How a Surprising New Social Media Platform Could be Useful

This email originally appeared in the July 25th edition of The Scribble, KYC's bi-weekly marketing newsletter. You can subscribe to The Scribble at the top of this page.

TikTok is no longer just a 2009 pop-hit by Kesha, it’s taking the social media sphere surprisingly by storm. Following failing performances by similar apps such as Vine and, both of which have been shut down, TikTok is emerging not only as a video platform for young people, but a tool for companies with a younger audience. 

After launching in 2017, the app took time to gain a large audience. Now with 500+ million users, TikTok is now being used by companies to subversively create heaps of user generated content. TikTok has key features and a unique user-culture that has fostered a symbiotic relationship with marketers. 

The basic features of the app include the ability to create short videos that will play on a loop, with musical overlays, special effects, and editing tools to add that extra something to a video. These videos are then available on the app, and have the opportunity to be optimized for the specific audience. Search tools can find the video creator, or tags that classify each video. Through the use of tags, challenges emerged. 

These challenges have been the most popular feature of the app, showing people doing specific actions or recreating dances to specific music. This is where the viral #bottlecapchallenge was born. Challenges have become a fun way for users to interact, while also paving the way for companies to enter the TikTok sphere. 

Most notably, the clothing company Guess created its own challenge. The basis of the #inmydenim challenge is that users will be filmed in Guess denim, dancing and having a good time while Bebe Rexha’s “I’m a Mess” is overlaid. The challenge was originally posted by the company’s account on TikTok and since has amassed over 1,000 videos with the challenge tag, and the tag has been viewed over 30 million times. That’s a lot of visibility and a lot of user generated content. 

On a smaller scale, The Washington Post has been posting TikToks of the newsroom, showing a more fun and lively side of the paper, using music to add humor. These videos have grown in popularity and given the traditionally serious newspaper organization a light-hearted way to interact with readers.

Knowing tone is important, but if the audience fits it fits. TikTok may not be the first channel that pops into mind when thinking about social media marketing, but with such a large viewer base, it may be exactly the tool to help.