Note: This post is based on a webinar hosted by Jay Baer with our friends from Visit California and ICUC Social. You can watch it on-demand, too.
Perhaps you’ve been waiting for TikTok to fade out and run its course as the next “it” app. You expected it to go the way of Vine, Meerkat, and its predecessor, Musical.ly. Being cautious of “the next big thing” is understandable for social media marketers who likely are already tapped with content strategies for Facebook Lives, tweet threads, Stories, and Snaps–but you may want to join TikTok now since isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Here’s why:
TikTok is Now the Most Downloaded App
Since its launch in 2018, TikTok has consistently ranked one of the most downloaded apps worldwide. In 2020, TikTok finally surpassed Facebook as the most downloaded app worldwide and in the United States. While it has a reputation for being a “Gen Z” space, now 53% of TikTok users in America are 30 years or older, which is similar to how Twitter’s users align.
It’s not just the popularity of the app that is noteworthy. TikTok users spend more time on the platform each month than Facebook users do on Facebook. For TikTok’s users, the app is a primary source of both information and entertainment. It’s just as sticky, if not more sticky than Facebook is today. That’s quite remarkable.
Why Users Are Choosing to Join TikTok
TikTok bridges the gap between a social network and a television network. Serving up very short video clips in an endless stream, TikTok became a more social version of video streaming replacing other sources of entertainment including TV time.
Users are actively engaging with videos they see on feeds and the For You Page (FYP), a whopping 92% of users say they take action after watching videos on TikTok. Impressively, a quarter of users buy or research products immediately after seeing TikTok videos–and that immediacy is something new for marketers who are used to the challenge of assigning attribution for social content.
TikTok users find ads on the platform are more attention-grabbing than other social networks and are more likely to engage or follow up as a result.
What Makes TikTok Different?
We can refer to TikTok as a social media kaleidoscope.
While it looks, feels, and acts as a social network, the user experience is meaningfully different from other social channels. The differences are what set TikTok apart, but those differences also pose challenges to social media content creators and brand marketers who must grasp an entirely different way to create and produce video content.
Brand accounts are permitted on TikTok but they work differently than an individual user. The content that is made and published for TikTok was entirely different when it originated than creating for other social networks (until Instagram copied it with Reels). Engaging with fans happens, but differently. Measuring and tracking success on TikTok also looks different, too.
One of the biggest differences marketers must be aware of is reach. TikTok is based on an algorithm, but the TikTok algorithm itself is programmed differently than creators are traditionally used to. Content is democratized in a way that Facebook, Twitter, and other channels have never created an opportunity for. On TikTok, this primarily happens on the FYP.
For creators, there is a real possibility for hyper-acceleration thanks to the algorithm and how it allows for viral impressions. Many TikTok users have a similar story of going from a few to thousands of followers literally overnight or with one video. There are many niche communities that brands and creators can tap into to begin growing their presence.
How to Get Started on TikTok
Before you decide to join TikTok, your team should answer these 8 questions:
1. Should your brand even be on TikTok?
Increasingly the answer is “yes” if you are looking for audiences that are A) more globally driven, B) not just Gen-Z, and C) resources for content creation and testing are available.
2. How will you measure TikTok success?
TikTok views are auto-played and align to a more standard video impression. Other key metrics on the TikTok dashboard include retention, engagement, and followers. Pro tip: the desktop dashboard is far richer than on the mobile app.
3. How much time and effort can you devote to TikTok management?
Consider what time you must spend to create, publish and engage vertical video. Consistency is key for TikTok success, and that can be a heavy lift for marketers. This chart shows four levels of content that Visit California has planned to include on their channel, ranked across a time commitment spectrum.
4. What should your content strategy be on TikTok?
Boil it down to this — very cool video visualizations paired with strong audio choices. Because TikTok is such a unique channel, it absolutely requires dedicated content. Repurposing Reels or other videos isn’t going to play for TikTok audiences. A robust content plan must include branded hashtags, branded effects, leveraging creators, experimentation, and testing.
5. How often should you post on TikTok?
For creators, posting one to three times a day on TikTok isn’t just normal, it is expected. That lift is probably out of range for most brands getting started. It’s okay to ramp up from a few times a week to daily, but be sure to test how consistent posting affects success metrics.
6. What should your community engagement approach be on TikTok?
No matter how often you are posting, daily engagement is key for staying current with trends and taking advantage of what’s hot–including hashtag challenges, branded effects, and viral music sounds. It’s best to have someone logging in every day to stay current with what’s happening.
7. Should you use paid TikTok ads?
The first video that pops when the app opens is always a sponsored video called the top view. Sponsored ads also appear through the newsfeed. Branded hashtags and branded effects are other ways brands can increase reach and engagement. Our recommendation is to get good and consistent at organic before boosting videos or layering in branded content.
8. How often should you revisit your TikTok strategy?
Stay close to the strategy as a brand channel launches and content ramps up. Know that the channel is also evolving as quickly as the communities and creators themselves. Sticking to a quarterly review is a good cadence to look at content pillars, micro-influencers, hashtags, and content choices.
Ready to Join TikTok?
No matter when you join TikTok and implement your branded TikTok strategy, give room to experiment and try new things. While this social network isn’t brand new anymore, it certainly is new and different to most social media marketers and creators. While that can be nerve-wracking, it’s also quite exciting.