The Drum Awards Festival - Extended Deadline

-d -h -min -sec

Open Mic Marketing

How TikTok thrived during coronavirus and will it last?

By Ben Jeffries, chief executive officer



Open Mic article

This content is produced by a publishing partner of Open Mic.

Open Mic is the self-publishing platform for the marketing industry, allowing members to publish news, opinion and insights on

Find out more

May 27, 2020 | 7 min read

Over the past couple of months, we’ve gone through an unprecedented change to our lives. We have found ourselves with more time on our hands and less positive content surrounding us. This has led many to turn to social media to keep things cheerful.

Phone displaying TikTok logo

No platform has managed to engage, uplift and win over the masses quite like TikTok. TikTok was previously seen as the weird younger cousin of Twitter and Instagram; a kind of youth movement that many people felt just wasn’t for them.

However, over the past couple of months we’ve seen TikTok take off. Due to a number of factors, ranging from TikTok videos being shared on other social media channels to TikTok launching their first UK TV advert, the platform has managed to become one of the fastest growing of all time.

We’re asking how the video-based social media platform became such a success and whether this success will continue post-isolation.

Why is TikTok so popular right now?

There’s no doubt that TikTok is dominating the social landscape in 2020. TikTok has now surpassed 2 billion all-time global downloads across iOS and Android devices after a record-setting Q1 in which TikTok saw 315 million installs. This is thought to be the largest amount of downloads for a social media app in a single quarter, ever.

This incredible growth can definitely be partly attributed to the situation in which we find ourselves currently. The content on the platform is fun, relatable and presented in an easily digestible format, making it perfect for lockdown viewing. The app’s accessible and friendly nature is also perfect for everyone. Whilst in the past people thought that it wasn’t for them, that it was too silly perhaps, in the current crisis people are willing to try anything to feel better.

TikTok could be good for mental health

Yes - you read that right! It feels rare that we hear the media preaching the positives of mental health and social media, but the best news about this spike in TikTok downloads is that the platform actually does make you feel better.

Reports have suggested that TikTok can be really positive for mental health as we all search for things to do during the coronavirus pandemic, as creating and posting content can have a positive effect on mental wellbeing, especially if it’s lighthearted and fun.

Plus, the routine element can be really good for us too. Having something to work on, like the viral TikTok dances and the fitness challenges, can be a very positive and fun way to stay engaged with people on social media.

Who is using TikTok?

Pretty much everyone. If you’d have asked that question a few months ago, you’d have discovered that TikTok was pretty much a ‘Generation Z thing’ but even they have bumped up their usage significantly since coronavirus. In 2019, 12% of Gen Z used TikTok regularly. That figure has now jumped to 35%.

The increase can also be seen in the millennial generation too. In 2019, millennials barely used TikTok - with just 3% using it regularly. Early in the coronavirus outbreak, this number went up to 19%, with reports suggesting it has skyrocketed in recent weeks.

For the older millennial generation, TikTok used to be pretty uncool. It seemed a bit weird - generations outside of Gen Z felt like it was too unfiltered. There was no way that they were going to be posting videos of them dancing on the internet, pranking their other half or uploading videos of themselves cooking.

Fast forward a few months, and all that has changed. Not only are millennials now on board, but they’ve been actively posting a lot of content too. 26% of TikTok users are between 20-29 years old and that is a very powerful audience for any brand to captivate.

How can brands make the most of this spike in popularity?

From the perspective of brands, venturing into the world of TikTok can be unknown territory. For most brands, it’s not something they’ve ever considered, but this crazy rise in popularity means that it’s important and advisable for brands to have a presence on the platform.

The best way to do this, for brands who are new to the TikTok game, can be to make the most of creators on TikTok. These creators are masters at producing viral content that will gain huge impression numbers and put your brand in front of one of the most exciting, economically active audiences.

A branded campaign with an influencer can be one of the best ways to dip your toe into the world of TikTok and allow the curator to take the reins a bit when it comes to the content creation. For many brands, they don’t know where to start when it comes to creating TikTok content, so working with an influencer is a great way to combat this.

Will TikTok’s popularity last?

TikTok’s popularity is relatively new, so it’s understandable that brands are currently unsure about whether it’s popularity will last. While I can’t predict the future, I can highlight the companies growing popularity. As previously discussed, In Q1 of 2020 TikTok achieved 315 million installs.

This is compared with Q4 of 2019, where the app gained approximately 219 million first-time installs and Q3 of 2019 with around 176 million downloads. Comparing 2019 and 2018 downloads, the video-sharing platform generated more than 738 million downloads in 2019, up 13 percent from 655 million first-time downloads in 2018. Predictions for 2020 suggest that in the UK, downloads will reach 8.12 million; that’s an increase of as much as 67%.

This is combined with the fact that TikTok answered the calls of many, after the video sharing app Vine was disabled in 2016. TikTok had some pretty big shoes to fill, and I believe it has done just that.

One thing is for sure, TikTok is dominating social media right now. The marketing industry is currently changing and evolving as we tackle coronavirus, but TikTok’s popularity looks to be here to stay. This is a great time for brands to collaborate with top TikTok creators and come up with amazing creative campaigns whilst the market is relatively fresh.

If you’d like to learn more about TikTok, and how an influencer campaign can help your brand grow and flourish in the current times, simply get in touch.

Open Mic Marketing

Content by The Drum Network member:


We are the originators of influencer marketing.

Influencer is an agency built at the intersection of creativity, data, and technology with a unique ‘people...

Find out more

More from Open Mic

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +