The early 2010s were a gold rush of new social media platforms and options. Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram, and even MySpace were all battling for our attention. We picked our favourites, the rest fell away, and things stayed pretty much the same for nearly a decade. Sure, we had new features, and challengers like Vine and Snapchat emerged, but for the most part we were sharing on the same networks with a few new toys.

Then, TikTok hit.

In the few short years since TikTok burst onto the North American social media scene it has become by far the most disruptive and innovative force in media. Today it has well over 1.5 Billion users, which puts it in the mix of the most used apps in the world, but the greatest impact TikTok has had is the way it constantly introduces new and better ideas, tools, and programs.

This week, as we were planning which stories to share with you, it became clear that the biggest story is not any of the individual updates TikTok is making, but how, taken together, TikTok is reshaping social media as we know it because not only are those changes appearing within the app, all of the other platforms are taking notice and adapting to match them.

To keep you up to date, we’ve put together a list of the most disruptive innovations TikTok is currently introducing that will have a direct impact on how we all do business online:

TikTok is the new Yelp

Update: This has been coming for a while. They introduced geotags and reviews earlier this year, and this week they’ve updated the landing pages for certain locations to include tabs like Food & Drink, Things to Do, Hotels, and Parks.

Those tabs have Apple Maps integrated, so users can open a map view that shows the number of posts, the address, and the price point of each option.

Impact: Social search and online reviews are a cornerstone of discovery for tourism, retail, and hospitality businesses. When 1.5 Billion people no longer rely on the platforms we’re used to, like Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor, the businesses that lean into TikTok as a directory are going to have a huge advantage.

They’re trying to create the next Black Friday

Update: Starting tomorrow (July 9th) TikTok is hosting Deals For You Days where they’ve worked with a bunch of their biggest retailers to offer discounted pricing on TikTok Shop. They’ve also recruited several of the biggest creators on the platform to host Lives where they’ll be promoting discounted products.

Impact: Inventing new shopping days is not new. Alibaba Created Single’s Day, Amazon introduced Prime Days, and each of those has driven massive amounts of revenue. Deals For You Days is a fairly obvious tactic to pre-empt Prime Days, in that it falls just one week before Amazon’s major event, and it’s likely to succeed. If you’re a retailer who sells products online, it’s very likely that Deals For You Days will become another major date on your calendar next year.

New Programs to Support Small Businesses

Update: TikTok is playing the long game here, trying to attract and prop up small businesses that will start to see it as a major part of their selling strategies. This week they announced two new programs, one aimed at LGBTQ+ owned businesses, and the other at those owned by women.

The programs partner with existing support organizations to offer mentorship, resources, and in some cases, funding to help those businesses thrive.

Impact: If these programs are successful, they will build a grassroots movement of small businesses that increasingly use TikTok to market themselves. Those entrepreneurs only have so many hours and dollars to spend on digital platforms, so in many cases that shift in behavior will come at the expense of incumbent platforms like Meta and Google.

The Best Research & Resources in the Industry

Update: The quality of the resources that TikTok has been producing exceeds even the content that big businesses often pay big dollars for. TikTok puts out user behaviour studies, “getting started” guides, and trend data that are not only extremely well crafted, but also beautifully designed to make them easy to consume.

Impact: Research reports and audience data is big business. Companies like Gartner, Nielsen, eMarketer, and Statista make billions of dollars charging businesses for access to the most valuable information. Now, much of the same type of information is available to any business, regardless of budget size.

So What?

TikTok as a business is not without its controversies, but regardless of our feelings about it as a platform, one thing is clear: TikTok is the leading force for innovation in digital marketing right now.

While Meta, Google, and others make updates around the edges, the biggest shifts in how we do business online are either being driven directly by TikTok, or by the ways that the incumbents are forced to react.