TikTok has been a rising star of the social media world for the past several years now, and it looks like that trend is only going to continue. As of October 2020, there are 732 million monthly active users on the app. Each of them spend an average of 89 minutes on TikTok every day, and open the app 19 times per day.
As more national brands join the platform, you may begin to ask yourself if your business is missing out. Should you start to learn some dances? Practice lip syncing with exaggerated facial expressions? Find an intern to come up with relatable memes?
TikTok may well be a good fit for your business. But before you jump on the TikTok bandwagon, you should ask yourself some questions about your target audience, your business goals, and what you can accomplish through the app.
Who is My Audience?
If you’re wondering if your business should be on TikTok—or any social media platform, for that matter—the first question you ask yourself should always be, “Who am I trying to reach there?”
Generally, the assumption is that TikTok is only for young people, especially Generation Z. “Gen Z” is defined as those born between about 1996 and 2010. As of 2021, this cohort is in the age range of 11 to 25. Some businesses may think that this demographic is outside of their target market, but keep in mind that Gen Z are quickly becoming young adults with greater purchasing power than they had as teenagers. On top of that, according to the National Retail Federation, 87% of their parents, generally Generation X or older Millennials, consult their Gen Z children before making purchasing decisions.
However, as of March 2021, Statista reports that only 25% of TikTok users in the U.S. are in the age range of 10-19, with the rest of the user base laid out as shown here:
Find more statistics at Statista
On top of that, the Pew Research Center shows that 48% of adults ages 18-29 use TikTok, but also 22% of adults ages 30-49, and even 14% of the 50-64 age group.
One of the common jokes on TikTok is the existence of different “sides” of TikTok, e.g. Plant TikTok, Goth TikTok, Political TikTok, Foodie TikTok, and more. TikTok arranges users into cohorts and provides recommendations on their “For You” page based on the videos that they linger on, like, share, and save. This very quickly segments users into silos, which the app uses to recommend videos that similar users have liked. This is one of the many ways TikTok quickly engages users and keeps their attention for long stretches of time.
What does this mean for your brand? It means that if you can identify who your business’s target audience is by demographics and interests, chances are you can find their niche on TikTok and reach them with the right content. Some B2B brands or businesses in a field that isn’t very present on TikTok may be better off directing their marketing budget and time elsewhere. Beauty, hobby, and lifestyle brands will find ample opportunity for their brand on the platform. The best way to find out if there’s a place for your business on TikTok is to make a personal account and do some digging. Check hashtags, or find influencers and brands in your niche on other social media sites and see if they link to their TikTok. The more you watch and follow users relevant to your audience, the more TikTok will begin to suggest other creators for you to draw inspiration from!
What Am I Trying to Accomplish?
TikTok offers native ads, often with easy to follow calls-to-action, but the platform can also be an excellent PR tool for building rapport with potential or current customers, without spending money on ads. If you’re looking to catch users closer to the end of the conversion funnel, TikTok ads may be the right strategy, but if you’re simply looking to make content to increase brand awareness and reputation, you may find that creating entertaining videos for your target audience is a better way to go.
A great example to follow would be that of the Washington Post, who established themselves on the app early, and were well-known to TikTok denizens as a funny, relevant, and self-aware brand as early as 2018.
@washingtonpostBiden will withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, a few months later than the original May 1 exit deadline set by Trump.♬ original sound – We are a newspaper.
The Post has had a specific strategy in mind from the beginning, cementing themselves as a reliable news source in the eyes of the younger audiences on TikTok, who, back in 2018, made up the majority of the app.
@washingtonpostThere’s a ##PresidentialDebate tonight!♬ how would they know bad girls club – Chris Gleason
Dave Jorgenson, the WaPo employee featured in these videos, offers some tips and advice for brands looking to carve out their niche on the app. Since TikTok is so collaborative by nature, with many trends involving the copying of audio from other creators, Jorgenson recommends that brands be careful about associating their name with content from other users. Specifically, he avoids “duets,” or split-screen videos where your video is placed side-by-side with another users’ video.
Although TikTok is intentional about gaining the rights to use popular music in users’ videos, brands should also be careful to avoid copyright infringement, and should stick to “sounds,” or audio tracks, that are already widely used on the app.
What Kind of Content Would I Make?
TikTok moves quickly, and a joke that is hilarious on Tuesday can be blasé by Friday, especially if overused and misused by out-of-touch brands. It’s important that someone on your staff dedicate time to understanding the trends-du-jour, and especially keeping abreast of the types of content that are popular in your target niche.
However, the users on TikTok do not require or even appreciate high production value. You can usually spot an ad on the app within about half a second, simply by the fact that it looks a little too clean and presentable. The content that will succeed on the app is content that fits in with the content that your audience is producing. Follow these broad (but important) guidelines:
1. Be Fun
There are so many ways to make enjoyable and engaging content on TikTok, but almost all of it is light-hearted, easily digestible, and fun! This is pretty much crucial to the success of any brand, but your content has to land within the context of your niche in order to be successful. Most content on the app is comedy, but there can also be a place for inspirational content, advice, how-to, and many other genres. It is crucial to either spend time familiarizing yourself with the type of content that is popular on the app (and how your brand fits into that), or to employ the services of someone who can. But spending time on TikTok is hardly a chore! The app is designed to be fun and engaging, so pat yourself on the back for landing yourself in a place where you can watch and make silly videos all day and still call it work. If you’re not enjoying yourself when you make content for TikTok, you’re probably doing something wrong.
2. Be Authentic
Digital natives have no illusions about why your brand is there, so once you come comfortable with that, your business has freedom to be honest and up-front about your intentions (and a little tongue-in-cheek, sometimes, too!). Nevertheless, you should also take time to inform, educate, and entertain. Follow the 80/20 rule: 80% of your content should be solely informational or entertaining, while the remaining 20% should be promotional.
This video from Fenty Beauty is a great example. Users know that this is a promotional video for Rihanna’s makeup line, but the creator of the video also gives useful tips and information on makeup application, and is charming and funny, too!
@fentybeautyTips for smooth skin. Get the routine at ##fentybeauty.com 💁🏻♀️ @rosecolored_glasses ##makeup ##beauty ##welcomeweek♬ original sound – Fenty Beauty
3. Emphasize Community
Respond to comments, follow other users, and interact with their posts. The comments section is not the place for self-promotion unless explicitly invited (i.e. a user is looking for recommendations for your product or service). TikTok (and all meme culture) is built upon a system of collaboration and riffing off jokes made by others. Get to know your users, and use your account to field questions, too.
Should My Business Be on TikTok?
If you have the time and resources to invest in it, and your target audience is present on TikTok, it may well be worth it to create an account. If you’re looking for fast results, advertising on the app is simple to set up, but it’s important to make sure you’re updating your ads frequently so they do not become stale. If you’re looking for an agency to manage your TikTok account, ASAP Marketing Solutions provides comprehensive social media management services for all major platforms. Give us a call at (832) 737-2752 or fill out our contact form to learn more!