The last year has seen the meteoric rise of TikTok, which went from almost zero to $10+ billion in annual revenue in just a few months. Amidst all the buzz, there was also a bit of a backlash from long-time affiliate marketers, who had to re-evaluate how they positioned themselves in the market and whether or not they were aligned with the new habits of consumers.
The Rise of TikTok And Its Impact On Online Marketing
If you’re reading this, I assume you either use or have used the service, TikTok. Launched in early 2018, it was originally billed as a “video share social network” that would let users share short-form videos – ranging from 15 seconds to one minute in length – with each other.
In reality, TikTok is a bit more complicated than that. While videos are its core product, the service actually provides a variety of tools and features that can be used for marketing purposes. These include:
- Beautiful profile pages that allow creators to add images, bio information, and videos to their profiles.
- Hashtags, which are much like the keywords you would use in search engine optimization (SEO): when a user enters a hashtag into the platform, results will contain videos that include that hashtag.
- Custom playlists, where creators can create playlists of the videos they find most engaging.
- Geofilters, which allow content creators to target users in a specific area. For example, a travel agent could create a playlist of videos from around the world that are specifically designed for users in Thailand.
- Auto play, which makes videos automatically play when a person opens a page containing them.
- “Skip Intro”, which when activated allows users to quickly skip the videos’ introductory chimes.
- Stories, which are bite-sized versions of your standard blog posts, designed to draw people into reading your content.
- And much more.
TikTok is currently available in over 200 countries around the world, and has been adopted by everyone from the U.S. military to the United Kingdom’s prime minister. While its user base is dominated by users in developed countries, the demographic is growing quickly in emerging markets, where the service is currently unavailable.
Reactions To The Rise Of TikTok
The impact of TikTok on the affiliate marketing world is still being debated, but there have been a few noteworthy cases. Last June, TikTok banned all cryptocurrency mining videos on the platform, stating that they were in “direct competition” with the service’s actual product – namely, its videos.
This led many crypto mining companies, such as Bitmain, to publicly denounce the ban, and a number of crypto-related videos that were previously on TikTok (and therefore exposed to the same mining algorithm) have since been removed.
When asked about the decision, a TikTok spokesperson said that “while we have allowed crypto-related ads in the past, we did not feel that allowing advertising for crypto mining was in the best interest of our community.”
Crypto mining is now one of the prohibited uses of TikTok, alongside alcohol, tobacco, and most forms of gambling. In September of last year, TikTok added a new policy that prohibits the use of the service for “unlawful activities”, which it defines as “violent or dangerous acts”. The company states that it will remove content that promotes or is associated with terrorism or crime. If you’re a creator who promotes or is associated with a crime, your account will be suspended.
The list of prohibited activities include:
- Mining cryptocurrency
- Selling weapons or ammunition
- Frequenting a nightclub
- Preying on the vulnerable (child predators)
- Tampering with the electoral process
- Fraudulent activity
- Spreading false information
- Prostitution or sex trafficking
- Hate speech or promoting violence
- A political statement by video
- Setting up an illegal business
- Any conduct which significantly interferes with the carrying on of lawful commerce
- And much more
It’s important to point out that, while this list of “unlawful activities” is quite long, it doesn’t actually have to do with the content of your videos. The government can still require you to register as a sex offender even if your video is completely innocent. The same goes for someone who makes a video celebrating the 4th of July, for example.
Is The Rise Of TikTok A Trend Or A Revolution?
TikTok is far from the first social media platform to emerge on the back of the internet, and it won’t be the last. The trend towards shorter, snappier videos is here to stay, and while some marketers are concerned about the direction things are moving in, the vast majority are excited about the opportunities that this new platform brings.
If you’re a marketer looking to get on board the Trending train, keep in mind that while it might be tempting to just copy what is popular on TikTok and other platforms, doing so without a strategy will do you no favors in terms of generating leads and growing your business.