The Power of TikTok for Brands

The Power of TikTok for Brands

By Darshanaa Varne

TikTok is a mobile app where short videos are created, edited, and shared by users. In 2014, TikTok was originally known as, a lip syncing platform. The developers of the platform, namely ByteDance, a Chinese tech company, launched another version of in the Chinese market as Douyin in 2016 before introducing it to the rest of the world as TikTok in 2017. TikTok’s potential to particularly connect with young audiences prompted ByteDance to purchase and incorporate into the app, which evolved into the TikTok we now know today. In the Chinese market ByteDance still operates Douyin separately.

TikTok has since been named as the world’s fastest growing social media platform with over 805 million monthly active users and an average of 185 billion monthly video views. TikTok now ranks seventh among social network sites ahead of LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and Snapchat. To put this into perspective, Instagram and Facebook both took six and four years respectively in order to reach the same number of monthly active users that TikTok has managed to reach in less than three years. Besides it’s advantage of having a large audience, TikTok is also popularly used by brands for its ground-breaking algorithm and user targeting options as discussed below. 

TikTok’s algorithm

TikTok has an ingenious algorithm that can be analysed in three aspects. Firstly, the user interaction is taken into account into the algorithm on the basis of the number of times the user has watched a video till the end. The higher this metric, the more likely it is for the video to be further distributed. Next, users are also likely to see content with specific audio that they enjoy. The sound of the video also determines what is trending for the day. These trending TikTok sounds can be a part of marketers’ content strategy to reach a wider audience. Lastly, the user’s account settings also dictate the algorithm. Information such as location, language preferences and device type influence the type of content a person comes across. The journey of a video through algorithm begins with it being shown to a small subset of likely interested users. Positive response from them in the form of like, share, comment and re-watch provides information to the algorithm to show it to more users. 

Targeting options

Marketers are also drawn to TikTok due to its five targeting options that makes it desirable as an advertising platform. Primarily, demographic targeting allows advertisers to target specific age, gender and geographic location. Another option would be to upload a customer data file to match with TikTok users. Moreover, enabling app and cite activity on the platform also helps marketers to reach people who have visited their website, downloaded their app and followed them on other social media platforms. Additionally, as an advertiser you would also be able to receive a list of people who interacted with your content through either clicking, watching or engaging. Lastly, TikTok also provides information on the category of interest for the videos watched by users which is decided by their interactive behaviour. 


Despite the threat of a full ban in the United States and an actual full ban in India, the app has remained at the top of the downloads charts for months, gradually growing its audience as more and more users are drawn in by its endless feed of 15-second long engaging clips. This creates new opportunities for brands to significantly aid their businesses if the aspects highlighted above are utilized skilfully. 

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