Baffled by the planet’s hottest new platform? Fear not –our bluffer’s guide to TikTok explains all


Demystifying the hit video service by showing how it can be a digital and social media PR asset for any business.

IF YOU’RE fed up of Facebook and tired of Twitter it might just be time to give TikTok at try.

While other social media platforms have been getting bashed for plundering the date of users, perpetuating fake news or fomenting hate speech, TikTok has proved a massive success during lockdown.

Despite former President Donald Trump’s attempts to demonise the service as a potential tool for the more shadowy elements of the Chinese state, users have simply been blown away by TikTok’s sheer, unbridled sense of joy and fun.

Its algorithm has an uncanny ability to serve up videos that users didn’t even know they were looking for. As a result it is often touted as either the perfect answer to lockdown blues, or the greatest threat to workplace productivity since … the last social media phenomenon.

As is so often the case, the truth probably lies somewhere in between. But what can’t be disputed is that TikTok is the mobile app du jour and has the wind in its sails.  With a reported 1.1 billion monthly users as of February 2021, it is being used by around 14% of the global population.

For those less familiar with TikTok, it’s easy to get confused about the logistics of the app. That’s why Holyrood PR has decided to break it down into simple parts, to help get you and your content onto this viral-worthy platform that brands are now using globally.

PART ONE – So, just what is TikTok?

Formerly known as the services started life as a fun lip-syncing app which allowed users to film themselves singing (or miming) along to their favourite songs and artists. However, it was eventually snapped up by Chinese giant Bytedance – and TikTok was born.

Users are encouraged to download, film, and share videos with their friends and followers by having the opportunity to share their videos around the world. Videos can be up to 60 seconds long and can be created with soundtrack clips from a range of popular music, movie clips, and other sounds.

People can create and find content based on their interests in popular culture topics such as news, film, fashion & beauty, sports, influencer-based content, how-to’s, educational videos, and more.

There are plenty of niches on the app, and anyone using it can create the exact sort of streaming channel they want based on their  likes and how they’re interacting with what videos they’re watching on the app.

PART TWO – Who’s it for?

Although the app is used by people of all ages, genders, and nationalities, TikTok tends to be most popular with those of a younger age range.

With more than a billion monthly active users, according to, under-19s are driving the content explosion.

But its popularity with the younger generation hasn’t stopped people from all walks of life continuing to use the app.

Brands and companies are also experimenting with TikTok’s powerful reach and creating platforms that their customers can follow.

Companies such as M&S and Wagamama have been increasing their social engagement through the app and using comical sounds and challenges to appeal to the masses.


Look who’s trying to steal Percy’s girl…it’s only @fredsirieixofficial #mrstealyogirl ??

♬ original sound – M&S Food

PART THREE – How does it work?

TikTok videos can be up to up to 60 seconds long, with the most most coin in beetween 15-60 seconds.

There’re two different feeds where the videos reach their users on TikTok:

  1. Following – is filled with accounts that you follow and showcases their videos in this feed.
  2. For You Page (FYP) –  is for people you aren’t currently following, but it’s a place where you can find people’s videos to watch, like, comment, and follow.

TikTok uses an algorithm to source videos for a user’s feed, recommending content based on a combination of the following;

  • User interactions: such as the videos a user likes or shares, accounts they follow, comments they post, and content they create.
  • Video information: this might include details like captions, sounds, and hashtags.
  • Device and account settings: like a user’s language preference, country setting, and device type.

PART FOUR – How do people become TikTok influencers? How do they get paid?

While the user base might skew younger, many of them are totally switched on to the financial opportunities of making it big on TikTok. Of course, plenty of users are there for fun – but many also have their eye on becoming the kind of influencers who can earn big bucks.

TikTok influencers:

Once a term associated with freeloaders looking for unpaid holidays, now “influencer” is a bona fide career choice. Thousands of social media careers have been built over the past decade and TikTok is going the same way.

Currently the most popular person on the app, is Charli D’Amelio – described by Wikipedia as a “dancer and social media personality”. The 17-year-old has amassed more than 107 million followers in little over a year.

 Financial media giant Forbes estimates that she rakes in $4million-a-year from TikTok, while ViralNation estimates that she can earn from  $41,461-$69,102 per post.

Increasingly TikTok is attracting Influencers from other platforms because it has shown the potential of building up a following incredibly quickly

Paid Promotions: Like Instagram, TikTok influencers can get paid for promoting goods and services to their loyal followers.  There are various ways this can happen:

  • Option A: Pay per click – Influencers are said to make around 2-4 cents per 1000 views.
  • Option B: Brand Partnerships and Influencer Marketing Activations – successful brand partnerships can bring in some serious wedge. According to InfluencerMarketingHub, young influencers can earn between $50,000 to $150,000 for the most lucrative partnerships with major brands.
  • Option C: Livestream: Some TikTokers also receive monetary “gifts” from their fans. Once users have gone live, which requires 1,00 followers, their fans can view their live stream and reward them with gifts. To purchase gifts, users can purchase in-app “coins.” Packs of coins range from 100 coins for 99 cents to 10,000 for $99.99. Users then use these coins to purchase “gifts” that range in monetary value.


Brands aren’t always immediately welcome on social media – especially if all they do is push sales messages and promotional material.

However, it’s clear that TikTok’s growth is only going one way – up. With its focus on youth and experiences, its not surprising that food and fashion brands have spotted the opportunities and are piling on to TikTok.

Other businesses could also benefit, particularly those with a sense of fun and a willingness to reach out to customers, particularly the younger ones, in a way they find compelling.

So, armed with our bluffer’s guide, isn’t it time you dived in to find out what all the fuss is about – and work out if your business might be able to find and engage with an army of potential new clients or customers on the platform that is taking the world by storm.

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