TikTok — if you're in digital marketing, you might be feeling that it's all anyone is talking about. Brand marketers are debating shifting budget there, lawmakers are worried about data security and privacy, and parents are worried about the impact of the network and similar apps on their young teens.
We ran a survey with 300 millennials and Gen-Zers to see just how profilic TikTok was, and if it lived up to all the hype. We had respondents answer questions on the big eight social media platforms: YouTube, TikTok, Twitch, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat. We asked about daily usage, how they used each platform (for posting or consuming content, or both), and their overall sentiment about the network. We also asked which types of content they expect from each network, be it education, entertainment, news, or social interaction with peers they actually know.
While we expected TikTok usage to be slightly underwhelming compared to other platforms that have been around much longer, we were shocked at the answers. And in our research emerged a perhaps surprising alternative to TikTok — at least for now, based on current usage trends — with more lasting power and more trust from young buyers and social media users.
Read our takeaways here, or download the full social media engagement report for yourself right away.
The takeaway here for an influencer marketing strategy is: It depends.
Our survey found that over 61.9% of respondents didn't use TikTok at all across all age groups. However, for the age group of 14-18 in particular, 65% of respondents use the platform to post content, consume content, or both.
So if your target is very young Gen-Zers, TikTok may be a good bet for you — although it's not the only place they're hanging out online. Many brands doubt the effectiveness of advertising to such a young demographic, really only on the basis that they don't have the same disposable income as other groups. But maybe there's a new idiom in the works: A TikTok power user of today is the consumer of tomorrow?
Other platforms can be used as a greater catch-all for Gen-Z and other age groups, with different sentiments and benefits.
While the quantitative insights of our survey were interesting, we had the most fun reading the qualitative answers, as they tell a different story, especially about how teens and young adults feel towards the places they spend their time online.
When asked "What's your favorite social media platform, and why?" we received many responses like these:
"My favorite platform is YouTube because I can be entertained one minute, then educated the next. It's a very diverse platform." – 18-year-old male
"My favorite is Instagram, because I enjoy posting content on there the most and love how the platform is set up to view pictures and profiles." – 19-year-old female
The platform with the best user sentiment was undoubtedly YouTube, and that also translated into daily use. 56% of people surveyed went to YouTube first in terms of long daily usage, followed by 28% on Instagram.
TikTok, Twitch, and Pinterest have lower user numbers and hours spent when compared to the other networks based on our research (so the low percentage of users who find the apps overrated makes sense).
All things considered, it’s interesting that YouTube is the only social network with a high number of reported users, a high number of hours spent, and a low number of users who believe the social network is "overrated."
Overall, this study shows that for brands making strategic marketing decisions, TikTok isn’t corralling the impressive attention of other platforms, yet—and those who use it don’t spend much time on it, with the exception of the very young, who often aren’t the ones with expendable income to spend on brands. (Which isn’t to say this dynamic won’t change in the coming years.)
The key question becomes: Will Gen-Z TikTok power users be tastemakers, or is it a passing trend? For a safer bet, YouTube is a widely lauded platform where brands should be focusing heavily, if they aren’t already.Instagram is also still considered the #1 used platform by one-third of social users, although some question its authenticity and merits. Brands should continue taking note as they shape their creative for the platform, and rely on an influencer marketing platform like HYPR to make sure you're engaging your target demographic in any case.