Posted by: FDMC Digital Media LLC | March 3, 2019

The clock is wound tight for TikTok

There’s always some new social media app on the market, some rising platform or tool which is destined to become ‘the next big thing’. Most end up falling short. Remember Vine’ or ‘Meerkat’? Some of these platforms are still going, but they’ve not gone on to become the Facebook challenging players they were once touted as. But TikTok feels different. Backed by

Chinese corporation ByteDance, TikTok is growing fast, despite being similar in style to the various Stories tools already on the market. Filling a void left by the disappointment of Vine, TikTok is not only providing an alternative outlet for creative expression, but it’s also rolling out features in the US market that it’s been able to try out among its large Chinese user base first, giving it a solid testing ground. And it may well become the next big social platform – but will it also develop into a relevant consideration for brands?

Rapid Growth Seemingly overnight, TikTok became the social app of the moment late last year. Everywhere you looked, people were posting clips from TikTok, mentions of the app were rising online. Just as Snapchat had done previously, TikTok became the app that you had to see, that people had to share with their friends. That momentum is reflected in the download stats – according to Sensor Tower, TikTok has now been downloaded over a billion times, with 663 million of those downloads coming in 2018. By comparison, Instagram, currently the fastest growing social app, saw 444 million new downloads in 2018. TikTok is now actually growing with greater momentum than the Facebook-owned image platform. More than that, Sensor Tower’s figures don’t include installs from China, so the total download figures for TikTok are actually likely far higher than this. TikTok has gone from strength to strength, particularly in the US market, where it now has more than 26 million monthly active users, who are spending, on average, 46 minutes per day in the app. You can see why social analysts are paying attention to TikTok’s rise. The company is already looking to monetize, using its experience in the Chinese market to launch its first ad offerings. And brands are no doubt paying attention.

TikTok has already started testing ads in the US, with GrubHub being among the first to try out the platform’s launch screen ad units.If you have tried the app,the ads dominate the full-screen of the app, and open within the initial app launch flow, not within the regular usage process. TikTok is still experimenting with the best ad options. TikTok isn’t starting from the same base as other new players in the social landscape, it already has an ad infrastructure and plan. With the app’s experience in the Chinese market, which is, of course, very different, the app is starting from an advanced position, which could see it capitalize on its revenue opportunities faster. Tik-Tok is not without it’s controversy. Even with it’s introduction of tools designed to keep users safe from harassment and misuse, problems have risen for the GenX users.

Tik-Tok just got slapped with a multimillion dollar fine from the US FTA. The app company has agreed to pay $5.7 million to settle allegations that it illegally collected personal information from children under the age of 13, such as names, email addresses and their location. The US Federal Trade Commission said in a statement recently that the TikTok fine is a record for a child privacy case. The FTC said its investigation of Musical.ly had “uncovered disturbing practices, including collecting and exposing the location” of young children. Despite receiving thousands of complaints from parents, the company failed to comply with requests to delete information about underage children and held onto it longer than necessary, according to the commission. TikTok has already launched an option to filter out comments by keyword, and offers a range of controls over profile and content privacy, including the ability to define who can comment on your videos, who can ‘duet’ with your content and a setting to enable/disable downloads. In addition to this, TikTok has also recently launched a new video series to help educate users on how to ensure safety within the app.

TikTok is different, that it’s more advanced than others have been. Of course, it may well be recency bias, it may feel like TikTok has more capacity for expansion because it’s the platform of the moment. But it may well be worth watching TikTok’s growth. As noted, it remains to be seen whether users will welcome ads within the app, or if TikTok can maintain it’s growth momentum and reach levels achieved by, say, Snapchat. But indications, at this stage, are positive – and if TikTok can grow, and expand its market appeal, it could become a more relevant consideration, and attract ad spend for those looking to connect with younger markets.

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