TikTok reigns supreme as the most successful social app for Gen Z. It was the most downloaded app of 2021, and over 40% of users are a part of Gen Z.
TikTok has cracked the code of how these digital natives prefer to communicate, and more than that, it’s changing the media landscape at large.
Already, we see other social giants, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube among them, copying TikTok’s methods. When YouTube Shorts rolled out in 2021, billed as “the shorter side of YouTube,” it was a direct response to TikTok’s dramatic rise in popularity.
So what makes TikTok work so well? And why should brands care?
There’s a strategy behind TikTok’s viral success that enterprises can learn from and adapt for their own digital marketing efforts. If you want to communicate — effectively and memorably — with your audience, it’s important to understand the key principles that have led to TikTok’s rapid growth.
Why TikTok Works (And Why It Matters for Brands)
It’s not just about the videos themselves. The social media app curates memorable, shareable experiences that captivate users. These TikTok-like experiences have a few key components that explain why they work so well, and they can easily translate to the brand experience.
We’ll break each of these down in more detail below. First off, let’s talk about the video content.
To say video is popular might be the understatement of the decade.
American adults spend over 100 hours a day watching digital video on their various devices. Look at successful social media sites like Instagram, YouTube and, most recently, TikTok and they’re 90%-100% video content.
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By contrast, enterprise websites are 90%-100% text, much of which is ignored because it isn’t relevant, engaging or clear. Frankly, it’s often boring.
Enterprises can flip the equation — create websites that are mostly video, less text — to drive deeper online engagement.
Short Video Length
The trend of shortening attention spans is no secret. As consumers are increasingly overwhelmed with media, snackable content is convenient. Compelling. In fact, it’s downright addictive.
TikTok knows this, so they keep their content concise. Video length ranges from 15 seconds to 10 minutes, though most tend toward the shorter end of the spectrum.
Not surprisingly, this shorter length suits a range of topics. According to popular hashtags on TikTok, these are the top categories:
- Entertainment, dance and pranks
- Fitness and sports
- Home renovation and DIY
- Beauty and skincare
The takeaway for brands? Creating video content doesn’t require a full-length feature film. From wellness to travel to insurance, you can tell a story quickly. What matters is the medium, and it needs to be video.
There are two levels of personalization: personalizing the selection of content based on your interests and personalizing the content itself for you.
The first level of personalization is one we’re familiar with. Think of Amazon’s recommended products or Spotify’s suggested playlists. TikTok excels at this kind of personalization, summed up in its For You page.
Your For You page seems to know what you like even before you do. Some have called it “all-knowing.” Do you usually watch weightlifting videos? You might see a recommendation for a popular personal trainer’s video or a healthy recipe beloved by other fitness fanatics.
The content a viewer is presented with adjusts automatically to user behavior, based on who they follow, what they watch and where they’re watching from.
And a carefully curated, personalized For You page is key for user stickiness. Because new videos are automatically recommended to viewers based on their personal preferences, it’s almost impossible to stop scrolling.
Enterprises can take personalization to the next level, sharing curated video content based on customer preferences but also personalizing that content for the individual customer. It’s possible with Idomoo’s platform, even for tens of millions of customers.
With personalization, scale is always a critical factor. You need to personalize for the individual but make that bespoke personalization available for everyone. Our platform makes it easy.
TikTok makes its product for the masses, so a seamless UX is a top priority. It favors a simple, gesture-based user interface. You swipe down for the next video, up for the previous one. Or swipe to the right of the video to view the creator’s profile and dig deeper.
Other than that, everything is a tap away. Double tap to like the video. Tap once on the icons to follow, comment and more.
Our Idomoo Player, built for enterprises, supports similar gestures. Video isn’t just personalized — it’s interactive, drawing the viewer in for deeper engagement.
Users Becoming Creators
User-generated content is powerful online. Nearly 80% of consumers believe UGC highly impacts their product decisions. And 93% of marketers agree that consumers trust content created by other consumers rather than by brands.
TikTok makes creating content easy. Anyone can do it, and that authenticity, a value that Gen Z prizes, is part of its charm. It’s relatable. Real.
TikTokers, by and large, aren’t glamorous YouTubers or picture-perfect Instagram stars. They’re everyday people. Charli D’Amelio, the TikToker with the largest audience, amassed her huge following of well over 100 million through casual dance videos, unscripted and set against an unstaged backdrop.
@charlidamelio @hailey.sigmond ♬ Treasure – whaddup
But as much as UGC is relatable and fun, when it comes to brand content, something you create will always be higher quality. How do you combine the best of the two? By letting users customize videos you create.
Even easier than TikTok’s in-app editing software, Living Videos can include a simple menu that expands to show editable options the viewer can customize, right from the player. From uploading their own photos and videos to selecting what scenes to include in their video, there’s no learning curve for creators. The result is their version of your video, primed for sharing with friends and the world on social media.
This leads into our next point where TikTok shines: connected creating.
TikTok leverages a unique model that lets users also create content based on what others have created. The hardest part of creating is the inspiration, right?
Riffing off trending songs, like in the TikTok below, is a popular choice.
