In five years, TikTok has risen to the seventh most-used social networking app in the world, ahead of Snapchat, Pinterest, and Twitter. It attracts 100 million active users in the U.S. who like its short, digestible, entertaining video content.
Target millennials and Gen Z. Almost half (48%) of the age 18-to-29 population have used TikTok, according to Pew Research. Though it’s worth noting TikTok’s use is growing in all age categories..@tiktok_us use is growing in all age categories. 48% of ages 18 to 29 have used the platform, according to @PewResearch via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet
Its promising engagement rates have led to TikTok’s rapidly growing popularity with marketers. It offers brands a new way to unleash their creative side, reach widely distributed audiences, and build a loyal customer base.
But marketers may get frustrated if they don’t understand TikTok and realize its algorithm works differently than Instagram or Facebook. Here are five things on what to do, along with some inspiring brand examples.
1. Not all song and dance
It’s no secret TikTok users are pulled into a feed full of fun, fashionable, and entertaining content. Lip-sync, dance, and comedy performances drive its wheels. But users also are drawn to other topics such as food recipes, sports, traveling, legal advice, and more..@tiktok_us streams are about more than lip-syncs, dancing, and comedy, says Kyle Dulay via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet
@chipotleThe perfect bite doesn’t exis… (via @kate ) ##chipotle ##quesadilla ##dragonsauce ##foodies ##viral ##fyp♬ original sound – Chipotle
The San Diego Zoo attracts over 1.8 million followers who enjoy the zoo’s educational videos about their cutest animals with voiceovers and background music, like this one about the hairy rhinoceroses:
@sandiegozooRhinos are hairy 🦏 ##TheMoreYouRhino♬ Chase Seattle 1 No Theme – David Nyman
Mike Mandall claims on TikTok that he’s the No. 1 social media lawyer, but he isn’t giving advice on the legality of social media. He’s amassed over 5 million followers with his tips on topics such as how to respond when pulled over by the police at night and an explanation about the difference between assault and battery as he illustrates in this video:
@lawbymikeSave it for the big event, fellas! @choby_hex ##fighter ##law ##lawyer ##explain♬ Astronaut In The Ocean – Masked Wolf
Dentist Sulaman has drawn over 30,000 followers and 1 million likes by explaining to his audience how to brush teeth effectively and what toothpaste to use. He also takes a humorous look at the life of the dentist. In this video set to the song of How Bizarre, he illustrates what he finds in a patient’s mouth even though they said they just brushed:
@dr.sulamanI always catch them out! 🪥🦷 ##howbizarre♬ How Bizarre – OMC
How to: Your brand can entertain and educate too. Just bring a personality (or at least a personal side) to capture the attention and engagement of TikTok users. Unsure of what to do? Tell the behind-the-scenes or origin stories of your business. That definitely gives a human touch to your content.
Be concise. Give proper attention to filters, text banners, and viral music to create a great viewing experience.
2. All about that engagement
Your TikTok follower count doesn’t really help attract a crowd to your content. The real magic is in the engagement. TikTok’s algorithm rewards how well users interact with your content – liking, commenting, watching until the end, or viewing multiple times..@tiktok_us algorithm rewards #content that people like, comment on, watch until the end, or view multiple times, says Kyle Dulay via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet
@tonesterpaintsHow to make Gator Green at @gatorland with @savannahboan 🐊 ##MaxPlumpJump ##gators ##paintmixing ##TWDSurvivalChallenge ##satisfying♬ original sound – tonesterpaints
How to: To retain viewers, spark their interest in the first seconds and keep the total video between 15 and 30 seconds. Want to go longer? Add more value to keep viewers watching.
3. Stitch and share
On TikTok, shared content is a big signal of valuable content. Users can send a direct message, copy a link to WhatsApp, share it on the platform, or stitch it to indicate to TikTok that the content is worthy of hype.
Stitch videos are created by users who create a new video from cuts of other videos. They are similar to TikTok’s “duets” feature of split-screen videos. These features can create an endless domino effect of sharing, splicing, and engagement.
Here’s an example of stitch video TikTok shared on YouTube:
How to: You can clip up to five seconds of a TikTok video to stitch with other clips. A new video, curated from the videos of your followers and other fans, is likely to attract shareable attention.A new @tiktok_us #video, curated from the videos of your followers, is likely to attract shareable attention, says Kyle Dulay via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet
4. Take on trends
Another way to find popularity on TikTok is hopping on trends, popular jokes, and challenges. In 2020, Pepsi’s #ThatsWhatILike challenge encouraged consumers to do what they enjoy regardless of other’s judgment – and their fans responded, sharing videos of themselves dancing in sleeping clothes, singing a Britney Spears’ song in a supermarket, or entertaining themselves in their car:
@adamwWhen u get caught singing in the car @pepsi ##ThatsWhatILike ##ad ##comedy ##lol♬ #ThatsWhatILike – Join The Challenge
How to: The discovery function and TikTok’s suggested hashtags, songs, and profiles on the sidebar help to identify what is trending on the platform. This tab also contains a search bar to input keywords or hashtags to find out what’s trending around them.
No trending topic for your brand’s content? Make your own with a hashtag challenge. You also can work with influencers who are experienced in hashtag challenges.
5. Know where you want to be
Last but not least, know where your account is. Your geographic setting affects how your content performs. TikTok first shows videos in feeds that are in geographic proximity of the user.
Location was a critical factor to be seen in real life and on TikTok for ColourPop, a Los Angeles-based beauty brand. They took their eye-catching Malibu Barbie Jeep to clean up local beaches and bring that experience to TikTok:
@colourpopcoWe drove out our ##MalibuBarbiexColourPop Jeep for a beach clean up with our team! We encourage you to try a beach clean up! 🌊☀️😊 ##malibu ##colourpop♬ OH MY – Camino 84
How to: Adjust your location setting to correctly associate your content with your target audience’s time and location. This is especially important for local businesses such as shops and restaurants.Adjust your location setting to correctly associate your #content with your target audience’s time and location, says Kyle Dulay via @CMIContent. #TikTok Click To Tweet
Get on the TikTok clock
Though once a mystery, the TikTok algorithm is becoming more transparent.
Following these five tidbits above will help your brand create content that attracts loyal fans who are more willing to convert to join your owned audience and eventually become a customer too.
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute