How TikTok topped the charts thanks to Lockdown

Founded in 2012, TikTok started life as a teen-orientated platform where users uploaded 15 second videos of lip syncs, dance challenges and more.

But that all changed when lockdown hit and unlike most others, TikTok has actually benefited from the current stay-at-home environment. One in three Brits - 24 million people to be precise - now has TikTok installed on their devices*. And whilst exact figures are yet to be published, it’s safe to assume the recent growth has meant there’s a far broader demographic now engaged on the platform. Everyone from your Mum to your 88-year-old grandad to your dancing pet dog is becoming the next big TikTok-er as the nation has turned to the channel for some light-hearted relief during these testing times. TikTok gave themselves a pat on the back last week with the airing of their first-ever UK TV ad…

The surge in TikTok's popularity has meant in the last 90 days or so, they’ve topped the charts and risen above Snapchat on Google search trends.

And that’s not the only stat that caught our eye - take a look at these numbers:

  • The platform currently has over 800 million daily users

  • They hit 2 billion downloads globally, with 315 million of those in Q1 of this year — the highest number of downloads for any app in a quarter

  • The engagement rate is higher than Instagram, and five to 10 times higher than Twitter

For more number crunching and TikTok “stats that’ll blow your mind” head here.

You may rightfully be questioning whether TikTok is just another social media app that’ll come, and then go as quickly as it arrived. But as video consumption continues to grow, we’re hedging our bets that TikTok is here to stay. And now is the perfect time to start thinking about how you could use the platform for your business or brand.

TikTok for business

Before we dive straight into advertising and put our performance marketing hat back on, we think it’s important to mention the power of organic on TikTok - something that certainly shouldn’t be underestimated. Whilst the likes of Facebook and Instagram are now very much a pay to play arena, that’s not the case (yet) for TikTok. You might have zero followers, post once and receive a million views on your content. The algorithm is powerful and it’s set up for viral-ability - every marketer’s dream.

Using TikTok for advertising

We’ve outlined below what’s currently available on the platform in terms of advertising. Whilst the platform is continually updating and releasing new formats, it’s still early days so we’d suggest using an experimentation media budget for any TikTok advertising. That way you can test, test and test again to ensure you’re spending media budgets most effectively and it’s delivering against your business objectives. And on the subject of those, make sure you’re clear from the outset on what you want to achieve from TikTok. Although it may look a lot like Instagram, it’s functionality is more like YouTube. TikTok isn’t a place to engage with friends and family, it’s a place to be entertained.

So without further adieu, from brand to direct response, this is what TikTok currently offers in terms of ad formats:

Brand takeovers

These are full-screen video ads that, as the name suggests, takeover the screen as soon as a user opens TikTok. This type of ad format comes with a fairly hefty price tag but they limit takeovers to one per day per target audience - so that’s a lot of eyes with very little competition.

In feed native videos

Not too dissimilar to those you see on Instagram, these ads are displayed in your newsfeed - ‘for you’ - and served up in between content while users are scrolling.

Hashtag challenges

Whilst challenges organically happen on TikTok, there’s also opportunity for brands to create and promote custom challenges via paid reach. As part of the promotion, challenges will have a dedicated branded page that gives brands leverage to drive new product interest, generate leads, encourage UGC and so on.

Whilst if executed well, the results can be worth it, promoted challenges are not cheap. You’re looking at 150K or so to sponsor for just one day! You might be able to reach the same exposure by amplifying the challenge through influencers or ambassadors that have an already established following on the platform.

Branded AR filters

Similar to competitor Snapchat, brands can design and build their own custom filter for TikTok. The filter goes live for 10 days at a time and it’s a creative format to build brand awareness.

So, should you advertise on TikTok? Well, it’s clear to us that the platform certainly has a long way to go before advertising will start to become front-and-centre of media planning. Like we mentioned before, whilst the platform is still in it’s experimental stage, brands should be exploring organic opportunities and experimenting only with advertising capabilities. Get to know the platform now, and then once TikTok gets their act together and refines the advertising offering, you’ll be one step ahead of the competition.

In the meantime, here's my dog Percy making his debut on TikTok...

Stay tuned - we’re certain there’s lots more to come.


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