TikTok: Built for Marketing, Not Just Gen Z
Marketing Coordinator Addison Lambert led our latest RSM University Webinar where we discussed TikTok marketing. Senior Copywriter Ryan Clem and Copywriter Promise Asher explained how you can use TikTok to market your businesses and answered questions generated by our audience.
What Is TikTok?
TikTok is a short form video hosting service where users share entertaining content ranging from 15 seconds to 10 minutes. It’s the leading destination for short-form mobile video and its stated mission is to inspire creativity and bring joy.
One big thing that differentiates TikTok’s users from users of other platforms is that TikTok’s users tend to genuinely enjoy the content they’re served and are mostly on the platform to have a fun, engaging experience.
TikTok has more than 1 billion global users since launching in 2016. An average of 650,000 new users joins TikTok every day, making it one of the fastest growing social media platforms in the world. TikTok is where Facebook was 10 years ago: it’s an advertising haven for businesses with the potential to help your brand’s messaging reach hundreds of thousands of people.
As far as numbers, the largest user age group on TikTok is ages 10 to 19 and accounts for about half its users. The other half ranges from age 20 to above 50 years old. If you’re saying you’re not interested in TikTok, what you’re really saying is that you aren’t interested in a platform that has 500 million users and growing, and it’s growing by over half a million users every day.
What Is TikTok Marketing?
Just as TikTok is different from other social media platforms, TikTok marketing is different from marketing on other platforms. TikTok’s audience is interested in lighthearted, positive content, and they won’t settle for a less-than-authentic engagement experience.
When you’re modifying your base marketing content to post on TikTok, you want to focus on tone and approach.
The most important thing is that your content—the videos that you make for TikTok—must feature a human face. TikTok’s audience is more interested in watching people than they are in watching a company’s marketing reel, so feature the people who work at your company.
Collaborate with your team and think of creative ways to interact with your audience as a group of people who happen to work together, rather than messages focused on the business first. TikTok is where your audience will get to know who you are as a business and a brand—and they do that by getting to know the people who work for you.
Authenticity, Relatability, Interactivity
TikTok’s focus on authenticity means your content doesn’t need to be overly produced. In fact, it should never be overly produced: film with your phone and use natural lighting or an inexpensive ring light.
Find what works best for your brand, then work with that. This can be adding silly little easter eggs to the background of your video, like your pets or kids, yummy or weird food, or an especially novel or bizarre office gadget. Think comedy. Think making people smile.
While users on Facebook or LinkedIn might be interested in your latest promotional offers or sales campaign, users on TikTok are looking for something to which they can relate. They’re not interested in people who are selling to them, but they’re more than willing to buy if they can engage with you on a human level and relate to your people and brand.
Interactivity goes both ways on TikTok, and it’s about a lot more than responding to comments. TikTok’s atmosphere is intentionally collaborative, with stitches, duets, and good old-fashioned internet challenges being evergreen formats you can look to for inspiring new content. Trends on TikTok are more than everyone simply copying a good idea because it worked for someone else; trends on TikTok feel more organic and are based on people interacting with each other.
The Entertainment Umbrella
Think of everything you post on TikTok as being under an entertainment umbrella because entertainment is the core focus of TikTok videos. If a video isn’t entertaining in some way, it’s not likely to do well there. However, you don’t have to do everything!
If you want to lean into that super fun side and hop on all the trends, that might be a good fit for your brand. Similarly, if you don’t want to do any of that, you can still have good and entertaining videos. Think frequently asked questions, experiments, behind the scenes footage, or tutorials.
Ideal for Smaller Brands
We want to emphasize that you don’t have to be Nike or Target or Starbucks or any of the other big guys when it comes to creating popular and engaging content on TikTok. In fact, TikTok is one of the best platforms for people who aren’t big name brands to get their name out there.
TikTok’s For You page is the default page that appears when you open the app. It can feature some people you know and follow, but it will also feature any other content TikTok’s algorithm thinks you’ll like—and TikTok’s algorithm is very good at doing this.
Every time someone opens the app, they’re going to see tons of content from people they don’t already follow. This means your content has the chance to be seen by thousands of people, which can help grow your audience and spread brand awareness.
TikTok’s algorithm, like all other algorithms, does put a lot of focus on likes and engagement, so it’s important to make engaging, compelling content to reach the greatest number of people. However, unlike other algorithms, TikTok’s appears to favor newbies, so now is the time to make an account and get active.
