opportunities for Brands Pointing to Generation Z?

Are you sure you know everything about TikTok? This article intends to frame, data in hand, its success; show its impact on influencers and Generation Z; tell the evolution of its advertising platform and understand if it can represent a marketing opportunity for companies.

In recent months we have done nothing but talk or hear about TikTok : at work, on the street, at home, at the bar, on TV, on the radio, at speeches, on the web, on social media, in short, everywhere.

TikTok has invaded our media circle, definitively emerging from the status of a niche phenomenon: the advent of politics on this platform is proof of this . It is no coincidence that in Italy the news a few days ago of Matteo Salvini ‘s landing on TikTok (36.9k followers in less than a week) generated an incredible media tam-tam both inside and outside the platform.

On the sentiment of this media tam-tam superseded, but if curiosity assails you, just go to Salvini’s official account and read the comments of the “musers” – as the stars of TikTok are called – aroused by its few contents published so far (one above all the “dance” to the tune of Tones and I’s Dance Monkey, one of the hottest songs on TikTok right now).

Speaking of the advent of politics on TikTok, Blake Chandlee, the platform’s Vice President of Global Business Solutions, announced on the company blog that sponsored posts of a political nature are prohibited.

“ We will not allow paid ads promoting or opposing a candidate, current leader, party or political group, or federal, state or local issue. Including announcements relating to elections, sponsorship announcements or announcements of issuance “, reads the official note dating back to 3 October last.

To sum it all up in a nutshell, we’ve heard and seen so many, but so many on TikTok lately, that perhaps it’s time to take a few minutes to analyze the extent of its success without any prejudice or easy last-minute enthusiasm. Kindly visit watchcartoononline.

TikTok: all the numbers to know on a global scale

Let’s start with the data: TikTok is present in over 150 countries and translated into 75 languages . According to data provided by Digiday of November 2018, TikTok after the merger with Musical.ly (which took place in August 2018) has exceeded the threshold of 800 million installations in just 2 months.

During 2019 TikTok continues its unstoppable rise, becoming the most downloaded app in the world in front of giants of the reach of Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, WhatsApp and Google Maps: 1 billion total downloads between the App Store and Play Store. To report this data is Sensor Tower.

But TikTok’s mind-boggling numbers don’t end there. According to Datareportal , the monthly active users worldwide on the platform are 500 million : which means that in just over 2 years TikTok has managed to place itself in front of well-known platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat. With 500 million monthly active users (26.5 million of them in the US), TikTok’s user base is more than double the size of Vine at its peak in 2013 (200 million).

By the way, does anyone still remember Vine? The answer is no because Twitter (which had taken over the ownership) on 27 October 2016 decreed its end, not even 4 years after its birth. Vine, after the enormous success obtained in the launch phase, has not been able to keep up with the progressive evolution of Instagram and especially Snapchat.

Returning to TikTok, of its 500 million monthly active users, 150 million are located in China and use the local version of the app called Douyin and 26.5 million in the United States . In Europe, on the other hand, monthly active users are divided as follows: 4.1 million in Germany, 4 million in France, 3.7 million in the UK, 2.7 million in Spain.

The numbers of TikTok in Italy

In Italy the situation is this: 2.4 million active monthly users , mainly teenagers and 65% women . The data also tells us that the average time spent by Italian TikTokers on the platform is 34 minutes; the average daily accesses are 6 and the monthly video views reach 3 billion.

TikTok is among the most downloaded and used applications also in Italy. Suffice it to say that during the first year alone 280 challenges were launched in our country on the platform , while the most popular hashtags recorded important numbers of views such as #wasabisong which reached 62 million, #backtoschool with 45 and finally #greenscreen with 44 (source: tiktok.com ).

Closed the parenthesis on Italy, to better understand the global reach of the TikTok phenomenon, it should be remembered that Instagram, from the moment of its launch, took 6 years to obtain the same number of active users of TikTok today (Facebook almost 4).

Now, the question that many are asking is: why has TikTok had such exponential growth in popularity, and use, globally in the past few months, even though it doesn’t look that different from other video-sharing apps that have been around for some time?

The aim of this article is not to provide a definitive answer to this question, but to present a key to understanding the set of factors that have contributed to the rise of TikTok globally.

Because TikTok is one of a kind

After the merger with Musical.ly, TikTok has become something unique in the world of video-editing apps and not an evolved version of Snapchat, as many industry gurus have immediately ruled.

A TikTok video is immediately recognizable, because it lasts from 15 to 60 seconds, is seamlessly combined with an audio track (usually a hit of the moment), sound effects and various visual filters. Clips, which can include ballet, comic mini-sketch, musical parody or lip-sync, are characterized by lightning-fast transitions between scenes and intuitive montages (done on the spot via smartphone).

