What is TikTok Exactly? Here’s What You Need to Know About it

April 24, 2024

TikTok is likely a familiar name if you use social media. You might have seen a TikTok video featuring funny memes or goofy dances with clever voiceovers without even realizing it. This app has become a trendy spot for video creation where TikTok users post videos with background music, and other users watch and share them widely.

Should your business or agency use TikTok? It might be a smart move to explore this platform early on. In this guide, we will explain what TikTok is and help you determine if it’s a good match for your marketing needs. We'll help you identify your target audience, set clear goals for your TikTok content, and start posting videos effectively.

Wait—What is TikTok?

What is TikTok?

The Beijing-based TikTok is also a networking app similar to Facebook and Instagram, but everything is in bite-size video format. Most people use it for carefree content meant to make you laugh, lip-syncing challenges, and dance videos.

Originally targeting Gen Z, TikTok has caught the attention of Gen X, Boomers, and businesses seeking another medium to reach their audiences. 

Staying true to social networking, these videos can be shared everywhere outside of the social media app. You see them on your Facebook timelines, your friend's Instagram Stories, and even in YouTube Traffic compilations. You should also learn how to go live on TikTok to promote your brand! There is even a specific TikTok promote feature that I recommend you utilize!

It's got a quality that's uniquely its own. When you see a TikTok video, you know it. Almost every major company uses TikTok for business in today's world.

TikTok is quickly proving that it's a force to be reckoned with, serving as the primary source of short-form video content and giving other platforms a run for their money. Even though TikTok is reminiscent of Vine, TikTok humor is perhaps geared toward a younger, more dynamic, and vibrant upgrade that can capture the hearts of any generation.

TikTok usually caters to younger audiences as it fully caters to their type of humor, lets them express their creativity, and follows the latest trends and viral news all in 15 - 60 seconds.

Who says you can’t either?

Even though it's still a relative newcomer to the social media scene, with the app being initially launched in China in 2016 and then making its way stateside a year later, TikTok is working its way up the ladder. 

According to Search Logistics, the Chinese app has a monthly active daily user count of 1 billion (although to be clear, that number varies based on the source). Whatever the numbers are, the pandemic was a game-changer for social media marketing. TikTok benefited directly.

It might not have been taken very seriously in the beginning. However, it's safe to say that this has all changed. The social networking platform is growing at an alarmingly rapid pace, forcing brands to pay closer attention. 

With a reach this vast and exponential growth this significant, it's time to give the platform a second look. We are talking to you about franchises, marketing agencies, and businesses that service mostly B2C marketing strategies.

Can your brand benefit from the TikTok app? If so, how? How exactly can social media marketers use it?

Let's explore a little more and cover a few main points that you can consider to get you started.

Identify whether TikTok fits Your Brand and Your Marketing Campaigns

TikTok is unlike your more "traditional" social media networking app. It doesn't rely heavily on the image and caption format like Facebook and Instagram. And while it's video-centric, it isn't known (at least, not yet) for hosting long-form content as YouTube can.

Videos on TikTok are kept within a "snackable" length, making them easier for the audience to consume - and also easier to binge-watch. They're up to 15 seconds, although you can connect videos to make one long custom video up to 60 seconds. 

You can also upload even longer videos that you recorded outside of the TikTok application.

However, especially considering our diminishing attention span and need for instant gratification, shorter videos currently reign supreme. And because they're so quick, they're also much more "raw" and organic than video campaigns you might see on other platforms. 

You’ve got seconds to capture the attention of your audience. Make those seconds count. Funny gets watched repeatedly. Really funny goes viral. Emotional content creates engagement and gets watched in its entirety. 

The more your videos are watched completely, the better they are shown to others in your “For You” feed. The more likes and shares is seen as favorable on the algorithm. 

Videos on TikTok appear less rehearsed and orchestrated and more authentic. There might not be much fancy equipment - just a simple video shot with a smartphone. TikTok scheduler tools also can help!

TikTok's slogan is "Real People, Real Videos."

man recording video of himself

Does this make sense for your brand? If so, you might be in the right place.

What about the type of content specifically?

While the video-sharing app mostly caters to humor, there is a much smaller amount of informative and educational videos. Users might spend hours on TikTok for nothing more than a good laugh.

But, make no mistake about it: The potential here is nothing to scoff at. And sure enough, big-name brands like Coca-Cola and Google are using the app to advertise. That's no coincidence.

We have seen successful brands create a theme around the content they share on their TikTok channel vs other social media channels. 

Are they using TikTok to showcase a behind-the-scenes look of what happens in the office? Are they using TikTok to answer problems? Address pain points through TikTok trends? Showcase an event? Create social trust? Humanize their brand?

Yes. Yes, they are.

So, yes, consider whether the app fits your brand in terms of the length of the typical video and the humorous take most of them utilize. But also consider the kind of audience you're trying to reach, which brings us to our next point.

Look at who Your Target Audience is

TikTok's Target Audience

GlobalWebIndex released statistics saying that the average TikTok user is a teenager. More specifically, 41% of TikTok's users are between the ages of 16 and 24.

If you want to reach, convert, or engage with that age bracket, then TikTok could be perfect for your brand. You'll have a reason to believe that they'll care about what your brand is offering.

Identifying the age range of your followers is one thing. However, you also need to understand how your audience behaves and interacts with TikTok content, which is a huge factor. 