Houlik Family Dentistry
- 14k followers
- Top-viewed video has 1.2 million views
Secret: They treat TikTok like a search engine. Dr. Houlik creates content that’s relevant to dental problems his users might be experiencing.
The videos aren’t overly produced: they’re set in the dental office without a large camera or lights, and you can hear random chatter in the background. This is what people absolutely adore about his account.
Glenda Baker Real Estate
- 846k followers
- Top-viewed video has 10.4 million views
Secret: Her authentic southern charm and humor shines through. Glenda Baker creates content that speaks to other realtors and to potential home buyers.
These videos are pretty high quality, but every single video is her sitting in front of the camera and talking. She’s a storyteller, and storytelling on TikTok is absolutely huge. You want to be able to talk to your audience in the first couple of seconds in your video.
Goodall’s Lawn Care
- 400k followers
- Top-viewed video has 14.3 million views
Secret: His authentic and genuine commitment to outstanding customer service. James Goodall creates content demonstrating his professionalism by recording customer phone calls and posting them on TikTok.
These videos reach potential clients and let them know he can handle any problem that they could possibly encounter when it comes to lawn care. He also educates with tips, which is another great way to reach other audiences, and they can see his business model through TikTok.
TikTok as a Search Engine
Around 40% of users ages 18 to 24 use TikTok as a search engine. This is because they don’t feel they’re getting relevant and authentic search results from major search engines like Google, so they turn to TikTok to find a person who can explain the answers to their questions. A lot of times users will not only answer a question in the video response but will also caption and hashtag their video.
Remember that you can use captions and hashtags like SEO keywords to boost your reach across the For You Page, and keep in mind how your keywords might be relevant to a specific audience. The 18 to 24 year old users are the early adopters, and we can already see through data of new users that the other age groups are following.
TikTok is currently the biggest threat to Google because people are now going to search TikTok when they have questions. This means TikTok has huge potential to be a disruptor, and that’s an aspect you should embrace when you join TikTok. Your brand can leverage TikTok’s disruptor potential to become a bit of a disruptor yourself. Disrupt the status quo. Do something new. Lean into something that is going to continue to be big.
Incorporate TikTok into Your Marketing Strategy
As a brand, or a business, you have a high-level marketing strategy. That just means a strategy to achieve what you’re trying to do with your marketing at a high level. What do you want people to feel about your product or your service or your brand? Your brand strategy is that emotional side. Think about how you want people to feel and then create content that engages them and causes them to have that emotional reaction you want them to have.
Accounts with millions of views on their videos tend to have more followers, but not always—and many of those accounts earned the majority of their followers after having a video go viral. Your follower count will go up as you reach more people, so don’t wait until you have a lot of followers to produce the good content you’re saving for when you’re more established. Produce the good content now, and you’ll become more established as that content is seen.
Generate Unlimited Content Forever
These are the questions to ask yourself when you’re all out of ideas for new content, and you can turn any of them into a series to create infinite content ideas.
- Why would a customer choose you?
- What do people not know about this industry?
- What advice would you offer someone shopping in your industry?
- What have you learned that you’d like to show?
- What motivates you to run or work for your company?
Focus on the emotional side of the answers to these questions. Remember to be authentic, relatable and entertaining, and users will have a better feeling about the relationship they have with your brand or business.
Posting: Frequency and Length
In general, the TikTok algorithm loves people posting on TikTok, and some people believe that the more content you post, the more TikTok favors you. But that can feel really overwhelming if you’re not authentically interested in posting multiple times per day. A safe number is one to two times per week to get started and to maintain. If you feel like posting more later, or you get a lot of questions you want to make responses to, post more.
As far as length, it depends on your content. Keep in mind that people’s attention spans are short, so try to keep it as short as possible while still covering everything you need to. A good range to aim for is 20 to 30 seconds, but it definitely depends on the post.
Using two to three hashtags per post is a good number. TikTok will also show you trending hashtags, which is helpful to see where your content might fit.
What’s the difference between Instagram Reels and TikTok?
The main difference is the audience. If you share a TikTok video on Instagram Reels (or the reverse), you won’t reach the same audience because the two platforms tend to have different audiences. It’s always best to tailor your content to the platform. If you want to share a TikTok video on Instagram, another way to do that would be to share it on Instagram Stories.
The biggest takeaway to remember is that TikTok is a social media community heavily focused on people talking to other people. When you’re marketing your brand on TikTok, you’ll get the best results if you put your people first and your brand second.
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