The TikTok app grew out of a place for teenagers to show off their dance moves and lip sync. Now a major entertainment and infotainment platform, TikTok has far exceeded the expectations first put on this “Chinese app”, achieving whole months when it was the most downloaded non-gaming app in both the Google and Apple app stores. Its growing popularity among users is only making it more appealing to both users from similar platforms (Reels, YouTube, Triller), investors, and web enthusiasts alike.
In this short tutorial, we’ll show you how to use our free TikTok scraper to scrape any TikTok videos and hashtags in 12 simple steps, with no coding required. You can also see these steps visualized in our short YouTube tutorial 📹🔴▶️
Why scrape TikTok?
Taking on the task of TikTok scraping at any scale will largely depend on what you know about why people choose to download this app and spend their free time there. And here’s a couple of things you should know about TikTok users:
- In June 2021, TikTok reached 3 billion downloads. It was also admitted as the 7th most downloaded app of the 2010s. Just to demonstrate the scale of its popularity, there were 104 million downloads just in August 2021 (up 46% from the same period a year ago).
- One of the most important things we know about TikTok users is that nearly half of them are aged between 16 and 24. This sums up to the hard number that this app is used by 18% of global internet users of this age category.
- TikTok users really love the app, which is showcased by the fact that they spend an average of 52 minutes per day on the platform. And a new study has shown kids aged 4 to 15 spend an average of 80 minutes/day, making TikTok the biggest competitor to YouTube for users in that age group.
- In 2020, during peak COVID-19, TikTik was the most positively viewed app in the US, with 88% positive reviews - which is sort of expected since the app is so fresh, but also says a lot for the content produced there - fun, engaging, open-minded.
- Last but not least - largely because the entertainment part is so vital, user engagement levels are very high on this app - 83% of TikTok users have posted a video. To a marketer, these numbers mean that you can expect a lot of user-generated content, which acts to amplify marketing campaigns - for free.
So you want to scrape TikTok now? Unless you’re a developer, you need software that is user-friendly enough for anyone to try, but complicated enough to scrape a website with a structure like TikTok. It’s a tall order. While our TikTok Scraper can’t download most watched TikTok videos like SnapTik does, it is easy to use and very powerful. It will let you extract data from TikTok videos, comments, hashtags, and user profiles in a structured format that can be downloaded onto your computer and used in your existing workflow, reports, spreadsheets, and applications.
If you want to just give TikTok scraping a try and scrape concrete TikTok data efficiently, then give a try to our super-fast dedicated free TikTok Scraper. While it delivers just a few results, it is very fast and low consumption. But if you need more than 20 results per run, then TikTok Unlimited might be the better choice for you. You can use this tutorial for both TikTok Unlimited and TikTok Free Scraper.
Is it legal to scrape TikTok?
Just like with any other Apify crawling solution, scraping publicly available data is legal. But it’s still important to take several regulations into account, such as the GDPR and CCPA, as these protect personal data. To learn more about the legality of web scraping, check out our blog post on the matter.
What about the TikTok API?
Considering the sheer amount of content, user flow, and levels of engagement, the TikTok app might be one of the best video-sharing platforms out there. There’s only one question we have when it comes to TikTok: can you scrape it? Unfortunately, as is the case for most social media platforms, TikTok does not offer an official API to let you extract data at scale. You might want to try the limited alternatives on the market such as Phantombuster’s TikTok Profile Videos Extractor but we have something with way more functionality and ease of use in store for you.
Scraping websites, including TikTok, is not as complex as some people assume if you can use ready-made scrapers. Of course, if you’re a coder with decent skills, you can make your own scraper out of thin air. But not everyone can or has to know how to code. Besides, why reinvent the wheel and spin your wheels when there are free, simple solutions available able to cater to every coding level. Cue our TikTok Scraper, which scrapes hashtags, user profiles, comments, and videos. But you already knew that, so let’s get to that tutorial!
Step-by-step guide to scraping TikTok
Find your actor
1. First, go to the TikTok actor page (which will look like this), click the green Try for free button. Once you click on the Try for free button, you’ll be redirected from our website to your Apify Console.
2. If you haven’t already, log in or sign up for free using your email, gmail or Github.
3. Back to your Console. This is a workspace for TikTok Scraper and other actors. Now click on the Start your free trial button and confirm your action.
4. You can now fill in input fields, such as keywords to scrape for. Let’s scrape a hashtag first. For example, you want TikTok Scraper to get the top 36 results for the hashtag #squidgame. Just enter the keyword in the search field. Then enter the number 36 in the Max results per page field.
