Watch out, there’s a new social media kid in town. Taking advantage of the current popularity of short-form mobile videos, made all the rage by the likes of Snapchat and Instagram Stories, TikTok has seen its growth in the US almost quadruple in just one year, according to figures provided by comScore.
TikTok, a mobile app for creating and sharing short videos ranging from 3-15 second music videos to 3-60 second short looping videos, launched in China in late 2016 (where it is known as Douyin) and has gone international within the past couple of years. As reported by CNBC, apps developed in China are gaining in popularity among American consumers and brought in more than $600 million in revenue in the first quarter of 2019 alone. CNBC also notes that TikTok was the third-most downloaded app in the U.S. in the first quarter, just behind Facebook Messenger and a game called “Color Bump 3D.”
Since being released in the US a year after its inception, TikTok has experienced rapid growth as its owners adapt its marketing strategy (and brand name) for the US market. October 2017 saw TikTok’s total unique visitors in the US at 2.6 million. About seven months later, in March 2017, that number had grown to 3.9 million before reaching 6.8 million in June 2018. By September 2018, one year after its introduction to the US market, the number of unique visitors had reached 7.5 million, more than double the year-earlier period. The growth continues, with the most recent comScore data from March 2019 showing that TikTok’s US unique visitors stood at 14.3 million, representing an almost-doubling again in just 6 months.
With this steady climb in users, could TikTok be the next hot place for digital marketers to expend some efforts? Perhaps so, as the short video format is seen as effective by the majority of marketers and is attracting paid media budgets, with marketers placing an increasing percentage of their spend on Instagram Stories.
But while this growth is certainly impressive and appears promising, it should be looked at with some caution before marketers overhaul their existing strategies. TikTok is still quite small compared to the giants of social media and users can be notoriously fickle; what is hot one day might not be the next. A good example comes from Snapchat, which in 2017 was a clear and growing favorite when it came to teens’ social media channels, but has since seen a decline in its popularity with this same age group as Instagram makes strides in reaching the top social media spot among American teens. Moreover, there are data privacy concerns to be aware of, as outlined in this New York Times opinion piece.
TikTok still has a long way to go before it can reach the visitor numbers of the likes of Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat. As a point of comparison, comScore figures from June 2018 put total US adult (18+) unique visitors for Facebook at just about 200 million. Instagram was at 139.7 million and Snapchat had 134.1 million, making even TikTok’s latest March 2019 count of 14.3 million small by comparison.
Who Are The TikTok Users?
That being said, who is downloading and using the app? Not surprisingly, data from March 2019 shows that the age group with the largest number of unique visitors is 18-24-year-olds (3.7 million), which accounts for just over one-quarter (25.8%) of the total US adult visitors. Another one-quarter (24.5%) of the visitors ages 18 and older fell into the 25-34 age group.
Overall, TikTok has been adopted by just over 1 in every 8 adults (12.9%) ages 18-24 in the US.
Tik Tok is used by 2 million more women (8.2 million) than men (6.1 million), and its reach is highest among females ages 18-24 (14.9% adoption).
The largest share – more than one-third (37%) – of unique visitors come from households with a total income of $100K or more, but this owes more to the distribution of household income in the US than to adoption figures. In fact, adoption is highest among adults from households with less than $25k in annual income (9.6%), which may reflect the social media app’s youth skew.
So while audience levels might still be small compared to the other social media platforms, the platform may offer an additional opportunity to marketers looking to reach these demographics – particularly as youth are swayed by influencer content.
For more on the demographic make-up of various major media platforms in the US, see MarketingCharts’ US Media Audience Demographics report.
About the Data: Figures from comScore are based on total unique visitors using mobile web and app; includes musical.ly users.