The Tik Tok Boom: Making the Most of Social Media's Fastest-Rising Platform
by Hannah Duncan

WHEN TIKTOK FIRST CAME ON TO THE SCENE in 2017, I refused to download it. For one thing, I felt like another social media app was the last thing I needed. For another, from what I could tell, the platform was mainly a way for a bunch of kids to share funny little videos of themselves dancing. Simply put, I didn’t see the point. As the platform grew slowly over the next couple of years, I remained resistant.

Well, in 2020, while the COVID-19 pandemic kept millions isolated in their homes, TikTok exploded to become a mainstream platform for a much wider array of users—including businesses (and, yes, yours truly)! These days, the platform has evolved well beyond fun video clips set to music to include creators and subject matter experts of all types connecting with a growing (and increasingly diverse) user base.

TikTok and Spa, By the Numbers
With all of TikTok’s growth has come an ever-growing number of users who match up increasingly to the spagoing population. All you have to do is take a look at the statistics and see that our industry’s demographics overlap significantly with those of TikTok users.

Millennials and Gen Z make up a third of the spa-going population and account for roughly 80 percent of TikTok’s user base. As time goes on and those users age up, the two populations are only going to overlap even more, which makes the platform the ideal place to engage with the next generation of spa-goers.

TikTok users spend an average of 52 minutes per day on the platform and open the app an average of eight times per day. And those users aren’t simply window shopping—they are exceptionally engaged on the platform, with 83 percent posting their own videos in addition to consuming content.

Though TikTok is newer than more well-established social media platforms such as Snapchat (500 million users) and Twitter (397 million users), it has hundreds of millions more monthly active users than either. This booming growth is largely a result of the sharp increase in popularity TikTok enjoyed during the earliest days of the pandemic, when it was downloaded by hundreds of millions of new users worldwide.

Not only does TikTok now boast a billion active monthly users, but those users also consume a ton of content! A quick search on the platform reveals some of the most frequently used spa-related hashtags used in the videos shown, and the numbers are frankly staggering (yes, the “B” is for billion).

Put the Platform to Use
The numbers don’t lie. In only four years, TikTok has grown into a full-fledged business and is influencing billions of users. For spas and resource partners alike, the question isn’t whether your clients or potential clients are using Tik-Tok—it’s how can you best take advantage of their presence there?

Here are a few ways spa leaders can highlight business and drive more traffic through doors:

- Put someone in charge of making fun videos of facials being performed.
- Post before and after pictures of dramatic results of facials.
- Highlight special or seasonal treatments you are offering in the spa.
- Create a video highlighting some of your retail products. Or better yet, let each employee highlight their favorite product and explain what they love about it.
- Highlight team members and the spa’s atmosphere to show how fun and inviting your spa and your staff are.

Resource partners can also harness the power of the TikTok audience in a variety of ways:

- The TikTok audience loves to see dramatic results. Whether it is weight loss, an acne treatment, or any other procedure showing dramatic visual results, TikTok goes wild for it!
- Incorporate fun ways to use your products outside the normal protocols. For instance, Gua Sha massage is extremely popular right now, with one top video gaining more than over 792,000 views!
- If possible, show a behind-the-scenes look at how your products are made.
- Share the story behind your brand or company. Consumers are increasingly tuned in to the values and identities of their preferred brands, and TikTok is a great way to highlight what makes your company special.

Attracting new guests or customers isn’t the only value TikTok can provide. With staffing problems continuing to present challenges in our industry, TikTok offers a fresh avenue through which to recruit new hires.

To take advantage:
- Highlight the earning potential of massage therapists, estheticians or other team members to attract candidates to open positions.
- Show off your business’s winning culture by celebrating achievements, capturing fun moments on team outings or detailing other benefits to joining your team.
- Share the gorgeous environment in which new hires would get to work.
- Detail the ways in which your business gives back to the community and share videos of any volunteer work your team members participate in.

A key reason that stories, videos and brands explode on TikTok is because the consumer feels a personal connection to them. There is a problem, a solution and an emotion struck with this consumer, which drives them to like and share the video with their own followers.

Whenever I am on my social media soapbox, I always advise that you get yourself a “Millennial Mentor” (though you don’t have to identify them that way), someone who is likely already on TikTok, knows how to operate the platform and understands what the audience wants. Put them in charge of two to three videos per week to get started. Ideally, the videos should be less than a minute to get the best traction on the platform. Measure the growth of your audience on the platform and include a question about your TikTok account on a post-visit guest survey to determine the impact of your reach.

Even after learning about all that TikTok has to offer, you may still find yourself resisting, just as I did upon TikTok’s initial release. But the reality is that the platform’s incredible growth means our industry can’t hide from it any longer. TikTok is big and its audience is growing ever larger and stronger. Those who stay on the sidelines run the risk of missing out on a huge pool of potential guests. As they say, there’s no time like the present. So go on; get in the game!