Since the start of the year, social media news has been dominated by coverage of TikTok. Formerly known as Musical.ly, TikTok rebranded after an acquisition in 2017, and their methodology of reaching out to consumers has made them one of the fastest growing social media platforms to date. The popularity of the app comes from how short the videos that users post are. In a throwback to the early days of video-hosting service Vine, TikTok has leveraged the power of short, mobile-produced video together with the interactive aspect of a social network.
For marketers, however, TikTok isn't like other social media platforms, and the approach must be different to engage users. But while the medium of engagement is different, some of the same tenets of traditional marketing remain intact -- ideas such as engaging users through storytelling and targeting the right demographic with the message all ring true. After all, the more things change, the more they remain the same.
The experts of Ad Age Collective are familiar with TikTok and the audience it provides to marketers. We consulted them to help us understand how businesses can use TikTok to better market their products and services. Here's what they had to say.
1. Look before you leap.
I recommend businesses start by just observing what people are doing on the platform, just like the early days of Twitter and Snapchat. Rather than creating your own original content, you may be better off using influencers and product placement to reach people on TikTok. - Amrita Gurney, CrowdRiff
2. Tell stories to connect with people.
Businesses need to focus on creating stories that entertain and engage with people rather than self-promoting. People dislike ads -- that's why it's important to follow TikTok's format and create simple, funny and creative stories that win your brand followers. Use humor to help viewers relate to you and follow you. - Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
3. Match the brand with TikTok's native audience.
Best practices for TikTok are still unclear, because it still has plenty of room to grow, so brands are still in the experimentation phase. However, what is critical for any experiment is to understand what persona from your brand's audience is also native on the platform (which may be a small subset), understand what they engage with and why. Then, build your ideas from those observations. - Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive
4. Focus on developing an influencer strategy.
TikTok has taken hold for young millennials and Gen Z who are entertained by their favorite "at home" celebrities (influencers who have made a name for themselves via the channel). From makeup tutorials to highlighting new apparel, brand managers should focus efforts on an influencer strategy, engaging accounts and people that have a following aligned to their target market. - Kristen Anna Roeckle, Concentric Health Experience
5. Aim to create viral moments.
TikTok is in the organic growth phase of a social media network. Reach is high without requiring ad spend, but companies should look for ways to create ROI from the platform. Being overly "sales-focused" has failed on other networks, so to avoid that, businesses should look to create viral moments for a different area: press. Do this and their efforts will not be in vain. - Patrick Ward, Rootstrap
6. Make it fun.
Find your fun voice, and embrace TikTok’s youthful and casual tone. Employ humor, and never be too serious. My standard mantra is memes and themes: hop on hashtag challenges that people will embrace and share. Experiment and don’t be afraid to fail. Above all, never repurpose content from other platforms -- ensure your content is native to TikTok. Otherwise, you’ll be flat out ignored, or worse. - Marc Landsberg, SOCIALDEVIANT