@cost_n_mayor …. Do you understand? 👀 #WeDontTalkAboutBruno #Encanto #Partnership ♬ We Don’t Talk About Bruno – Carolina Gaitán – La Gaita & Mauro Castillo & Adassa & Rhenzy Feliz & Diane Guerrero & Stephanie Beatriz & Encanto – Cast
And these videos can get massive reach. When singer-songwriter Walker Hayes and his daughter created a short dance to his song, “Fancy Like” (that mentions Applebees in the hook), it went viral. The restaurant was quick to partner with Hayes to create an advertisement showcasing different TikTok users’ dance moves to Walker Hayes’ new hit. Following the ad campaign, Applebee’s reported a 102% increase in quarterly sales.
This kind of video collaboration bridges connections between different accounts and the TikTok community at large. And that’s what TikTok is really about. Great content that creates a community for everyone.
This is a concept brands can capitalize on, becoming content juggernauts powered by an army of brand advocates who create content on their behalf. It’s as easy as one video that millions can customize.
What would a discussion of any social platform be without talking about the acme of all social media content and campaigns — to “go viral” and saturate the online world?
It’s a goal for many savvy digital marketers, and TikTok has captured the viral prize again and again.
Here are some viral videos you might have seen on your For You page.
- Clinique’s #blackhoney lipstick, with over 28 million views. Thanks to its popularity, the shade is almost constantly out of stock.
- Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams,” popular audio that’s even transcended the app. The 1977 hit has hit the top 10 on Billboard’s chart over a decade after its release.
- #ASMR, a sensory response that deserves its own hashtag, leveraged by brands such as Milk Makeup, who has garnered 3 million likes and over 215,000 followers.
And like any good viral content, TikTok knows how to spread it farther, surfacing it on personalized For You pages, reaching the right users at the right time.
Once a user finds a TikTok they like, they’re bound to want to share it. With the tap of a button, a video can easily be sent to others in-app or on another platform.
Social sharing empowers virality. Great content, standing alone, can never have the reach that shared content can. As social media author Erik Qualman famously termed it (long before the advent of TikTok), it’s no longer “word of mouth” but “world of mouth.”
This sharing gives content an exponential, virtually infinite reach. Indeed, something shared years ago can still catch on years later to reach viral status.
Another piece of TikTok’s success pie is content discovery. It’s simple, intuitive and automatic. Beyond the personalization of the For You page, you can browse specific words, hashtags and audio clips.
And once you find the videos you like, it’s just as easy to add it to your watch list. Follow your favorite creators, find others like them and favorite them to watch again later.
This TikTok model works well for enterprises. You select content for your customers based on what you know about them. They like or follow content based on what they enjoy, which further enriches your first-party data and your understanding of what they want.
The TikTok Challenge for Brands
If creating TikTok-like experiences that check off all the boxes above seems challenging, it doesn’t have to be. Enterprises need a scalable way to create these experiences and deliver them to customers seamlessly and fast, and Idomoo provides the cutting-edge video platform to do just that.
With our video platform, enterprises can craft videos that yield high engagement and better business results. We help close the gap between the less-than-stellar customer experience brands have now and the TikTok-like experience that users want.
TikTok Experiences for Enterprises
Here’s just a taste of what TikTok-like experiences could mean for enterprises:
- Automatically generating personalized short video content based on user data
- Making your videos interactive and actionable
- Adding swipe-based gestures to easily navigate between video content
- Letting users customize content right from the player before sharing their own version
- Allowing for easy content sharing to create a viral effect
- Creating a “video channel” with recommendations of the most relevant videos to watch
Let’s translate this further with some examples.
Imagine you’re a bank. You send your customer an offer. It’s a video. It’s short. It’s personalized. If they don’t care about it, they swipe left. Then there’s another short offer and they swipe left. When one catches their eye and they want to learn more, they swipe up. The video is interactive, so it’s easy to take action. The interface is intuitive, and the CX is top-notch.
Now let’s say you’re an airline. You want to show your customers their opportunities for travel. You already know how many miles they’ve earned and where they like going, whether it’s skiing, Bali or the beach. Show them glimpses of their next vacation. Let them update the video to select another destination or add the date they plan to go so they can share their excitement on social media.
Making It Happen
Enterprises already have the data to empower this personalization, but they don’t have a way to say it. TikTok provides part of the formula.
- Keep it short. People are busy. They need to get the most important info in a matter of minutes, sometimes seconds.
- Curate it. A customized video feed is ideal for discovery, drawing customers in so they spend longer exploring opportunities with your brand.
- Make it personal. Personalization makes digital experiences more human and immediately relevant.
- Make it customizable and shareable. Free your audience to become creators. Make it easy for them to spotlight themselves (and, by association, you) to drive virality.
It’s time for a new communications strategy, a better CX that puts the customer in the driver’s seat.
Are you ready?
Take the Challenge
We’re not talking about a TikTok dance challenge here. Engaging your audience, from prospects to your most loyal customers, requires the right tech to make it not just possible but simple.
With our enterprise-grade, fully open Next Generation Video Platform, you can launch interactive, engaging video campaigns at a massive scale — hundreds of millions of videos, one for every customer — in a matter of days.
Give us 15 minutes (or enough time to watch a few TikToks), and we’ll show you how it works.