Musical.ly is one of the most popular and fastest growing music video applications out today. MTV Networks recently launched a campaign with Musical.ly tied to their flagship program, the yearly Video Music Awards. But is Musical.ly the right choice for marketers? Well, that depends on what you are trying to sell and more importantly who you are trying to sell it to.
Musical.ly was founded in 2014 and boasts over 100,000 million users, most of whom fall into the 13-20 year old demographic. However, this information may be inaccurate. The company may claim that important market; however it appears that they may hit audiences even younger.
The app allows users create short videos in which they can lip-sync and dance to popular songs and other audio sources, and then post the videos to an Instagram-style feed. Its featured feed includes major stars familiar young audiences as well as lesser known social media personalities and artists.
The problem in trying to market with this fast growing tool is that it does not collect demographic information from its users or “musers” as the company calls them. Federal law requires online services that target audiences under 13 to follow strict guidelines regarding the collection and sharing of personal information. Musical.ly avoids this by prohibiting users under the age of 13 in their terms of service. They follow the Facebook route of taking the users “word for it”.
The app does not collect or show the age of its users, but some of its top-ranked users appear from their videos and profile photos to be in grade school. The app had a feature that suggested what users to follow based on their location. In New York, that feature revealed a list composed largely of children. This is treading dangerous waters for marketers.
Another big concern with Musical.ly is the content being posted. Many parents have complained that the children and adults are posting offensive and in some cases X-rated material. A simple hashtag search reveals countless examples.
While Snapchat and Instagram hit young audiences, Musical.ly is hitting children. Combine this with the risk of irreparable damage to the brand through association with offensive material, it’s best to take a “wait and see” attitude toward Musical.ly.