Over the last year, the Chinese-owned video sharing platform TikTok has exploded in popularity among teens worldwide. The figures behind its popularity are so impressive that it might look unreasonable to miss the opportunity to leverage the platform for your needs.
The Main Figures Behind TikTok Popularity
First, impressive facts and numbers you need to know about TikTok:
- TikTok became the second-most downloaded app in the world in 2019, conceding only WhatsApp.
- As of February 2020, TikTok has around 625 million monthly active users globally, and the growth of that is 85% year-on-year
- “It’s possible that TikTok would overtake Instagram” – said Evan Spiegel, the Snapchat CEO and a big fan of TikTok.
So what makes the platform so unique and helps it to overpass other social media in growth and popularity?
- “Talent-based content is often more interesting than status-based content.” That statement can be actually interpreted as follows “people have more fun watching the video of you acting up rather than a glam picture of your breakfast”.
- While all other social media have their own constraints in terms of content you are expected to post, TikTok is an eclectic world. It gathers all the possible genres, entertainers, spheres of life under one roof. Even if you represent your business, you are free to express yourself in an awkward way and show any miscellaneous side of your business.
- TikTok is the only platform among its competitors which enables the user to share its content not only within this platform but also within Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. You can easily download the video from TikTok, unless its owner disabled this opportunity.
- Over the years social media platforms were evolving their algorithms around building unique feeds according to the data registered users fill in into the account. TikTok is the first one to show the hodge-podge of the very different short video content even to the unregistered user and let them “teach” their preferences to the machine learning algorithm by an easy swipe up.
“You’re not actually sure why you’re seeing what you’re seeing,” said Ankur Thakkar, the former editorial lead at Vine, TikTok’s other most direct forerunner. “It’s doing the thing that Twitter tried to solve, that everyone tried to solve,” he said. “How do you get people to engage? Apparently you just … show them things, and let a powerful artificial intelligence take notes. You start sending daily notifications immediately. You tell them what to do. You fake it till you make it, algorithmically speaking.”
The latter feature makes the platform look like a black hole, where the teens plunge and get lost for hours. But before analyzing the intimidatingly chaotical first impression, I suggest you mind the good old transmedia approach to represent your business across different media.
Think of how you can disperse the story of your brand across multiple delivery channels in the most appropriate/relevant way for each channel. It is more or less clear what kind of messages our brand is to deliver to a tie-bowed LinkedIn and to a glamorously statuesque Instagram. But what to do with this chaotic teen kingdom of goofy dancing, lip-syncing, cooking recipes and other demonstration of human and animal talents?
I’ve got two news for you, surprisingly both are good:
- Although the target audience of this social media is young people aged 13-30 years old. General freedom and creativity spirit of the platform encourage any entity to show up here. Brand exposure is no exception.
- TikTok is not that chaotic as it may seem at first sight. But don’t panic, the content structure is pretty organized with hashtags and other platform features.
With this in mind, let’s get a look at the main structuring tools you can use to meet your business needs:
To participate in any activities with the help of hashtags, keep in mind the following goals:
a) get trendy ideas for your content to entertain your existing audience;
b) get bigger exposure among those who still don’t follow you but can be attracted by your fun videos and subscribe to your updates;
The main hashtag groups you can use for effective brand promotion can be divided into the following:
Many hashtags are generated around challenges, so by subscribing to a particular hashtag, you get the idea of the challenge and create your own video.
E.g.StayTuned team participating in #pineapplechallenge
To go even further, you can create your own challenges as the world-famous brands do. E.g. Guess launched the #inMyDenim challenge where the users wear Guess denim with Bebe Rexha’s song.
- #ForYou.The most popular hashtags include #ForYou, #foryourpage, #fup, #recommendations, #recommendation and #local [put the desired geolocation here].
Videos with this hashtag appear once you open the app and show even those users you don’t follow. Thus these hashtags reach the largest number of audiences. The algorithm of showing these videos to the general feed is quite opaque: it implies engagement, likes, shares, and comments.
Whichever way the algorithm works, once you’re lucky enough or you’ve worked hard enough to appear on the main page, you will get an unexpected amount of likes and follows. However, don’t get your hopes up. This occasional luck may result in showing your content to an irrelevant audience. Still, in such a rules-free social media platform as TikTok, your brand representation will actually benefit from an additional number of likes and followers. So get creative, engage as many TikTokers as you can with your next goofy musical or a 60-seconds masterpiece!
- Communities. Communities are formed with the help of hashtags. Here the coverage will be significantly more limited in comparison with the previous tool. But by hashtagging your video with the word or word combination of your main specialization or interest, you have the chance to get greater coverage among your target audience. This is one of the most powerful tools to use TikTok for business needs. Thus, you can promote your product or service, be it cat food, cosmetic brand, IoT gadget or software development service.
- #POV. Another unique feature of this platform. These are short, often dramatic scenarios where the significant role is assigned to the viewer. Scarcely it’s the most powerful tool for a business. But you can go creative and think of a unique scenario depicting what happens behind-the-scenes or troubles your business is facing.
- Duets. This feature involves replying to other videos with your own video with the same music. These two videos will be displayed back-to-back. While the most common pattern is just lip-syncing, you can get more creative by adding your own ending to the plot of the original.
Influencers and Creators
They are the core of the platform content. Apart from getting inspiration with their content ideas, you can get them to promote your brand by native ad video with your product in the frame.
Remember the blogger couple participating in #inMyDenim challenge from the video above? The video was definitely sponsored by Guess and gathered 468K likes.
People trust people. That’s why it’s a good idea to interact with your followers in real-time if you have a content idea interesting enough to show your product or business. This feature is available for those who have 1000+ followers.
Follow Button and Comments
When your account is small enough, get the ball rolling by following and commenting on relevant users’ accounts. This step may motivate them to have a look at your profile and possibly follow you back.
There are plenty of advertising opportunities on TikTok, which include:
- paid infeed native content similar to Instagram or Snapchat story ad;
- branded lenses similar to the Snapchat 2D and 3D lenses for face and photos
- branded takeovers. Brands can create images, GIFs and videos with embedded links to your resource;
- hashtag challenges.
So now, when TikTok makes a little more sense to you and you are aware of the main tools to promote your business, think of the content you can create to blend in at this teenage self-expression space.
With the transmedia approach in mind, select the most light-hearted, silly and expressive side of your business routine to show it up here. Don’t be afraid to be funny as nobody is perfect. Remember, TikTok is the place for Real People. Real Videos.