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matter if they are following a person or not. It’s common to find some profiles with a few followers that have videos with thousands of views.” ADVERTISING TO YOUR AUDIENCE That has an impact on advertising — and, like others in the social space, TikTok is still grappling with how to make money out of its 800m users. Alongside the usual video and full-screen ads, there’s also Top View, which shows an ad when the app is opened, making sure it can’t be missed or ignored; all of that can be targeted based on demographics, device, interest and more, says the TikTok spokesperson. Another way for companies to get involved is the Creator Marketplace, which helps brands partner with TikTok creators, tapping into their knowledge of the app and their audiences for marketing. However, the most popular ad format on TikTok is the ‘hashtag challenge,’ a viral marketing system that invites users to participate in contests or make themed videos. BBC One’s The Greatest Dancer ran a challenge searching for dance moves, sparking more than ten million video views, while ITV’s Love Island sponsored hashtag challenges using ideas from the show. “This allowed users to put their own creative spin on what they had seen on TV,” says the TikTok spokesperson, “and engage with the content in a way that had never been done before.” However, it’s still early days for TikTok and advertising, says Williamson. “Its main ad formats – the hashtag challenge, the homepage takeover ad, the in-feed video ad – will no doubt be refined in the coming year,” she says. One change she predicts is the creation of an auction-based ad- buying platform, similar to that used by Google, which should make it easier for smaller companies to advertise on TikTok.

Williamson. “But what is generally known is that users don’t have to follow anyone in order to start using TikTok. Immediately upon opening the app, it shows a steady stream of content that TikTok thinks a user might like.” But, over time, the algorithm learns

more about each user, watching how they navigate the feed, which videos they skip and which they like, says Williamson. “New videos with fewer engagements are interspersed with other videos that have a large amount of engagement, and TikTok watches the view-to-like ratio closely to determine how quickly to start showing a new video to a wider audience.” That focus on content over connections means a video doesn’t need to have a million views before it’ll be surfaced to users, says Ismael El-Qudsi, CEO of social marketing platform SocialPubli. Instead, it’ll be shown to users if their interests match its hashtags, which are used to describe the video. “The TikTok algorithm is based on the content instead of the number of followers,” El-Qudsi explains. “Each user sees videos related to their interests, no

BROADCAST SUCCESS That said, TikTok’s business model need not be limited to traditional advertising, says Williamson — there are other

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