What do Fleetwood Mac’s song Dreams, whipped coffee, sea shanty singalongs, and a feta-cheese pasta recipe have in common? They were all discovered (or rediscovered) by millions in the last few months—all thanks to TikTok, the funky short-form video platform introduced to the masses in 2017.
While the number of online Americans who use TikTok (21%) is significantly smaller than those on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn—leaving it slightly more popular than Reddit—it’s right up there with the top-tiers when it comes to the average cumulative time spent in-app, as reported by Hootsuite. In short, TikTok could be what you need to grab, and keep, the attention of your audiences.
First, let’s debunk a few common myths about the platform.
1. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok—it’s all the same content anyway
False. While reusing content in a slightly adjusted format—if done well—works for other platforms, it hasn’t been the case for TikTok. The technical ease of creating content on the platform, its co-creative nature, its users’ soft spot for raw and unpolished material, as well as its signature short-form videos (that needed to be less than 60 seconds in length up until July this year) have thrown a wrench into the “rinse and repeat” strategy. When diving into the world of TikTok, better clear off your whiteboard and prepare for some creative thinking and testing.
2. TikTok is only for one audience: Gen Z
False. As TikTok is undeniably most popular among folks under 30, it’s easy to overlook the fact that while the majority (52.7%) of TikTok’s adult users were ages 18-34, almost half (47.3%) of TikTok’s users are ages 35 and older.
It provides something for everyone. What’s the secret sauce, you may ask? It has everything to do with our interests and not that much to do with our personal social networks, or what our peers are up to. TikTok serves its users exactly what they need through the #ForYou page—a newsfeed that pops up as soon as you open the app. It’s tailored for each user based on assumed interests and keeps changing as it continues to analyze the user’s behavior on the platform.
3. If my audience is on TikTok, it’s on other social media channels, too
False. While this will always be the case for some users, it’s important to recognize that 69% of young adults (ages 13-24) have active TikTok accounts while only half are active on Facebook. Teenagers Tik Tok 25% more than Facebook and Twitter. By incorporating TikTok to your content strategy, rest assured you will be engaging audiences you wouldn’t be able to capture elsewhere.
4. TikTok content is too short to receive high levels of engagement and conversions
False. The large volume of short-and-sweet content that can’t be skipped and the accurate algorithm that keeps people hooked for hours has thrown the engagement rates through the roof. Hootsuite reports that Android users spend an average of 13.3 hours on the app each month, placing it right up there with Facebook and Instagram. If that doesn’t convince you otherwise, perhaps TikTok’s recent shift to allowing for up to 3-minute-long videos does.
If you haven’t considered layering TikTok into your marketing strategy before, perhaps it’s time to pause and do so—especially if this is what your audience loves and interacts with. Once you’ve established it as a natural fit for your content strategy, think through the mechanics—is it something your company can take on and excel at? What needs to happen for you to be able to make it work? How can you mitigate any related risks?
As appealing as it sounds, it is important to recognize that TikTok is a daily commitment—it’s that high-energy pup you’ve considered adopting during the pandemic, a trend-driven volume play platform that needs you to stay alert, nimble, and creative in your approach. If you don’t want to commit to creating your channel but are eager to dip your toe in, you can always consider working with TikTok influencers that shape your landscape or explore the platform’s paid advertising options.
This article was authored by Kaisa Parna and Joël Cain, Associates at partner company National Public Relations.
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