The TikTok trends tidal wave and how to ride it
Whether you were skeptical at first or a fan right from the very start, there’s no denying TikTok’s success. The social media platform has soared in popularity, egged on by a global pandemic that resulted in users downloading the app like crazy.
You might have heard about Social Media Trends 2022, our detailed report that tackles the top 10 trends of the upcoming year. Surprise, surprise: the TikTok takeover is one of those trends that will help you drive consumer engagement and ensure your campaigns and content are up to snuff.
Let’s dive into this phenomenon and take a closer look at TikTok’s speedy rise, the reasons for its success, and what we can expect in the future from the video content king. No time to waste? Then you can go ahead and pop down to our list of brilliant brand examples to see how global brands are leveraging this content platform.
Setting the stage
Background story: Known as Douyin in China, TikTok launched in China back in September 2016. It quickly grew, leading to ByteDance launching an international version a year later. Seems like forever ago, right?
The original intent was to launch a short-form video-sharing platform for users to lip-sync and dance to, but it has since exploded into a global phenomenon, capturing the hearts (and attention) of a whole range of users across the globe.
If there is one thing that is almost guaranteed as we move into 2022, it’s the continued domination of TikTok. The short-term video platform has broken download records, quickly becoming the go-to app for connecting with current and future consumers. Powered by a highly personalized content recommendation system, TikTok can help brands gain exposure to and connect with a qualified, engaged audience. As the app looks to introduce an e-commerce aspect and monetization model, brands that want to connect with consumers really need to be TikTok savvy.
Curious about how this social app flashed into existence and completely dominated the digital space? Let’s take a look at TikTok over the years!
A ticking timeline:
TikTok's story has been unfolding over the last eight years, starting with its creation and its rise to popularity. If you’re curious about the series of events that led us to TikTok being a household name today, check out this timeline from the app’s inception to its roaring success.
March 2012: Internet entrepreneur Zhang Yiming creates ByteDance in Beijing.
July 2014: Alex Zhu launches Musical.ly, an app that enables users to create short-form lipsync music videos; Musical.ly is headquartered in Shanghai with an office in Santa Monica.
July 2015: Musical.ly hits #1 on the Apple app store.
September 2016: ByteDance launches Douyin, hitting 100 million users and 1 billion views per day.
September 2017: ByteDance introduces Douyin to the rest of the world under the name of TikTok.
November 2017: ByteDance acquires Musical.ly for $1 billion and they start operating in the US.
August 2018: ByteDance merges Musical.ly with TikTok and migrates all user profiles to TikTok.
October 2018: ByteDance achieves a record $75 billion valuation, making it the largest privately backed startup in the world.
November 2019: TikTok rises to 26.5 million monthly active users in the U.S.
Q4 2019: TikTok becomes the most downloaded app in the world.
April 2020: The TikTok app reaches 2 billion downloads.
August 17, 2020: Oracle enters the race to buy TikTok operations in the U.S.
August 31, 2020: CNBC reports TikTok has chosen a buyer, with an expected sale price of $20 billion - $30 billion.
September 2020: Oracle confirms that it has been selected by ByteDance to become a "trusted technology provider" with TikTok.
September 2021: TikTok reached 1 billion users.
Today: TikTok reaches 3 billion+ global downloads
TikTok awareness has grown greatly since its inception. Conversations grew steadily until the end of 2019, and the app then spiked in popularity as people spent more time indoors during the pandemic. A 61% increase in mentions year over year during the first half of 2021, converted into new users, making it the first non-Facebook app to reach 3 billion global downloads.
Conversations around TikTok have been growing since the end of 2017 and gained traction during the first half of 2020, to peak in July of 2021.
Aug 2016-Jul 2021, Talkwalker Consumer Intelligence Acceleration Platform™.
Secret to success
There are a ton of reasons that TikTok has become so popular as a consumer platform. A seemingly perfect blend of viral trends, live streams, lip-syncing, and user-generated content has allowed influencer marketing to truly take off, revolutionizing how we understand and interact with social media content. But what is it about the social platform that makes consumers tick?
- Short-form video attracts and retains users: The app is simple and intuitive, and with more and more of the world glued to their phones, the style of content is familiar and almost too easy to consume.
- An A+ AI algorithm: TikTok is especially known for its advanced algorithm that is able to learn user preferences and curate incredibly customized feeds for users, resulting in users spending more time on the app. The “For You” page populates its timeline with optimized content for a specific user, the result of meticulous tracking.
- Remixing is the future: TikTok users have proven that the compelling content is highly accessible, and encourages everyday users to create, remixing or layering their own realities with other creators. While original content is powerful, remixing gives “ordinary people” the power to express, share, and connect. Another huge reason for this remixing success is the TikTok audio system. Users can upload a video with their own audio, lip sync someone else’s, or layer different sounds into one.
- Trends that keep on trending: Another reason TikTok is here to stay are the addictive trends that keep users coming back. The songs, dances, or videos that do go viral are relevant, fun, humorous, and usually easy to replicate, leading to popular trends gaining momentum.
