By: Wells Wallace
Meet TikTok, the short-form video app that has Vine lovers feeling very nostalgic.
Often described as a lip-syncing app, TikTok is best known for its act-out memes backed by music and other sound clips (think #InMyFeelings challenge). The app has skyrocketed in popularity and was the #1 most-downloaded app on The App Store in 2018. In December alone it gained 75 million new users. What makes it stand out from Instagram and Snapchat? In terms of features, it has an impressive suite of video-editing tools. But more than than that, the tone of the app feels different than that of other social platforms. As TechCrunch put it:
Users today are engaged in the culture wars on Twitter (ban the Nazis! protect free speech!), while YouTubers are gaming the algorithm with hateful, exploitive, dangerous and otherwise questionable content that freaks out advertisers. And Facebook is, well, contributing to war crimes and the toppling of democracy. Meanwhile, TikTok often presents an alternative version of online sharing. Simple, goofy, irreverent — and frankly, it’s a much needed reset.
While Gen Z is the overwhelming majority currently, the audience is quickly expanding beyond that. After using the app himself, this past November Jimmy Fallon incorporated a TikTok “challenge” into his late night show. TikTok challenges make up the bulk of the app’s content and are essentially a video format for users to iterate on.
While there are no ad units currently, brands are increasingly tapping influencers to advertise on the platform. Universal Pictures as well as the NFL are recent examples. However just last week, Digiday published an article saying that there are four TikTok ad products in the works: a brand takeover, an in-feed native video ad, a hashtag challenge and a Snapchat-style 2D lens filter for photos.