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EZ Insider: TikTok - What Marketing Communications Professionals Need to Know


With the COVID-19 pandemic postponing and cancelling many of my summer plans, which typically consist of traveling, concerts and outdoor festivals, I have joined the 51% of Americans who have reported a massive increase in social media use. While I have been on Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram for a years now, I am now part officially part of the TikTok community.

Before joining the platform, I didn't really understand what it was or why anyone would want to spend hours on the platform — now I understand why a little too well. I have found myself "just going to browse" and accidentally scrolling and watching for over a half hour at a time.

Now that I am a TikTok expert - here is my personal account of why everyone should consider TikTok for their social media strategy from a marketing communications student and Gen Z perspective.

What is TikTok?

If you were on social media around 2013, you may be familiar with the short-form video app Vine. Videos hosted on vine were just under 10 seconds and were looping similar to TIkTok, but there are a few differences:

  1. TikTok videos can be up to 60 seconds long
  2. TikTok offers a variety of sounds and music to add to videos, allowing users to lip-sync audios or speak over them.
  3. TikTok offers built in filters for video content, similar to those offered on Instagram and Snapchat.
  4. Trends on TikTok are significantly different and change daily, while viral Vines mostly relied on "shock humor."

The functionality of utilizing others audios and setting videos to music comes largely from the app which was acquired by TikTok in 2017.

Users create and upload their videos to their personal pages. Permissions can be set so that videos are private or public and hashtags can be added to help other users find the video in a relevant search.

The main feeds of the app are split in to two categories, "Following" and "For You." The "Following" feed is made up of videos that individual users have selected to follow, much like Instagram or Facebook. The "For You" page is recommended videos curated by TikTok based on other content the user has engaged with. For example, my interests include cats, sustainable living, travel and music, therefore most of my For You page is hauls of sustainable living items, low-waste hacks, cats doing tricks, reviews of other countries and videos about Harry Styles.

Who uses TikTok?

TikTok Audience Growth

(TikTok Audience Growth Chart -

TikTok has an incredibly large following. The app has been downloaded over two billion times and is the only major social media app that is not owned by Facebook. There are 30 million active users on the app in the U.S. monthly.

The majority of TikTok users are ages 18-24, followed closely by those under 18. TikTok's audience is majority female, 60% female vs 40% male. Users of all demographics spend about 45 minutes a day on the app.

Why is TikTok important for marketing communications professionals?

TikTok is experiencing rapid growth right now and brands who are currently on the platform have received a huge spike in brand awareness and consumer engagement. TikTok also does not bar accounts for having low followings, any video can be promoted on users "For You" page at random.

The bottom line is, brands who are looking to target a younger audience need to be using TikTok. Brands like the Washington Post, who have failed to engage Gen Z and millennials audiences before, are now positioned as a creative powerhouse because of their use of TikTok.

Brands who are achieving great success with TikTok

What content performs best on TikTok?

TikTok is completely based on trend culture. Once a video goes viral, it is extremely likely that a massive number of similar videos, or videos using the same audio, will follow. Brands should try and set their own trends utilizing a branded hashtag or a branded "challenge," tasking users with a specific type of video to share.

Brands who track trending video types and hashtags will also see high performance. By taking creative spins on current trends, brands are more likely to have users sharing, engaging and "dueting" their videos. Humor, how-to and review style videos also perform well and receive large number of shares and engagements.

Interested in digital and social media marketing tactics? Consider an online graduate degree program in Digital Marketing Communications. Learn more on the WVU Marketing Communications website.

Interested in growing your career with a master's degree in Data, Digital or Integrated Marketing Communications? Request more information today!

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