Mobile apps are becoming more useful, functional, and relevant to our daily lives.
While these tools have helped us to organize our lives, they have become a great channel for entertainment, too.
In that segment, no other app has a bigger spotlight today than TikTok.
It is the hottest social network right now, garnering greater numbers each day since 2018, and becoming an important target for social media marketing.
From a user and business point of view, TikTok already splits the mind share with bigger networks like Instagram and Facebook.
It reached this point thanks to its fun, creative nature and segmentation towards younger audiences.
Do you want to know how TikTok got here and where the core of its success comes from?
In this post, you will learn everything about this social media. Continue reading to see the following:
How Was TikTok Created?
TikTok is a mobile app that came into existence as we know it today from fusing with Musical.ly, another application that found some success in the music niche.
That direction was maintained when conceiving the new app, but its developers’ purpose was to expand its functionalities and possibilities.
That way, they could have a more engaging, complete user experience to rival the segment’s giants.
From this fusion, new ideas were implemented to envelop a new package of interactions with the user.
The goal was to bring its initial features to a new, more complete, and more interactive application.
This new concept elevated TikTok from a lip-syncing app to a full-fledged social media.
What’s most impressive about TikTok’s success is how fast they took the main stage. The merger with Musical.ly happened in 2018 and in that same year, months later, the app had surpassed YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook in the number of downloads.
That was a clear sign that, even then, their strategy was aimed in the right direction.
What Motivated TikTok’s Growth?
TikTok’s moves were carefully planned, developed, and put to practice — which is key to understanding its growth.
The app was developed by the Chinese company ByteDance which already had in their market strategy a focus on music and younger audiences.
When they followed the success Musical.ly had reached (in retrospect, not even close to what TikTok is doing), they found there a great business opportunity.
ByteDance acquired Musical.ly exactly to expand its reach in mobile apps. It was also a key to open its doors to a western audience — that was already using the former app.
That business decision was the secret to why TikTok grew so quickly in popularity and download numbers.
Having a fair share of success in the US, Musical.ly was also made by Chinese developers, even though they had an office in California. It helped ease the transition into the American market.
TikTok was promptly accepted by the audience who perceived it as a bigger, better version of the app that they were already utilizing.
The operation numbers
For that time, the operation was quite ambitious. The fusion demanded sums between US$800 million and US$1 billion.
For what TikTok is today, it may not be that much. But for ByteDance back then that was a huge move, proving how much they were betting on the American market’s potential.
In fact, the branding transition from Musical.ly to TikTok was pretty fast. The app simply changed its name.
The users that had Musical.ly installed received an update and realized, from one day to the next, that the app they loved was operating differently. Although questionable, the move was strategic.
ByteDance automatically migrated the audience and used this as a way to set up a strong first impression. The entire user base got hands-on with the new concept.
Even if some users deleted the app unsatisfied with the changes, most of them gave it a chance and explored what was new.
What they found was an engaging, entertaining, and interactive social media.
The First Months for TikTok on the American and Global Market
The biggest surprise in TikTok’s history is its incredibly fast ascension within the first year, way beyond the Asian market.
Although it caught a lot of analysts off guard, it was carefully planned.
After all, who would invest US$1 billion without being confident that the business model had a huge growth potential?
In just 3 months, TikTok had 130 million active users. Such jaw-dropping numbers helped get the investors on board, convinced that the audacious goals could be reached.
The business strategy
By the time the fusion was greenlit, ByteDance had a clear goal in numbers: 500 million active users.
The idea was to reach that metric first, so they could start recouping the investment and become a lucrative app.
Within 2018 alone, they already had 75 million users — which was a record at the time. It was enough to start thinking about monetization, but it’s possible they didn’t see this coming.
What do we mean by “this”? Well, in 2021 TikTok reached the 1 billion users mark.
It took only 5 years to enter that private club of the biggest social media, an impressive feat — more so if you consider it is blocked in India, a country with 15% of the global internet population.
The monetization strategy
Although free to use, TikTok has a varied number of monetization opportunities. After all, it was one of the main drivers to justify the fusion.
The main way to earn money is simple: advertisements.
