- Elon Musk, Investor & Entrepreneur
TikTok is the most recent social media app to make big waves in the economy. Many businesses have already jumped aboard and launched dedicated TikTok marketing campaigns in an attempt to take advantage of the extra reach the app can potentially provide. But how do you know if TikTok is a good idea for your business, and how does it work? Let’s answer all these questions and more.
WHAT IS TIKTOK?
TikTok is a Chinese social media app – specifically, it’s an app that lets you share short videos across the entire TikTok network. Videos are limited to 15 seconds in total, and the TikTok app comes with several tools so that users can shoot, edit, and share all their footage before posting it to the network.
As a social media app, there are also tools that users can use to engage with content they appreciate. Users can like, follow, and comment on various videos. At this time, TikTok is available for both iOS and Android operating systems, so its reach is quite vast.
HOW IS TIKTOK DIFFERENT FROM OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA APPS?
One of TikTok’s biggest differences is and how it leverages machine learning or AI technology. For instance, users aren’t able to directly search for videos the same way they can on social media platforms like YouTube or even on similar video sharing apps like Vine in its heyday. Instead, TikTok directly provides viewers with videos that it thinks they’ll like by using machine learning to offer new videos every time a user watches or passes on something.
Basically, it keeps careful note of what users like and don’t like and uses algorithms to filter for new videos every time a user looks for something new. This means that the longer a user enjoys TikTok, the better the video retrieval algorithm supposedly gets. Over time, you will theoretically not need to pass over any videos that aren’t your cup of tea.
WHO MAKES UP TIKTOK’S DEMOGRAPHICS?
At this time, the majority of TikTok users are 24 years old or younger, although it’s not exclusively limited to kids and teenagers. In fact, TikTok has recently been a target of a lot of social media and marketing buzz since various celebrities, like Jimmy Fallon and Reese Witherspoon, have showcased the app as one of their favorites.
All told, TikTok has around half 1 billion active monthly users. While most of these are Chinese, nearly 100 million of them are in the United States or other first-world Western countries. Thus, TikTok potentially represents great marketing opportunities for businesses smart enough to jump on the app.
HOW CAN IT BE GOOD FOR BUSINESS?
In a nutshell, you can use TikTok the same way marketers have already been using other social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. You can create content with branded messages, jump on memeable hashtags and add your own message to the mix, or use influencers to showcase your product or service in their videos.
REMEMBER THE FOCUS OF THE APP
TikTok is all about fun and creativity. Any videos or content you create should be tailored toward providing watchers with fun first and foremost. Any focus on your product should be secondary or “accidental”. Direct marketing (i.e. a 15-second commercial) is likely to fail terribly.
USE HASHTAGS TO YOUR BENEFIT
Hashtags provide flash in the pan opportunities to jump on social media interest points. Create content working within the constraints of a hashtag and you’ll potentially be able to get a bunch of new viewers for your content just by paying attention to current trends.
You can also launch your own hashtag challenge. In brief, this will have you create content with a certain hashtag and also encourage other TikTok users to create or re-create content along the same theme.
TikTok influencers can be incredibly helpful for any business, especially since many younger customers and users are opposed to traditional advertisement methods. Connect with influencers and offer them deals to wear, use, or otherwise promote your product during their normal content generation. It’s smart to research various influencers and see which ones are likely to have viewing demographics close to your normal customer base.
IS IT RIGHT FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
Ultimately, the real question isn’t whether TikTok can be helpful for a business; it’s whether you should spend the marketing energy and money on the app in the first place.
Given that the majority of TikTok’s users are younger than 25, it’s certainly a wise idea if most of your potential customers or users are also within this age demographic. This goes doubly true if most of your customers are Chinese, as over 400 million users in China enjoy TikTok each month. You can also use TikTok marketing in conjunction with your other social media efforts; there’s nothing limiting you to operating on only one app at a time.
However, it’s clear that using TikTok as a marketing platform may not be a good idea if most of your customers are in their 30s or older, or if your primary customers and users or other businesses. At its core, TikTok remains a light and fun social media app. Most of your marketing messages and energy should go toward emotional or humor appeals rather than practical benefits.
In essence, nothing about TikTok will benefit your marketing efforts toward other businesses, which are more often focused on practical results, data, and so on.
- TikTok can be a great choice if you primarily focus on B2C (business to consumer) marketing
- It’s ideal if most of your users or customers are under 25 years old
- It’s a good choice even if you are in a Western market
- TikTok is not such a good choice if you’re mostly focused on B2B (business-to-business) marketing
- It’s also not a great choice if most of your users are over 30 or older
- If your market is exclusively Western, you might have better results with other social media apps
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Thought leaders & celebrities share their tactics for success on the Lisnic podcast by Lisa Teh & Nick Bell