Content Therapy is Managing Editor’s monthly advice column, where Paul Chaney responds to your questions about the messy dilemmas content marketers face in their work. We are (obviously) not licensed therapists.

TikTok Isn’t Just for the Latest Dance Challenge

Dear Content Therapist: I was recently hired at a marketing firm as a content marketing specialist, specifically focusing on social media content. The agency is a startup that’s had significant growth over the past two years. I want to build on that growth and extend our social media presence into TikTok. The problem? Our marketing director is against this change. We could do well on TikTok and share more of our brand identity and voice. It’s an opportunity to connect with our audience in a new way and achieve real growth. However, our director doesn’t think that this move will add any value. How can I present this opportunity to our marketing director and show the benefits of being on that platform? — FUTURE TIKTOKING AGENCY MARKETER

Paul Chaney: Come on. Who can resist a good dance move?! 🙂

But seriously, the argument the marketing director makes is nothing new. Practically every social network presented similar marketing challenges going all the way back to the early days of Facebook and Twitter (or even MySpace).

The key to convincing the marketing director lies in your statement — “show the benefits.” That’s exactly what you have to do, but it’s not that difficult. Here’s how to go about it.

Share Historical Precedent

Tell the marketing director exactly what I said — that every social network has been questioned as to its veracity as a viable marketing tool. (And, by the way, that’s what TikTok is — a marketing tool.)

Provide Examples of Companies You Wouldn’t Normally Think Would Use TikTok

Ideally, show examples of agencies like yours using the medium. Compile data on the number of followers, engagement rates and other metrics to show how TikTok can benefit your agency. In addition, see if you can find competitors on the platform and compile data about their use. That might carry extra weight.

Identify Key Features and Benefits

Identify the unique features of TikTok that make it an ideal platform for your agency, such as its emphasis on short-form video content, algorithm and viral potential. Explain how these features can help your agency reach a wider audience and achieve better engagement rates.

Suggest a Pilot Project

Tell the marketing director that you’d like to do a test run for six weeks to see what results come from it. The cost is negligible. Promise that it won’t take time away from your other duties.

Create a Strategic Content Plan

You shouldn’t start using TikTok in a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants manner. Create a strategic content plan just as you would with any other social network. Research the benefits the platform offers along with its popularity (these key statistics can help ), see what others in your industry are doing, and work out a content plan based on the relevant themes and marketing messages important to your agency.

Address the Marketing Director’s Concerns

Address the marketing director’s concerns about using TikTok, such as the potential for negative feedback or brand misrepresentation, with strategies to mitigate risk. Those should include moderating comments and developing clear brand guidelines for use. Also, be willing to compromise and adjust your plan based on the marketing director’s feedback.

Determine the Reason for Using TikTok

Why do you use social media for marketing in the first place? Branding? Lead generation? Community building? Assess those reasons and see whether they apply to TikTok. If there is alignment, that’s all the more reason to bring it into the marketing mix.

By following these steps, you can present a compelling case for using TikTok to the marketing director and, hopefully, overcome any objections they may have. And if that’s not reason enough to “bust a move” on TikTok, I don’t know what is!

I Think We’re Using AI Wrong …

Dear Content Therapist: Our CEO expressed a desire to implement AI into our current content marketing strategy. I won’t lie; I was skeptical. I’ve read articles and seen long LinkedIn explanations on the good and bad of AI. I was nervous but excited, thinking that the tool would be integrated slowly. Unfortunately, that was wishful thinking. Instead of a gradual integration, the AI tools were basically dropped in our laps for us to figure out on our own. This happened about a month ago, and we’re struggling to use the system to its fullest potential. I want to make AI work for us, but it’s causing more work for our team than before. Can you share any best practices or tips on how we can overcome our AI challenges? — NON-AI-EDUCATED MARKETER

Paul Chaney: You are among a huge chorus of people who confess to being overwhelmed by these new tools. I was, too, at first. But I was determined to take time to better understand the benefits of their use and deploy strategies and tactics to the best of my ability.

Not everything these tools have output has been something I’d bring to a client or employer, but I’ve been duly impressed by much of it. Essentially, the old computer-related acronym GIGO (garbage in, garbage out) applies here. The better your input (i.e., prompts), the better the models can respond.

That said, let me share something John Jantsch, a well-known, highly respected marketing consultant, recently posted on LinkedIn that addresses the topic. He offers this advice:

“When any new tool or trend comes around, I measure it based on a simple question — How can I use this tool to serve my customers better?

The answers to that question will rarely lead you down the overhype rabbit hole or worse into the arms of the next get-rich-with-AI scammer’s web.”

He concludes by saying we should view AI as “IA” — “informed automation” — tools that can “automate a great deal of our research, ideation, analysis and even grunt tasks like writing metadata.”

To his point, many tools are coming online that make using AI easier: Writer, Jasper, ChatGPT-4 Plus, Anyword, Wordtune and Midjourney are some of the more popular. Even good old Grammarly falls into this category.

Many of these are user-friendly and require only a short time to ramp up. Not only that, but training courses are also being developed that can help you become more proficient. Not all are credible — as Jantsch said, some are scammers passing themselves off as “experts” to make a fast buck — but a few are, like one offered by the Marketing AI Institute. But don’t take my word for it. Do your research, talk to your colleagues and team members, and see what courses they recommend.

The bottom line is that these tools aren’t going away, and they’ll only get better. Although it may take time, learning to maximize their value will help more than hurt.

Start small, set realistic expectations, collaborate with your team, and monitor your progress. Who knows? You may be surprised at how quickly you gain a respectable level of expertise and can add the title “Prompt Engineer” to your resume!

Disclaimer: The advice offered in this column is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for advice from a licensed mental health provider, health care provider or legal professional.