From December 2018, ads started being tested on the platform and users started making brands’ content of all kinds go viral.
There is no secret here: the huge user-base and striking download numbers are irresistible to companies who want to expand their reach.
But even then, TikTok kept its initial mission and favored niche publicity — those who are really relevant to its users.
Because of its younger audience, TikTok prioritizes brands that offer products and services adequate to these age groups.
However, TikTok already had a monetization model even before ads were present.
It had a donation feature so users could donate money to the large number of rising artists and influences that were using the platform to show their work.
TikTok would charge a small percentage of that sum which helped finance the project.
How Does TikTok Work?
You might not have had the chance to know the old Musical.ly, but TikTok is very close in concept, but bigger in scope.
The idea is to stimulate creativity mainly targeted at musicians and music enthusiasts, allowing them to present their work in front of a camera and other video content formats.
However, the new app brought to its users a huge variety of additional features, like editing, lip sync-related tools, and other ways of creating and delivering content.
The app itself provides a large number of songs that can be incorporated into users’ videos, making the UX even easier and more satisfying.
For being active on the platform for so long, a lot of those users became hugely popular and have millions of followers.
This characteristic puts TikTok closer to other social media and is one of the reasons why it grew so strongly.
Today, the same features for earning followers on networks like Instagram are also present on TikTok, such as filters, stickers, and expanded editing tools.
Combining all of these factors, corporate and individual users have the variety they need to explore creativity.
That’s why today’s TikTok is way more than just lip-sync and music, with all kinds of cool, funny, interesting content being generated and consumed by a younger audience — way more prone to engagement.
Like most of its competitors, TikTok also allows you to segment videos using hashtags. That way, it is possible to index and find different kinds of content with the terms following the “#”.
It is a simple, but powerful feature for those trying to get popular on the app.
To get even more of that fully-fledged social network feeling, TikTok also offers direct messaging — which is used a lot on Instagram for example.
Users can communicate more effectively with followers, friends, families, and any other profiles on social media.
When you fire up TikTok today, you see the app hasn’t limited itself to its musical roots.
There are all kinds of content available for consumption, created by different kinds of people but always with a common point: humor.
From cute videos with pets to dance challenges, this drive helps to create a lighthearted, fun, and engaging environment for the audience.
Musers are for TikTok what YouTubers are for YouTube. These users are producing content for a long time now, dedicated to the platform’s niche.
With an almost professional relation to the content they produce, their videos are the most viewed and famous.
They also fit in the role of digital influencers — a key profile for brands when we talk about Influencer Marketing.
Why is it Important to Get More Followers on TikTok?
After everything we’ve talked about until this point, it is clear that having a specific social media strategy for TikTok is vital to any company.
And, of course, you won’t go buying followers because that is the best way to not find consistent success on the platform.
When you buy one of those lists, you don’t have any control over what kind of user will follow your brand.
That way you weaken one of the fundamental practices to reach your goals with Digital Marketing: segmentation.
More relevant than reaching large crowds is to reach the right people, those with real potential to become a customer and start a long-term relationship.
With a well-elaborated organic strategy, it is possible to make your TikTok profile stand out among those who matter.
With quality, segmented content, viewers become followers and, with a little more of a push, customers.
That is true for any of the major social networks, but why do that on TikTok? What makes it special?
As we already said, the main point of investing in it is a strong audience segmentation: the dominant age group using TikTok is between 16 and 24 years old, meaning a huge potential for brands talking to audiences that are young.
Beyond that, the way this social media works is to incentivize user engagement, easing your everyday contact.
How to Get More Followers on TikTok in 7 Steps?
From what we’ve learned already, we can now go into the practical side and think about strategies that will help your brand reach a wider, more engaged audience.
Check out these tips!
1. Publish original content
This is the first rule in any Content Marketing strategy.
Your TikTok posts need to be original in a way it generates awareness, relevance, and credibility for your brand.
Trying to find a workaround here will only hurt the company’s image. Believe us, users are consuming all kinds of content every time on the platform and they will notice if there is any sign of plagiarism or repetitive videos.
The good news is all of TikTok’s tools are thought of as ways to facilitate originality, even when getting someone else’s content and turning it into your own thing.