When you enter the world of TikTok , even if only to make a passive use (which is very fashionable in the over 30s), you immediately find yourself catapulted into an indistinct flow of immersive contents that alternate in an imperceptible lapse of time. All this does nothing but attract and retain an audience with a propensity for binge-watching: there is in fact on TikTok what I would call a “ Netflixization” of the use of content (almost exclusively video).

TikTok and Generation Z

This explains the success of TikTok on a very young audience. 41% of its users globally are in the 16-24 age group and tend to be female (65% F vs 35% M).

TikTok is the video-editing platform that most likely – if you are a Millennial (i.e. a person born between 1981 and 1996 and therefore included in the 23-38 age group) not a first-hair – your cousins, grandchildren and in some cases children, they are watching or using on their smartphone while you are reading this article.

And the reason is simple: while for the Millennial generation, social networks have played a fundamental role in sharing their status updates, observing the activities of their friends and networking, for Generation Z (composed of those born from 1997 to today who , therefore, they are no more than 22 years old) social networks represent a place in which to find entertainment and / or freely express one’s creativity (perhaps away from the prying eyes of those who might not perceive its meaning and relevance).

All this is not a coincidence and it is demonstrated by one of the latest statistical studies of this 2019 by Globalwebindex , according to which in recent years the use of social media for sharing personal status updates and connection with friends has become less and less important compared to the ‘use of the latter for research or creation of entertainment content , which now appears to be a real priority globally for users with Internet access.

We have therefore gone from a trend of “passive browsing”, which saw users scroll quickly their social feeds to passively consume content, to a trend of “active browsing”, which sees users prefer creation, rather than use. , of creative content within networks that are more entertainment than pure or interest-based networking.

TikTok makes all other platforms look old

Platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Instagram have always hosted creative content within their communities, but their production has generally relied on third-party software.

TikTok , on the other hand, has the ability to natively create a perfect combination between the potential of today’s technology (increasingly powerful smartphones, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, 5G) and the media hedonism of the new generations without, however, any anxiety about always look cool.

Unlike Instagram, for example, TikTok almost forces its users to strip off any superstructure to positively appear “cringe” : while they dance; they lip-sync a song; make unlikely faces accompanied by equally unlikely music or chorus; they act on an improvised stage (bedroom, school, gym, street, etc). In short, TikTok entertains (and feels free) those who use it anywhere and at any time, without anyone feeling judged.

The rise of this platform is proof that what we have been saying to each other for at least three years now has come into our midst like a meteorite. With TikTok we have entered a new era of communication and certainly also of marketing. An era in which the creation of a hyper-personalized message and its fruition flow smoothly and quickly without being subject to time (because they are not necessarily linked to current events), 9 times out of 10 without language barriers (because they are not always linked to current events). words) and without external interruptions.

We must not forget that one of the reasons for the success of TikTok is that at the moment it appears “cleaner” than other platforms, having not yet been massively penetrated by advertising and invaded by inflated influencers, to put it mildly, from other platforms. TikTok at the moment, but who knows for how long, ensures a  full immersive experience  (for some pleasant for others, with a less trained and reactive eye, a little less) and a sense of community that I would define relative.

Are we sure that TikTok is a social network?

TikTok users don’t necessarily have to network or follow someone. They can simply go to the platform, click on the “Discover” function and start playing videos that seem interesting, search for more on certain topics through the use of relevant hashtags or, as is almost always the case, create new ones.

Over time, obviously, many of TikTok’s patrons (especially passive ones) will learn to appreciate, as elsewhere, only certain types of videos and probably to follow only certain profiles. But almost all will always be profiles of users that we could define random content creators  intercepted randomly on the platform and almost never of friends and / or acquaintances.

For this reason, TikTok is a bottom-up social media entertainment network rather than a social network . And this is why talents and celebrities of the entertainment star system, including Italians, are starting to land on the platform in recent times: see Fiorello and Michelle Hunziker. And others will come shortly and in dribs and drabs, trust me.

How much time is spent on TikTok and how

The average daily time spent on this platform worldwide is 52 minutes (in Italy 34), a figure quite in line with the other platforms. But what is surprising is that the TikTokers are very active creators. The platform actually boasts a highly engaged user base and a great relationship between content creators and viewers.

Below are the actions and behaviors of the users involved on TikToK (source: Globalwebindex 2019):

TikTok Marketing: yes, no, maybe?

Given the numbers of TikTok around the world, it’s no surprise that marketers (myself included) have begun to carefully study the platform and its user base to try and grasp its potential.

By consulting Google Trends, it is possible to know the trend of the web search frequency of the keyword ” TikTok Marketing ” month by month over the last year at a global level.

Here it takes a second to notice the trend and peak in interest that has occurred over the past 2 and a half months. Trend that proves, broadly speaking, to mirror in Italy.

