Can you set your hook in 3 seconds before the audience swims away? If you said, “Yes,” TikTok marketing might be a place to flex your content-creating skills.
TikTok’s continued dominance demonstrates the social platform is much more than hype, creating a reliable channel for content marketers. However, it’s more complicated (and more forgiving) than it may seem.
We spoke with three experts to help content marketers understand TikTok and provide a nudge so that you’ll jump in with both feet.
If You’re Active, TikTok Allows Accidents
Our experts stressed that TikTok is a platform where mistakes happen but are quickly forgotten by your audience. The service wants to move people from one video to the next continually. With minimal returning to older posts, you have much more leeway than with other social networks like LinkedIn.
However, that comes with a caveat. TikTok’s fast-paced nature requires content marketers to post consistently to build up their audience. You’ll also need to engage with that audience and other creators regularly to expand your influence. The algorithm rewards these actions and will boost your reach … provided you maintain a consistent schedule.
While other platforms prioritize planning, TikTok has a much stronger focus on creating.
“You really have to jump right in and start experimenting to see what works,” says Maayan Gordon, TikTok marketing expert and co-founder of Champion Empire. “When you find something that resonates with your audience, start going in that direction more often.”
Content marketers should prepare to maintain their activity and treat content as an investment in a legitimate marketing channel.
“TikTok is a long-term play, and even companies with rapid growth aren’t going to see a lot of benefits for six months to a year,” says Maayan. “Don’t get fooled just because TikTok gets all this hype and the media highlights the people who get millions of followers in three months and can make big monetization deals. That’s a handful of people out of the billion on the platform.”
Do Your Homework, Then Do It Again and Again
“Marketing professionals should approach TikTok marketing first from the standpoint of learning the native culture,” says Austin Iuliano, a social media marketing consultant. The social network currently prioritizes entertaining content that aligns with a “show, don’t tell” mentality, and influencers aren’t popular in every niche. However, that could change very quickly.
Managing editors need to monitor TikTok both for broad trends and those in their niche to stay on top of the platform. Popular content drives hashtags and new compilations, but they only last a short while. Content managers should track popular events but look for deeper patterns for what works well with their industry.
For example, the sea shanty craze was big on the platform in general but was less prominent in niches where the audience prefers to watch videos on silent and read on-screen text.
“The best way to learn the platform is to consume content in the category you’re in regularly, especially hashtags specific to the type of content you would want to create,” says Maayan. “Take notes as you go because eventually, you’ll start to see patterns and may discover the popular or viral videos in your content category share a characteristic.”
Beyond helping you spot significant trends, notes can keep you from losing ideas as you go further and further down the TikTok rabbit hole. “TikTok is designed to get you to pay attention to the next thing it shows,” says Maayan. “So, write down your observations and ideas. That alone is small, but it makes a big difference for creating a successful business campaign.”
While TikTok is very receptive to brands themselves, sales pitches don’t work well on the platform. Our experts say content managers should focus on making fun, cool, or informational videos that people will enjoy whether or not they use your service or buy your product. Quite simply, it’s about brand awareness rather than convincing them to buy.
“Trend-jacking is hugely important as it gives you a first to market advantage in the algorithm,” says Iuliano. “Trends don’t form around your marketing or slogans, so your content and content calendar need to be flexible and helpful.”
Avoid being overly polished because it reads like a sales pitch. Brands need audience engagement so that they’ll be rewarded algorithmically and have increased visibility over time. Your audience is happy to engage with a brand that interacts with them, provided it doesn’t feel like they’re being force-fed a company’s spiel.
“People want to see your big successes but also scroll through and see mistakes or things that fell flat,” Iuliano says. “If you do mess up and get negative feedback, the best thing you can do is listen, don’t get defensive, own up, and do better. People will reward you for learning from your mistakes.”
Clearly Define the Content Marketing Role
One of the biggest challenges for a content marketer on TikTok is finding the right workflow and role you’ll play for your company or clients. TikTok requires you to create a strong relationship between the audience and the account with regular posts. Ideally, this means the content marketer can either own the brand or have access to the TikTok “face” of the company. That can be challenging, particularly in today’s remote work world.
“You will have to have a close and open relationship with your client,” says 2 Sense Social owner Holly Harmon. “Expectations, goals, and a game plan are a must. Perhaps the biggest consideration is how you will get the bones of what will become your TikTok content. Remember, many viral videos use trending filters that can only be applied with video taken in app.”
Harmon suggests having a clearly defined process for how media is generated and used. Consider:
- Will you be there in person to collect media?
- Will the client send you the media?
- What can the content marketer do versus the account owner?
- How much do you need to prepare the account owner for content that can only be made live within the app?
In short, TikTok marketing rewards accounts continuously adding content. But to generate effective material on a regular basis, content marketers need clearly defined roles and strategies. If you can establish an understanding with the brand and get the commitment to ongoing updates, in time you’ll find TikTok to be one deeply pleasing platform.