Social Media 3.0: We’re Living in A TikTok World

A peek inside the world of TikTok in 2020…
Approaching Social Media 3.0: truly global, immersive ecosystems

Why is TikTok Different?

TikTok’s UI is fundamentally centered around immersion. Everything within the app is designed to engage viewers and, crucially, keep them within the app’s ecosystem.

  • Low friction: one click to follow users, videos loop infinitely, simple swipe up to see new content
  • Prioritized sharing: two clicks to share internally and externally, videos can be fully downloaded
  • Content generation: duet and stitch features allow users to riff on existing content, audio can be custom uploaded, plentiful filters
Fundamentally different: TikTok is designed for complete immersion and ease of sharing content

Unprecedented Reach & Power

While once an enclave for videos of teenagers dancing in front of their bathroom mirrors, TikTok has hit the mainstream. Over the past year, nonprofits like NPR and the ACLU have joined, as well as major brands including the NBA, Chipotle, and Crocs.

Monthly Social Media Usage Among U.S. Teens — Graphic via Statista, data via Piper Sandler survey of 9,800 teens (average age of 15.8) as of 3Q20.

What Does this Mean For Brands?

Brands that are interested in attracting and retaining young customers are realizing that TikTok is fast becoming the top location to capture their attention. Anyone who has spent some time on TikTok will notice that the app operates with its own lexicon and set of norms. There is a “TikTok language” consisting of slang words, popular songs (and sounds), and dances; successful brands not only speak it, but innovate on top of it.

1. Organic Content

In late September, a video of Nathan Apodaca (better known by his alias “420doggface”) went viral on TikTok. In it, Apodaca longboards down a country road, Fleetwood Mac playing as his soundtrack while he leans back to drink cranberry juice straight from the bottle. Ocean Spray, to be exact. The video generated over 70M views, resonating deeply with viewers quarantined at home looking for a sense of relaxation and carefree joy.

Worldwide trends hit differently when CEOs jump into the game: Ocean Spray unlocks a new generation (58M and counting) of cranberry juice fans

2. Paid Content

Outside of organic engagement, TikTok has allowed advertisers to insert paid content into its users’ feeds. Avid TikTok users can tell you that audio is often the most important component of content on the app, with viral dances and storylines circling around shared soundbites. The best paid campaigns have seen companies create their own audio clips, generating their own virality on the app.

Those orthopedic shoes? Now cool again & driving record-breaking online sales, catalyzed by a TikTok smash-hit campaign

3. Sponsored Content

What would TikTok be without its influencers? While the idea of influencer marketing was largely pioneered on Instagram, TikTok innovated on its structure with its own roster of internet superstars.

Dunkin x Charli: 1 custom drink, 200M unique brand impressions unlocked over a 3 month period

4. Native Content

Notably, the app has not only become a home for existing brands, but an incubator for new companies. The nature of the platform enables founders to manufacture virality and generate authenticity for a wide audience more easily than ever before. In this way, TikTok can essentially become a $0 CAC funnel.

No marketing budget, exponential growth powering community of 10K+ enthusiastic Monet users

So… What’s Next?

Throughout the 2010s, Instagram became a must-have for consumer brands, with their presence on the app acting as both a free marketing channel and vehicle for customer engagement. Companies including Glossier, Outdoor Voices, and AWAY rose to prominence largely because of their presence on the app.



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Tasha Kim

Tasha Kim

Consumer investor, passionate about online culture & community, positive impact