Updated: Jun 18
The hottest social media question for 2020: Should I use TikTok for my business? Read on for an insider's experience.
We all knew it would happen, but maybe we didn't know it would look like this. Facebook has been the leader in social media for what feels like forever, but even they have been telling advertisers that video was the future for social media. As a marketer, I can tell you that Facebook video hasn't played out the way I thought it would for my business or the businesses I represent, but I did - and still do- believe that short videos are the social media of the future. Which is to say, now.
Hello Business Owner, meet TikTok. TikTok is owned by a Chinese company, ByteDance, and is the leading destination for short-form mobile video. Their mission is to inspire creativity and bring joy. And that it does. Videos are a maximum of 60 seconds in length and set to music or original sounds. The TikTok mobile app interface takes scrolling to a whole new level. There are two categories: "Following", which is the latest videos from the users you follow on the app; "For You" are algorithm-produced videos that TikTok thinks you might enjoy. And that's basically it for your feed. You just watch one, scroll up, and watch the next. For hours. Seriously, it's addicting. I have friends who refuse to download it simply because they know they will have a problem.
Like most social media platforms, TikTok was most popular among younger users, particularly pre-teen and teenagers before Covid-19 caused middle-aged parents to take over the app. Well, that might be premature, but I'm pretty sure it's going in the direction of Facebook and Instagram. While some videos make political statements, the majority of videos are lighthearted and fun, focusing on dancing, humor, challenges, and even recipes. What's trending on TikTok changes frequently so it's important to jump on a trend pronto. Also, do not think too hard about it. This is not an app that takes itself seriously, so neither should you. Here's an example of me not taking myself seriously:
Well-produced videos always look fantastic, but the great news is that anyone can produce one of these gems thanks to the in-app design features. With a little practice and a good smartphone camera, even the least tech-savvy person can figure it out. And if not, there are people like me who can teach you. No, seriously, it's what I do for a living. Feel free to email me your question. Or better yet, follow me on TikTok and send me a direct message. My username is "angeliqueflynn".
I joined TikTok to figure out its practical value for business, and I have become obsessed. I guarantee you will too. Here are my top three arguments for joining TikTok to grow your business:
Point 1: Should I be on TikTok?
Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: Yes, yes, yes! I believe that TikTok is relevant for almost every business-to-consumer enterprise, and a few business-to-business industries as well. Everyone is on the app, which makes it prime real estate for the moment. You can pay for a sponsored ad, but you can also build a following with a business account, or pay a TikTok influencer to help you build your account. (I might know a few!)
Let's look at some stats regarding TikTok, as of this year:
There are more than 800 million monthly active users on TikTok worldwide (more than Twitter, which has roughly 330 million). The app is available in 150 countries.
In the United States, TikTok has been downloaded by over 175 million users.
In April, 39.2 million users over the age of 18 joined TikTok.
The percentage of U.S.-based TikTok users age 18-24 fell from 41.1% in January to 35.3% in April, a 5.8% drop. During that same time period, the share of 25- to 34-year-olds rose from 22.4% to 27.4%, and the 35-44 demographic grew from 13.9% to 17.1%. This means that the TikTok user base is aging up (so get on it now!). All data via Comscore.
TikTok users spend an average of 52 minutes per day on the app.
In the United States, 60% of users are female, 40% are male. 60% are between the ages of 16-24. 26% are between the ages 25-44. 80% are between the ages 16-34. This data comes straight from TikTok.
How many more stats do you need to start for free?
Point 2: But how do I use it?
So you've decided to bite the bullet and start your free account. But now what? I recommend following the same practices you would for any other online presence. Think about your target audience. Figure out your niche. Get really clear on what you want to be known for. And then start filming videos in that area. Can you jump on trends? Sure. But make sure that when one of your videos goes viral, and people visit your page to see what you are all about, they will be able to ascertain your mission quickly.
It's important to note that trends do better than original content. Yes, all trends began as original content, but in your beginning, it is much easier to learn the moves to someone else's dance than to choreograph your own. In other words, don't reinvent the wheel! Starting your own trends and hashtags through sponsored posts can cost an arm and a leg, so for my small business clients, I suggest a more conservative approach. If you can call this conservative.
Nevertheless, you can always re-imagine a trend to fit your business. Spend some time finding industry-appropriate hashtags, watching those videos and following those businesses, and experimenting with ideas before narrowing down your focus. Not sure where to start? Contact me with your industry and I'll send you a few hashtags and accounts to follow!
Point 3: Shouldn't I be professional? I run a professional business.
Be silly! Do not be afraid to show your bloopers on TikTok. Be human. Use good lighting and use a good camera, but put a human face and personality on your brand. Jump in. It's time! If you always feel like you are behind the trends, get in front of this one. No experience necessary. Just have fun.