With COVID-19 forcing everyone to stay home, more and more people are turning to online platforms for information, connection, and entertainment. And no platform has managed to entertain quite like TikTok.
TikTok has been taking 2020 by storm, with 315 million installs across iOS and Android in Q1. To date, the video-sharing app has been installed in devices 800 million times and was touted as the most downloaded app earlier this year. It now has 2 billion downloads overall, doubling its total from 15 months ago.
While this growth can be partly attributed to the current situation, it can also be attributed to TikTok’s inherent playful personality and how that fits into this digital era. “Our mission has always been to inspire creativity and bring joy. We want to help people stay connected, stay informed, stay entertained,” said John Castro, Community Operations Manager of TikTok Philippines, in a recent webinar organized by M2.0 Communications. “It’s also about inspiring each other.”
Another reason for TikTok’s mass appeal is it is designed for the local user. The app is available in over 150 markets and supports 75 languages, including Cebuano and Tagalog.
What makes TikTok tick?
According to Castro, TikTok’s lifeline is its users, who are mostly Gen Z. This generation is a digital-first generation, with 98 percent owning smartphones. They also spend a lot of time on the internet: averaging 10 hours a day online, streaming at least one hour of video per day, and consuming an average of 68 contents per day.
While Gen Z is certainly a big driver of the app’s popularity, other generations are joining in on the fun as well, resulting in a vibrant and engaged community. And it is that community that sets TikTok apart according to Castro.
“We have dancers, chefs, cooks,” said Castro on the variety of users on the platform all expressing their individual truths. “It's not just about the dance trends, it’s more about the creators, the users, and the community,” he said.
New content for the new normal
A big trend in content creation brought on by COVID-19 is the shift towards authentic content. And this is where TikTok shines because it is about users expressing their individual truths, in whatever way they choose.
Before the pandemic, lifestyle influencer Laureen Uy posted a lot of travel content. Now, her content has been restricted to things she can do in her own home, forcing her to think of new ways to present her content. “As a content creator, I still want to keep my creativity going even at home,” she said.
As someone new to the platform, she was surprised by the amount of learning on TikTok, inspiring her to also produce informational content. That educational aspect of the short-form video platform is something that TikTok has actively pursued, adding the option for longer-form content so its creators can better inform their audiences.
Ultimately, TikTok’s success will depend on its users. And while the growing user base of the platform will undoubtedly attract marketers, Castro emphasizes the importance of understanding what works on TikTok. “If you’re coming into TikTok thinking you can do the same thing you can do on other platforms, you’re probably going to be mediocre,” he said.
For Uy, it’s about diversifying content for different social media channels. “If my content on Instagram is more fashion and lifestyle focused, my content on TikTok would be focused on fun and infotainment,” she said.
Perhaps the best way for brands to run campaigns on TikTok is through the creators. After all, it is a community-driven platform. It will be an exercise of experimentation and creativity, much like the environment of the TikTok community itself.
“On TikTok, you’ll see different types of challenges and videos you might not see on other platforms,” said Castro. “We want you guys to express your creativity. It can be in the weirdest way possible. We embrace weird, and we want you guys to do that on TikTok.”
You can watch the full webinar, as well as other episodes about social media during the Coronavirus pandemic, here.