Teach Me to TikTok

How to incorporate the latest social media craze into your marketing strategy

When I first heard rumblings about TikTok, I first thought it was the newest dance. I was all prepared to learn the steps so I could kill it in the club post pandemic and keep up with cool kids in the crowd.  That is until I saw my niece doing the latest dance craze on TikTok. 

What is TikTok?

Known as Douyin in China, TikTok is a video-sharing social media platform owned by ByteDance – a Chinese owned company. With TikTok a user can make a variety of short-form videos.  If you remember, or have ever used the dearly departed app Vine, then TikTok won’t be unfamiliar territory for you.  

Before being known under the moniker of TikTok, the app was previously known as Musical.ly. Users generally upload videos of themselves lip-synching to music videos. Eventually, influencers began to realize its potential and began using the platform to upload videos of original content.

And where influencers go…so does the rest of the digital world.

TikTok videos are typically 15 minutes to one minute in length. Users can also string together multiple videos to make a minute’s worth of content.  If users have made a video outside of the app, they can upload a video that is longer than the app’s recommended 60 seconds. Like Facebook and Instagram, TikTok also offers the option of live streaming. This platform has multiple filters that can be used to improve video quality or presentation, making it extremely popular in terms of trending usage. TikTok is the perfect social media platform to those who are looking to be on the cusp of the new and exciting.  It’s also a great way to connect with customers.

The TikTok, Covid Connection 

Let’s face it folks, we live in the era of the short attention span, and with the Covid-19 pandemic bringing the world to a virtual standstill, people had a lot of time on their hands. One of the ripple effects of Covid was the explosion of TikTok as users on its platform increased rapidly. In the first quarter of 2020, TikTok set a record of the most downloads in a single quarter for a social app with 315 million installs.

TikTok By the Stats

The Popularity of TikTok

Just by looking at the stats, there’s no refuting TikTok’s popularity or the fact that it’s demand will continue to rise.  TikTok’s prominent status in social media can be attributed to five factors.

  • AI – AI helps users get the most out of their content. TikTok keeps records of the likes, user comments and the time users spend watching each video. AI also simplifies video editing and suggests enhancements such as, music, hashtags, filters that are trending.
  • Easy to Use – You don’t have to be an expert videographer or editor to produce clips that are entertaining, informational and engaging. With its plethora of effects, TikTok has made editing accessible for everyone. Users can seamlessly edit, filter, add music and even change the speed of a video on the fly.
  • Viral Ability – Making viral sensations is TikTok’s bread and butter, turning people into instant celebrities overnight. The social media app even played a role in the success of Lil Nas X’s Grammy award winning song “Old Town Road.”  After the uploads of memes and videos using the song, “Old Town Road” became a sensation. Inadvertently, TikTok created a marketing campaign that launched the career of the budding rapper. 
  • Addictiveness – The real appeal of TikTok is that it’s addictive. The short videos allow for quick browses that can lead to extensive binge watching. To capture the attention the way TikTok does is marketing gold and can be a benefit to any brand. 
  • Growing interest from adults – TikTok’s popularity was due to its allure with Gen Z, but the platform is quickly catching fire with adults. In less than 18 months, the number of US adults using the platform has grown to around 15 million. This trend shows that although the youth may have made the app popular, like its predecessors Facebook and Instagram, the audience develops and expands. A marketing trend that is hot on TikTok currently are videos benefiting from successful, organic cross-channel promotion doing wonders for their own user base.

How TikTok Works and the Power of the Hashtag

Every user that creates an account with TikTok has a For You page, this acts as the home page. The For You page is individually curated content for your home feed and is the best place to find new content. The content TikTok selects for users’ home pages is based on an algorithm. The algorithm uses such factors as:

  • Your individual settings; country, language, device
  • Video information: hashtags, captions, sounds, genre
  • User interactions, the types of video you interact with, accounts you follow and who you engage with

Users find videos in TikTok through hashtags. Hashtags can be added to any video uploaded and it enables users to search through content. 

How Your Brand Can Use TikTok For Marketing

Brands who’ve understood TikTok’s marketing potential are having a great impact on the platform. The top eight brands on TikTok are:

  1. Spikeball
  2. Chipotle
  3. Vessi
  4. Elf Cosmetics
  5. Guess
  6. NBA
  7. The Washington Post
  8. NBA

Casual dining chain Chipotle was one of the first brands to begin using TikTok for social media marketing. Today, TikTok is Chipotle’s biggest social media platform with over 1.5 million followers and 27.4 likes. Their #boorito Halloween campaign garnered over 4 billion views.

Despite its huge user base and the success of brands like Chipotle, only 4% of U.S. social media marketers use TikTok compared to 89% who use Facebook.  If you’ve been thinking about becoming the next brand to try their hand at TikTok, here are ( ) keys to help you begin using this platform.

  1. Get started on TikTok by creating a channel for your brand. One of the great things about this social media platform is you can create content rather quickly and with no extra cost to your marketing budget, so don’t be afraid to experiment.  Get familiar with using memes and incorporating them into your social media content.  This is not the platform to just reiterate the same brand messaging on your corporate website.  Express your creativity by utilizing the app’s built-in filters, effects, soundbites, and editing tools to create and share authentic content. The organic reach on TikTok is huge, but impactful engagement is only derived if your content truly resonates with your audience and plays to the rules of the platform.
  2. Get your hashtags ready and start a challenge. Since TikTok relies so heavily on hashtags, a hashtag challenge is a great way for brands to trend or create a moment in the meme universe that can go viral. When done right, these challenges can attract millions of impressions. Elf Cosmetics had over 4 billion views with their #eyelipsface campaign. 
  3. Get yourself an influencer. Collaborating with an influencer is another great way to break into TikTok and utilize the full potential of the platform. Influencers understand how to use TikTok’s tools, features, and trends to their advantage. Brands can approach and collaborate on campaigns which use these influencers’ skills and knowledge. And Tik Tok makes it easy through Creator Marketplace, designed to connect brands and creators.
  4. Get Tik Tok advertising. One of the most exciting aspects of TikTok is that it’s not flooded with advertisers. This means it can be more affordable to generate impressions and clicks.
  5. Get creative. Really…we can’t stress the need to be creative enough. It’s okay to showcase the behind the scene’s moments such as meetings or training sessions for a more interactive experience with your followers. You can also try:Showcasing your inventory if you’re a fashion or lifestyle brand. You can create great campaigns around new inventory or film an entire fall collection with your own hype music.
  • If you have a product or service that requires assembly or an unboxing, you can create a step-by-step video that can be produced and showcased on TikTok with a link to purchase your product or service.

Since TikTok is in its infancy stages, it’s marketing potential is endless. One thing is clear, this social app will only continue to grow. With its easy-to-use features and minimum cost to your budget, TikTok is a platform that can easily be infused into your current digital marketing strategy. So, get out there and get on TikTok. There may be a viral moment in your brand’s future. 

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