Beyond the Dance: TikTok’s Ascendance in the Social Media Landscape
By Maddie Harlan

December 12, 2023

By Maddie Harlan

December 12, 2023

In the ever-evolving media, marketing, and advertising industry, it’s essential to stay on top of emerging trends and unique advertising opportunities. With this in mind, you may consider incorporating TikTok advertising into your next media plan. The platform has surfaced as a formidable player in the advertising space, allowing advertisers and agencies alike to bring more life and community interaction into their campaigns. In this three-part series, we will discuss TikTok’s ascent, advertising dynamics, and strategies for success. Whether you want to learn how to capitalize on current trends or provide expertise on this up-and-coming (yet established) channel, tune in to learn how to succeed in TikTok advertising. 

TikTok’s Role in Media

Let’s run it back. Before TikTok, there were Created by two friends in 2014 Shanghai as an educational social network app, quickly drew a large audience. Then in 2016, Chinese tech giant ByteDance launched its own video-sharing app, Douyin. Douyin experienced its fair share of inaugural success, attracting 100 million users in its first year. Not too shabby. The brand realized it was on to something big, so in 2017, ByteDance rebranded and expanded by absorbing and relaunching Douyin as TikTok. 

A year later, the new and improved app became available in the United States, and two months after that, it surpassed Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube in downloads. 

And… the rest is history. Because of its incredible reach, TikTok has rapidly ascended to a pivotal position in many industries, but particularly in ours. 

TikTok’s Position in the Social Media Ecosystem 

With its uniquely engaging short-form video content, TikTok has captivated audiences and left an undeniable mark on the social media landscape. Its secret lies in its extraordinarily powerful algorithm, which learns what content TikTok users like to see much faster than any other social app. The platform’s real-time trends and challenges have made it a cultural hub with influence extending into mainstream media and beyond. 

Many users spend the majority of their time on the app’s For You Page (FYP), where they can discover new content curated for and presented to them – regardless of who they follow. The algorithm selects content for your FYP by predicting what you would enjoy, based on your past interactions with content on the platform.

The FYP is also where users are served content the algorithm believes has potential to go viral. The idea is that quality content will travel – regardless of a creator’s follower count. This “anyone can make it” mentality encourages users to curate their own content, further contributing to the platform’s database of assets. 


While, yes, half of TikTok’s one billion monthly active users are Gen Zers (52% of users fall between 18 and 24), the platform actually encompasses a wide demographic range, attracting users of all ages, stages, and interests—not to mention the 200 different countries of residence.

Not only does the platform have impressive reach, it also boasts impressive engagement rates. Over 46 million users access the app on a daily basis, opening it an average of 19 times. 35% of users have participated in a hashtag challenge. Last year, users who have purchased something via TikTok reached an astonishing 23 million, 50% of them having converted after viewing a TikTok LIVE. 

So, How does it Compare? 

When comparing advertising on TikTok to other established social platforms, TikTok stands out as a unique player in the field with its emphasis on short-form video content. 

Let’s use Facebook as another example. It’s no secret that Facebook has the most monthly active users of any social media platform—coming in at a cool 3 billion. Any given user spends an average of 35 minutes per day on the app. That’s a lot of potential exposure for a brand— but it’s still 48% less than a TikTok user’s 52 minutes. 

This discrepancy is likely due to TikTok’s 100% algorithm-driven content recommendations (compared to Facebook’s 15%), ensuring users’ steady stream of content aligns with their interests. While over half of Facebook users follow accounts owned by users they do not know (influencers, brands, and the like), many use the platform to interact with personal friends. Conversely, by nature, TikTok users expect to be introduced to new concepts and ideas.

Let’s not forget, though, Meta has one of the most advanced targeting capabilities and offers one of the broadest ranges of audience data and analytics. These capabilities do come with a price tag, generally making Facebook a more expensive advertising platform than TikTok. Meta’s average CPC and CPM are around $1.84 and $14.20, respectively, while TikTok’s CPC is $1.63 and CPM is $10.50. Ads served on Meta generally produce a higher CTR than on TikTok. This is likely due to Facebook’s ad copy optimization, while TikTok relies on video content alone to increase its CTR. 

Part Two Coming Soon

Now that we’ve covered the origin and position of TikTok in the social media scene, you’re equipped with the historical knowledge you’ll need to understand how to make TikTok a valuable player in your media mix. Stay tuned!

Written By Maddie Harlan

When not working, you’ll find Maddie hosting a dinner party, planning her next trip abroad, or running any 5K that has a theme. That or curating a Spotify playlist for every possible event or situation.

Written By Maddie Harlan

When not working, you’ll find Maddie hosting a dinner party, planning her next trip abroad, or running any 5K that has a theme. That or curating a Spotify playlist for every possible event or situation.