What do your followers want to see? What are their goals? Do they have a longer or shorter attention span? What kinds of products and services are they interested in? What do they care about?

If you can answer these questions, you can more easily determine if TikTok is beneficial for your brand and how to use it.

For example, as seen in the statistics provided by GlobalWebIndex, the behavior of TikTok's users is overwhelmingly participative. 55% of the active user pool has also uploaded a short video themselves. 

In other words, more than one in two TikTok users is also a content creator. Content creators learn from each other and are inspired through participating in all parts of the process.

Learn about your followers' inclination to engage with your brand's content. Understand their intentions in using the video-sharing app. Explore their wants, needs, goals, and problems. It will help you better determine how your brand could potentially use and benefit from the app.

To create more compelling content, there's yet another factor you need to consider.

Set a Primary Objective for your TikTok Content

Set a Primary Objective for your TikTok Content

With TikTok being a straightforward yet versatile mobile app, it can be easy to get lost in its features and functions. You can create all types of videos easily on just one platform, which can be a double-edged sword.

From the beginning, it's important to be clear on what your objective is for your brand and not get lost in merely making silly videos-something that you can do in a matter of minutes.

You have several options when it comes to beginning to determine your general objective. Here are a few examples.

Snackable Content

The easiest type of content to stick with when using TikTok for your brand is snackable content. These are videos that your audience can easily and quickly consume. There are dozens of possibilities when it comes to snackable videos. 

They can be informative, entertaining, or both at the same time. They can focus specifically on your product or service, more generally on your brand, or something else entirely that's only loosely related.

Think about it this way: What relevant ideas can you convey in a matter of seconds?

What's great about using TikTok as a social platform for snackable content is that it offers numerous filters and transitions that can disrupt scrolling and grab the attention of the user base. 

This also gives you an opportunity to at least somewhat brand your content, if you want to. And at a minimum, it gives you a little creative freedom so that you can find unique ways to stand out from the rest.


Another marketing objective for TikTok could be trend-jacking. Trend-jacking is latching on to an existing trend to place your brand into the viral sphere of the internet. 

There are many exciting and entertaining trends within TikTok, and these trends usually even go beyond the app. This is where so much of the power of this social platform lies. Viral TikTok videos usually go multi-platform, reaching the audiences of X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, and Facebook.

One fair warning to keep in mind is that trend-jacking can potentially either make or break your brand. It may seem easy to let your brand adapt to the latest viral trends, but you have to still keep in mind your brand's image and tonality as well. 

Find a trend that can let your brand be itself without sacrificing its original creative direction. It's not just about being popular online. You want to be popular for all of the right reasons.

Be the Trendsetter

If you think trend-jacking is too risky or that social media marketers in your field are already using that type of content too much, there's still another option to explore: letting your brand set the trend. 

Since TikTok has a high audience engagement rate compared to other platforms-with its users mostly being content creators themselves, there's no harm in creating content to start a viral trend of your own.

Bear in mind that TikTok shares at least one quality with the other apps. You want to create content that encourages viewers to engage with and respond to you. If you're going to use the app for your brand, remember that it's not about you. It's about them.

A challenge When Using TikTok - You Have to be Creative


Creativity is one of the main selling points for TikTok, but it also makes for a challenging task to undertake. As explained by Oberlo, TikTok is a subculture for its young audience, specifically Gen Z. Having so much freedom to be creative can be immensely powerful that you know how to go about it.

It's about catering to the type of content that TikTok is known for while also catering to the average TikTok user while also getting your message across. If you lose focus on who exactly you're trying to reach and what their qualities are, then your TikTok campaign isn't likely to fare well. 

(To be clear, this can be said for many social media platforms.)

So, what's the bottom line? Should your brand start using TikTok marketing?

The only way you'll know is to test it and find out. You can experiment with both organic videos as well as paid advertisements. There's a lot of money to be made here, considering the purchasing power of the platform's target audience.

Just be aware of what kind of content you're creating and ensure that it aligns with your branding. Fitting in with TikTok is important, but not at the expense of your messaging. Lastly, if you are using a social media management tool, find out if you can leverage that tool to manage your TikTok business account.

Final Thoughts

TikTok is more than just a platform for entertainment. It's a vibrant space where users of all ages can create videos, watch TikTok videos made by other users, and engage with a global community.

This app stands out among social media platforms not only for its user-generated content but also for its editing tools that make video creation accessible and fun. Whether you're looking to share your creativity, connect with different audiences, or even promote a business, TikTok offers unique opportunities to interact and grow. Explore, start creating, and become a part of the exciting world of TikTok today!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is TikTok mainly used for?

TikTok is mainly used for creating and sharing short videos, typically set to music. These videos can be anything from funny skits and memes to educational content, dance and lip sync videos, and more. The app also has a range of tools and effects that users can use to edit and enhance their videos. Influencers use the platform to promote their brands and products.

What is TikTok and how does it work?

TikTok is a social platform that allows users to create and share short-form videos set to music. It is available as a free app on iOS and Android devices, and can also be accessed through a web browser.

Is TikTok safe to have?

TikTok is just as safe as any other social media platform. From a security perspective, that might not be saying much. However, your data and information is just as secure on TikTok as it is on Instagram or Twitter.

Does TikTok cost money?

No, TikTok is a FREE app. You can spend money if you wish to advertise on the platform. However, regular use of the TikTok is completely FREE to use!

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