TikTok: Should I Accept The New Kid On The Block?

TikTok is the new kid on the social-media block, but can it benefit your business and marketing? Or is it something to avoid? We take a look. 

This last year has seen the rise of an unprecedented worldwide issue that has affected millions of people. It’s come from China, but it isn’t COVID-19. While COVID-19 has taken the global population for a painful and frustrating rollercoaster, something else has been born – seemingly from nothing. And it’s effectively taken over the world. 

We are talking about TikTok. 

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A mysterious new platform used by those too young to remember the turn of the millennium, where short and punchy videos are the order of the day. 

Some say that TikTok could actually be harnessed to help your business, as opposed to other claims that, instead, it could decimate your family.

Well, actually, it could decimate your family – but metaphorically so. Especially if you have tech-savvy children. More on that in a later post. 

Revisiting Facebook – And Why It’s Important

TikTok vs Facebook

Remember in the late noughties when Facebook was a platform that anyone on the wrong side of 30 hadn’t heard of? Y’know, a computer thing for those youths who had already dabbled with MySpace?

Well, most of our contemporary online platforms responsible for the current world of social media (and, indeed, modern SEO) have seemingly stemmed from Facebook and its ilk; amusing tools designed for a student demographic to exchange savage levels of banter. 

I doubt that Mark Zuckerberg could have foreseen his campus communication platform’s business potential in its infancy all those years ago.

That smug git now spends his time hiding his raucous laughter at congressional hearings where policymakers ask intellectually challenged questions like: “How do you sustain a business model in which your users don’t pay for your service?” (Answer: We are the product). 

Fair play, Mark. I, too, would have expected questions to be asked by people with an I.Q. of more than just room temperature. Just answer the questions and then go back to your mansion to play Monopoly with real money. 

After control of Facebook was bought over from the originators, who hadn’t quite hit the revenue bullseye – similar to the attempts of Bebo, Myspace and even Hotmail to some degree – Facebook’s keyhole vision into the lives of millions now provided businesses insights that moguls had never accessed before

The users were now the cash cow. And once this mantra had taken hold, social media became the tsunami of activity we now view today, and deviations of Zuckerberg’s platforms popped up to varying success and longevity.

Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter all ballooned in success off the coattails of Facebook’s aggressive strategy, and offered convincing alternatives to Facebook’s then-relatively limited scope. 

Then we suddenly find the dude who made all this magic mainstream is suddenly a billionaire, your nan is complaining about some right-wing agenda to anyone who’ll listen (having forced herself into your friends’ list), and that your aunt is sending you as many cat videos as she has hairs in her five o’clock shadow.

Facebook has remained at the top for many years. It still is, regardless of its recent and expected decline after users report fatigue from the product. Yet, despite being the first successful business to the party, Facebook has been overtaken in some key metrics by competition, and that’s partly thanks to artificial intelligence (A.I.). 

Other Facebook companies like Instagram are feverishly trying to play catchup too.

A.I. Implementation

TikTok Artificial intelligence (AI)

You may have heard that your smartphone is always listening, and that is, of course, true. Your phone is listening, and that’s very 1984. Despite its Orwellian theme, no one seems to care. 

You’re sat in the pub talking about the banging deal you’ve landed on your new Ford Mustang. Once you go to the toilet, you find that, whilst scrolling through the internet (as we all do, admit it), suddenly your Instagram has been infested with Ford products.  

One of the first examples of successful A.I implementation has been with Spotify, the music platform. Anyone with a subscription will be able to tell you about the merits of Spotify’s eerily accurate algorithms that will create playlists for you based on your music preferences. Very space-age. 

Their algorithm is so good, in fact, that you will end up discovering all manner of artists and blindly digging your claws even deeper into the subscription service whilst vastly broadening your musical horizons in a way you simply couldn’t otherwise. Well, not unless you are a music aficionado with a subscription to NME, of course.

Listen to one of your favorite albums, create a playlist with the artists it reminds you of and build a collection on the platform. Spotify will then analyze your music preferences and dig out stuff it thinks you’ll love but based on some interesting metrics. 

You may think, ‘chill, it’s just showing you more rock songs that are filtered merely by genre‘. 

No, it isn’t. 

It’s using data from its 345 million users to determine what other artists fellow enthusiasts listen to, to then create your Discover Weekly playlist amongst others. This is done with every specific song you listen to. Cool, right?

This is where TikTok comes in…

TikTok

 So, what do algorithms have to do with other forms of social media and how does this affect you?

Well, there’s a relatively new kid on the block, and as per my assumptions above, its trend has been primarily set out by the younger generation to make it mainstream enough for profit-makers to find a use in harnessing its power

It’s called TikTok, and it’s cleaning up the social media user base in the U.S as brutally as Tony Montana sorting out his unkempt red foyer. In fact, it’s been so popular, the platform has played host to an entire dance type that has gained international recognition as the TikTok Dance. Even Sir Anthony Hopkins (Hannibal Lecter himself) has taken part

Facebook has 2.6 billion active users. While it’s still very much king of the proverbial castle, TikTok has come out of nowhere, just like Randy Orton slithering like a little snake. 

TikTok is dominating in time spent per session by users. In one year alone, they had gone from an average of 10.8 hours per month for Android users in 2019 to a whopping 19.6 hours per month in 2020.

No doubt this statistic has been continuously massaged by the pandemic, but it’s still mightily impressive. Especially when you compare it to Facebook’s figures of 14.3 hours per month to 16.6 hours per month with the same data points, respectively. 

TikTok has 689 million active users as of January 2021, yet App Annie predicts this will surpass 1.2 billion this year. Some would say that is exponential growth.

