If you are a savvy digital marketer, you probably already have a TikTok account or have at least heard of the app. If you are scratching your head and wondering what the heck TikTok is, you have come to the right place. TikTok is an app that officially launched in 2016 after it merged with Musical.ly. It features short-form vertical videos set to music and, within the social aspect, encourages engagement by reacting to a video with another video, liking the video by pressing the heart button or commenting on the video.
The up-to-15-second videos are created directly by the user, and then music, stickers and even filters can be added. Before uploading for public or private viewing, there’s room for a description and hashtags as well, which helps showcase the video to a wider audience, especially if the video is about a trending topic. If you have pre-shot a video, TikTok allows you to upload it directly to the app, which permits one-minute uploads.
The videos on TikTok tend to be funny and goofy, with a lot of them lip-synching to music, movies and sound bites or showing off the user’s creativity or athletic skills. And if you can’t do that in 15 seconds, you can string your 15-second segments together to make a one-minute video.
Unlike Snapchat, the videos are not set to disappear. They live on a user’s profile until it is deleted by that user. If public videos seem too invasive to users, profiles can be switched to private. However, for brands, using TikTok to create and compile a series of videos that do not disappear is one of its great advantages over Snapchat.
Brands can create a series of videos that viewers can enjoy as they navigate from video to video on your profile page. And because the videos are usually only 15 seconds, many users watch them again and again. Savvy brands can take advantage of this (and have fun) by telling a story on their profile, with every video leading into another to continue the narrative with no need to worry about disappearing content.
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon has already taken the lead on using TikTok to jump in on hashtag trends, create their own trends and upload segments from recent shows. They keep everything light and funny, which not only aligns with the brand but also with most of the content being uploaded by the platform’s users.
So, how can your brand benefit from TikTok?
1. Get Creative
If your brand is a restaurant, quick video recipes with fun soundtracks will please all the foodies using the app. Are you in the wedding industry? Whether you are a venue or dress retailer, showcase wedding hacks, like adding veil weights if you’re getting married in an outdoor ceremony.
Have a bit of fun with TikTok and get your more outgoing employees to lip-sync and dance to a song as they restock shelves or sweep the floor. Maybe even poke a little bit of fun at yourself by grabbing your office-mates and recreating and lip-syncing scenes from the cult movie Office Space.
2. Hop On Hashtag Trends
In addition to creating new and innovative videos, brands can also jump on trending hashtags, or “hashtag challenges,” and create videos that will help them become part of the TikTok community. A hashtag challenge is when a user creates a unique hashtag, records a video or adds a song, filters or stickers and then publicly posts it, encouraging other TikTok users to create a video using that same hashtag.
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon did just that with the “Sharpie Challenge” (#sharpiechallenge). Fallon encouraged users to flip a Sharpie, grab it while in midair, uncap it and immediately draw a mustache above their upper lip. It sounds silly, but the hashtag challenge had almost 12 million views at the time of writing of this article. The Sharpie Challenge video from Fallon is less than 15 seconds, but it was a great way to spread brand awareness and opened the show up to an entirely new generation of viewers. Simple and smart.
Become a part of the TikTok community. Like other videos, comment on them and maybe even create video responses to some of them. TikTok is fun, so brands should consider this a great opportunity to reach out to emerging consumers and enjoy the camaraderie, without the hard sell.
While the market for TikTok is mainly younger, this isn’t an app that digital marketers should ignore. Remember when Instagram and Snapchat were only being used by teens? Getting to know the app now, even if your brand’s target audience isn’t under 18 years of age, will help businesses easily transition into using the platform for emerging age groups.