What Social Media Managers need to know about TikTok


Picture source PIxabay – tiktok-5064078_640

by Author: K. Leah O’Connor 05/27/2020 

This article contains clickable links to websites that are not on Facebook.

TikTok is a social platform that people can use to create, edit, add music, and or special effects to a short video and share it with other users around the globe. 

To be a success on any Social Media platform you first need to ask what is my target audience? The difference between TikTok and other Social Media apps is the largest group of users are in the 25 and under age group. Generation Z has taken to the platform like ducklings to water. They will ignore you if you try to push traditional forms of marketing and advertising on them. They do not want to be sold to; they want to be entertained.  

I signed up for a TikTok account two days ago. What I have gathered so far is that everyone loves pets and little kids, dancing, lip-syncing, cosplayers, and general silliness. There are a lot of artists, sewists, musicians, singers, gamers, Cosplayers, and people who are not afraid to be themselves. Some people are putting up how-to videos. It is an interesting mix of everything. 

The tagline on TikTok.com sums up the most important aspect of this popular app that Social Media Managers need to remember. Make Your Day, Real People. Real Videos. There are no hard and fast rules of what you can post to TikTok. Although, you must keep in mind that being upbeat, funny, downright silly, sincere, chaotic, real, informative, or whatever spin you want to use in your video without sounding like a salesperson will keep you from being ignored. People do not use TikTok to look for products or services they use it for entertainment and fun. These are the aspects of the app you must remember to be successful. 

So how real is it? It is very real, and users will see through you faster than you can post a 15second video. Some people call it cringy, some say it is outright stupid. I read on Quora that turning on your privacy settings is important to keep people from knowing your location. Probably good advice. This platform, however, has become massively popular no matter what people call it and it is growing every day.   

I reached out to a young woman, @r0mmie, 21 years old, and asked her about her TikTok. Her profile features videos of herself expressing her fears, her challenges, and her frustrations. Or as she put it, “My TikTok is a mess of me complaining about work and me being comedy gold.” It was not the type of profile I expected to find. Her answers to my questions provided insights from a user point of view that I found to be helpful. 

Question: Why did you join TikTok?  

@r0mmie: It was a creative outlet similar to Vine that I was super active on before it closed down. The community on TikTok is a lot more accepting than Vine.  Question: What do you like and dislike about TikTok?  

@r0mmie: I love that I can make videos up to a minute long instead of the 6 seconds you had on Vine and that there are lots of cool editing effects. I dislike that once I create multiple segments in a video, I can only delete the most previous section. Also, my recommended page generally shows people I already follow. I find myself having to look for tags (hashtags) to find people to follow instead of using that. And I love the many different communities on TikTok. They are all SUPER active and so accepting. There is a large LGBTQ community and I have made friends with a lot of nice, supportive people.  

Question: Have you watched any videos or followed any businesses that are using TikTok? 

@r0mmie: I have seen quite a few businesses on TikTok, but they are mostly large companies like Coke or Skittles. I have seen artists promoting their Esty’s though! I am not following any yet because I post when I have a few spare minutes and I don’t have that much time to browse. I have been using my time to make friends. As for ads, there is usually one when I first open the app, but again they are only for super big companies.  

Question: If you were to follow a small business or an Esty artist, what about their profile or video content would be most interesting to you and make you want to follow them? 

@r0mmie: The process of the craft! I have seen tons of painters showing small snippets of themselves painting. Sewers doing the same thing, showing the process and progress during creation. It makes it so interesting to see what they do and how they do it.  

TikTok is a relative newcomer to the arena of Social Media. Launched in 2016, the platform has, according to Wallaroomedia.com, over 800 million active users worldwide. The U.S has about 60 million monthly active users. At an average of 52 minutes a day per user, that equals enormous potential for Social Media Managers that are willing to take the plunge. 

 As influencers on platforms such as Instagram are getting left behind for being too sales-driven the influencer culture remains strong on TikTok. Many of these influencers are children, celebrities, and public figures. To hire one will cost you a premium, .01 to .02 cents per view of an ad. The average cost of advertising with TikTok, at least for now, is beyond the reach of most small businesses. That doesn’t mean you can’t grow a following using ingenuity and creativity. To become a TikTok influencer rack up 10, 000 followers and you are in. 

 A great deal depends, of course, on the goods or services you want to market and what your target is. Your ideal demographic may be generation Z. But if not, there is good news for Social Media Managers. The users now include Millennials and Generation X. But do not let a jump in age groups lead you to believe you can get away with anything old school. You are going to have to leave production type videos for other platforms and get personal. 

 You have decided to jump in and give TikTok a try. You download and install the app. You create an account and visit Wired.com to read their Beginner’s guide to TikTok. You watch some of the videos that range in length from 12 secs up to 60 secs and think, yeah I can do this. I can be creative, unique, authentic, and funny. Building an organic following, as with any social media platform, will take time and effort. The more content you post the further your reach will extend.  

Using Hashtags, (tags as they are referred to on TikTok) also must be on your to-do list. This will take you some research and time to perfect, but it is crucial. Be sure to include a few of your own tags. It is how users search for content. Many individuals will use other’s tags and spread content they like by making their own videos about it. The more engaging you can be the more success you will find. If you have been using Twitter or Instagram this will be easier for you. If tags make you go what? Jeanne Munoz, of Jeanne Monoz Consulting, gives a great course on Instagram for Business through the NC State Continuing and Lifelong Education. It includes the importance of hashtags and how to use Hashtags. Useful information to have for Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.  

TikTok does also offer paid advertising options. On their website, you can sign up for an account. When I did this, I got the message, “This region is not yet available for self-serve. Please leave your contact info”. Paid options are not open to users in the United States yet unless you contact TikTok directly. Several large brands, such as Pepsi, Kroger, Chipotle and Elf Cosmetics have been using paid advertising on the platform since it started last year. They have seen their tags used billions of times, so it does warrant looking into if you have the budget for it.  

 To run ads on TikTok, the word on Quora is, expect at least $10 cost-per-1000 views with a $500 minimum campaign spend. Depending on your client and the possible ROI they can get from a campaign, it well may be worth it. Keep in mind though that the largest demographic using the app is 25 and under. Insurance, umm no. A new game release, or a cool gadget, something artsy, or otherwise fun or fashionable, might be worth the cost. Outstanding content is what will get you the best exposure no matter what you are selling. Plumbers are even posting videos.  

 We may well find that our target audience is on TikTok waiting for us to entertain them. So how do you market a business, product, or service in new uncharted cyberspace to mostly young lipsyncing, cosplaying, dancing, wannabee influencers with a penchant for dogs, cats, and little kids? Especially if you are going to do it organically?  

 As with anything new, there is a learning curve. First, we must explore; we must get a feel for this new platform and make it our own. A plan of action will have to created and fine-tuned. We, as Social Media Managers, must rethink the strategies we have used on other social media. We cannot be a brand with a personality, we must be a personality that has a brand. There will be trial and error. No doubt we will make some mistakes. We will have to create content that inspires. We must dig deeper into our creativity than we may have ever done. We will have to present our brand with honesty and a fair bit of wit, and also be willing to show our fun and humorous side without reservation. Then they will follow, share, create new content with our tags, and buy from us. 

The challenge is on.