Tik Tok and Social Media Marketing

I am sure by now you have heard of the social media platform, Tik Tok. The younger generations use it for fun, and it has really taken off with them. You might be wondering how can I as a business use Tik Tok to market my brand or company?

First, let's start with the basics and a general overview of Tik Tok. This app is not as new as you probably think. It first came about as Music.ly back in 2014. Music.ly was similar to Tik Tok but the platform was mainly used for lip-syncing videos. Two years later and the app has developed into the Tik Tok we see today. This platform reminds me a lot of Vine, for you millennials out there. You can create a fifteen second to a minute video on this platform, this gives the quick content that this generation desires. You might be wondering if people are even using this app?


According to many sources, it is the fastest growing social media platform in the world. There are about 800 million users on the app. They have surpassed LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat in the number of users. Tik Tok is a worldwide app, and 150 million users are in China, the home place of the app. Currently, there have been 1.5 billion downloads of the app. Just to show you how fast they are growing, in February 2019 they reached the billion mark for downloads. Within eight months they gained half a billion more. If these figures continue at this growth rate, they could surpass Instagram and Facebook in downloads. In Q1 of 2019, Tik Tok ranked for the topmost downloaded app for Apple's iOS with 33 million downloads. Now, why are these statistics important? With such a big audience and range of demographics that consistently use this app, your brand has the potential to be seen by millions.

The Hashtag

There are a few ways a brand can utilize Tik Tok. It all depends on what your budget is and what your goal is. The hashtag is a big deal. We saw the birth of the hashtag on Twitter, but it has become such a key component in the world of Tik Tok. When a trend or dance has become popular a hashtag usually tags along with it. In order to view videos of a trend, a user would type in the hashtag. A great example of a brand utilizing a hashtag is Chipotle. In 2019 they created a challenge with the hashtag #LidFlipChallenge. This where a user would make a video trying to flip the lid of their chipotle meal onto the bowl. This challenge generated 316.4 million views with just the use of a hashtag.

User-Generated Content

Another great way a brand can use Tik Tok to grow is through user-generated content. This has become a common practice throughout social media platforms. User-generated content is when customers who own the product create a picture or a video showcasing the product. Usually, the product is used organically and not pushed by the customer. Thus, the viewer can see the product in action organically and not forced. As discussed before with the Chipotle hashtag, the videos were produced by consumers. User-generated content is usually free advertising since consumers who love the product want to participate in making a video or picture. Later on, I will talk about a campaign that utilized use generated content but jump-started the content with a global Tik Tok star. With the help of a Tik Tok star, this advertising then is not free and they do have to pay the ambassador. But this helps jump-start the campaign to become popular.


Not every brand or company can use Tik Tok. There was a specific reason why serval companies utilized Tik Tok and why several did not. Knowing the audience on Tik Tok will help decide if a company will do well on Tik Tok. The demographic that Tik Tok has attracted is 16-24-year olds. Out of the users on the app this age range covers 41%. Although they have seen a rise in adults using the app since 2019. In just 18 months the number of adults engaging in the app grew 5.5 times. Seeing that the demographic is fairly narrow compared to Instagram, this limits what companies or brands can do well on this platform.

Case Study

Let's take a look at Aerie, a brand by American Eagle. They utilized Tik Tok to grow their brand and had great results that were generated from their campaign. Aerie's Real Positivity campaign saw Tik Tok as a great opportunity. They wanted to get traction on their new collections and compete with other brands that were targeting Generation Z. Aerie wanted to do more than create a hashtag, they wanted to create a trend. In order to make their trend go viral as quickly as possible, they hired a Tik Tok star, that at the time had over 61 million followers. The trend featured the Tik Tok star wearing the merchandise and telling her viewers three things she is thankful for, even in the midst of a pandemic. In the caption, it featured the hashtag #AerieRealPositivity. Once this video was live, users on Tik Tok started making similar videos. They used the hashtag, which made it easy for Aerie to track how many people used the hashtag.

Results from Campaign

The campaign generated 2 billion views on the hashtag in just a few months, with the company seeing a 100% jump in sales for Aerie and a 50% gain for American Eagle. These numbers were so impressionable that American Eagle did a back-to-school campaign in the fall. It was just as successful as their Aerie campaign and the company is seeing the great use of Tik Tok for their brand. Several other companies have seen how well American Eagle has done by using Tik Tok and have been running their own campaigns as well. There were several clothing companies running a back-to-school campaign alongside American Eagle, after seeing the success from their Aerie campaign in the Spring.


Using Tik Tok for marketing requires having a specific goal in mind. While this platform does not work for all companies and products, it does produce results. With Tik Tok having such a large demographic of Generation Z, it does narrow down what products or companies can utilize the platform. Even just creating a hashtag can start something.


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