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There is no doubt that TikTok has evolved beyond the newcomer app that brands initially rejected. TikTok has come a long way since its early days of lockdown amid the pandemic at the start of 2020. Indeed, the platform started out as an app for dancing teens, lipsyncs and pure entertainment – and it’s the main which is why many brands initially approached it with a healthy dose of skepticism.
But times have changed, the platform has evolved, and brands are learning to look at the platform in a new light.
The TikTok you see today is, in many ways, the same but very different. The platform has become a channel of business opportunities for brands and a lever for personal brand growth for many creators.
You’ve probably seen the same stats about TikTok’s explosive growth and accelerated trajectory compared to its peer social platforms. While over a billion monthly active users on TikTok alone is reason enough to consider this platform, a few unique factors will make your investment in TikTok even more worthwhile.
Related: How to use TikTok to promote your business
1. TikTok has become a major cultural and equalizing force.
What sets TikTok apart from other platforms is that it has become the immediate home of various cultural moments, movements, and conversations. From Corn Song to Harry Styles to “The Silent Shutdown”, conversations and cultural trends are born on TikTok, adopted by niche communities, and spread through a ripple effect to other platforms and even on news and traditional media.
For brands, that means keeping a watchful eye (and a listening ear, of course) on what matters most to their communities. Besides being a social listening tool, TikTok also allows brands to join the conversation and jump on trends and moments happening on the platform, increasing their relevance and timeliness.
Building on the idea of cultural movements, TikTok’s equalizing force shows how some of the most successful brands on TikTok could seamlessly join conversations with other users as equal participants. Another way to describe TikTok’s effect on brands is “humanizing,” meaning brands succeed by presenting a human, flawed, and honest character on this platform. Whether it’s through a mascot, talking products, or the team behind the camera, a participant’s mindset is an entirely new approach brands must take to succeed on TikTok.
Related: 6 Strategies to Stand Out as a Brand on TikTok
2. TikTok has become a serious competitor to Google in search.
Although TikTok is by nature an entertainment platform, it has become a go-to search engine for users looking for community-verified answers. This is especially true for young people, who value search results based on authentic content validated by niche communities as useful rather than designed with ad spend to rank.
Over 40% of Gen Z users prefer TikTok and Instagram over Google Search. This is very much in line with the major shifts we’ve discussed regarding today’s users emphasizing the authenticity of the content they consume as well as the platforms on which they consume the content.
Related: How brands are capitalizing on TikTok to gain new audiences
3. TikTok promotes strong storytelling, original content, and longer videos.
Content supporting the app now relies on strong storytelling, authentic conversations, valuable sharing, and a healthy dose of enthusiasm and passion for the niche topic being discussed. The new era of brands and creators has built communities around honest conversations, their enthusiasm for the niche topics they discuss in their videos, and serialized content that makes them instantly recognizable.
While initially 15-second clips and purely trending content made up the bulk of TikTok’s content, the platform has pushed towards offering longer videos of up to 3 and now even ten minutes. This change happened in light of the increase in the amount of time users are spending on the app consuming content (currently at 95 minutes per day — that’s over an hour!). This marks a shift in the way creators and brands use TikTok for their content, which has become increasingly conversational, story-driven, educational and entertaining.
4. TikTok is emerging as a powerful post-iOS 14 alternative paid media channel.
As all advertising channels are impacted by iOS 14 updates, brands are moving towards diversifying their channel mix so as not to put all the eggs in one (two) basket(s) (read: Google or Facebook). In this climate, TikTok has become a major contender for many brands’ budgets, especially as a driver of awareness and top-of-funnel traffic.
Related: How iOS 14’s Privacy Change Affects Small Businesses
As I mentioned above, creative on TikTok is unlike any other platform – it’s driven by authenticity, raw aesthetics, and a complete negation of the promotional feel that other ad formats share on other channels. In other words, the ads aren’t like ads on TikTok – they mirror organic user-generated content to stop scrolling and grab the audience’s attention. And then? They visit your website, you capture them, retarget them and convert them into loyal customers.
5. TikTok can become a content shuttle that you can reuse across multiple other channels.
Last but not least, short video is short video — and it’s the primary content format on TikTok and beyond. When you consider Instagram’s (and now Facebook’s) reels, YouTube’s shorts, Pinterest’s push into videos, Snapchat’s Spotlight and more, there’s more than enough evidence that raw, organic, UGC-style videos are the best performing format right now.
Combined with the fact that most modern cultural conversations start on TikTok, this allows brands to create a vault of trending, culturally relevant videos that can be repurposed across other platforms (paid and organic) to for testing purposes.