TikTok for business? I thought it was just for kids!
If you’re feeling apprehensive after reading the title of this blog post, don’t worry! I’m not going to start telling you to go all-in on TikTok and make 2020 the year of dancing and lip-sync videos (although I do have a story that might persuade you to try…).
For now, I want to explain why TikTok can be a perfect source of inspiration for your content creation ideas. Hear me out, you can use TikTok for business even if you do not post anything on the platform.
So, don’t worry, I won’t be asking you to practice your dance moves any time soon, but I do think there are some really important lessons we can learn from the creators on TikTok.
Let’s find out how you can boost your content arsenal with social media’s newest star!
Here's a short video about this week's episode:
What is TikTok?
I mentioned TikTok last week, in podcast episode and blog post 130 – Key Findings from The Infinite Dial Report 2020 & What They Mean for Content Creators. Now seems like the perfect time to talk more about it, especially how you can use TikTok for business!
TikTok is a short-form video sharing platform, designed for use on mobile. If you download the app today, you’ll see it’s full of Gen Z – so you might not immediately think TikTok for business would work.
An amazing analogy I’ve heard is that if you can imagine Snapchat, Spotify, Vine, and Twitch having a baby… It would look like TikTok!
TikTok has merged all of those major platforms’ unique elements of short videos, music, and collaboration and given the dedicated fan bases and subcultures that exist across all of them a place to gather.
There’s plenty of singing, lip-syncing, dancing, skits, comedy, and duets. There are livestreams and hashtags to follow. Your feed is determined by a unique and powerful algorithm… TikTok is the perfect storm of multiple favorites from the social media world.
I recommend just downloading it and taking a peek to see what it’s about if nothing else.
TikTok originated in China (where it went by the name Douyin), made by a company called ByteDance. The app really blew up, though, when it merged with Musical.ly in 2018, marking the beginning of its rise to world domination!
How has TikTok grown to be so influential?
TikTok might seem to some like a passing trend or just for kids, but it’s not. TikTok has had over 1.5 billion downloads worldwide and, whilst it’s most popular in China and India, over 123 million downloads are in the USA alone.
Let’s look at those USA statistics a little closer, taken from the 2020 Infinite Dial report:
- 25% of 12-34 year-olds in the U.S. are using TikTok
- 64% of all U.S. citizens are aware of TikTok
- 11% of all U.S. citizens are using TikTok
While the platform is definitely dominated by young people (41% of TikTok users worldwide are aged between 16 and 24, according to the previously-linked Oberlo article), that doesn’t mean it’s exclusive to them. 3% of over 35s in the US use TikTok!
In fact, a lot of TikTok’s early growth can be attributed to a Gen Xer…
After his partnership with TikTok in late 2018, Jimmy Fallon helped boost the app’s US downloads by an astonishing 80 million!
Turns out you can teach an old dog new tricks (sorry Jimmy!)
That kind of growth means it’s become a social media mainstay and, with so many users, there are more than just teenagers using it.
As TikTok has grown rapidly, so has its penetration into the public consciousness. As we’ve noted, Jimmy Fallon has created huge movements on TikTok, but others, like James Corden and his Late Late Show, are helping the platform grow exponentially too.
Now, with the current COVID–19 pandemic, TikTok is experiencing another boom. People are sharing TikTok videos on their Instagram stories, on Facebook, and everywhere they possibly can! This is the beauty of TikTok, as they make it so easy to download and re-share content from their platform, all with appropriate branding so people know the source.
Plus, with all of us stuck inside, we’re looking for new ways to entertain ourselves. TikTok is nothing if not entertaining! More celebrities, older people, and even skeptics are making accounts to while away the long hours of quarantine.
My TikTok story!
I was at the beach and filmed a simple video of me jumping off some sand dunes. #parkour.
Someone who saw it on Instagram mentioned that they thought it would be perfect on TikTok and I… laughed, to be honest (whilst pretending I knew what TikTok was!).
But, a few days later, I was on a train with some time to kill, downloaded the app, posted the video and… forgot about it. I put in the least effort imaginable – I didn’t follow anyone, had no followers, didn’t post a video description, used no hashtags.
A few days later, I was on 100k views! To date, I’m at over 500k views. It still baffles me now!
I will admit that I haven’t had the same experience since, so maybe I’m not cut out to be a TikTok celebrity! Regardless of my status as an A-lister, I’m finding TikTok to be a great place for creative inspiration and idea generation. To me, the jury is out on how we can make the most of TikTok itself for business marketing, but I’m not ignoring it.
TikTok for business and content inspiration
TikTok is a unique platform. Content you post elsewhere may not be suitable for TikTok, so you can’t just copy and paste onto it (not that I would recommend doing that on any platform)! Spend time on the platform and get to know the content and creators before you start posting there.
I would say, for me, the jury is still out on TikTok for my business – at least in comparison to sites like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter – but there are many businesses who are doing really well on TikTok and there are definitely possibilities for some brands to benefit from collaborations with content creators or to deliver in-feed ads.
To me though, right now, as I start to study and understand the platform, the real benefit of TikTok for business is that it serves as a great source of creative inspiration.
If you are the kind of brand that is trying to create fun, easy-to-consume, exciting content – head to TikTok, watch videos, and study the formulae and styles of funny and creative users. Yes, there are lots of young people on there, but that’s what makes it so creative too… Gen Z have been brought up in the digital age and they are really showcasing how creative they can be.
My experience of using TikTok for business
For International Podcast Day, I created this video:
This was jumping on a TikTok trend at the time – the content I posted was relevant to the platform, but the message made sense wherever you see it. You may not have known about this TikTok trend, but you can understand the point of the video anyway.
So, I didn’t just share it on TikTok… I shared it on all of our usual social media platforms, and it performed brilliantly. People loved it! They thought it was new and different and creative.
When my book came out, I made a TikTok video to promote it, using a creative style that is familiar and popular on the platform:
Again, you might not know this style if you don’t use TikTok, but you don’t need to know it to enjoy it or understand the message.
This is the key takeaway here – creativity can spread and be impactful across platforms.
If it’s good, engaging, and on-brand, your content will perform well with your audience. Even if you aren’t on TikTok, you can learn from examples of awesome creativity on the platform and apply them to your content elsewhere.
How will you use TikTok for your business?
TikTok might seem like a place that only ‘fun’ or ‘whacky’ brands can succeed – but that’s not the only source of value in TikTok for business.
The platform is a great source of inspiration for brands – from the most stuffy and corporate to the zaniest and snarkiest! Wherever you fall on the spectrum of brand identity, you can get a great deal of value from being on TikTok – even if it is just lurking, consuming the content, and observing what is working on the platform!
With content creation, the more sources of inspiration and education you have, the better your ideas will be.
Don’t just think about TikTok for business, think about all the other platforms you can use for inspiration.
And if all else fails, you can always jump off a sand dune and hope for the best!
And keep an eye on the blog and podcast for more episodes about TikTok coming soon…