It’s undeniable, TikTok is overcoming from Instagram (you heard it here first) – yet, so many creatives have no idea of how to use Tiktok.
TikTok, created by a Chinese tech firm called ByteDance, is a social media app that allows you to record, edit, and share short, looping 15- or 60-second videos with musical overlays, sound effects, and visual effects. Recently TikTok has become a creative outlet for young adults and teens.
In the past few years, TikTok has been relatively secretive about its stats. However, according to a leaked advertising pitch deck from October 2019, TikTok reports having 800 million monthly active users worldwide. As of late October 2019, TikTok was the Top Free App in the Entertainment section of the Apple App Store, and by early 2020 its user base has sky-rocketed.
Truly, TikTok is NOT that different in behaviours and UX than Instagram Stories — which may be the reason why TikTok is such a threat to Instagram these days. One thing is certain: TikTok is a fast-paced app “Creativity is being democratised and soon brands will have to learn to adapt their tone of voice and visual style for the platform” shares Caoilfhionn Rose, Award-Winning Brand, and Social Strategist.
TikTok’s key feature is a video-first interface, the “For You Page”, that takes up the entire screen and starts playing immediately, sucking users into the app. Every video loops by default, and users swipe up and down to navigate the endless stream of videos, sideways to jump into a creator’s profile for more content, or tap one of the multiple small buttons around the edge of the screen.
The second you log in, you see a video at the top of a feed that’s algorithmically curated around your interests. If you enjoy the video you’re watching, you can follow, comment, and like the content directly from the video post. If you really like a video and want to see if the user has more posts you’ll enjoy, swipe left to toggle to their profile.
How to use TikTok to spotlight your content
Videos and montages: you’ll see a number of musical montages or mini music videos on the platform. This is where the library of sounds can help to inspire with new, exciting dancing and music challenge everyone can join.
Fun, comedy and Vine-like videos: these include comedy audios or challenges and hashtags with unique combinations that are incredibly relatable. Comedy, fun shorts and Vine-like montages are also incredibly popular.
Short tips and intros: loads of personal brands, fitness pros, but also coaches and experts are combining written tips with fun music or even voiceovers to share relatable and unique stories showcasing their expertise.
Photographers are also growing massively on TikTok. I have seen a variety of creators position themselves as experts by showcasing their expertise in a unique and fun way, making their expertise shine through short tips and bursts of inspiration. Sawyer Hartman, also known as the CEO of Cameras, is a great example of this.
“Watching mega Instagram influencers cross-pollinate Instagram content to Tik Tok at the beginning of lockdown highlights that polished content doesn’t wash on this platform.” argues Rose “Smart brands will use the app to study youth culture to ensure their brand strategy aligns with the values of these potential high-spending consumers!”
How can you use your expertise or unique USP to add value to TikTok? Create a list of valuable assets you can share with your audience.
Discovery through hashtags, effects and sounds
When you tap on the second tab of your app, or magnifying glass, you can enter the app’s search area. On this tab, you can either search out accounts or videos, or you can look below the search bar to see videos by trending topics. You can have a similar look to both Discover and Trending on desktop. You can use hashtags, as well as selected sounds and effects, as a way to find new accounts to follow and also be found by other users.
“TikTok is essentially “monkey see, monkey do”. Trends are created on this app to copy” shares Adele Cooper, Social Media Marketing Specialist “Instead of the pressure to create something totally unique, TikTok actively encourages the mimicking of other creators’ content (with your own spin of course) and promotes this through popular hashtags and songs.”
Hashtags are also a great way to introduce challenges to the platform.
Joining challenges on TikTok
Challenges, effects, and sounds are a great way to get discovered on TikTok.
This is really where you can follow the footsteps of brands like the Independent, or even Guess, to get inspiration from trending challenges, effects, and much more.
The fact that you can use AR effects to enhance your videos means you do not need a video producer to make fun, exciting, and unique snippets. I am spending more and more time on the discovery page of TikTok to get more ideas for challenges and hashtags. I also love that TikTok has its own series spotlighted, like recent challenges to support the British Red Cross and the Mind charity during Mental Health Awareness Week.
Spending more time on the discovery feed could be the inspiration you need. Save TikToks, sounds, and effects to your favourites and you’ll be able to reuse them later when the time is right.
The next generation of influencers
One of the things that’s so fun about TikTok is that it’s an incredible creative platform. It forces kids to get wild and crazy to stand out. High schools have been forming TikTok clubs to enable collaboration on short creative videos. Yet, TikTok is not just for your nieces and nephews – at least not anymore.
“Starting out as a platform that many brands simply overlooked, we’ve now seen just how powerful TikTok can be” adds Rebecca Holloway, Social Media Manager & Events Coordinator “Its influence spreads across social media and the music industry, and has fast become the home for everything, be it memes, cooking tutorials, makeup hacks, and of course we can’t forget the dancing! I believe we’re fast approaching a time where including TikTok in your brand strategy will become standard.”
TikTok Best Practices
- Batch create drafts in one go to make the most of your TikTok scheduling time and post them throughout the week.
- Ideally, you want to post on TikTok daily (or during weekdays if you are a company). More is more on TikTok.
- As much as possible, add sounds to your videos (the app may even help you matching sounds) as it helps with discoverability.
- Challenges are discovered via hashtags, so make sure you choose yours wisely. Niche and specific is better since discoverability is still high on TikTok.
- Most videos perform best at 15 seconds, yet top tips can also be up to 60 seconds long.
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My name is Fab Giovanetti and I am a writer, author, marketing consultant, founder of the Creative Impact Group and professional troublemaker. I help people grow their online audience and monetise their content and unleash their potentials as creatives.