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What the Heck is TikTok?

July 29, 2021 | Addison Irish + Grace Czachorski

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: TikTok.

What is it? Why does everyone love it? What makes it any different from Instagram or Facebook?

Being the proud Gen Zers we are, we love TikTok and could talk about it (and watch it) for hours.

A few fast facts if you have not interacted with TikTok at all:

      • It’s a video platform.
      • The shorter the video the better. But, they can range from 15 seconds to 3 minutes.
      • The videos are produced by users, and it’s more than just dances… Content includes cleaning hacks, sports highlights, investment insights, kids being kids, relationship advice… You name it, there’s a video for it — and they’re funny, too.
@coco224466He really did the 🦗🦟##happydog ##puppy ##dog ##funnyvideo ##animals ##foryou ##foryoupage ##fypシ ##dogsoftiktok ##viral ##fypage♬ original sound – DJ Moody

How is TikTok different than Facebook?

Facebook is all about who you know. You likely wouldn’t friend someone on Facebook that you’ve never spoken to before. On TikTok, it’s very normal to follow people you don’t know simply because you enjoy the content they create. Think about Facebook like a memory album your mom shows guests when they walk through the front door. TikTok is more like America’s Funniest Home Videos. The best part is, you’ll only see videos based on your interests—not because you were friends with someone your junior year of high school.

How is TikTok Different from Instagram?

IG (the nickname for Instagram) is all about the pictures — a static highlight reel of your life, showcasing a feed of pictures that are “Instagramable”. TikTok has two main feeds: “FYP” (For You Page) and “Following”. Most TikTok users live on the FYP that curates content based on your interests and videos you watch and like, and TikTok’s algorithm determines what videos you see. Followers aren’t nearly as popular as views and likes on TikTok. People have to see your content first before they can follow you. But, if your video hits the FYP, look out… you might be about to go viral.

Should I advertise on TikTok?

The answer here is: maybe. As with any social platform, whether you advertise or not has everything to do with your target audience and budget. Here are some people who we expect would benefit from a TikTok presence—advertising or not:

Colleges and Universities

This is where your target audience is spending all of their time. Can you work with students to develop content to reach potential students and differentiate your school?

@universityofmichiganO-I-H-O! 〽️〽️〽️ #letsgoblue #michigan #1st #michiganwolverines #sports #football #basketball #lol♬ original sound – Tik Toker


You can start growing your personal brand and influence — off the court. Hat tip to Shawn Johnson.

@shawnjohnson😂😂 seriously though those hills are no joke @andrewdeast ##pregnancychallenge ##marriage♬ Ooh Ahh (My Life Be Like) [feat. Tobymac] – Grits

*Some* E-commerce brands

Familiar with the expression “TikTok made me buy it?” This is a real phenomenon—but chances are if you are just learning about TikTok, this will be a tall order for you and your team. But before you dismiss the platform, do you have a team member that is already growing a following or interested in exploring the platform? Or, maybe you send your product to a TikTok influencer…

Faith-Based Organizations

This one’s for you, youth leaders. Stay away from highly controversial issues on this platform, and stick to the funny stuff (like this). This could be a great way for you to stay connected to the students in your ministry.

@tayloraransomI got 9 chairs per stack 💪🏻😤😂😂 ##christianlife ##christiantiktok ##christianmemes ##tiktokchurch ##christian ##jesus ##fyp ##christian ##churchboy♬ original sound – Taylor Ransom

Content Creators

If your business is focused on content generation in any other format, you may be able to use TikTok to broaden your audience.

@hankgreen1You can still get it other places!♬ original sound – Hank Green

Creating content for this app is becoming people’s full-time job. Maybe that’s not your cup of tea. But, you should at least download the app, start scrolling, and maybe let out a giggle here or there. Oh, and you should definitely follow @themarketingintern.