Formerly known as Musical.ly, which was heavily saturated with lip-syncing videos, the app, now known as TikTok is available in over 150 countries, with over 1 Billion users worldwide. In the US alone, it has been downloaded over 123 Million times, with an estimated 60 million active monthly users.
It is no longer saturated with just lip-syncing videos, although that is still a user favorite. TikTok is full of creators, from bakers to comedians, from fitness coaches to singers, from moms to semi-truck drivers, and beyond. Waaaaay beyond. And all are gaining viral traffic, and many are translating that traffic into growth within their own businesses.
So can TikTok work for your business? Let’s find out.
Almost any niche will work on this app, as long as the content you make can survive the harsh critics, typically aged 13-30, known as Gen Z (and some millennials). The real trick to this app? You have to be yourself, you have to be creative, and you have to be unique. This audience will see straight through any tricky marketing tactics you think will work.
The TikTok For You Page
Currently, TikTok operates on an unweighted algorithm, which means that videos are surfaced in the order that they are uploaded. These videos are then placed on the holy grail of viral potential, the “For You Page.” Everyone on the app has two options, to scroll through the For You Page (FYP) which has content that TikTok thinks that specific user will like based on an algorithm, or there is a “following” page, which contains the content of the accounts you are following. In general, the FYP is the default, and that is where most of the users spend their time. Every video is sent to a small number of user’s FYP, based on the algorithm, and if a video gains a certain percentage of engagement on the for you pages that it is sent to, then it is sent to more and more for you pages, until critical mass hits, and voilà, we have ourselves a viral video.
TikTok Viral Examples
Old Town Road
Users with little to no following can make one video of themselves singing, or painting, or chopping a tree down, and gain instant viral exposure. If you haven’t heard the song “Old Town Road” by Little Nas X ft Billy Ray Cirus…well you probably have, like it or not. It is now the longest-running number 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 (yes, even surpassing legends like Elvis, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber, and The Beatles ((THE BEATLES!!))), it has over 70 million streams, and Lil Nas X has gone from an unknown underground artist to a Rockstar – all because of a little app called TikTok.
Our Social Media & Content Marketing Strategist Shannon Winant accumulated over 1.2million likes on TikTok, and almost 10 million views, which generated over 50K followers. He wrote an article on what he’s observed in the videos that went viral for him, and the characteristics they share with other viral videos on the app. You can read the whole thing here, but in summary, the videos that typically go viral, in any niche, all share at least these three characteristics (typically, there are always exceptions):
- Wholesome and genuine.
- Unexpected and have an element of surprise.
- Original (creative).
In order to get TikTok to work for your brand, you will need to adapt your content to fit this app. It is very easy to lose the trust of TikTok users, and if they sense any sort of corporate selling, you won’t even have the chance to lose their trust because it won’t make it past the first few views. However, there are countless brands on this app that have adapted their content strategy, and it has generated massive exposure to an audience that will be around for a while, it has built trust and credibility, and vitally, has generated revenue.
It will take an extremely open and flexible marketing director to have success on this app because you are going to need to create content that you’ve never created before. Here are some ways to help you get started with content ideas.
TikTok Content Ideas for Businesses
TikTok is flooded with “Trends”. These are user-generated (sometimes TikTok partners with a brand or celebrity to create a trend). There really is no limit to what a trend could be, but the trends that stick are widely eclectic and original. For example, one of the videos that went viral for our Social Media & Content Marketing Strategist Shannon Winant, had never been created before. It was a video of Shannon and his buddies trying to recreate noises of random objects with their voices. Incredibly random, but highly entertaining. They put a hashtag on it “#makethisnoise” and it caught fire, and turned into not only a viral video for them, with over 6 million views, but a trend that has accumulated nearly 300 million views.
If done properly, joining a trend can enable users to piggyback on traffic that has already been established. Their video inspired thousands of creative #makethisnoise iterations, which contributed to the nearly 300 million views. Keep in mind, exposure is still not guaranteed, as with all TikTok videos, the users decide what goes viral, so try your hardest to keep it wholesome, make it unexpected, and make it your own by putting a twist on it.
If there aren’t any trends that you find inspiration from, make your own (like they did).
The appeal with recurring content, stems from curiosity, suspense, and the desire to be in the know. Even further, people want to be “in the know” as close to first as possible. From what we’ve observed, recurring content shows its form in a myriad of categories. Users have generated high levels of repeat engagement with telling simple, but shocking or entertaining stories, encouraging fellow users to come back for part 2. Users have created educational “how-to” series, with an infinite range of content from how to make a realistic lightsaber, to how to apply your makeup so you look like the Disney character, Shrek, and beyond. It truly is endless, which is what is so exciting about this app. Creators have produced TikTok short films and drama series, quite impressively we might add. A consistent flow of creative and original content seems to be a winning combination for TikTok consumers.
Once you have found your voice on TikTok, from our observations, users tend to be more likely to come back and engage with you if you continue to make that type of content. When Shannon and his friends made their first #makethisnoise video, there was a massive demand that we make a part 2, and then a part 3…they noticed when they posted #makethisnoise videos, they wildly outperformed any of their other attempts to create viral content. Give people what they want, and they will keep coming back for more.
If you are struggling to come up with original creative content, or none of your content is landing or generating any movement, consider partnering with someone who has already built credibility on the app. TikTok, after all, as we have observed, is heavily controlled by the users. There is no exception here when it comes to creating that wholesome, unexpected, and original content. Influencers know their audience, so creating a video that goes against the grain of their usual content just to promote your brand is unlikely.
Partnering with an Influencer could be the best thing for you, as it will challenge you to think outside the box. It can also help educate you on how successful TikTok users create successful content.
There are certain things you can control when partnering with an influencer (or multiple influencers). Firstly, if you are in a specific niche, you can identify creators who create content that aligns well with your industry. Additionally, since TikTok creators know their audience, it would benefit you to vet influencers based on the demographics of their followers. This will help make sure you will be reaching the people who will eventually be your customers. This article provides examples of how brands have partnered with influencers to generate traffic and buzz: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/tiktok-sponsorships.
Supplemental TikTok Practices to Prime Your Audience
There are additional activities you can do to keep your audience warm and engaged. These practices will also help walk your audience along the acquisition journey.
When a TikTok account reaches 1,000 followers, they unlock a live video feature, which allows you to broadcast live to all of your followers. A notification will be sent to all of your followers notifications page showing that you are live. This is a great way to build trust and activate your audience.
Interact with your audience
Another way to help mobilize TikTok users towards brand loyalty is to show them that you care. Respond to their comments or go out of your way to comment on their posts. Additional features you can utilize to engage with your audience:
- Duet: You can “Duet” to a users video, showing them your support, and adding to it in a creative way.
- React: You can also react, which records your sound as well (Duet does not record sound). There are creative ways to utilize this feature. You can both build audience relationships, as well as generate more creative content for your brand.
Put your Instagram and Youtube Channels in your Bio
TikTok only allows certain creators to add links into their bio. However, there is the option to connect both your Instagram and Youtube account. Utilize your bio to encourage users to visit you on those platforms. Both offer the opportunity to track users through their first-party cookies. We do encourage brands to take at least a stab at this app. The organic reach opportunity is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Remember, stay wholesome, unexpected, and original.