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  • Courtney Pitillo

TikTok: An unexpected but vital public relations tool


More than seven-in-ten Americans use social media. The number is even higher among younger generations. According to a Pew Research Center survey, 97% of 13- to 17-year-olds use at least one of seven major online platforms (2).

Given this reality, companies need to build a strong social media presence. While most companies have Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts, a significant number of them are currently overlooking a critical platform: Tiktok.

To many businesses, TikTok might seem silly because it is known as an app where kids dance and lip-sync to songs. Viewing this platform as a fad or only for kids is a mistake, as it has already proven to be way more than that. Tiktok is a critical PR tool for companies that can help them communicate and build relationships with their publics.

Tiktok is expected to surpass 1 billion global monthly active users in 2021. In the United States alone, Tiktok has 80 million users, which is not too far behind Instagram with a little over 103 million. Among these users, 80% are between the ages of 16-34. In other words, companies that target younger audiences or are looking to expand awareness of their brands to younger publics should give the platform a try. As we all know, Facebook used to dominate the social media landscape among younger generations in the United States. This is no longer the case, as Facebook does not even rank among the top three social platforms used by Gen Z. In other words, the consumption patterns of consumers are evolving, and organizations need to adapt.

As noted previously, TikTok is quickly becoming a mainstream social media site. What makes this platform different from others is that it focuses exclusively on short-form mobile videos. Therefore, brands that can easily showcase their products or services in a video, should also consider using this platform. In addition to posting their own content, organizations using this platform can work with some of the top influencers on TikTok for collabs and brand deals.

Many businesses have already had successful experiences from being on Tiktok and working with TikTokers that have a large following. High-end designers like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Fendi have gone to Tiktok as a way to expand their market audience. For example, a recent challenge where people dressed up like a Gucci model became a trend on TikTok and gathered more than 12 million views. This was not a PR campaign developed by Gucci; it just happened organically on the app. By having a presence on Tiktok, companies can generate a lot of attention by either starting trends or participating in them.

Arby’s is another excellent example of a company that has taken advantage of TikTok. On October 22, a teenage boy posted a video on his personal TikTok claiming he bought a TV, but it ended up being an Arby’s pop-up menu. This Tiktok got over 16.6 million views. As Arby’s already had an established TikTok account, they were able to engage in a fun way with this user. This generated hundreds of thousands of interactions among users. As a result of this interaction, Arby’s generated more than 1.2 million profile visits and gained 200,000 followers in just two weeks.

These are just a few examples of why companies need to utilize TikTok more frequently. Although Tiktok may seem like a silly app for kids to dance on, companies can experience numerous benefits if they learn how to use it effectively.

By Courtney Pitillo

Courtney is a senior at San Diego State University working towards a degree in Public

Relations. She is certified to teach yoga and loves to take her dogs to the beach. After

graduation, she hopes to work in entertainment or technology PR somewhere in San

Diego or Los Angeles.

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