With one billion active users and having surpassed two billion downloads on the Apple App Store and Google Play, TikTok has cemented itself as one of the highest-value social media platforms on the market.
And with Generation Z being the largest user base on the app, if you have a product that appeals to the 25 and under age group, a TikTok video marketing strategy has become an absolute necessity.
What Is TikTok?
Originally called Music.ly, TikTok was sold by its original founders, rebranded, and relaunched as TikTok in 2017. TikTok retained the initial concept of the app—consisting of only user-generated videos—but created a more powerful user experience.
TikTok contains easy-to-use in-app video editing tools so that users can customize their videos with captions, filters, special effects, and a massive library of music clips. As TikTok integrates with other social media platforms, content created on the app is easy to share across a user’s entire social media audience.
Recently, the platform increased its video time limit from 60 seconds to three minutes, meaning that even more video content is being produced for TikTok.
What’s the Business Appeal?
The TikTok algorithm uses AI to recommend videos on the user’s “for you” page based on previously viewed videos, making it easier for users to discover new content and video creators to go viral.
That means that by using TikTok to its full advantage, paying attention to current trends, and producing high-quality content, your business has the potential to reach millions and millions of people…all with a 15-90 second video clip.
With the sudden and explosive growth of the platform, businesses and entrepreneurs are jumping on the bandwagon and seeing success. That means your competition is likely doing it, too.
Create a TikTok Marketing Campaign
The younger generations—Millennials, Gen Z, and younger—are increasingly unimpressed with traditional marketing campaigns and are drawn more towards authenticity and the human side of a brand. Combine that with the explosive popularity of internet video overall and a shorter attention span than ever, and TikTok is the perfect social media platform to build the know, like, and trust factor with a younger market.
By combining entertainment, staying true to your core values, and on top of current trends, you’ll attract a spend-ready audience that’s looking for brands they can truly connect with.
Video Strategy that Spans Beyond Gen Z
As with any marketing strategy, your biggest efforts should be focused where you will be most visible to your audience. While TikTok’s biggest demographic is the 16-24 range, 2020 shifted the app’s user base considerably, with one even stating that 20-39-year-olds now account for more than 40% of the app’s users.
That means that if your business caters to demographics beyond Gen Z, using the app is still exceptionally beneficial. As TikTok’s user base diversifies, it’s important to establish a presence so that you’re getting as much exposure as possible, and as early in the game as possible.
Let’s look at how you can leverage TikTok for your business in a natural, authentic way, “no cap.” (And if you don’t know what that means, do a bit more research on Gen Z before you even consider launching your TikTok campaigns.)
Step 1: Get Familiar with the Platform
Sure, you could jump onto the platform and just start posting videos with trending audio, but if you want to see real results, you’ll need to become comfortable with the tools, what they do, and how to use them for the best results.
TikTok is a far cry from LinkedIn, Facebook, or even Instagram, so if you’re brand new to the platform, expect a bit of a learning curve.
TikTok: The Basic Features
Before you dive headfirst into TikTok, get to know the basic features that make it such a success among Gen Z social media users.
While you don’t need a TikTok profile to view public videos, you do need an account if you want to post, like any other social media platform.
A personal profile includes a bio, photo, name, username, and the option to integrate your YouTube and Instagram accounts, and even a non-profit.
Business profiles have these same features, but with the option of adding an email address and website.
Only personal profiles can be set to “private,” meaning only the people you approve to follow you can access your content. If you have a business profile and select a private profile, you will lose all of your business account features.
The in-app camera features allow you to record real-time video to upload to the platform, or you can opt to upload a video from your camera roll. You also have the option to use multiple photos to transform into a video, giving you even more creative opportunities on the app.
Imagine someone telling you ten years ago that in 2021, everyone would be able to create and edit their own videos…from a device in the palm of their hand!
TikTok has made what once was a futuristic fantasy into an everyday life reality. With a snipping tool, video speed tool, captions, voice-over tool, filters, and visual effects, and the option to add “sounds” to your video, users can create and produce their own entertaining, good quality videos.
Of course, while personal videos do very well on the platform, if you’re a business owner, professionally produced videos are going to make your brand stand out far better and look more professional.
