For some businesses, starting up on TikTok feels like crossing over to the dark side. Reasons for apprehension vary, but TikTok seems a disproportionately daunting prospect for many marketers.
Of course, it could have something to do with the platform’s biblical 1.1 billion active user-base. Or the fact that it appeals primarily to younger demographics with (very) short attention spans.
Truth is, getting ahead on TikTok isn’t easy. Even getting started in the first place can be a challenge, when you’re up against such ferocious competition.
But at the same time, TikTok holds the kind of marketing potential that goes beyond most other social networks. Not only does it have 1.1 billion active users – it also boasts an average daily view time of more than 50 minutes.
That’s a lot of people spending a lot of time on TikTok, and being heavily influenced by what they see.
As a result, TikTok has become a hotbed of influencers, celebrities, broadcasters and brands from all backgrounds. Nail it on TikTok and you’re guaranteed an unstoppable ROI.
Starting Out as a TikTok First-Timer
Getting to grips with the basics need not be any more difficult than with any other social network. You need to know your audience, understand what’s engaging them and find a way to give it to them.
Easier said than done, but at least slightly simpler with a handful of pro tips.
Aimed primarily at outright TikTok newcomers, here’s how to negotiate the initial learning curve and kickstart an effective marketing strategy:
1. Be Authentic At All Times
Right off the bat, the very worst thing you can do is to attempt to be something you’re not. Attempt to fake it to get by on TikTok is a recipe for disaster. Today’s younger audiences in particular can sniff out a charlatan from a mile away, and take no prisoners when they do.
Much as the whole ‘be authentic’ thing has become cliché, it’s as fundamental as it has ever been. Don’t push things out of your comfort zone and make the mistake of putting on a false persona. Be creative, keep it as personal as possible and show them what you do best.
Join the community, become a part of the audience you’re looking to attract and stay true to your brand. Contrary to popular belief, launching a TikTok strategy doesn’t mean having to radically transform everything that makes you you.
2. Create and Publish Content of Value
Entertaining and amusing content is in no short supply on TikTok. It’s the ultimate instant gratification platform, where people head for short bursts of entertainment. Hence, attempting to compete with this type of TikTok output could make things tricky.
A far better approach is to create and publish content of genuine value. Think about the kind of content that serves a purpose, which goes beyond basic entertainment. Educational content, instructional videos, tutorials, informative ‘behind the scenes’ content and so on – all great places to start.
Plus, TikTok itself actively promotes and recommends this kind of useful content. Share stories about your experiences, show people what goes on at your business and focus on the value of the content you publish.
3. Embrace User-Generated Content
Social proof has immense power and influence on platforms like TikTok. One of the best ways of making social proof work for your business is to embrace user-generated content. This can be particularly useful for brands that aren’t particularly accomplished creators or publishers.
With user-generated content, you can largely have your audience do most of the work on your behalf. Simply ask as many people as possible to share images and videos of themselves using your products and services. Ask them to write testimonials, share their thoughts and generally spread the word about whatever it is you do.
On platforms like TikTok, people rarely need a great deal of encouragement to make their voice heard and broadcast their opinions to the world. Not only is UGC great for passing the torch to the community, it also drives way better engagement than brand-generated content. Plus, it’s 100% free of charge as an added bonus.
4. Use Relevant Hashtags
Trending hashtags hold the key to TikTok videos that get found and generate engagement. But at the same time, you need to ensure that they are relevant to your content. One of the worst things you can do is to use completely irrelevant hashtags to trick people into checking you out. If anything, it will have the opposite of the desired effect.
Getting on the bandwagon with trending hashtags means adjusting your content accordingly, in order to ensure its relevance. Though this can also be a tricky move to pull off, as it could mean straying from topics of relevance to your business.
Still, there’s nothing wrong with checking out what’s trending at the time and seeing if you can get on board with it. In fact, it’s something you should be doing on a regular basis.
5. Share Original Content
Sharing other people’s content you think your audience will be interested in is fine. It’s actually important, as it’s your job to bring them anything and everything they may respond positively to. But at the same time, the fact that it’s already been published elsewhere means it could be yesterday’s news.
Original content is always the most engaging and effective content on TikTok. Feel free to be controversial, poignant, serious, meaningful, sarcastic or as funny as you dare to be – just as long as you are original. Bear in mind that you can typically get away with a lot more on TikTok than would be possible elsewhere.
With hundreds of millions of videos being shared each week, originality is always appealing. Of the more creative and innovative you get with the type of content you publish, the better.
6. Start Things Off With a Bang
Don’t let the whole instant gratification aspect of TikTok slip your mind for a second. Unless you give them a reason to stick around within the first couple of seconds, they’ll swipe away. Cryptic introductions, slow build-ups, teasers and so on – they’ve really no place in this type of content.
You need to get the main point of value communicated to the viewer fast – pretty much instantaneously. There’s no shortage of alternative content available, if they’re not immediately satisfied with yours.
Whatever point you’re planning to make, make it fast and start things off with a bang.
7. Always Comment on Your Videos
Comments are a powerful form of social proof in their own right. They boost engagement, they generate discussion, and they work wonders for credibility. Hence, it simply makes sense to start the conversation yourself.
Each time you publish a video, post follow-up information (or simply your own musings) in the comments section below. Ask questions, invite others to share their thoughts and generally get the conversation going.
Along with generating discussion, it shows people you’re generally interested in what they have to say. Essential for engaging audiences on TikTok, where community forms the core of the experience.
8. Keep Your Videos Short
Along with getting straight to the point, it’s also advisable to keep your videos as short as possible. For one thing, short TikTok videos are far more likely to be watched all the way through than longer clips. They’re also more likely to be watched multiple times by the same user.
But what’s even more important is how shorter TikTok videos are far more sharable in nature. They have a way more viral potential than videos and are also more likely to be showcased by TikTok.
30 seconds is great, but 15 seconds is (statistically speaking) even better. There’s even evidence to suggest videos of 7 to 10 seconds perform best of all, but doesn’t give you much room for manoeuvre.
It’s not to say that longer videos should be avoided entirely, but shorter videos are the preferred format for most users.
9. Cross Promote on Other Platforms
Chances are, you’re already active on several other social networks. If so, you have the perfect platform to promote and showcase your TikTok content.
Each time you publish something on TikTok, share it and recommend it across all of your other social channels.
Ideally, you should be looking to build one unified social presence that combines all your profiles and pages. Far more effective than a fragmented campaign that separates your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok efforts.
10. Post Regularly
Last up, TikTok calls for a somewhat more liberal posting schedule than would be recommended elsewhere. Three to five posts per week on Instagram is fine, but TikTok users expect a much more regular stream of content.
This ties in with the shorter videos – it’s a case of giving your audience ‘bursts’ of quality content on a regular basis. The benefit of publishing little but often lies in the opportunity to experiment with a whole bunch of different types of content.
Keep a close eye on your analytics, see what goes down best with your viewers and adapt your publishing strategy accordingly.