The battle for eyeballs continues and TikTok is soaring. The platform recently became the first non-Facebook owned app to surpass 3 billion installs globally. 

The Chinese owned app is now the fastest growing social media platform in Australia, used by over 2.5 million Aussies. It’s also the preferred platform for younger audiences, the app is dominated by Generation Alpha & Generation Z who make up over 70% of all users.

So what are the major factors behind this skyrocketing growth?

Whilst YouTube birthed a breed of video based content creators, TikTok inspired the same audience but provided a platform that sat comfortably in the palm of our hand. The platform has been applauded for giving young creators the opportunity to script, film, edit and upload instantly. A process so seamless, it created a new variant of internet creatives, known as ‘TikTokkers’. Despite the cute name, don’t be fooled by the collective superpower of teens inspired to express themselves online. TikTokkers have been a driving force in a number of major cultural moments in the last 12 months, from driving campaigns in digital activism, pranking US presidential rallies, to writing and producing a crowd-sourced musical which appeared on Broadway. The platform has even played a role in predicting the estimated number Covid-19 cases in Sydney during the latest outbreak.

Another major force behind TikTok’s meteoric rise is young audiences' insatiable appetite for bite-sized content. It’s sub 3 minute video restrictions keeps videos fast paced and extra scrollable. Researchers are now beginning to uncover the effects of a feed built from blink-and-you’ll-miss-it content, as mental health professionals start to flag early cases of addiction. We are now starting to see the platform take over other longer form video services. As of May 2021, TikTok has now surpassed Youtube for average time spent per user in the US and the UK.

As the platform grows, so does its ability to encroach the territory of other major social players. It’s latest venture into the employment space certainly has the likes of LinkedIn and Seek on notice. The platform is now enabling teens to apply for jobs by submitting video resumes to a number of high profile employers. Companies involved in the US based trial include Target, Chipotle, Shopify, NASCAR and the WWE. Are we seeing the death of the job interview? Will major career moves soon be driven by the creation of a 15 second reel rather than a LinkedIn profile? Not likely. However, the platform is certainly shaking up HR departments across the world. The platform has been credited for helping young job seekers with career tips, whilst #CareerTok continues to be a major hashtag on the app.

As the platform grows, so too has interest from the world’s largest brands. The NFL, UFC, Sunsilk and Universal Pictures have all jumped at the opportunity to sign multi year deals to capitalize on the marketing opportunities afforded by the platform. TikTok has also played a vital role in reviving out-of favour brands, most notably Ocean Spray whose appearance in a viral TikTok entered the social zeitgeist in 2020, becoming one of the most memorable memes of the year.

TikTok has recently started to include new shopping features, however its dive into shoppable social media has only just begun and this will certainly be a huge area of growth for brands and advertisers. The key for any brands though, is to ensure TikTok has a relevant place in their overall digital and social media strategy and integrates seamlessly into wider marketing and business objectives. Understanding how the platform provides value to target audiences and a clear idea of the objectives, are critically important for brands wishing to use TikTok as a social media channel.