It may seem that TikTok has come out of nowhere to become one of the most downloaded apps in the world, but the success of Tiktok has a backstory, like any other company.

TikTok is owned by a company called ByteDance, a Chinese tech company run by CEO Zhang Yiming and founded in 2012. He is a 35-year old CEO with a background in software engineering. ByteDance owns a number of social media platforms, including a relatively successful video-sharing app called Douyin, with their users in China. The concept of the platform is to share short-form video creations. Within one year of starting it had 100 million users and 1 billion video views a day.

In September 2017, Douyin expanded to international markets under a new name – TikTok. It quickly rose in popularity in Thailand, Japan and other Asian markets. Whilst TikTok started to gain traction on a global level, so was another short-video app called was creating a buzz in the US and focused on 15-second lip-syncing music videos.

In August 2018, ByteDance announced it was shutting and merging the platform into TokTok, with users of automatically moved over to TikTok. Alas, TikTok, as we know it today, was born.

What is TikTok?

TikTok encourages users to upload short videos to the platform. These include lip-synching, dancing, comedy and fashion / beauty videos. Videos can be up to 60 seconds long but most videos are 15-seconds to encourage views. Not all TikTok users choose to share anything at all and are instead just there to consume the content.

TikTokers also don’t need to follow anybody, as there are two ‘feeds’ One where you consume your followings content and another called the ‘Foryou’ feed which shows you random content from users on the platform, you don’t have to be following them to see this. You can also browse the discover page or search for content using hashtags.

Every TikToker has a profile which shows the videos they have uploaded. TikTok’s algorithm will also show you content they see you consuming the most of. As you use the platform more, the platform will come to know more of what you like and serve you that content.

The Statistics

TikTok Users:

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  1. TikTok has 800 million active users worldwide (Datareportal, 2020). This makes TikTok the 9th most used social network site, ahead of well-known sites like Linkedin, Twitter and Snapchat.
  2. 150 million active daily users are in China. In comparison, it took Instagram six years from launch to gain the same amount of monthly active users which TokTok achieved in under 3 years. It took Facebook nearly over four years.

TikTok Downloads:

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  1. TikTok has been downloaded over 2 billion times worldwide (Sensor Tower, April 2020).
  2. In Q1 of 2020, the app had 315 million downloads, 500 million from India, 180 million from China and 120 million from U.S.
  3. In March 2020, TikTok was downloaded over 115 million times worldwide.

TikTok Demographics

TikTok has done well when it comes to engaging younger and future consumers of the world. Many adults may have never heard of the app but it’s hype among youngsters.

  1. 41% of TikTok users are aged between 16 and 24.
  2. 56% of TikTok users are male and 44% are female.
  3. Roughly 50% of TikTok’s global audience is under the age of 34 with 26% between 18 and 24.
  4. 80% of time spent on Tiktok in 2019 were from Chinese user accounts.
  5. 43% of new TikTok users are from India.
  6. Users spend an average of 52 minutes per day on the app.
  7. 26.5 million monthly active users are from the USA
  8. In less than 18 months, the number of US adult TikTok users grew 5.5 times.
  9. 90% of TikTok users visit the app more than once per day.

UK TikTok Users and projections. 8.1 million in 2020.


How can brands benefit from the platform?

Currently, there are three main ways brands can market on TikTok

  1. You can create a page for your brand
  2. You can work with influencers to create viral content and trends
  3. TikTok has its own advertising platform so you can pay to advertise. It is good to bear in mind that the advertising platform is new and not as established as other ad platforms. however, this will develop as more brands choose to advertise to it’s growing userbase.

Many early adaptors do a combination of running their own profiles and working with influencers to spread content to a wider audience. Below are some ideas of how you can do student marketing and advertise on TikTok.

Hashtag Challenge

Challenges can spread like wildfire if done right. It is an essential part of the TikTok community. Challenges are usually given a #-tag name which makes it more memorable and easier to find.

The brand guest started a TikTok challenge #inmydenium. The challenge encouraged users to show themselves styled in denim. “Ready for your close up? Show us how you style your denim 👖 Transform your outfit from a mess to best-dressed! All you need is denim. #inmydenim Challenge your friends 👯‍Sponsored by GUESS”. This campaign has had 48.7M views.

As a brand, you can also encourage a #tag. For example, PrettyLittleThing encourage users to #AtHomeWithPLT when posting videos with their products. Users will want to #tag for a chance to be featured.

User-Generated Content

Generation Z much prefers to get involved, as opposed to watching from the sidelines. If you can create a challenge which encourages participation, in the right way then this could turn into a great campaign.

Chinese restaurant Haidilao did just this by creating a DIY section on their menu. The staff would then know to let customers style their own hot pots. Customers would then film the experience and post it onto TikTok.

As of April, about 15,000 users had participated, with 2,000 short videos posted and 50 million video views. Those who watch the videos may then turn into future customers.


Traditional Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing works the same on TikTok then it does on other platforms. Reach out to users with large followings and ask them to do a video showcasing your products. This could be a fashion video or video showing their beauty routine using your products. It is also important to allow TikTok users to be creative themselves and develop a video they know will resonate with their users.

One thing to bear in mind is setting trackable measurables. For example, a tracking link in the user’s bio or if you’re happy with views then go by this metric. You’ll also be able to request the user’s analytics on any video uploads if the user has a business account.

TikTok Advertising Platform

You can also advertise directly on TikTok’s platform but as this is a relatively new area, you will need some budget to do this. Check out our guide on how to advertise through the platform here.

There is no denying that TikTok has blown up and we are already starting to see early adaptor brands taking to the platform to create marketing campaigns that reach millions of people. Whether it is the next Instagram for brands to commercialise, we will have to wait and see.