By Kristina Wiggins2/20/2020

TikTok, Is it a fad or here to stay?

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Are you getting the question: “Should we be on TikTok?”. If so, here are a few things to consider. We’ll cover what TikTok is, who’s using it, the advertising opportunity, measurement limitations and how brands can get creative.

First, what is TikTok? TikTok describes itself as, “the leading destination for short-form mobile video.” Its user base is primarily GenZ’s who love to flock towards the “fleeting” trend of the moment. And although it is causing buzz and gaining users quickly, TikTok is still considered emerging and new.

According to Singular’s ROI Index report, the platform gained more than 600 million users and built a foundation to monetize by expanding ad options and tools for advertisers in 2019. Even though ad options and analytic insights available are considered to be less advance than other social advertising options in market, ad spend on TikTok saw a massive 75x growth from May to November, 2019.

Image by Singular ROI Index: Ad spend on TikTok grew 75x.


So, who is using TikTok? TikTok’s userbase is growing, but it’s primarily made up of Gen Z’s (ever heard of “eboy” or “egirl”!?). According to TikTok’s leaked pitch deck, they have 30 million users in the U.S., of which 69% are between 16 and 24 years old. See below for a breakdown of users by the top social platforms.


Graph by eMarketer: Data is from the November 2019 Morning Consult report titled “The Influencer Report: Engaging Gen Z and Millennials.”

TikTok’s US user base is predicted by eMarketer to grow 21.9% this year to 45.4 million people. But growth will soon plateau and slow to single digits in 2022, as the app will become heavily saturated among core younger users.


Graph by eMarketer: 2,200 US teens and adults ages 13-38 were surveyed online during September 27-30, 2019. The margin of error is +/-2 percentage points.


Our brand is focused on GenZ and want to invest; where do I start and how do I measure performance? TikTok only recently launched their advertising platform and therefore has limited metrics available to measure performance. If the marketing goal is awareness or engagement, advertisers can see how many users use a hashtag and view videos however, attribution to leads or sales will be a hurdle. As other emerging social platforms find, TikTok is also dealing with performance accuracy, ensuring reach and engagement are actual users vs. bots.

Beyond measurability and transparency, there’s a significant barrier to entry for advertising on the platform, minimum spends are high. TikTok offers five ad products: hashtag challenge, a brand takeover, in-feed video, branded lenses and a “top-view” video. The campaigns can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a day, according to their infamously leaked pitch deck. For instance, the deck says that a hashtag challenge starts at $150,000 a day.

If our brand can’t invest, can TikTok serve any other purpose? Although it might be too niche or emerging for some brands to invest in right now, TikTok videos can serve as inspiration for social content ideas. Part of what makes TikTok such a phenomenon is that it’s a creator’s community. The platform enables users to be content curators by encouraging users to share their passion and personal creative expression through fun, unique, entertaining videos.

Since TikTok is so quirky by nature, brands that decide to have a presence need to be truly creative to gain attention with users. Simply cutting and pasting Instagram content, or using a traditional social ad or an influencer endorsement won’t cut-it in this creative and fast-paced community. It’s important to use TikTok as the community does. Build a unique content approach with a focus on trends, deployed highlight truly relevant and entertaining content. The challenge is to be different and out of the box, but natural for the platform.

Is the platform here to stay?  As with all emerging platforms, only time will tell! This is a key factor when considering investing in a platform that hasn’t yet reached long-term sustainability.

All in all, before your brand dives into the slow-mo videos of TikTok universe, take a step back to:

  1. Make sure that the target audience is using the platform
  2. That the insights available on the platform provide value to understanding business impact
  3. That your brand is ready to push the creative limits

If it fits your brand, happy TikTok’ing!” If not, “OK, boomer,” its fine, TikTok may not be place for your brand right now.