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The Rise of TikTok

In September 2016, Chinese developer ByteDance set something in motion that would have a massive cultural impact the world over. TikTok needs very little introduction, particularly if you’re under 25 years old, but let’s take a look at the rise of the world’s fastest-growing social network and the unique marketing opportunities that it holds. 

Firstly, What is TikTok? 

Simply put, it’s a video-focused social media network. Much like how you’ve come to know other networks, you can follow friends and brands that you enjoy and grow a following of your own by producing content.  

The typical video is around 15 seconds long, though this can go up to three minutes too. This bite-sized content normally contains pranks, stunts, tricks, jokes, dancing, or other forms of entertainment. While individual content creators do well for themselves, TikTok is also home to “challenges”, which encourage audience participation. The most common version of this is dancing to a popular song. 

It’s available in 155 markets and 75 languages, cementing its place as a global phenomenon. 

As mentioned, it was developed in China – where it’s Chinese name Douyin inspired the iconic “d”-shaped logo. TikTok became available worldwide in August 2018 and the rest, as they say, is history. 

The Controversy 

It hasn’t been an easy road for TikTok, however. The fact that it was developed by a Chinese firm raised eyebrows, with some accusing it of being spyware deployed globally by the Chinese government. This sentiment has led to government action in some parts of the world, such as India, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Bangladesh, where who have banned it. Despite the obstacles and slander, TikTok still grew.  

Meteoric Growth 

Prior to the pandemic, TikTok was already growing steadily, putting some immense pressure on other social communities. It is believed that it moved from 271 million users in 2018, to 508 million in 2019, then jumping to an astounding 1.2 billion in late 2021. This exponential growth was undoubtedly fueled by global lockdowns leaving people rather bored. 

Some other interesting statistics to consider are: 

  • There are 386.6 million users aged between 18 and 24 years old, making up 43.7% of the total global TikTok audience. 
  • TikTok users spend an average of 52 minutes on the app each day. 
  • 90% of TikTok users visit the app more than once a day. 
  • Q4 2021 saw TikTok take in $2.3 billion in consumer spend, marking a 77% year-on-year increase. 
  • There are 6.44 million South African TikTok users. 
  • Micro-influencers on TikTok boast an average engagement rate of 17.96%, which is incredibly high when compared to other popular platforms like Instagram (3.86%) and YouTube (1.63%). 

The Opportunities 

What all this information and figures mean is that TikTok offers a unique opportunity to market to a young, engaged audience. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by how “cool” the platform is, but there is certainly the space for brands to engage meaningfully with its audience. A good example of this was Dettol’s hand wash challenge – filling a timely reminder at the start of the pandemic to people to wash their hands thoroughly. 

As experts in social engagement, you can reach out to Digitlab to discuss how best to engage with TikTok and what kind of opportunities you may be able to unlock through running campaigns on the platform. 


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