After studying the TikTok phenomenon as an insider, to be honest, I think that if a marketer decides to take a wait-and-see position right now, he runs a very high risk of finding himself unprepared in his time of need.

TikTok case study: influencer marketing and more

As always, there are already top brands worldwide that have not lost an opportunity to test the potential of the platform, delivering the first case studies from which we can draw some considerations (and perhaps another in-depth article for the Social Factor blog). Brands such as Chipotle, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, Too Faced, Guess, have landed on TikTok both directly and through influencer marketing activities , immediately benefiting from it in terms of awareness.

Summing up, there are for the moment 3 ways in which brands can immerse themselves in the TikTok environment and I list them in order of diffusion:

1) By contacting and activating the platform’s musers (its stars and / or influencers to use a more common language in the sector), to spread content to a targeted audience: Generation Z. The challenges are popular on TikTok : a typical engagement method of the platform and highly appreciated by its users. Users who love to take on a challenge to give free rein to both fun and creativity. These challenges are always assigned a hashtag with the aim of making them recognizable and easy to find. One of the best known challenges of recent times is the #ForClimate one

To stay on the subject, I am not surprised to see how the search volumes generated by the keyword ” TikTok Marketing ” globally are comparable to those of the keyword ” TikTok influencer “.

2) creating your own channel and uploading videos that are native and above all relevant to the environment in which they are broadcast

3) experimenting with advertising directly on TikTok

TikTok advertising: formats and targeting

In this moment, it is useless to hide, TikTok finds itself in a position to identify new ways and tools to maintain this momentum and at the same time make use of its appeal towards brands, marketers and advertisers.

TikTok has been experimenting with different types of adv for about a year, both in the United States and in Europe, to consolidate its advertising platform before going to compete globally for the advertising revenue of direct competitors such as Snapchat and then, why not, of giants such as Instagram and Facebook.

Here are the formats that TikTok is experimenting with:

  • Brand takeover : A full screen image or video with CTA that appears when the user opens the app. The latter, being an exclusive premium format, is reserved for only one brand per day in each country
  • In-feed native video : skipable videos lasting 5-15 seconds, presented in the “For you” section, a sort of feed containing TikTok videos that the user might like, with a CTA that can link to: a landing external page, an app store or a hashtag challenge. This type of advertising format has the main objective of generating brand awareness
  • Brand lenses : custom masks, yes just like Snapchat’s, that TikTokers can enjoy using how (and where) they want

Considering the breadth and strategic value of TikTok’s specific audience for many brands, it must be said that the microtargeting capacity , according to the judgments of the agencies identified and involved in the beta test phase, seems to settle on the levels of other platforms. far more proven by advertisers.

TikTok, in fact, allows you to reach users based on parameters such as: age , location , interests , and to use Custom and Lookalike audience . All to generate non-invasive adv (at least that’s the intent) and show the right ads at the right times to the right people.

TikTok can unleash this microtargeting capability on apps on the iOS App Store, Google Play and a handful of China-specific app stores (e.g. TapTap, Xiaomi and Meizu).

Despite the increasingly insistent demand from brands and the investments made by ByteDance (the Chinese technology company that owns and develops TikTok) to answer this question, however, we are still in a testing phase where it is difficult to concretely evaluate the potential of the TikTok advertising platform.

But I can say one thing with certainty: assuming that these advertising formats will enter the western market at full capacity within the next few months, are we so sure that we have already figured out which types of advertising Generation Z really wants to see? The answer is no!


Starting to ask “ Is creating content for Generation Z, when you are 35, a possible undertaking? ” it’s a good start. In fact, today’s marketers and advertisers need to prepare themselves to overcome an inevitable mental barrier, rather than generational, avoiding the error of thinking about communication and marketing as has been done so far.

Each new platform or new technology brings with it opportunities and at the same time doubts about their unavoidable effectiveness. The risk of reusing the mental patterns followed until yesterday is always around the corner and there ready to show us the best viaticum so as not to seize the great opportunity that TikTok is giving us: knowing, talking and understanding how to capture the attention of those who they will be the consumers of tomorrow .

After the Millennials, in fact, Generation Z will be the real protagonist of the market, the privileged interlocutor to whom all of us will have to turn. With a whopping 143 billion dollars in spending per year (data from a Pew Research Center research), Generation Z offers brands with a careful and forward-looking gaze even more than a new consumer prospect:

  • a clue on what to produce in the next few years
  • a chance to tell about oneself in a new way (and in a world)
  • a challenge as difficult as it is gratifying: to build a fabric of common values ​​and actions from which brands and consumers can find each other and reflect each other.

Well, that’s all there is to know about TikTok today. Now, though, how about moving from theory to practice?


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