What Is TikTok And How Can Marketers Use It?

Tiktok marketing

Users spend around 39 minutes a day on the trendy TikTok video network. In terms of entertainment, the platform is clearly on the rise. Initial attempts at advertising indicate that TikTok will soon be on everyone’s lips as a platform for innovative marketing.

Learn what opportunities the interactive social media platform TikTok Marketer offers.

What is “TikTok”?

TikTok is a social video network created from the lip-sync app musical.ly and its Asian counterpart Douyin. Users can use entertainment videos and upload their own short videos on the platform. Especially the “Challenge” format, as well as “Lip Sync” videos, have emerged in the network as social phenomena.

Music welds together: TikTok as a social platform

Clicking on the app and the video stream starts. TikTok requires no registration if you only want to use the app as a consumer. For uploading your videos, however, registration is necessary.

The home feed of the network is divided into “Follow me” and “For you”. While the first feed will only show videos of people, you follow. The “For You” feed algorithm will wrap many videos suggested to users based on the videos/categories you’re already watching.

Lip Sync videos, where users turned their lips to background songs or movie scenes, triggered the platform’s hype. While the predecessor musical.ly was exclusively about Lip Sync, TikTok established further formats of video entertainment. 

The characteristic feature of the short videos, however, remains the musical accompaniment. The 15- to 60-second videos are spiced up with stickers, filters or time-lapse effects.

Live streams on TikTok

Like other social networks, TikTok offers its users the ability to stream live. Once users start such a stream, their followers are notified and can even sponsor their favorite influencers through donations.

Advertising on TikTok: First attempts at commercialization

As a network, TikTok offers exciting opportunities for commercialization. Around 66% of users are younger than 30, making them an impressive target customer group for many companies.

tiktok ads

Initial campaigns show TikTok’s attempts to establish itself as a platform for advertisers. Currently, it is only possible to set up marketing initiatives directly through the TikTok website. The following options are available:

  • Native video ads
  • Branded hashtag challenges
  • Brand Takeover Ads
  • Branded sticker

High flyer or straw fire: is the network worthwhile for your marketing strategy?

In the first quarter of 2018, TikTok outperformed its counterparts Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, with 45.8 million app downloads. The video portal currently has 500 million active users per month and is clearly on the rise.

TikTok marketing

Especially marketers should think about whether they want to jump on the train right now. The still manageable landscape could be an enormous advantage for those companies who familiarize themselves with the TikTok marketing issue early on and use it – because it is still relatively easy to build up a broad reach. But once the community is oversaturated, it will be increasingly difficult for companies to reach their audiences through TikTok.

Advantages and disadvantages of the video network TikTok:


  • The network is in the growth phase. The users are still quite receptive to the content and to inspire.
  • To date, main companies from the fashion, beauty, food, travel, fitness, and electronics industries are represented. At first, it seems that B2B companies are out of place here. But there is a lot of hidden potentials, which can be used by a tailor-made strategy.
  • Recruiting-technically, the app offers the best conditions to attract young people. Are you failing to convince Generation Z of your business? Maybe you will not reach your potential younger staff where they are active. Through a thoughtful and relaxed approach to TikTok, you can stand out from the competition and change your image.


  • TikTok currently does not offer marketers options for monitoring performance data. With the rapid development of the network, however, it can be assumed that this feature is only a matter of time.
  • It’s hard to find users who fall into the target group for over 30 years. Although TikTok is increasingly trying to attract older users, the focus of the app will probably remain on the generation Z.
  • At TikTok, “real-time marketing” is in demand. While this may not sound like a disadvantage at first, you should be aware that long decision-making and voting periods significantly hinder success on the platform.

The comparison shows that TikTok is still an untested terrain. Nonetheless, it offers companies the opportunity to innovate and engage with a target group that already deals with advertising differently today. 

If you want to reach a young target group, you should jump on the bandwagon and think in advance of a specific strategy: Define which goals you want to achieve with TikTok and to what extent you want to take on the tone and the topics of the young users.

Whatever you decide to do, it may be that you do not underestimate the video network like your photo artist Instagram. The possibilities for advertisers are enormous. User-generated content is increasingly coming into focus, which offers exciting new opportunities for marketing.

Since the network does not require registration, it is always worth watching the new trend first. Integrating TikTok into your marketing can give you a lot of attention and scope. Whether the app also has the potential to promote sales remains to be seen.


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