I stumbled upon a meme the other day of the Golden Girls gathered around their kitchen table, looks of consternation on their aging faces. What had caused so much confusion among these gray-haired gals?
My brain registers the meme text.
“Me and my 30-year-old friends trying to figure out TikTok.”
(I’m 33, by the way.)
Then, just days later, during a BigWing outing to Roxy’s ice cream shop, my fresh-out-of-college teammate posts this on social.
The nerve of Gen-Zers. If you haven’t gotten the hint yet, the world is telling us TikTok is solely for the youths. That anyone over 26 might have a tough go of it. That this is where trends are taking off and if you have children of your own, or a mortgage, or so much as a single laugh line on your face, this app might not be for you. And if you’re a marketer looking to use TikTok to promote a brand, woah, buddy, buckle up because it’s about to be a bumpy ride.
But, here’s the truth: It’s all a ruse. Plenty of brands with audiences of all ages, and social media marketers over the age of 22, are thriving on TikTok. Sure, nearly 26% of TikTok users are between 18 and 24 years old, but get this: Close behind are my fellow millennials ages 25-34 who make up almost 25% of TikTok users. And really not far behind that are those 35-44 making up 20% of total users.
Did you follow? That’s 70% of TikTok users under the age of 44. So we’re looking at Gen-Zers, millennials, and some Gen-Xers: people who have children, people who make decisions for their families on what they eat, where they shop, where they travel. It’s actually a diverse audience when you dive into it.
Despite the world telling us to pack it up and stick to Facebook and Instagram, the numbers say otherwise. Our social experts at BigWing see TikTok as having staying power and being a top tool for digital marketers as the app continues to gain popularity. That’s why I sat down with a few Oklahoma City social media stars (including some of our own) to figure out how, if you’re going to launch a TikTok account and expect results, to do it right.
Below are 10 tips to get you started on our favorite social platform of 2020.
1. Do Your TikTok Pre-Launch Research
I met up with marketers from the Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau as they were in the midst of strategizing a yet-to-launch TikTok account. Over lattes at Stella Nova, they warned other marketers not to jump the gun before they’re ready. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of a new platform and launch an account and start posting immediately, but you need a game plan going in, said Sydney Callis, the CVB’s social media manager.
Consider these points:
- Who is on your team and who will have a say in the look, feel, and purpose of your TikTok account?
- Speaking of look and feel, have you considered whether your account will share slick, commercial-quality videos or more off-the-cuff stuff that isn’t so polished? What are the benefits to your brand for doing either? (More on this in Tip No. 8.)
- Consider your audience: Is your target market on the platform? For the CVB, they know children and young adults can sway traveling decisions within a family, so TikTok could be a great engagement tool for their younger audience.
- What day is best to launch? Will you plan around a popular hashtag or event your audience cares about?
- Consider how you’ll measure success. With no “swipe up” feature or ability to share links, you won’t be sending your audience to any landing pages or blog posts. It’s pure engagement and, ultimately, brand awareness.
“Part of that conversation around research should be understanding your audience,” said Tabbi Burwell, senior manager of destination communications at the OKC CVB. “The CVB is obviously not going to highlight nightlife on TikTok — that’s not the right audience. And the American Banjo Museum might not be appealing to teens. It’s about finding the right content for the younger audience and being mindful of what you put out there.”
2. Get on TikTok While the Gettin’s Good
It’s the Wild West out here on #TikTok.
👾 This video only reached 113 people on Instagram with 878 followers.
👾 Same video reached 1538 on TikTok with 0 followers.
— Emily Tackett (@emilytackettt) November 26, 2019
We learned from our OKC CVB pals that we shouldn’t jump onto a new social platform without a strategy. But, there’s some merit to gettin’ in while the gettin’s good. Enter social media stunner Emily Tackett. As a digital marketing manager, Tackett’s job is to showcase Oklahoma City Community College’s best and brightest and relay to prospective students how inviting and valuable the campus and its educational resources are.
Considering TikTok isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, Tackett’s goal is to beef up O-Trip’s TikTok presence and capitalize on the app’s early adopters while other local colleges are still dragging their feet.
“The main impetus was we could be the only ones creating content like this in this space — for now — knowing that other people will eventually join. But by that time we’ll have built up our account and our platform so that when we want to start running ads on it, we have that organic backbone like we do on Facebook and Instagram.”
