TikTok, although not so new anymore, still is a tricky platform to conquer for most marketers. Some think it's due to the younger audience that flocks around it that marketers don’t know how to address them, but it’s more likely because of the specific type of videos that go viral on the platform.
In most cases content that is created for other channels cannot be easily refurbished to fit on TikTok’s agenda. Users will not appreciate the lack of effort and eventually the low engagement can turn into bad PR for the brand.
How to succeed on TikTok
To avoid this from happening, each marketer needs to know the playground before joining in on the fun. One way to start getting familiar with it is by spending hours, if not days, on the platform monitoring what’s happening, what’s popping, and what’s flopping.
Another way is reading blogs by people who have taken this one for the team – skipping sleep just to see more dances and challenges. For those still dipping their toes in the TikTok waters, here are some of the platform’s basics:
TikTok videos can be 3-60 seconds long
Users can use the native sound of the video, pick a pre-recorded tune from the platform’s library, or upload their own
Basic video editing is possible within the app as some templates and filters are offered
Users can browse a news feed that consists of the uploads by the accounts they’re following or explore the ‘For You Page’, where new videos are shown based on previous interactions
One audience trend is clear – people on TikTok love to watch dancing
Now that you know what you’re getting into, here’s a look at some keys to stand out on the platform.
Content is king
Jennifer Aniston broke all records by racking up a million followers on Instagram in a little over five hours. And we can see a similar craze of people following stars, sports teams, and brands they love all over social media. Sometimes they don’t even care what their idols post; fans will comment, interact, and show support anyway.
The situation is different on TikTok, though. A couple of big names like Justin Bieber and Britney Spears have joined the platform in hopes of skyrocketing interactions with fans, but it’s not really working out for them.
And even if they have a ton of followers on TikTok, it does not guarantee good results for the videos as well – at least not results that live up to the viral standards of the platform.
An interesting example here is the internet personality Emma Chamberlain. With about nine million followers on both Instagram and YouTube, but “only” five million on TikTok, she has mastered the art of completely splitting her content between the channels, showing a different side of her persona on each.
On YouTube she is very chatty and honest, making it very easy to relate to her. On Instagram she tends to highlight her style and character, and TikTok obviously is dedicated to dancing and people love it!
People are important
It’s easy to maintain a neutral, even incognito persona, when communicating on behalf of a brand on other social media platforms. However curious they are, the audience rarely finds out or gets to know the person sitting behind the screen tweeting – like the Wendy’s Twitter account that’s known for trash-talking their competitors on Twitter or ending up in the middle of a viral Chicken Nuggets campaign. Even when that original person is unveiled, there’s a layer of separation.
Meanwhile, most videos on TikTok feature a main character, either someone doing a trending dance routine, telling a funny story about their lives or pranking their friends. That means companies have to decide who to put in the spotlight on TikTok.
Will it be one of the employees (or a whole bunch of them) or should you hire an influencer to be the spokesperson? The Washington Post predominantly features one of its employees. The NBA’s Chicago Bulls also decided to go with an employee, of sorts – their mascot Benny the Bull is the main character in their videos.
@chicagobulls NEW CHALLENGE 🔥Use this audio and you might get some awesome things from us and BMO Harris Bank! #BullsBMOchallenge #ad ♬ Benny Dance Challenge - Chicago Bulls
If more and more companies join in on the TikTok fun, they might think of new ways to create viral content and it could take just one video to change the trends within the platform.
It’s all about the trends
Even if you aren’t a dedicated TikToker, you might have noticed a recurring theme in videos – it’s safe to say that it’s the essence of the platform. It’s thousands, if not millions, of people doing the same dances, lip syncing to the same tunes, and joining in on challenges.
When it comes to this platform, there is absolutely no shame in jumping on all of the trends around even if you are a month late. Or doing them all over again, publishing different takes of the same story.
Charli D’Amelio could be considered the princess of TikTok and has been highlighted as one of the app’s success stories. The 15-year-old joined the platform late last summer and by April 2020 had more than 44 million followers. She has also taken her fame outside of TikTok by appearing in a Super Bowl commercial and visiting talk shows around the US.
Don’t fear trying your own thing, too
Enough about dancing! “People on TikTok go viral for literally the dumbest reasons possible” is one of the most popular sounds people use to show off their creativity.
There’s really much more to TikTok than moving your hips around – humor and bringing knowledge to the table will also be greatly appreciated by the community. It’s also fair to say that Vine – RIP Vine – has been reborn with all the short comedy sketches thriving on the new platform as well.
Tutorials and humor are the obvious roads to take for companies looking to make a name for themselves on TikTok. Thinking about how your products can make appearances in the videos is probably the best way to start brainstorming sessions in the marketing department.
This is so random and also the top viewed video using this sound. Go figure…
Tutorial time! Here’s pt 1 of how to fold Jeremy Shafer’s 2 Interlocking Rings!♬ original sound - Karagamii
Helpful videos are doing great, and if the time limit of the videos doesn’t allow to tell the full story, then second, third, and fourth parts are uploaded as separate videos.
Vine would be proud of this one.
The community Is strong with this one
On a platform where virality is so common, it’s only obvious that the audience is rather unified. Also, since it’s still rather niche and new, it adds to the overall closeness of the community.
TikTok as a company is really looking after their users with pop-ups that are warning about possible dangerous activities being performed in the videos (backflips or any other stunts) or call to action about looking up reliable information about COVID-19. A university student trying to show her professor the essence of TikTok virality gathered a million likes in less than 24 hours:
@madlynobrien wish this was a joke but I’m doing a presentation on how easy marketing is on tiktok because things blow up so easily.. here we go #fyp #xyzbca ♬ original sound - Madlyn O’Brien
Overall, people on TikTok aren’t shy to like, share, and comment, which are the obvious attributes that boost the visibility of the videos. And a feature that helps track how well a video is really doing is that every time the URL of a video is copied from the app, it counts towards the engagement.
The best way not to make your brand’s TikTok plop is to put some thought and effort into creating engaging videos that match the vibe of the platform. While only a few brands are testing the waters, it’s a good time to jump on the bandwagon, but the regular Instagram and Facebook agenda will not get you anywhere – you have to give the audience what they want.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on socialbakers.com. Any statistics or statements included in this article were current at the time of original publication.