What is TikTok? Should I Join? Can I Make Money?

Updated: Jul 19

After Vine left the scene, people were left with no creative platform, as Instagram is for more aesthetics and Facebook is for connecting to family and friends. Eventually, the Music.ly app was invented and teenagers and Viners rushed to it. As fun as the app was, it was not as good as Vine. Eventually, a Chinese company came in full speed with a new app, TikTok. Younger generations were excited but no one could expect how big it would get. 

Now the question is, Should a person of an older generation join the new popular app? Is it worth it? What even is TikTok? Is it profitable? All your questions are answered below. 

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TikTok is a video sharing social networking service by ByteDance. ByteDance is a Chinese company founded in 2012 by Zhang Yiming. Users can create short dance clips, lip-sync, comedy, talent videos, and more. TikTok videos can last from 5 seconds to 60 seconds, with different features, so you can choose the way you want to use the time. As an added plus there is an extensive music library for users to use and they can create their own music. Their music will be saved in the library as well for other users.  Lil Nas X’s country tap jam Old Town Road is the best example of this. Lil Nas X’s received nearly 67 million plays on TikTok. The single hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, where it stayed for a record-setting 17 weeks.

TikTok was first launched in the Chinese market in September of 2016. In 2017 it launched on Android and IOS outside of China. TikTok entered the United States after merging with an app called Musical.ly in August of 2018. The app rose to fame and became the most downloaded app in the US in October of 2018. This was the first Chinese app to achieve this status. TikTok calls itself the “destination for short-form mobile videos.” Because of different censorship restrictions in China and countries like the United States. TikTok is run on two different services allowing for the app to abide by the laws in which the app resides. In 2018, the TikTok app is available in over 150 markets and in 75 different languages. TikTok is now the 7th most downloaded app of the decade. 

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Should You Join?

Joining TikTok depends on how you decide to use the app. If you are looking for extra content then joining TikTok might not be the answer. The most popular TikTok videos are posted to other networking or social media services. So you might want to stick to your already known apps and search for them. For example, Youtube is now filled with TikTok compilations, containing the most recent TikTok dances and TikTok songs. Chances are if you follow any influencers or famous people you have seen their TikTok videos!

If you plan on getting into the TikTok game yourself, we would recommend joining. TikTok, in its popularity, is morphing into a place not just for teens to make fun TikTok dances and TikTok videos, but also how to do DIY projects and create a platform for businesses. 

We highly recommend businesses, any entrepreneurs, and anyone who works with social media to get on the TikTok game. The Washington Post even hired a TikTok app expert. There is ample opportunity when joining this app. With the app geared towards a generation Z, with millennials and generation X recently joining, there is a way for any company to target its products on the Tik Tok app. Also, ads finally made their way on to Tik Tok, so if you are not sure how to gain a following organically you can always start out with paid ads and see where it goes from there!

It is recommended to start off slow and learn the app. There are so many ways to make the perfect TikTok video. You can even make a personal account to mess around and then decide if your business has a place on TikTok. It most likely does. TikTok is a place of creation no matter what it is. 

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Making Money on TikTok  

The question now is, can you make money on TikTok? Of course, you can!

Just like Instagram, at first, teenagers started to use the app and people saw a way to make money. The same goes for TikTok. Think of all the possibilities. 

In general, the best way to make money on TikTok is through influencer marketing. Most influencers use TikTok as part of a package they present to the public, having a built-in audience from YouTube and/or Instagram. But there are many ways to make money using your online social media skills in TikTok. Here are a few: 

1. Growing Accounts and Selling Them

Growing and selling accounts is growing in the eCommerce or product space. Like Instagram, you are going to want to pick a niche and create content. Ideally, you will want to do everything in your power to make it go viral. This means having the keyword hashtags attached and sharing it on other social media sites to grab attention from anywhere you can get it. This will allow you to attract a person who would be the ideal customer for your product. 