Alternatively, you can also scrape not just hashtags, but TikTok videos uploaded by a specific user. Think of a user profile page you want to scrape; let’s say you want to scrape Gordon Ramsay’s TikToks. There are two ways to do that, both very simple: by filling out the scraper’s input field or adding a TikTok URL. For the input field, you just type the username (gordontamsayofficial in our case) into the corresponding field.
Another way to scrape user videos is to leave Apify Console for a second and go over to TikTok.com. Search for Gordon Ramsay’s profile in the Search bar. Now the most important thing here is to copy the URL that your search produced. Then head back to Apify Console with TikTok task open and paste it into the field.
5. Once you are all set, click the Start button. Notice that your task will change its status to Running, so wait for the scraper's run to finish. It will be just a minute before you see the status switch to Succeeded. Here's what the platform will look like for the #squidgame search.
6. Move to the Dataset tab to see the results of your scraping. Explore the Dataset tab containing your scraped data in many formats, including HTML table, JSON, CSV, Excel, XML, and RSS feed. Preview the data by clicking the Preview button or viewing it in a new tab if the dataset is too large.
7. This scraper is rather new, and has other customizable input parameters. You can expect more of those in the future. Email us at email@example.com with your questions and suggestions.
Now that you know how to scrape the whole TikTok website length and breadth, you can find out more about how to use the data you collect.
Why scrape TikTok for marketing?
While marketers remain a bit skeptical about TikTok as a channel for customer engagement, it has been proven surprisingly efficient. TikTok users - young and old alike - are mostly looking for novelty, fun, and spontaneity here - making it a perfect place for discovering new trends, ideas, and things. This can easily influence their purchasing behavior, as half of its users agree that TikTok inspired them to shop even when they weren’t looking to and 67% say they’ve bought products they had never even thought of before, making it a perfect platform for nurturing brand awareness and testing the reaction to new products.
Armed with this data, marketers can use TikTok marketing strategies in various directions - for instance, TikTok brand takeover and in-feed native ad campaigns. Big-scale marketers can also think of and organize viral hashtag challenges - an easy channel for user engagement and user-generated content. It’s been also promised that TikTok creators will soon be able to sell merch within the app, so there’s definitely some potential here. But it’s vital for a brand to find a way to authentically connect with its audience. The best TikTok marketing campaign pieces are indistinguishable from the regular fun TikTok content and are liked, shared, and engaged with just like any other viral video a user may find on the platform.
In some ways, TikTok might still be better value for money because it’s a tabula rasa platform with nearly no competition for ad space, unlike Facebook and Instagram. For this reason, TikTok influencers with more followers will charge less per post compared to Instagram. However, having no competition is a double-edged sword making marketing campaigns also quite risky. Therefore, as a marketer you really have to know what you’re doing - there are already a couple of available success stories of TikTok marketing campaigns from retailers with big budgets. Or read about other examples of using web scraping for the retail industry for inspiration.
Non-marketing ways to use TikTok data:
While TikTok marketing campaigns have to be especially intricate, involving the right causes and authentic engagement, TikTok is also a perfect place to collect data on social studies and research: anything from popular TV shows and new appearance-related trends to sustainability and changes in eating behavior among the teens. So besides things like doing market research for planning ad and hashtag campaigns, promoting your own channel, or collaborating with an influencer, there are a whole lot of other ways you could use data extracted from TikTok:
- Using it as a base for online research, social listening experiments as well as a reliable and fast source of survey data.
- Spreading awareness about social issues and caritative causes.
- Going viral for your cause.
- Monitoring, flagging unverified content and stopping the spread of inaccurate information with high public value e.g. concerning vaccination against COVID-19.
- Detecting fake news and coordinated effort in spreading disinformation or influence campaigns on TikTok, such as in this TikTok hashtag analysis tool.
- Following trends and predicting emerging opportunities and influences.
- Scanning the market for product reviews, a prime example of which can be the success of #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt.
TikTok is the most dynamic environment to learn about the young generation: what they love, fear, worry about, and need. In general, TikTok is very responsive to the promotional efforts, with 63% of TikTok users admitting they are likely to watch ads. No other social media platform can boast about that much ad appreciation and engagement from its users.
The rule of thumb would be that campaigns there can work as long as they’re fun and viral, such as Redbull’s videos with a #givesyouwings hashtag that got over 420 million views. And the second-best thing about it is that the users are very responsive if a hashtag does go viral - any hashtag - making TikTok a huge platform for user-generated content, authentic engagement, and community-building. All this points to piles of social data you can scrape, learn from and adjust your research and analysis strategies accordingly.