Feel like you’ve finally got a handle on social media marketing? You’re posting to Facebook and Twitter regularly, your Instagram account is growing, and your content is becoming more relevant to your viewers and customers. But wait, there’s a new trend on the horizon! Well actually, it’s now new. But TikTok is quickly becoming the latest craze in social media usage among the younger generations.
TikTk is a free social media app that lets you watch, create, and share videos - often to a soundtrack of the top hits in music - right from your phone. It was originally called Musical.ly in the U.S. but was rebranded when the two apps merged in August 2018. With more than 100 million users, TikTok is incredibly popular. Users can watch and record videos of themselves lip-synching to popular music and sound bites, and then connect with friends and admirers through likes, comments, and even duets.
Rachel Pedersen, an organic social marketing pro and host of the Social Media Secrets podcast, was first introduced to TikTok through the popularity of the song “Baby Shark”. She and her children decided to join the fun by sharing their own rendition of the song. In spite of having only six followers, her first video was viewed by 9,400 people by the next day. She immediately saw a big opportunity in TikTok that neither Facebook nor Instagram could deliver. Eager to learn more, Rachel created videos almost every day and watched her TikTok following grow to nearly 2,600 within 60 days.
Although unplanned, this launched Rachel’s career as a social media consultant. She attributes TikTok’s growth to a number of factors. “We’re moving into an era of shorter attention spans. Most people are only interested in things for 15 seconds, like videos you see on TikTok, movie trailers, or ads. Within those 15 seconds, the viewer gets to decide whether they want to binge more content. The trick is finding a way to capture and sustain their attention in that 15 seconds, especially if they’ve never heard of you”, she explains.
How Does TikTok Work?
TikTok features two side-by-side feeds. The main feed on the right features a stream of content that’s been tailored “For You.” As you scroll through these videos, you can follow the accounts, engage with the content, and more. The feed on the left features content from accounts you already follow. You can easily switch back and forth between the two feeds. When you open the app for the first time, you’re presented with a clear news feed. It doesn’t know your preferences so what shows up in the For You feed will be totally random. Once you start following and interacting with other users, the app will begin surfacing similar content and creators in the For You feed.
All videos in TikTok are vertical and take up your entire phone screen. A majority of the content is typically 15 seconds or shorter, but the video clips have since been expanded to up to 60 seconds. All TikTok videos are looping.
Why Marketers Should Pay Attention to TikTok
TikTok offers a brand new opportunity for marketers because they will likely be the first of their generation to be on it. Most marketers haven’t moved to TikTok, but it’s gaining traction and being introduced to the masses. According to data and demographics, TikTok is currently in 154 countries with about 500 million active users. It has consistently been in the top 10 most downloaded apps in the App Store. Among TikTok’s users, about 66% are younger than 30, But there seem to be plenty of younger moms and others who seem young, which means TikTok is an ideal platform for any brand wanting to get in front of this valuable audience.
When you open the TikTok app to create content, there are several different options for getting started. Similar to Instagram Stories, you can hold down the button for the entire duration of the video to natively record. You can set up a self-timer and record from a distance. You can also create a series of short segments that come together to form a longer video. Users can then add awesome effects and text throughout different parts of their videos to make them interesting and fun. TikTok videos can also be downloaded and repurposed for other platforms like Facebook or Instagram.
Videos on TikTok are a combination of lip-syncing to original and uploaded music, sound effects and audio clips, rants, and anything else the imagination can create. Lately though, users are moving away from singing along to music and going more towards creating their own clever renditions of songs. The user will sing new lyrics to a song and create a video with a funny take, creative interpretation, or double meaning of the words.
Nurture a Younger Audience
Rachel says that she plans to use TikTok for exposure and growth over the next year. She’ll do this by nurturing a younger following on the platform and preparing this audience to know who she is in the next 10 or 20 years.
Adding Bio and Links to TikTok
Although the platform currently doesn’t support clickable links within the videos, users can include a link in their TikTok bios. Rachel noticed a jump in her website traffic when another user visited her profile and read the URL in her bio during a live broadcast on TikTok. Like video captions, the bios on TikTok are also limited to 140 characters of plain text and emojis. The 140 characters can include a link to your website; however, the URL isn’t clickable. You can upload one profile photo and your previous ones aren’t saved in an album as they are on Facebook.
What Marketers Need to Know About TikTok
Videos that are overproduced, too corporate, or overtly promotional tend to perform poorly. Rachel has witnessed people go crazy in the comments when they sense a user is trying to sell them something or sneak in an ad. In order to blend in, take time to research what the content on TikTok feels like. Watch other people’s videos and start to identify and adopt the trends you see.
Upcoming TikTok Ads Program
TikTok is tinkering with the idea of integrating advertising with a new self-serve ad platform as major brands try to reach the younger demographic on the platform. Macy’s recently used TikTok to run a back-to-school campaign targeting high school and college kids. Rachel recalls alcohol brands, concerts, big parties, and musicians being promoted on TikTok too. Once TikTok’s ad program is fully rolled out, marketers will be able to diversify their clients and offer something beyond Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and all of the other trusted platforms we’ve relied upon until this point. You’ll begin seeing more ads throughout the feed and notifications in the future.