TikTok has just had the best quarter of any app – ever. With over 2 billion downloads globally, the video app favoured by Generation Z has been growing in popularity since 2018 and in Q1 of 2020, it had over 315 million downloads across all app stores – this is a global record for any app.

TikTok is the most popular app of Q1 2020
TikTok is the most popular app at last

Why is TikTok so popular?

It’s fair to attribute some of TikTok’s popularity in 2020 to the global Coronavirus lockdown, but the social media platform has still had an impressive rise to fame since its merger with Musica.ly in 2018.

The short-form video platform allows for 5-60 second looping video clips and the feed is generally heavy with lip-syncing, teen humour, and dance challenges so it’s no surprise that the bulk of TikTok’s users are Generation Z (69% of its users are between the ages of 16 and 24). Creators have access to regularly updated filters and video effects as well as a huge library of music, movie lines, and other sound bytes.

Sound effect challenge – Perri Keily from Diversity
TikTok dance challenge with ‘MWhizz_’ and his Nanna

Comedy sketch by Joss Pascoe

The central pillar of TikTok’s success is its addictive nature and content discovery engine. Videos play as soon as the app launches which provides instant engagement and its algorithm fills the users’ feed with personalised recommendations – even without creating an account. This is what causes the well-known ‘TikTok Black Hole Syndrome’. Okay, I made that syndrome up as I’m a parent of a TikTok zombie who regularly has their device locked down to drag them back up for air.

In all seriousness, the app has come under fire many times over its addictive nature (trust me, when your child can’t sit down for dinner without doing the ‘Carol Baskin/Savage’ dance then it becomes serious very quickly). The platform has also suffered privacy concerns which led the U.S. government to launch a national security review of the app in 2019.

What’s in it for marketers and brands?

Ads finally made their way onto the platform in 2020, along with a shoppable component that’s currently in U.S. beta testing. I also noticed in June 2020 that the first video to play when I opened the app was an ad for Daz.

Other marketing opportunities on the platform include:

  • Brand takeover ads – this is the aforementioned ad that pops up when you open the app. It’s 3-5 seconds long, uses a full-screen video, GIF, or image, and links to an external or internal landing page. According to Hootsuite, TikTok only allows one advertiser for this format per day and guarantees five million daily impressions
  • Promoted videos – these appear in the main feed and are good for driving traffic to a landing page
  • Top view video ads – these are a combination of brand takeover ads and promoted videos. They start with a takeover then transition to an in-feed video, lasting a total of 15 seconds
  • Hashtag Challenges – look out for the shoppable Hashtag Challenge Plus option, which allows users to purchase from a challenge page
  • Brand lenses – these are similar to SnapChat lenses and allow users to ‘try on’ 2D and 3D lenses and share with others
  • Influencer partnerships – as on any social media platform, there’s no shortage of digital influencers to strike a deal with!

Want to explore how your business can find success on TikTok? Drop me a line for a no-obligation chat.

Interesting fact

“It will no doubt frustrate Facebook executives that they missed TikTok– despite holding talks with them back in 2016. TikTok was eventually snapped up by Chinese company ByteDance for $800m in 2017 – which after some phenomenal growth now works out at an acquisition price of about ~$1 per active user.”


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