There are already people on TikTok today doing this. Like before, the profile is set around a certain interest or niche topic. The profile might not sell anything in the profile, but they would eventually reach out to brands in the industry of a specific niche and sell their TikTok profile. This benefits a brand because once they have the profile, it is fairly easy for them to start selling products because of the following on the account. 

One way to sell products through TikTok is through TikTok Live. Users can launch products while live streaming or hold auctions during these live streams. To add to the experience there is always a link in the bio, so viewers can buy the products themselves.  

If you are all about creating great content, growing multiple accounts, and selling them, TikTok could be your destination. If you think this is the best option for you, go for it!

2. Donations 

Another way to make money on TikTok is by going live and collecting donations from viewers. This is similar to the platform Twitch. The TikTok app has a built-in monetization platform, from day one. 

Here is how it works: 

A TikTok user can go into his or her profile and purchase coins. It cost $1.39 for a hundred coins. When a TikTok creator that you like goes live, you can send coins to them. The coins represent a way of giving thanks to them for creating the content that you enjoy so much. The creator can then turn coins into diamonds. These diamonds can be converted into cash on PayPal. 

On the Chinese version of the app, Douyin, there is an added feature. When TikTok creators go live, they can attach a shopping cart to a product they sell. It’s like a shopping channel. Users can go live and hold auctions and people can buy the user’s products while they are live.  

3. Managing Influencer Campaigns

Managing influencer campaigns is nothing new. There are actual influencer agencies that serve influencers already. Like before, the same process of Instagram applies to TikTok. You would be the middleman between a TikTok creator and a brand who wants to work with that particular influencer/creator. By being the middleman that creates the agreement, manages both parties, and making sure all deliverables are met. You can charge a service fee. 

The TikTok platform is smart because they have an internal influencer program already built-in. For example, let's say I represent the Coke brand and want to reach out to TikTok. I will be able to reach out to you as an influencer and work with you. The only thing is that I will have to pay a percentage to TikTok for arranging the agreement. 

You as a manager can come in as a service or agency, to arrange the contract between the influencer and brands and help brands save a little bit of money, while you make an income. 

4. TikTok Ads Platform 

TikTok’s ad platform is just like Facebook and Instagram. You can Google ”TikTok ad” and sign up to create ads on the platform. If you have ever run paid ads before, it is pretty easy to navigate. If your market is on TikTok, it might be worth creating a set of ads and putting a budget to experiment on the social media platform. 

5. Management Services

The fifth option is to offer management services for creators in the TikTok app. Some creators become famous overnight through their TikTok dances, TikTok songs, and TikTok videos. This can be an existing and overwhelming time. They basically just had a whole way to produce an income drop in their lap and did not know where to go from there. 

You can help by stepping in and offering services to help them with content and creative strategies. You can also combine number 3 (managing influencer campaigns) and these management services to be a one-stop-shop. If you have a background in digital marketing, social media, and/or production, you can definitely create or join a business that involves managing TikTok influencers and profiles. 

6. Consulting

Once you become a TikTok pro and maybe understand how someone can make a TikTok video and get a hundred views/likes and turn it into a 100,000 views/likes, developing a consulting service might be for you. 

It is a good way to use your experience from the platform and help people who want to get TikTok famous. This can be good for creators or brands that are looking to boost their strategies, so their videos get seen by millions, instead of a couple hundred.  

You obviously need to have a background and experience with the platform and maybe a couple of others before offering your services. But once you do, people will be able to pay you for your experience and knowledge on their account. 

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Have You Signed Up to TikTok Yet?

These options to make money on TikTok can be mutually exclusive. One can work with the other or separately. By combining, you might even become more of a threat to other services by just offering one of these options. It's all up to you how you want to use TikTok. If you just want to make TikTok videos go for it. Maybe you will be the next person to create the new TikTok dance or TikTok song. There are infinite opportunities in this new social media platform. Share with us what you think of TikTok and what you plan on doing with the new app. 

By: Franchesca Almonte

Cherry Editorial



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