With the release of every new social media platform, there is backlash. Instagram and Facebook were once thought to be vapid havens of narcissism. YouTube was believed to be a place for families to air their home videos for the world to see. Now, the latest social media craze, TikTok has a reputation as a juvenile space for tweens, teens and the youngest of adults to unthinkingly mimic dance trends and avoid the responsibilities of the real world.
There have been some adult defenders of TikTok, who argue that the platform is harmless and allows teens to explore and interact with the world in a lighthearted, creative way. Similarly, business leaders across the country are recognizing TikTok for what it really is: A new place to engage and convert their consumer audience.
TikTok absolutely can be used for digital marketing. Here’s how.
First: A TikTok Primer
Business leaders who don’t spend much free time on social media might not know about the ongoing TikTok revolution. If “TikTok” sounds more like a Kesha hit from the late ‘00s than a social media platform, here’s a quick primer:
What TikTok Is
TikTok is often described by those outside the community as a “lip-syncing app,” but in truth the platform is not so much an online karaoke experience as it is a convenient space for shooting, editing and publishing short-form video. TikTok creators have between 15 and 60 seconds to work with, during which time they can shoot continuously or connect different brief clips. Though there are some TikTokers focused purely on lip-syncing, most creators produce original content, like dances, comedy sketches and more. In this way, TikTok has become a sort-of spiritual progeny of early YouTube and various dead apps like DubSmash, Musical.ly and Vine.
Who Uses TikTok
At the latest tally, there are over 30 million active monthly TikTok users in the U.S., and that number is growing rapidly. Currently, the most significant demographic is the youth; those aged 18 to 24 account for 42 percent of users, and 13- to 17-year-olds are an additional 27 percent. Still, a good chunk of millennials are participating in TikTok, too.
Brands on TikTok
As yet, TikTok isn’t an optimal space for corporate engagement — as least, not in the way that Facebook is. Still, brands are producing TikTok content. Some of the best branded TikTok accounts include:
These brands demonstrate that it is possible for corporate content to succeed on this new social platform, and they lay the groundwork for other brands looking to find similar success.
Optimizing TikTok within a digital marketing strategy starts with hiring digital marketers with a wide range of experience, like digitalcurrent.com. By weaving TikTok content into not just a social media marketing strategy but a broader marketing campaign that incorporates content, technical SEO and more, a branded TikTok account will see greater success in terms of conversions. However, when it comes to increasing followers and shares on TikTok itself, there are a few rules of thumb worth considering:
Trends shift rapidly on TikTok, and many brands struggle to understand the changing landscape in time to develop content to suit it. However, keeping pace with the rest of the platform is essential. Relevant content will link the brand’s products and/or messages with ongoing trends, especially viral sounds.
Like other social media platforms, TikTok uses hashtags to categorize content. Brands should take note of some of the most popular hashtags, which help content appear on every users’ “For You” page — TikTok’s version of the home feed. However, because not all popular hashtags are particularly relevant to a brand’s content, brands need to also use long-tail hashtags that they can rank highly in. Then, TikTok audiences with related interests will be more likely to see and engage with branded content.
Brands need to find a way to channel their TikTok followings off the platform. Account bios can contain links, and it would be wise to include links to other social media that provides more opportunity for back-and-forth engagement, like Twitter or Facebook, as well as perhaps one business domain link. Brands that give loyal fans a place to continue the conversation off TikTok will see more return from their TikTok efforts.
The TikTok revolution is strange, but it isn’t necessarily new. Every social media site seemed outlandish when it first launched, but now most are accepted elements of modern culture. The sooner businesses recognize the power of TikTok, the sooner they can learn to leverage it.