How people spend their time on TikTok
TikTok is growing, fast. In September, we announced that more than 1 billion people around the world now come to TikTok every month to be entertained as they learn, laugh, or discover something new. And they're not just jumping on in between ad breaks. So we wanted to find out how users were spending their time on TikTok, and we teamed up with Kantar, the world's leading data and insights company, to research exactly that  and the result was our Time Well Spent study.
The research showed that users were forgoing other forms of entertainment to spend time on TikTok, with a clear decline in TV (-33%) and podcast (-31%) usage. It also showed that younger users are moving away from watching movies and browsing social media channels (16%) since they started using TikTok.
Users enjoy spending time on TikTok
So with users of all ages spending more time on TikTok, we wanted to understand what they were doing on the platform, and how it was making them feel. The top 3 reasons users were motivated to browse TikTok were :
be entertained / have their mood lifted
discover something they enjoy
switch off / escape the world around them
If you're a fan of surfing videos and are an amateur knitting enthusiast, before you know it your For You Page will be full of videos of surfers tackling the biggest waves and tutorials on how to knit yourself a cardigan for winter. And because the content on a user's For You Page is tailored to their likes and interests, they enjoy the time they spend on the app. Research showed that TikTok uniquely conveys joy and happiness versus other platforms, with 48% of users viewing TikTok as joyful compared to an average of 30% across social media platforms .
When asked how users like to spend their time on TikTok, 76% of respondents said watching videos, 33% follow Creators, and 29% learn about new recipes, DIY projects, or current events and trends. The learning part of TikTok continues to grow in popularity, and #LearnOnTikTok is one of our most popular hashtags, with over 179 billion views. It's this entertaining and informative content that keeps users coming back, with 82% admitting they'll continue to use TikTok the same amount or more over the next 6 months.
TikTokers are an engaged community
It's clear to see from Kantar's research that TikTok evokes joy by showing users content that makes them happy, and when they're browsing their For You Page, 94% of TikTokers take some kind of action, from liking or commenting on a video (53%), to sending a video to friends (47%), to researching or buying a product they've seen advertised (25%). These actions happen because users are engaged with the platform, with 41% of users agreeing that they pay full attention when using TikTok, compared to 32% on social platforms, making multi-screening a thing of the past.
With a huge sense of community throughout TikTok, users often find themselves enjoying the app with their friends or family. While 71% watch videos alone, 67% of users over the age of 18 said they share videos beyond the platform, and when it comes to creating content, TikTokers often call on their friends to get involved. It's this sense of belonging and community that helps trends thrive on TikTok. #EduTok is a subculture that is helping to educate users, and has achieved over 137 billion views since its inception. #EasyRecipe gives TikTokers a place to go when they're struggling to decide what to have for dinner and has amassed over 10 billion views. And #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt was set up by TikTok users to promote products they've seen on TikTok and subsequently purchased. At the time of writing, this trend has 5.6B views.
The opportunity for brands
Without that second screen distracting them, TikTok users listen and take notice of content they're interested in. And this goes for ads too, with 54% of users saying they recall branded content on the platform . This level of engagement also leads to conversion, especially across Gen Z users (those born after 1996). According to Kantar's research, 29% of Gen Z TikTokers have purchased a product they saw advertised on the platform.
TikTok is cementing its position in the Consumer Decision Journey and brands on TikTok are finding success by authentically promoting their products on the platform. They're doing this by getting involved in trends, talking about their business and discussing the benefits of their products rather than just asking people to visit their website and buy, buy, buy. This authentic approach helps them build a following of users who like their content and are interested in the brand. And because 67% of TikTok users share videos, your content can live beyond TikTok. Once you've built a community of people that engage with your content, you may find they're also talking about your products. This is why #TikTokMadeMeBuyit is the place to go for gift inspiration, with 57% of users agreeing that TikTok inspired them to shop even when they weren’t looking to do so .
So, if you're looking to engage with the TikTok community, remember that they're here seeking joy, happiness and creativity. Tap into that by getting involved in trends, chatting to users in the comments, and being authentic. If you're doing that, people will stick around to find out more about your brand. And if you need a little more help generating TikTok content, you can find out more about communicating authentically or getting involved in trends & subcultures on our News page
1. Time Well Spent – Global Summary, TikTok Consumer & Advertisers Insights, April 2021.
2 & 4. TikTok Marketing Science Understanding EU TikTok Audience Research 2021 conducted by Clear M&C Saatchi
3. “Understanding Authenticity, Happiness and Joy” conducted in Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK by Flamingo Group.
5. TikTok Marketing Science EU Holiday Shopping Behaviour Research 2020 conducted by Walnut Unlimited