Do you want an example? It is very common to see videos in which the performer uses a piece of music or video as background for an original piece.
Also, all the time these types of videos go viral and become material for reinterpretations and collages.
When that happens, engagement goes through the roof. Content like that becomes the base for challenges, something really popular on TikTok.
To participate, the user has only to click on the audio’s name and embed it. That original piece is credited in the post as we can see below:
2. Make use of popular songs
In the example above, you can see the “original sound” description. It means that the audio was created by a TikTok user, especially for content creation.
This kind of material is great to work with but you can also go for popular songs, already known by the general public.
To make it more appealing, choose songs in accordance with your target audience or, better yet, your buyer persona.
Using the data you have on them, try to identify their tastes in music and content, so you can bring them even closer.
To find and use audio in your original content, just type the name of the song or artist in the search bar and select the “sounds” option.
3. Find relevant partnerships
Partnerships are important in any strategy. In the world of TikTok, it comes in the shape of duets and collaborations.
The idea is to create content using what other creators are producing, usually splitting the screen.
It is a great way to boost visibility for both profiles.
You can partner with musers who already talk to the same audience as you, showing your brand to potential customers.
It combines not only videos but the engagement in consuming both contents into one bigger user experience.
4. Interact with other accounts
You won’t get much reach on TikTok by only focusing on your profile. You need to expand your visibility by being an active member of this community.
You start by simply following and interacting with relevant accounts in your niche.
It is an easy way to monitor user behavior. If those profiles have a similar segment to your brand, you can watch actions and reactions so you can understand better what will impact your persona.
It is not about copying what is working, but reverse engineering these contents and discovering why they work so well.
And don’t forget to leave comments on posts that grab your attention from a marketing point of view.
After all, you can’t make social media happen with eyes only on your content. And people can see your relevant comments and start to follow your brand.
5. Complete your account profile
When someone new visits your profile, you have only a fraction of time to grab their attention.
If your main page is incomplete or without meaningful information, you will see a lot of potential leads bouncing back.
It is crucial, obviously, to insert the brand’s name and a good handle. One that is short, instigating, unique, and easy to spell.
Remember that, if you’re going to share your profile online, that handle will be part of the URL. So you need to be smart when picking the right one.
The profile photo should be on par with your visual strategy, at the same time it makes your brand stand out in an interesting way.
You can also choose to display a 3 seconds video that runs in a loop as your avatar to improve brand recognition and user experience.
Your other social network profiles, like Instagram and YouTube, can also be linked.
Here’s an example of a filled profile, with hashtags, a strong one-liner as the description, and the brand well-printed.
6. Pick great hashtags
As you may be familiar with Instagram, hashtags are crucial to a successful TikTok strategy. Remember how we talked about videos that become viral challenges?
Well, to get into the buzz you need hashtags, so people looking for content like the original and other versions can find yours.
Beyond that, hashtags can be included in any kind of content with the same goal: attracting people interested in that theme.
They can also be added to your profile like Barcelona’s example above, so people can be led straight to your home page.
7. Keep the content coming
Like any other social media, you won’t go anywhere if you can’t be resilient.
It is important to be always producing content (and posting at the right time), so it is recognized as an active user and shown to more people by TikTok’s algorithm.
The more you show the brand, the more chances you have to attract new followers.
Your brand’s relevance on social media can’t be limited to Instagram or Facebook.
The more channels that you mark your presence on, the better the results will be — if you build an effective approach.
And, right now, TikTok is the hottest one to improve your visibility online.
It is a highly engaging social network, which by itself promises benefits from having more followers.
TikTok can still be considered a young platform. A lot of companies have yet to be present. Others grabbed their handles but still don’t actively produce anything.
And that is an important point: TikTok is already becoming an indispensable channel for Digital Marketing.
Who starts first, gets a leap ahead of the competitors that haven’t noticed it yet.
Getting more followers on TikTok is crucial to raising your brand’s digital relevance and, with that, reaching bigger goals with a marketing strategy.
Go on now and explore the many features it provides and use it intelligently to talk to a segmented, highly engaged audience.
And if TikTok is focused on video content, why not improve your strategies with that media? Check out our special guide on Video Marketing!