3. Repurpose Your TikTok Content
When you get back from Thanksgiving break. 🎄 pic.twitter.com/ingE77vU7m
— Oklahoma City Community College (@OTripleC) December 2, 2019
We’re all trying to work smarter, not harder. That’s the approach you should take when creating content on TikTok, according to Tackett.
“Right now it’s really impressive to get really huge TikTok impressions without having that big of a following, but I’m definitely still trying to find ways to funnel that attention to the right channels,” she said. “The best way to do that is to post our TikToks and share those videos on our Instagram and Twitter — audiences that have already opted into our content.”
Video rules across the board on social media platforms. So, if you’re shooting videos for your TikTok account, why not repurpose for your other platforms? That might mean you either share the actual video you posted on TikTok onto your other channels, or you reconfigure the video you shot for TikTok into some other, similar use — maybe a few-second clip for Twitter or a longer video for Facebook. You put in the work, so get some mileage out of it.
“A lot of TikTok videos I make, I repost on our Instagram Stories and our Twitter and they do really well,” Tackett said. “And I saw a lot of our Twitter followers retweet TikTok videos. So it was like, ‘Dang, this is a good way to get really good organic reach.’”
4. Don’t Forget About TikTok Influencers
Back to the OKC CVB, Burwell likes how TikTok uses influencers to promote its own app, and other brands can take a page from TikTok’s book there. There’s no reason why, if you have a strong influencer marketing program for your brand that centers on Instagram or blog content, you couldn’t adopt that for TikTok as well.
With influencer marketing, you’re essentially paying someone with a large social following to tout your product or service to their own audience — an audience that trusts that influencer and puts more weight on their product and service recommendations like they would a trusted friend or family member.
“From a PR and hosted media standpoint, I’m looking at how I can utilize their platform to highlight Oklahoma City,” Burwell said. “We do require them to post on their social media outlets, let’s say, 10 times a day — that’s Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, whatever. I’m going to start looking at how I can utilize their TikTok account while they’re in Oklahoma City.”
Visit OKC is a master of influencer marketing, by the way, so keep your eye on their social accounts, especially those gorgeous #SeeOKC pics on Instagram, to see how it’s done.
5. Devise a Hashtag Strategy to Find Your TikTok Audience
Unless you’re launching paid ads on TikTok, getting your content in front of the right people can be a little tricky. That’s where hashtags come in. Consider your audience, your location, and the type of content you’re posting to nail down hashtags that make sense for you.
Posting something Oklahoma-specific? Hashtag #OklahomaCheck. Actually, just slap “Check” onto nearly anything to get it in front of a relevant audience. It indicates the content is about a specific location or an identity marker. #SororityCheck, #RichBoyCheck, #SomethingTraumaticHappenedToMeAndChangedMyLifeForeverCheck — you get the idea.
Posting something wholesome? #Wholesome should do the trick. In fact, Tackett relies heavily on that one to show her audience that O-Trip posts the kind of stuff that gives you the warm ‘n’ fuzzies.
“We’re not going to come on TikTok and be edgy and cool — we’re just going to be sweet. We have sweet students who are working really hard to achieve their dreams and #Wholesome was just dogs and wholesome grandpas talking about how proud they are of their kids. It’s just a really sweet space in TikTok. If people are following the wholesome tag, they will like this community college content.”
Sprinkle in some viral hashtags too. For starters, you can mine the “For You” page of TikTok — these posts are hashtagged #FYP (“For You” page) and are a great indicator of the kind of content that sky-rockets to viral status.
6. Use UGC to Engage Your TikTok Audience and Save Time
When it comes to TikTok idols, Callis says she looks to @visitlondon and @visitncsmokies for inspiration. Visit London shares user-generated content in many of its videos versus creating content in-house.
“That’s a great way to keep your feed fresh without having to do as much work,” she said.
Not to mention you’ll bolster your brand through already-high-performing content. The above TikTok video came from user @queenmommy123 (183.4K followers) and got 2.1M likes. She hashtagged #London and #FYP, making it an easy catch for @visitlondon social media managers. When Visit London (4K followers) shared it, it got 15.6K likes, when an average post might see between 20 and 70 likes. That, my friends, is the magic of UGC.
UGC also makes for a more authentic feed, possibly leading to more trust among your audience, Burwell said.
“People love to see themselves,” she said. “When you do more user-generated content, (and that’s basically our IG strategy), it feels more authentic. Like, here’s a picture of someone actually doing something versus a staged photo of someone doing it where I don’t care about the person at all — but maybe I can relate to this person in the UGC.”
