Video-sharing apps TikTok and Vine have more in common than their meteoric rise to success among young audiences. Both encourage — or, in Vine’s case, encouraged — users to share bite-size video content, and both have been identified as valuable marketing channels.
The now-defunct Vine launched in 2013, and by the time it closed up shop in 2016, it had 200 million monthly active users. TikTok, meanwhile, launched internationally in 2017, and today, it boasts upwards of 800 million monthly active users. When Vine first emerged, marketers embraced it widely — but they didn’t stay for long. Toward the end of 2015, advertisers departed Vine en masse because they struggled to effectively target their audiences on the platform. Unsurprisingly, Vine announced that it was folding less than a year later.
Naturally, marketers are just as skeptical about TikTok for the same reasons. But they shouldn’t be. I believe TikTok will thrive over the long haul and be a viable marketing channel for brands of all types. Let me tell you why.
1. TikTok Has More (and Better) Features
When it came to editing features, Vine was a relatively bare-bones app. It basically had two main functions: shoot and post. TikTok, on the other hand, offers a plethora of editing tools and filters, allowing users to produce unique, high-quality content with ease.
Another limitation of Vine was its six-second time limit. Content needed to provide shock value or deliver slapstick punchlines to be successful — and this didn’t suit many brands. TikTok raises the length limit to 15 seconds and allows creators to string together four clips into a minute-long piece of content. This enables brands to tell more nuanced stories that accurately convey their messaging and identity.
TikTok also places a larger emphasis on community and discovery — with features such as Duets, which allows users to pair their own videos with other videos, and niche groups that are built around themes like comedy or gaming. This makes the platform more interactive and increases shareability. Plus, the use of hashtags makes it much easier for brands to find their audiences and target them with relevant, sharable content. Additionally, TikTok’s algorithm allows anyone to go viral just by creating a great video.
2. TikTok Can Learn From Vine’s Mistakes
TikTok has a considerable advantage because it watched Vine’s rise and fall from the sidelines. The company entered the playing field fully aware of the issues that led to Vine’s demise and could, therefore, work to avoid the same mistakes.
Vine’s death was attributed to stagnating user growth and a lack of profitability. The company failed to evolve and keep up with other social media platforms that offered better tools, features, and opportunities for brands and big-name accounts. As a result, many of Vine’s most popular creators migrated to YouTube because it enabled them to create a wider variety of content and ultimately grow their careers.
TikTok also took measures to ensure loyalty among its early audience members. In 2018, TikTok acquired Musical.ly — a popular karaoke app with 100 million active users — and transferred all of the accounts to TikTok. Right out of the gate, TikTok had a huge, engaged user base and could leverage a network of preestablished influencers to recruit new users.
Over time, to keep its most popular users active, engaged, and happy, TikTok will likely expand its monetization capabilities. This could include analytics, new features for creators, and innovations in ad formatting
3. Influencers Have Become More Prevalent Since Vine’s Heyday
Several years ago, social media was more experimental and casual. Today’s influencers are more tuned into audiences’ wants. For that reason, brands are increasingly partnering with influencers. A survey of 2,000 13- to 38-year-olds found that almost 90% of Millennial and Generation Z consumers learn about products on social media. Another 56% have purchased a product after seeing a post from someone they follow.
Young consumers don’t just trust influencers. The same survey reported that 54% of them want to become influencers. They want to be seen and heard, and they’re utilizing social platforms like TikTok to achieve that goal. We’re already seeing a new crop of TikTok influencers, such as the 19 teens who live in the Hype House, making waves. Influencer marketing will only continue to grow, and TikTok will serve as the go-to influencer platform.
Though TikTok is poised for a bright future, it’s still experienced some growing pains. Most notably, it’s faced hefty fines from the Federal Trade Commission, bad publicity, and even nationwide bans because of privacy concerns involving minors. The company has taken steps to address this issue, and I expect it to continue evolving and improving as long as it prioritizes regulation and compliance moving forward.
Unlike Vine, TikTok is a platform that offers robust features and fosters community. From the beginning, the company set out to build a strong foundation of users and become a hotbed for influencers and brands alike. Marketers shouldn’t be wary of TikTok. This channel won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.