In November 2019, data from app analytics provider Sensor Tower showed that short-form video app TikTok had surpassed 1.5 billion downloads.
According to the data, TikTok was the third most-downloaded app of the year, beating out both Facebook and Instagram (in fourth and fifth places, respectively).
Typically, the significant rise of a new social media app opens the floor for online debate - should users create a personal or professional account with the platform or skip it?
TikTok's current audience is dominated by younger users, and depending on a brand's target market, this may either turn businesses on or off in creating accounts. However, most major social media apps were initially written off as passing fads, and are now embraced and utilized on a daily basis by large organizations.
It could be worth getting in on the ground floor, before it gets too crowded.
“Being early to the [TikTok] game has a lot of benefits,” Nikola Medvedec, Marketing Manager at mobile marketing agency Udonis, says. “It helps businesses stand out from the competition and expand their reach.”
Are you thinking about ways in which you can reach a larger audience and building more creative video content? If you are, then it could be the perfect time to jump onto the TikTok bandwagon.
If you are looking in that direction, here are some simple tips on how to grow your TikTok following from day one.
1. Be yourself, and have fun with the platform’s trends
The first thing you’ll notice about TikTok is that it’s a little like being back in high school, or college, all over again.
The space is full of highly creative content, and as noted, younger users generating this content. They’re true to the image they have cultivated for themselves, and love to hop on the trends, but they also don’t take the platform too seriously.
TikTok is all about having fun, and any organization that approaches the app with inauthentic video messaging or content will struggle to build a loyal following.
Victoria Thompson, a social media manager at Haystack Digital, advises that brands should "be true to yourself" in order to fit into the TikTok scene.
“It’s better to make a lighthearted video that shows off your business and what you have to offer than trying to create the next viral meme,” Thompson says.
Thompson says businesses should research other, similar brands on the platform to come up with a marketing plan and social strategy - however, they should also be mindful not to stray too far from their brand’s core messaging.
Your TikTok videos should be unique, engaging for fans, and contribute to your broader branding goals.
2. Punch up your videos
Can you get away with reposting old video content that your company has previously uploaded on other platforms like YouTube? Probably - but it’s ultimately in your best interest not to do so.
Medvedec, who regularly sets up TikTok ad campaigns and optimizes and monitors their performance, says that TikTok videos need to go above and beyond to be interesting and engage audiences.
Essentially, you’ll need to "punch up" every TikTok video before it goes live. Here are a few tips to creating stand-out video content.
- TikTok videos may extend up to a minute in length, but ideally it’s best to create videos that are 15 seconds long
- Get straight to the point - time is of the essence
- Be as humorous, candid, and informal as possible. Medvedec notes that these types of videos tend to perform best
- Add music for even more engagement and brand visibility
- Use relevant hashtags for increased exposure - You can find trending hashtags through TikTok’s Discover page
3. Start a trial run of TikTok now to better understand the app
Alex Zaccaria, the Co-Founder of Linktree, says that while TikTok is seeing a significant surge in downloads, most brands are still testing the platform out.
Now may be the ideal time to conduct a TikTok trial run for your business. Zaccaria says that brands can use the app to explore, experiment with video content styles, and better understand its basic functions, while users work to define the channel’s best practices.
“Now is the time for businesses to get in early, test, and learn from approaches before kickstarting broad campaigns,” Zaccaria says.
Additionally, Zaccaria advises brands not to overextend their efforts on social media. TikTok may provide access to another audience, but if that audience is not your target market, you may want to refocus your efforts onto different video platforms like YouTube. Even Instagram can be a big winner for targeting younger audiences.
“It's so important for small businesses to be on the right social media platforms that reach their target audiences,” Zaccaria says. “Social media is one of the best native advertising channels small business leaders can use to find their audiences. Those who create the most authentic content - regardless of platform - typically reap the most rewards.”
It's still too early to tell whether TikTok will have real staying power, and will challenge the existing social media giants, but the early signs suggest that it has the potential to catch on, and become a larger consideration for social media marketing. And now may be the time to start testing. Those who jump on early can get an advantage, both in terms of developing platform understanding and utilizing key features.
It won't be for everyone, but it may be worth a look.