TikTok allows users to cross-post videos created in the app on Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat. This comes with the caveat that the video contains TikTok’s watermark.
Likes, Comments, and Shares
Like their social media counterparts, TikTok allows users to interact with content with like, sharing, and commenting options.
Music & Sounds
Perhaps one of the biggest appeals of the platform is TikTok’s extensive library of sounds users can apply to their videos. In fact, this is how many artists see their songs go viral, even if the songs aren’t new (remember hearing Fleetwood Mac EVERYWHERE last summer?).
On a business account, however, you are only allowed to access a library with songs that have been approved for commercial use.
The “Duet” feature allows users to record a split-screen video in which the original video is on one side and the user’s video is on the other side. This gives people the opportunity to collaborate with their friends, followers, influencers, and even celebrities and brands.
Your business could use the “duet” feature to encourage their customers to record themselves enjoying their products, or even to create a “challenge” that ties into their business.
Similar to Duets, the Stitch feature allows users to collaborate with other TikTokkers by using a piece of another video at the start of theirs. This is another fantastic way for brands to generate interest in their products. You could encourage your customers to “stitch” your videos with them using your products.
TikTok isn’t just asynchronous interaction. The “live” feature allows users to livestream themselves and interact with their audience in real time.
Your business could use this feature to do a product reveal or create live, behind-the-scenes content.
Like Stitch and Duets, the “React” feature is another way that TikTok encourages users to socialize with one another in the app. The react feature allows users to record themselves while watching a video.
This feature can be great for businesses who want users to “blind react” to a product unveil or before and after video.
TikTok has a hashtag feature much like other social media channels, giving users the chance to help categorize their content and reach audiences searching those hashtags.
You don’t have to rely only on likes, comments, and shares to gauge how well your content is performing. TikTok has an analytics dashboard for a more in-depth look.
Step #2: Explore Content
Now that you’ve gotten the basics down, let’s dive in. Once you set up your account, you can start scrolling through the app and getting a feel for “TikTok Culture.”
Get to Know Your Feed
For You Page (#FYP): When you first download the app, your “for your page” will have trending content posted by top creators. As you use the app and view more videos, your “for you page” will be dictated by AI and TikTok will show you videos of content tailored specifically for you..
Following Page: Your “following” page will have content with only the people that you’re following. Follow accounts that are relevant to your business or your target audience and you’ll see more videos that apply to you. This, of course, plays directly into the AI that creates your “for you” page.
Eye the Competition
Although TikTok for business use is still relatively new, take a look at how businesses in your industry are utilizing the platform. What kind of content are they producing? What kind of hashtags are they using? Can you pick out their content strategy?
Take Note of Personal Accounts
Businesses aren’t the only account you’ll want to study. Look at personal accounts. Compare the strategies of popular personal accounts (and even influencers) with that of businesses. Chances are you’ll find many similarities.
Because on TikTok, it’s most often individual users that create trends, and the businesses that follow make their brand more relatable (and more discoverable on the feed!).
Step #3:Create Your Content Plan
It’s time to dive into the content itself.
Try Your Hand at Different Content Types
Once you’ve taken note of what works, try to create content of different types. Get familiar with the editing tools, try the Stitch, Duet, and Reaction features, and see what earns you the most engagement.
Mix Business and Pleasure
TikTok is all about entertainment value. Keep an eye out for trending content and partake, putting your brand’s spin on it.
But remember, don’t always go for a ‘sell, sell, sell’ message. TikTokkers (and especially Gen Z) will be completely turned off by this and you won’t build real connections with your audience.
The real secret to “making it” on TikTok is consistency. Make a plan. What kind of content do you want to post? How often will you post content? Be realistic but stick with your plan.
Show the Human Element of Your Brand
Gen Z buys from brands they feel they can connect with. Go behind the scenes. Show what your company really does day-to-day. Introduce members of your team. Don’t be afraid to show the inner workings of your business.
Connecting With Gen Z
TikTok is an extremely fast-growing platform that gives businesses an opportunity to create content that really showcases the uniqueness of their brand. And as the saying goes, meet your customers where they are.
And if your customers are Gen Z, they’re on TikTok.