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The Marketing Strategy Behind TikTok’s Rise


Social media is that part of the digital marketing world that never fails to surprise us. The trends on social media are moving too fast to keep track of everything that has been going around. Just when you think one platform has managed to monopolize the space, another one emerges and the landscape shifts.

As the new giants like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter were competing in the advertising world, the new player entered the world and changed the game forever.

Yes- You guessed it right!! – Today we are going to talk about TikTok- the famous social media platform that allows users to post short lip-synced, music, talent or comedy videos. TikTok has taken the social media world by storm. The story of the rise of TikTok is an interesting snapshot of today’s ever-growing thirst for user-generated content that attracts and engages mostly the youth. They developed competitive brand communication strategies that led to the transformation of the world into a short video global community.

Let’s get into the success story of TikTok’s Journey.

Popularly known as, the Chinese-owned social media video app has seemingly exploded from nowhere to become one of the most downloaded applications in the world. The app was founded by Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang in 2014. In September 2016, ByteDance launched its social media video application, Douyin in China. They expanded the application internationally naming it as TikTok. It started to gain popularity in Thailand in 2018.

While TikTok/Douyin was the most loved social video sharing application in the East, another Chinese-claimed application, held influence in the West. was an internet-based live video stage launched in August 2014 that permitted clients to make short lip-match up and satire recordings. American youth especially preferred it.

ByteDance spent $1 Billion to purchase the in November 2017 and merged with TikTok in August 2018 to create a large video community. The app then began to expand its base and was downloaded by more than 104 million times on Apple’s App store during the full first half of 2018. Available for both Apple and Android platforms, Tiktok is now available in over 154 markets and 750 markets, respectively. The lip-synching feature, which TikTok inherited from is still arguably the app’s most used feature.

Business Model of TikTok

TikTok is a creative social media platform driven by short-video content that connects people on the basis of what they are looking to receive or showcase. The app tries to create challenges of various types to tap into the creativity of the users and generate engaging content. As TikTok is a platform that is based on an attention model, it primarily makes money through advertising.

TikTok challenges are accompanied by compelling music tracks via effect filters and powered by AI algorithms that have the ability to optimize both content and recommendation. TikTok is a creative social media platform that has the ability to tap into the creativity of its users through a set of challenges of various types to generate user-generated content. TikTok has a few main characteristics:

  • A classic social media platform leveraging on the willingness of people to share their content.
  • A combined platform with compelling music tracks to perform the challenges set on the platform.
  • A set of compelling filters and effects that can be applied to the videos.

What makes TikTok different from other social networking applications is the popular hashtags trends that favour trending challenges, memes or other repeating formats. TikTok is a platform that will not allow any discussions about the happenings in the world. Rather the platform is meant to be creative, have fun and release your stress.

Influencers can certainly play an important role in helping to promote a campaign. TikTok provides influencers and brands a platform to collaborate. Influencer Marketing drives more fan engagement, but brands need a careful strategy for choosing influencers who are authentic and aligned with the brand.

TikTok’s Revenue Model

TikTok offers in-app purchases of coins, starting at 100 for $0.99 and levelling up to 10,000 for $99.99. Users can give coins to their favourite creators, who can in turn exchange them for digital gifts. TikTok generates their revenues through TikToks Ads which helps in connecting customers with the brands. Here are some of the strategies that TikTok earns through advertising:

  • Advertising revenues generated via targeted ads.
  • Allowing content creators to monetize their content for a user-friendly platform for long-term success.
  • A subscription-based for original and enhanced content from the platform that assembles the best short-form content.

As people are in demand of new content every day, it has become difficult for the organisations to compete in this tough world. Therefore, brands are finding new and authentic ways to interact with their brand. Now, let’s see how TikTok managed to grow and gather the audience of whooping 500 million users.

How Brands are Dipping into TikTok Marketing?

As people are demanding authenticity and creativity, TikTok is a valuable platform for artists, performers and those who want to bring creativity in their brand promotion. Along with transforming the world into a short-video global community, the platform also has changed the potential of marketing by letting people to interact with your brand and letting creators run with it in their own way. TikTok very cleverly advertised itself without first creating a market for themselves on digital platforms. They optimised their brand communication strategies very efficiently.

Here are some ways brands are using TikTok to interact with people:


  1. Advertising: The platform introduced a self-serve ad offering in beta last year, garnering enthusiasm from the brands who were first to test it out. The platform is still in beta testing and lacks some of the more robust targeting options and programmatic features that enable advertisers to automatically buy and measure ads.Once the beta testing is over, the advertisers can create TikTok campaigns based on their campaign objective and select targeting rules based on age, gender, location, interests, etc. There is also an option to define the ad placement. Some of the creative TikTok formats include:
    • a) In-feed Native Video Ads
    • b) Brand Takeovers
    • c) Hashtag Challenges
    • d) Branded filters
    • e) Influencer brand partnership
    • f) Top-view ads
  2. Social Commerce: TikTok is bringing shoppable video posts for ecommerce websites, so that it is easy for the creators to place social commerce links in their posts. Users can then complete a purchase without leaving the app.
  3. Sponsored Hashtag Challenges: Nowadays, brands are finding ways to make their products known by leveraging the community at large. Sponsored hashtag challenges give brands the ability to create a video effect and pose a prompt to the community, which users can then play into with their own spin.Due to its unique features and great customer service, the short-form videos have created a well-reputed image worldwide and are increasing within a short period of time. With the help of best digital marketing agencies, they have kindled the excitement and craze in the people to travel and host.

Digital Marketing Model of TikTok

As TikTok wanted to target the people of the young generation, they took the leverage of various digital marketing tools that helped them to build their reputable online presence. They adopted top-digital marketing strategies. Consult the best brand activation agencies.

