From advancements in voice marketing to the latest Instagram features, there's no shortage of marketing technology news out there! One emerging platform that's caught many marketers' eyes (including mine) is a mobile app called TikTok.

You've probably heard of it, and perhaps you've read that it's exceedingly popular among young people. That might even be an understatement--two-thirds of TikTok's users are under the age of 30, and the app has more than a billion installs on the App Store and Google Play. 

If you're a marketer, you probably won't be able to get away without at least considering putting a TikTok strategy in place for your brand. As you start to move your mindset from Millenials to the next generation, here's a quick guide to the app that young audiences are obsessed with--and brands need to know. 

It's driven by artificial intelligence

TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, has been valued at more than $75 billion and specializes in artificial intelligence and machine learning technology. In 2017, ByteDance acquired the video sharing app Musical.ly and merged it with what is now TikTok. The app's advanced image recognition allows users to interact with unique filters, and its proprietary algorithms serve up videos to users on the "For You" feed.  

User-generated content is king

On TikTok, users can customize their videos by adding filters and music, and many users choose to lip-sync over a song in their video. They can also post their own video alongside another user's video using the "duet" feature, or add a video reaction to someone else's posted video, driving a truly unique kind of conversation. 

This opens up an opportunity for brands to develop a deeper connection with their audience that goes beyond just comments and likes. For brands that are considering a content strategy that's a bit more playful or conversational, TikTok could be an ideal place to test it. 

TikTok users love a challenge, and brands are taking notice

TikTok "challenges" bring users together by encouraging participants to complete a lighthearted dare or interesting feat, film it, and add the official challenge hashtag to their post to share it with their fellow challengers. 

While many challenges are organized by users, brands are jumping in too. One of the earliest (and most successful) brand-driven challenges was orchestrated by Chipotle. The brand partnered with an influencer for the #ChipotleLidFlip challenge to showcase a quirky trick that involves flipping a Chipotle bowl's lid.

The campaign gathered 110,000 video submissions from fans who tried to execute the same feat with their own Chipotle lids. The takeaway for brands? Lean into what communities are already doing on an app and create the space for your audience to make it their own and showcase their personality.

Brands are starting to join the TikTok party

Building a presence on an emerging platform, especially one that's dominated by a young audience, is something that brands should approach thoughtfully. Media outlets like The Washington PostThe Dallas Morning News, and NBC are using TikTok not only to connect with their younger readers and viewers in an authentic way, but also as a way to showcase their reporters' personalities through behind-the-scenes content. They're turning to the app as another way to keep consumers informed about the news, and to drive meaningful discussion around top stories.

While TikTok is still building out monetization strategies, it recently introduced in-app purchases of products that are associated with branded campaigns. For example, grocery store chain Kroger ran the #TransformUrDorm challenge and showcased products that users could purchase via Kroger's TikTok page.

It's no surprise that brands are excited about the limitless possibilities on TikTok. With a hyper-engaged audience that's keen on creating original content and showcasing their own voices and creativity, TikTok is an ideal platform for brands that want to push the envelope and get to know their audiences in a new way.

Published on: Sep 23, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.