7. Pose a Challenge to Your TikTok Audience
— Fallon Tonight (@FallonTonight) November 14, 2018
TikTok users are ready for that next hilarious audio clip or hot song to dub or lip-sync to. Their eyes are peeled for the next #TumbleweedChallenge. Hit them with a challenge that’s interesting to film, something they can put their own spin on, something that gets them to act a little silly, then see what they’re capable of, Tackett suggests. That is, after all, why they’re on the platform.
“How do you find the thing that’s going to click with people and get them excited and make them want to participate? It’s a lot easier on TikTok,” she said. “Everyone on TikTok is looking for a formula to emulate. They’re like, ‘I want to create content, but I don’t know how. Somebody give me the Tumbleweed Challenge and it makes sense for me to somersault into something, but I wouldn’t think of that myself.’”
In 2019, you might have seen the Tumbleweed Challenge, or the Haribo Challenge (arranging hundreds of gummy bears as a crowd while Adele’s “Someone Like You” plays in the background), or even the Fake Travel Challenge (posting a pic or video of an aerial view through the hole of an everyday object — like viewing clouds on wallpaper through the hole of a laundry detergent bottle so it looks like a plane window).
We don’t know where people’s creativity will take them in 2020, but we do know this: As long as there are challenges to iterate on, TikTok users will rise to the occasion.
8. Don’t Overthink or Over-Produce Your TikTok Ads
Imagine you’re scrolling through TikTok watching your friends dub their favorite videos of the moment. They’re in their bathrooms, bedrooms, living rooms, in their most comfy pair of sweats or everyday wear. Things look … well, they look normal.
Then a slick ad pops up touting a makeup brand or new restaurant or financial service. Cue flashy lights and high-end graphics and animation. It’s clearly an ad. Will your audience be turned off and bounce, or will they tune in? That’s something to consider, said Zach Stabler, manager of social media at BigWing.
“Your TikTok ad shouldn’t be this $10,000 production for a photoshoot or for a video,” Stabler said. “Your ad should be seamless in the feed, since everybody else on TikTok is filming videos with their cellphones. The advertising should adapt and cater to that.”
And here’s a little devil’s advocate action for you:
“But there could be an argument that a more flashy, more produced video does stand out in a feed,” he added. “Just consider it might be immediately apparent to users that this is an ad and TikTok users might say, ‘I’m not interested in being advertised to.’”
Solution? Consider being nimble with your ad strategy until you figure out what your audience is receptive to.
9. Showcase Faces in Your TikTok Videos
You’ll notice one thing about the @visitncsmokies TikTok account, other than the gorgeous views. The fact is, it’s *all* gorgeous views. Their strategy thus far has been to showcase the bread and butter of the Smoky Mountains, but BigWing’s inbound marketing specialist Morgan Davis says that might not be the wisest move.
“Faces help,” she said. “Having one or two people who at least show their face every 10 videos really helps the audience connect. Without faces, it’s just locations and things. There’s no one really to connect with. Showing faces humanizes the brand. It shouldn’t happen all the time, but it should be sprinkled in to let you know there’s someone behind the account.”
“When I look at the content and I don’t see anyone, it’s too similar. It’s just these pretty mountains and fog.”
Who’s doing it right? Davis points to the @chiefs content, which is full of faces and every so often features Matt the intern, who we suspect is the Chief’s TikTok creator.
10. Experiment with Your Own TikTok Lenses and Filters
@mountaindew has yet to create organic TikTok posts, but uses the platform solely through social advertising and influencer marketing to reach its audience. Mountain Dew knows its caffeine-fueled audience is amped up to participate in TikTok dance challenges (you have to burn off all that Code Red energy somehow, right?), and that’s why the soda company has created its own lenses and filters that follow their content from sharer to sharer.
“You can put your logo on a lens so then all the people who are exposed to your video immediately know it’s your brand’s and it follows along throughout the entire challenge,” Davis said. “There’s no risk of losing it like you could lose a hashtag. It’s always there.”
Check out the video above and notice the Mountain Dew logo, the green overlay of the video, and how the dancer splits in two. That’s the work of the lens.
Creating these might take a little technical know-how, or the help of your design team, but think of the payoff. Your shareable content won’t lose its branding as it makes its way through the far reaches of TikTok.
Now that you’re armed with our top 10 TikTop tips, do you feel ready to take on TikTok for your company or a brand you manage? When you get your TikTok account set up, connect with us at @bigwingagency!