TikTok’s Climbing Popularity in the Influencer Economy 
Sun, April 18, 2021

TikTok’s Climbing Popularity in the Influencer Economy 

TikTok is proving to be the best platform for the younger generation and people are taking notice / Photo by: Alexey Malkin via 123RF

 

TikTok is proving to be the best platform for the younger generation and people are taking notice. 

To be fair, it’s not hard to not notice. The language of viral videos is basically centered on what kind of content the youth consume on the platform, and it is they who unwittingly work towards perpetuating what kind of content gets into the mainstream. Because of this, many brands are now seeing the platform as yet another avenue to endorse their products. 

While 2019 predicted that TikTok would be the next social media platform to join the e-commerce bubble, how would TikTok fare against other platforms? And what makes brands think it has potential? 

Budding E-Commerce

To understand what made brands turn their eye on TikTok, the Hollywood news website The Hollywood Reporter talked to CAA digital media agent Lydia Fotiadou and found out that even brands like Celine and Calvin Klein (and by extension, probably other brands) are seeing the potential behind TikTok as a platform to further extend the influencer formula that’s so lucrative on Instagram. 

Why? According to Jill McDermott, co-founder of Michele Marie PR, there is clearly a market in TikTok that’s separate from Instagram’s largely millennial market. If TikTok fully enters the influencer economy, it is very likely that brands’ major demographic will be Gen Zs, because TikTok “is the platform that they love. Their followers are engaged and devoted, and conversion is expected to be high.” 

Already, in a collection of statistics from influencer marketing agency MediaKix, since 2018, Americans have spent over $23.1 million on TikTok through their virtual currency. Everything is put into perspective when one realizes that there are 1.5 billion on TikTok, this according to a report by Sensor Tower, a marketing intelligence source. Each of these people usually spends about an hour per day on the platform, consuming and sharing content. 

While there are many Gen Z people on the platform, the demographic is also sprinkled with millennials as two-thirds of TikTok users are people under the age of 30. Specifically, 69% of TikTok’s monthly users are people around the ages 16 to 24 years old. 

This statistic is troubling for rival social media platform Snapchat, which is struggling with user-growth but still boasts a sizable 78% of the same age group. 

Realistically, the platform still has a long way to go to well and truly advertising on the platform, as MediaKix reported that only about 4% of US social media marketers have taken to enriching TikTok’s potential in the influencer economy. Even as that may be the case, TikTok itself is understanding that e-commerce is in its future. 

Recently, they have put in an in-app feature called “Hashtag Challenge Plus,” which aims to “allow users to browse products that are associated with a sponsored Hashtag Challenge without leaving TikTok’s platform.” 

The Political Potential 

Aside from commerce, there is also a budding potential for TikTok in politics. Just as in commerce, people are anxiously watching how this would pan out. 

Will things turn political on the platform, too? 

Remember that girl who pretended to be doing a make-up video only to implore people to turn their attention to China, which has been detaining Uyghur Muslims for the alleged purpose of “re-educating” them? Well, TikTok also holds the potential for that to maybe happen. 

In an article in Business Insider, this possibility was explored. The business website reported that WSJ, which has been monitoring this phenomenon on the platform, found that people on the platform are becoming as engaged with political posts on the platform as they are with ones that aren’t. 

In particular, the Trump2020 hashtag had over 200 million views by the end of 2019, still just half of the 430 million views of the “GuacDance” Challenge, but still indicative that Gen Zs might not be as apolitical and nonchalant as we originally thought. 

Aside from commerce, there is also a budding potential for TikTok in politics. Just as in commerce, people are anxiously watching how this would pan out / Photo by: Olena Kachmar via 123RF

 

While the general idea is that most kids might probably be discouraged when the TikTok crowd grows a political conscience, WSJ found that it’s still futile not to follow the data and see that a TikTok political climate can be seen soon. Observe the 42% of TikTok users in the US between the ages of 18 to 24, and the 28% in the 13-17 range: these are age groups who usually “use social media as a means of social and political expression.”

What’s more, 70% of TikTok users in the US are of voting age, which is why organizations like ACRONYM are trying to figure out a way to use influencers to encourage voter registration. 

The next step for TikTok now is to perceive the needs of their audience on the platform in the future. Should political content grow on the app, “it could present the company with a content moderation issue it’s not fully prepared to face -- especially in an election year,” the Business Insider report reads.