These statistics are all well and good, but how can this positively affect your business, why should you be aware of TikTok, and what does it actually do? Well, brace yourselves. Here we go. 

What You Need To Know About TikTok

Need To Know TikTok

You may have heard rumblings of this mysterious beast before, and maybe those rumblings weren’t the most positive. You see, TikTok has received a fair amount of grief as it has been claimed that, in short, it’s an apparatus for the Chinese Government to listen in to all of us Westerners

First off – that’s completely incorrect, and the definition of ‘scaremongering done properly‘ – everyone believes it to be true. Secondly, and this is purely my opinion, but who cares even if it were true? 

Is it not a tad oxymoronic to use all the data and technology we do, knowing full well that data is far from being treated as sacred, to then point the finger at a Chinese company for potentially doing the same? 

If we look at the facts, TikTok is actually part of a mammoth Chinese corporation called ByteDance. They have their own platform in China called Douyin, that, yes, the lads and lasses in Beijing whack a magnifying glass on. 

Elsewhere though? Nope. 

TikTok is a different beast. The reason everyone’s losing their minds is simply economics and politics. Remember the Huawei scandal? 

Who gives a rats ass about homegrown dance videos? Oh, I see, it’s the Government you’re scared of. Why? You’re in the United States. Also – one minute of video content? Unless you’re trying to use SEO to expand your finely crafted cocaine enterprise, I think you’re pretty safe. 

The U.S CEO of TikTok confirmed the above, saying that regardless of the request, no information would ever be shared with the Chinese Government, or any other government for that matter.

My apologies for those who don’t know; what on earth some app has to do with the Chinese and becoming a cocaine-marinaded entrepreneur? Let’s look at what TikTok actually is. 

What Actually Is TikTok?

TikTok Logo

TikTok is a short video sharing platform (typically 15 seconds to one minute) that can use popular music that users bolt onto their videos to boost their content’s popularity. 

TikTok also uses some rather incredible A.I algorithms to ensure only content you want to see is put in front of you, and all you do is simply use the product

After a week or so of scrolling through TikTok, the TikTok brain is so intelligent that it will know precisely what you like and what you don’t. Your feed will only enjoy stuff that is sure to interest you, or make you laugh, or whatever your satisfaction dictates.

This helps paint a picture, albeit slightly primitively, of why TikTok enjoys far more hours spent on the platform than other mediums

Facebook will let you scroll through hours of pure drivel before finding something vaguely amusing, not TikTok. Whilst it may be concerning that your kids are likely being glued to its addictively setout platform, that does mean that YouTubers and other big businesses have harnessed its capabilities to significant degrees

TikTok is used as a window into more extensive channels operating on other platforms, and certainly gets the traction you want. The online platform Mob Kitchen (a cheap food recipe platform) posted on LinkedIn several weeks ago the following statement:

TikTok is incredible. Having worked in social media now for 4 years, there has never been anything that has allowed someone, based on the merit of the content alone, to go viral. TikTok has changed that. You don’t need to be Jamie or Nigella to do well on the platform. Anyone can take off.

We have been trying to crack it for months now. We have put a lot of our higher production quality stuff on there. It didn’t work. One evening I’d had a few beers and decided to delete all our content from the platform.

I went in to the studio the following week with our food team, Sophie and Seema, and we shot 4 popular MOB recipes on our phones. Very raw content. I did a voiceover introducing myself and MOB Kitchen. And that was it. No Tiktok music. No Tiktok trend following. Just real, clean content.

The screenshots here were taken 24 hours apart. Very happy we are finally gaining traction on what is a remarkable platform. I believe the key is real, clean, honest content.

More MOB TikTok’s incoming.”

Okay, so these guys went from 769 views and 5,500 followers to 1.4 million views and 71,400 followers in 24 hours. If that’s not proof of the platform’s capability, I don’t know what is! 

Can using TikTok benefit my business?

Can TikTok benefit my business?

Perhaps the point of this TikTok ramble is simply this. If you want to remain competitive, it’s worth removing preconceived notions about incoming technologies and replacing that sentiment with raw pragmatism

If the population likes something, it’s a tool that you can use to generate more revenue streams. Keeping up with the latest trends is a sure-fire way to stay relevant in a constantly contorting world of internet-based revenue streams.

What TikTok represents is something that can allow that failing YouTube channel to finally become a success, or your Instagram to gain the likes you’ve desperately wanted

Although this isn’t necessarily a core part of your business, exposure most certainly is. That said, it’s always worth researching before putting this stuff to the test.

What about the answer to that question of ‘can it benefit my business?‘ 

Well, I think that it can. You just need to be pragmatic. The best way to find out is to make some content. Contact us, and we can help steer you in the right direction

Max Holder

Max Holder

Max holds a background in journalism, information technologies, and remains a keen adventurer. Imagine Indiana Jones behind the wheel of various rubbish old British cars and you are almost there. His experience in SEO and Information Technology stretches back to when Gordon Brown was still UK Prime Minister, having launched various digital campaigns for publishing houses in London. Holding an Oxford education and a keen rave music fan, Max is Inspector Morse and Dubstep all rolled into one.

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About The Author

Max Holder

Max holds a background in journalism, information technologies, and remains a keen adventurer. Imagine Indiana Jones behind the wheel of various rubbish old British cars and you are almost there. His experience in SEO and Information Technology stretches back to when Gordon Brown was still UK Prime Minister, having launched various digital campaigns for publishing houses in London. Holding an Oxford education and a keen rave music fan, Max is Inspector Morse and Dubstep all rolled into one.