Parents of tween and teens are surely familiar with TikTok as the source of endless dance moves and wacky challenges. If you’re an actual adult busy running a business, you might quickly conclude that your main interest in this platform is making sure younger employees aren’t wasting time on it.
But if you’ve been paying attention to TikTok, you might have noticed something else — it was the most downloaded app of 2019, 2020 and 2021, and the first non-Facebook app to top three billion downloads. Eight new users join TikTok every second, and plenty of those are adults making videos about all kinds of topics that don’t all include dance moves.
TikTok has encouraged brands to use the platform for marketing. TikTok for Business allows you to set up an account for your brand. You can buy ads or strive to create engaging content that gives you some marketing traction, such as a brand challenge. Brands on TikTok aren’t just aiming for kids’ pocket money.
So, who is really using TikTok and what does that mean for your marketing? Before you jump (or dance) to any conclusions, read what Matrix experts have to say.
Yes, teens and tweens are the biggest users of TikTok with 28% of the app’s users aged between 10 to 19 years old. But that means nearly three quarters of them are over 19. Specifically, 22.4% are 20 to 29 years old, 21.7% are 30 to 39, and 20.3% are 40 to 49.
Matrix Internet’s Marketing Account Manager Daniel Ffrench points out that TikTok is growing and the platform doesn’t worry if you’re 18 or 80.
“Although TikTok can be seen as just a young person’s app, the demographic is shifting rapidly and we have seen growth in older generations crossing over to the application,” he says. “The power of the TikTok algorithm curates based on taste rather than age, so after a certain amount of time/likes/saves you will be seeing more personalised content appear that’s suited to your taste, I think, than if the curation was based more on age rather than taste.”
Matrix eCommerce Manager James Foran doesn’t entirely agree. Age matters, according to James, “to understand where you will get the most sales from, if that is what you build your strategy around”.
“You can build brand awareness around a viral campaign, which can build engagement for what would be a future audience. Those customers may not currently be in a position to make a sale now, but in six months’ time, their circumstances may change.”
It’s a risk. Every digital platform provides an opportunity to get it wrong and look ridiculous. Should that keep you off them? Would it be a total disaster for your marketing?
“Unintentionally funny is a big trend on TikTok so that could be viral for a brand,” James advised. “Understanding the platform, the type of users and what you want to gain by having a presence on TikTok will all help you overcome issues like being out of touch.”
Daniel agrees about doing your homework, warning: “I think that trying to keep up with trends that are not on brand of what you or your company’s mission is could be considered clumsy. A little originality goes a long way when it comes to making your community.
“If you were to start an account from scratch, keep things relatively simple for the beginning and then begin to incorporate trends into the mix.”
While TikTok isn’t essential for digital marketing yet, it is gaining ground. You probably don’t want to be the last brand in your field to try it. But if you’re considering any dance moves, you might want to seek the opinions of the nearest tweens and teens before you upload anything.
By Irene Hislop
By Conor McCaffrey