Why TikTok’s Popularity Exploded During the Pandemic

Cynthia Littleton
·2 min read

TikTok has been buffeted by the storm around social media, but that hasn’t stopped the platform from logging meteoric growth over the past year.

On the latest episode of Variety podcast “Strictly Business,” Blake Chandlee, TikTok’s VP of global business solutions and head of ad sales, discusses how the service and its many tools kept more than 100 million users engaged in lockdown conditions.

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“Diversity in content, and the kinds of creators that were creating content on the platform went from pretty simple offerings to diversity around cooking and DIY and education,” Chandlee says. “And we had these amazing creators just tell inspiring stories all year long and that just continued, which then led to the adoption of the platform for a variety of audiences.”

Another welcome trend was the growth of multigenerational viewership of top TikTok franchises. The platform that is designed, in Chandlee’s words to “inspire creativity and spark joy,” is designed to be a less caustic environment than Twitter or Facebook. The fact that parents, grandparents and children are seeking out favorite TikTok accounts as a shared experience is music to the ears of Chandlee and to marketers. He cites recent efforts by Under Armour and Cheerios as examples of creative advertising campaigns that harness the unique power of TikTok to spread sponsor messages.

Chandlee also weighs in on the challenges of moderating content on TikTok, tackled through a combination of “machine learning” and human policing of posts. Most of the content that is deemed objectionable is caught before it goes public, Chandlee says.

“We think that by working with the smartest people in the agency world and the client world, we can build a future that is different, where advertising becomes anticipated and hoped for versus something people deal with in order to get content,” he says.

“Strictly Business” is Variety’s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of media and entertainment. A new episode debuts each Wednesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher and SoundCloud.

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