TikTok – The New Kid on the Block


What is it, where is it going and why is it relevant to your institution?

TikTok – The latest craze in social media

TikTok is a new social media platform where users create short videos – no longer than 15 seconds – normally involving dancing, comedy skits or lip-syncing. The platform boasts a huge database of songs, sound bites and effects that can be used to create surprisingly complex videos. Collaboration and user interaction is a major incentive, as users can ‘reply’ to videos with their own, creating a split-screen diptych. Original creators can also upload their own song creations and then have fans lip-sync their songs back at them.  Compared to other social media sites the platform seems to have a higher level of user engagement and interactions

First launched in 2014, TikTok boasts 500 million regular users and 800 million installations worldwide. The app ranked as the number one download in the Apple store in 2018 and is ranked 6th for downloads worldwide. And 41% of its users are aged 16-24, making it a perfect place for education institutions.

Western readers may be more familiar with the name Musically, who was bought out by TikTok in 2017. The app has been known as TikTok from the beginning in most eastern countries and still goes by Duoyin in China. 

This video from user @mohitsachdev15 is a great example of both humour that is core to the platform and the split screen aspect that is making it stand out in the social media market. 

The future of TikTok

Despite its huge popularity, TikTok is only just starting to roll out advertising possibilities. The platform has tested a small number of adverts in the Asian markets and is now making this available to the US and some of Europe.  Currently, there are limitations as to who can use the service, with it favouring much larger companies. The end goal, however, is to be able to offer a wide variety of advertising options to corporations worldwide.

As well as the classic video ad format available in the users ‘For You’ homepage, TikTok are also exploring a variety of other options. There will be brand takeovers where a brand can pay to have only their adverts for a day, as well as more relaxed options such as a hashtag challenge. Designed to boost engagement, the hashtag challenge focuses on setting a specific task for the user to film themselves doing. Users-led challenges are already very common on the platform in a non-commercial context, but TikTok plans to offer these in an ‘official’ capacity. And finally, there are plans of SnapChat style lenses becoming available for companies, but there is no word on a timeline for this.

What does this mean for education institutions?

At this current stage, the lack of paid advertising space available on the platform limits the usability of TikTok for education institutions somewhat. However, this doesn’t mean it should be ignored. With 41% of its users aged between 16 and 24, TikTok is the ideal place for prospective students. The focus should be placed for the time being on organic user-led content. Campus-wide hashtag challenges are just one of many examples of ways this platform can be utilised organically. You can keep up to date with what your students are already doing on the platform and this information will become crucial once advertising becomes more readily available.

Only time will tell if TikTok is a flash in the pan fad or whether it’s here to stay. But other social media platforms are definitely taking note.  Facebook has launched a rival platform known as Lasso that offers essentially the same interface as TikTok in an effort to win back its teenage users.  

Tik Tok has some impressive user stats and some exciting advertising opportunities, and we think it’s definitely one to keep an eye on.

Get in touch with us to find out how we can help with your social media marketing.