TikTok is the current social media star, and it may be the one that has been around the longest. TikTok broke the record for most downloads with 656 million in 2021, leaving Instagram in the dust by 100 million. It was the only social media app besides Facebook to reach more than three billion downloads.
But TikTok’s dominance is more than just a matter of numbers; in terms of sheer power, it makes even bigger waves.
You can blame TikTok if you’ve noticed that your Instagram and Facebook feeds have changed recently to put more emphasis on videos and show you more viral content from outside your network. Even though it affects all of social media, the speed with which TikTok took over seems to have shaken up Meta properties in particular. Instagram in particular.
For a while now, content trends have been moving away from the written word. Five years ago, there was a huge podcast boom, but things have slowed down since then because people think the market is already full. Now, short videos are all the rage.
TikTok and other similar apps like Instagram Reels are becoming popular. At the same time, apps like Twitter aren’t changing much because it’s more fun to watch an endless stream of videos than to see the same content retweeted multiple times or updates from family and people you barely know from high school.
When it comes to social media content, TikTok is the best of both worlds. It shows that you tried and were creative, but it doesn’t need to be very polished to work. Your TikToks will look more real if they don’t look like they were made by a professional. This is why it’s hard for brands, especially ones that have been around for a long time, to understand how TikTok works. Let’s face it: most creative departments work too much and think too much. They often come up with great work, but it can lose its authenticity.
So, let’s think of some ideas. TikTok is mostly used by people between the ages of 15 and 25, but if a kid with a phone camera and a dream can do it, so can your well-staffed marketing team. It’s just a matter of figuring out what works and doing it again.
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The Four Hacks of TikTok Success
Hack #1 – Don’t make ads
If someone came to your birthday party and started handing out their business cards, you’d be annoyed, and that’s putting it nicely. With one exception that we’ll talk about later, TikTok is not the place for influencer or Billo ads.
No one is on the platform to watch ads, and it’s just wrong and bad planning to fill video channels with nothing but ads. Accept that you are a content marketer and think about how you can make people’s days better.
Hack #2 – Make ads…but run them as ads.
When I said “don’t make ads,” I meant don’t make ads and put them on your TikTok account. Like every other platform, TikTok has a business side that will let brands run ads. Here, you can run your ad campaign in a way that won’t offend anyone. But I wouldn’t just run ads on TikTok and ignore the content. The content is what makes the app interesting and what people come to see.
Hack #3 – Not creative? Not necessarily a problem.
People think that to go viral, you have to take your employees hostage and make them dance to the latest popular song. Find someone who does if you don’t have the creative skills to make good content for TikTok. There are a lot of creators out there who want to work with brands.
But I want to say it again: creators. Not powerful people. A content creator, on the other hand, can give your brand a storyline and some direction (along with some much-needed humor) toward what is popular. An influencer can look cute in front of the camera while holding your product. This is great if you just want to promote something on Facebook, but it’s not what you want on TikTok.
Hack #4 – Keep your ears open.
Social listening is a tool that is undervalued and even less often used. I guess I shouldn’t tell you how I got where I am, but I’m in a giving mood today. Invest in social listening tools like Awario or BuzzSumo so you’ll always know what’s happening online.
TikTok is based on trends, but the sad truth is that these trends only last a week or so, if you’re lucky. Social listening tools can help you figure out what’s going on under the surface so you’re ready to catch it when it comes to the surface.
It takes planning, creativity, and time to use TikTok. Major brands have all of these tools, but they don’t seem to be able to use them well enough to make a bulletproof TikTok strategy.
If I had to sum up my advice in one sentence, it would be this: remember that you’re a marketer, which is the middle ground between making content and selling it. Use both parts of that identity to make content that hits the mark.