- UGC and trust: With a user base that directly feeds into creating content, it’s no wonder people are inclined to try their luck with the platform. It allows the masses to become creators with ease. This shift of power from brands to consumers is a large part of the platform’s continued success.
Consumers are in the driver’s seat
TikTok has caused quite a stir since it first started making waves, and large brands that take an interest are profiting from the new app. Many brands have turned to TikTok to keep their audience during COVID-19, moving from ads to more direct forms of consumer interaction.
TikTok’s success is driven by consumers themselves, and companies that are listening to their customers will fare better in the long run.
We’re also seeing TikTok content diffuse regularly across other platforms, demonstrating that it’s a medium that consumers engage with on an omnichannel level. Inspiring other channels to test content to match.
Consumers have committed so fully and quickly to TikTok that other social media platforms have had no choice but to follow. For instance, Instagram Reels took some inspiration from TikTok’s platform, and just recently, Reddit rolled out a video format that looks strikingly familiar.
So, what’s the best way for brands to take advantage of this phenomenon that is sweeping the digital world?
For companies looking to expand their audience and drive impact, TikTok marketing is a potential gold mine. Using TikTok for business may not instantly hike up sales, but it is important for brands to show off their personality and engage with consumers.
At this point, you’re probably thinking, okay, it’s clear that TikTok is the next big thing, but how do I leverage it for my business? How do I tap into this enormous potential and better connect with my consumers? I’m a visual learner myself, so let’s take a look at some top brands in action on TikTok.
Levi Strauss & Co
Levi’s is the first brand that seems to be dominating on TikTok. Last year, the jeans brand Partnered with TikTok and their new “Shop Now” button option that allows consumers to make purchases through links on TikTok, which is fantastic for e-commerce brands. Take a page from their book and drive sales through your content!
A popular Mexican grill restaurant chain in the states, Chipotle is one of the more active brands on TikTok. They have 1.5 million followers and several viral campaigns that might inspire some ideas for your own brand and possible strategies. They’re consistent, which is very important on the platform, as well as creative, with ideas such as their Halloween #boorito campaign or chips serenading guac to Adele’s “Someone Like You”.
The Washington Post
It’s no secret that traditional media is slowly being enveloped by social media platforms with their easy-to-consume posts, short-form videos, and a never-ending supply of content. The Washington Post stands out by successfully tapping into its audience base with engaging and funny videos while keeping consumers updated.
Gymshark is a workout clothing brand that has been smashing it out of the park on TikTok. They have 1.2 million fans and are consistent with posting quality workout videos, relatable memes, and other content geared to inspire their followers to work out and hopefully check out their products.
Who can relate? 😂🙌 Psst! New Vital styles are dropping this Thursday @7pm BST🔥@racheljohnie #gymshark♬ Follow memedroidplug on ig - Droid 🪐
Coming in hot, Fortnight has accrued 6.4 million followers with ease, thanks to relatable content with the video game’s characters, original music, and trend-worthy dance combos. They keep their finger on the pulse, quickly jumping on the recent Squid Game hype with their own rendition.
How to ride the wave
We’ve seen how brands are approaching the platform; but at the end of the day, what does it all boil down to? How can you ensure success on this platform that is still gaining steam?
Consistency is key
Whether you’re a clothing brand, a tech company, or a family-owned business catering to dog owners, one of the most important things to making TikTok work is being consistent. Posting consistent, engaging content is a must for any brand to remain relevant in the endless pool of videos and songs. Plus, the more content you post, the better chance you have of going viral.
Create a community
Likes and views are important, but creating and maintaining a community of followers and consumers is vital to performing well on the platform. If you are able to build a loyal fanbase, You’ll have more and more people responding and engaging with your videos. Whether it’s going live, responding to comments, or generally being genuine and credible, having a strong community presence is one surefire way to boost your TikTok game plan.
Have fun with it
TikTok wasn’t immediately adopted by other platforms and major brands. In its early days, the app was not taken seriously and even now many are still reluctant to use TikTok. Brands that go into this opportunity with an open mind and curiosity will go farther than most. In a world of viral dance moves, overnight trends, and niche hashtags, the best way to connect with consumers is to not take yourself or your brand too seriously. Be aware of trends and incorporate them quickly; being agile in planning and execution is super important.
The TikTok triumph: 2022 and beyond
TikTok is here to stay, and like it or not, brands that want to succeed in the coming year and long after, need to hop on the TikTok train. The world of catchy tunes, viral dance moves, and memes may not seem like a fast track to success. But as we discuss in our SMT 2022 report, next year is all about consumers, and they’re calling the shots. What do they think about TikTok? Well, the numbers speak for themselves.
If you want to truly understand your consumer, TikTok absolutely has to be a part of your marketing strategy. So what are you waiting for? Dive into the world of TikTok today to experience the full potential of this social media platform.