Now, let’s have a look at the digital marketing strategies adopted by TikTok:

  1. Website Development: As the short-form video creating brand wanted to show creativity around the world, it was important for them to provide their customers with a cleaner look and equipped with easy-to-use navigation features. By leveraging the best website development services, they added a host of personalisation features which turned out to be a complete game changer for the brand. They have also added the high-quality videos of people doing creative stuff, trending videos and many more essential information.
  2. Search Engine Optimization: As it was a new and creative business start-up, it was necessary to establish its brand presence. The brand aimed at best search engine optimization services to drive the traffic organically. By using intelligent search engine optimization strategies, they optimised their whole website to compete against the competitors.
  3. Social Media Optimization: As social media plays a vital role in the lives of the people, TikTok decided to leverage the best social media optimization services that made them earn billions. They made use of following platforms:Facebook: By uploading various creative videos uploaded on the platform, the brand started to build its presence on Facebook. Through various creative social media optimization strategies, the brand has managed to reach 13 million likes within just 2-3 years. The brand also posts videos of celebrities from all over the world.Instagram: TikTok’s Instagram is highly visual and creative as it showcases videos from all over the world that contain user-generated content. Be it a normal video or an IGTV, the TikTok has managed to engage the audience with their content.
  4. Influencer Marketing: It is likely to be the most effective form of marketing on TikTok. You don’t suffer from the negative implications of ads, and you don’t have to worry about building the right audience. With the help of the best influencer marketing agency, any brand can work with their influencers to come up with a creative strategy that helps them generate the interest of their audience to build interest in the brand and product.

Digital marketing has been working very well for TikTok. It has enabled ‘video sharing’ to gain a lot of popularity within a short period of time. There are many video campaigns that have helped TikTok establish its image, have touched the values of the people and have proved to be a good source of entertainment. Some of the best performance marketing agencies will help you in devising the best influencer marketing strategy for your brand.

Here are a few Campaigns that became popular TikTok trends in 2020 and attracted people into creating user-generated content:

As the COVID-19 has claimed the lives of many, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to the nation to switch off their lights at 9 pm for 9 minutes on 5th April. Millions of TikTok users participated in #FightTheDarknes campaign. TikTok users took to the platform to share this special moment they spent with their families lighting diyas and candles, in a true display of unity, as the country fights COVID-19. A record-breaking number of videos were uploaded on TikTok in India during this event. The hashtag #FightTheDarkness on TikTok saw close to 700 million views in less than 12 hours.

#GharBaithoIndia Campaign
As the COVID-19 has claimed the lives of many, social distancing has gained more relevance as it is the only way to stop the spread of virus. Being confined to our homes for weeks, it’s natural to feel the desolation of boredom. This also presents a wonderful opportunity for us to focus on activities we would not have given importance to otherwise such as spending time with family, exploring hobbies, interests, new means of recreation and entertainment and focussing on physical and mental health.

Launched in partnership with United Nations Development Programme, #GharBaithoIndia campaign invited users to share some ideas on the things you can do to make your time at home enjoyable and safe. There are a range of amazing celebrities and creators who have come forward to share things we can do, while staying inside and stopping the spread. People are using the campaign to create original soundtracks, celebrities are sharing their moments of fun, leisure and learning from their life at home.

How Brands are Leveraging TikTok?
Now, let’s have a look at how brands developed leveraged TikTok for their promotion. These campaign have been popular and trending on TikTok in 2020:

Chipotle: #Boorito Challenge
Chipotle had its annual “Boorito” offer for Halloween this year, offering food at a reduced price for customers who ordered in a spooky outfit. The challenge involved users posting a video showcasing their before and after Halloween costume transformations, using the custom sound bite that Chipotle created just for the campaign. The campaign got 250,000 submissions and 430 million video views in six days.

@brittany_broskithe duality of man. On oct 31 u can get a burrito for $4 if u come in costume after 3pm. EAT UP MY BABIES!!! ##Boorito @chipotle ##ad♬ Strange Affair – Ronald Stein


Mucinex #TooSickToBeSick Challenge
Pharmaceutical brands have not been known to have the easiest rides when it comes to social media influencer marketing. Kim Kardashian’s dressing-down by the FDA caused many brands to rethink their strategies. To participate, users had to post a video contrasting them being “too sick” with them being “so sick” and include the tag #TooSickToBeSick, to promote their cough medicine. The challenge was a success generating over 889 million views.

@jaydencroesDon’t let a cold limit your fun this holiday! I am ##TooSickToBeSick 😎🔥 ##Mucinex ##Sponsored♬ #TooSickToBeSick – Join The Challenge


Retail giant Kroger stands alone as the first company to participate in TikTok’s new “Hashtag Challenge Plus”. This is done through the “Explore” tab, which features an in-app experience where campaign products can be purchased within TikTok. The campaign challenge itself centred around asking users to post videos showing their dorm transformations. The influencers’ uploads together racked up 3 million views, 252K likes, 1352 comments, and 1747 shares. The campaign hashtag has so far accrued 876.2 million views by TikTok users.

GUESS: #InMyDenim
One of the great examples comes from the fashion world where GUESS partnered with TikTok to launch its first branded content in the U.S. to host the #InMyDenim challenge, where they took the help of popular content creators to show off their new denim outfits. Influencer marketing and TikTok marketing here goes truly hand in hand because Users who are fans of these influencers will feel excited about recording their denim transformations.

Indeed, TikTok has created its reputable image among the social media platforms. There are plenty of opportunities that you can jump on in the world of TikTok. TikTok is an exciting social media platform, and with ads rolling out, there is sure to be plenty of opportunity for marketers to generate ROI from the platform.

Reach out to The Marcom Avenue, one of the best branding agencies in Gurgaon for best marketing strategies among different marketing platforms.