As far as social media platforms go, TikTok was somewhat of a late arrival. It was only about 5 years ago that the app was first available in the United States and while we often hear about what a decided advantage it is to be first on the market, TikTok has certainly defied the odds in that respect. It took very little time for it to unseat what most would perceive to be its most direct rival — Snapchat — and it now boasts about two and a half times as many users. To put things in perspective, TikTok’s estimated one billion users isn’t all that far behind Instagram (1.5 billion).
TikTok has forged a unique perception for itself in the social media landscape. Irreverent. Youth oriented. Spontaneous. Because its sheer popularity is now far beyond question, businesses of all sizes have jumped on board to connect with prospects and existing customers alike — with varying degrees of success.
There are no substitutes for sheer persistence and objective analysis, but if you haven’t quite achieved the level of success on TikTok you had hoped for, or even if you’re doing okay but want to step things up a bit, here are 5 Tips on How to Improve Your TikTok Marketing Strategy.
Above All, Make People Care About Your Content
As author Simon Sinek once noted, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it.” You’re not likely to achieve much success with your TikTok marketing strategy if you ramp things up with a consistent hard-sell approach, but let’s face it, the goal with any company’s social media efforts is to amass an online community whose members can be transformed from leads to customers to — hopefully — brand evangelists.
This isn’t likely to happen if TikTok users are ambivalent toward your content. You have to give them a reason to care and not just hope that users will randomly stop scrolling when they happen upon your content to get the engagement you’re looking for. There is no one single reason that will universally resonate. Some companies might do best by forging an emotional connection with their audience, some by educating them in an entertaining manner, while others might take a more direct approach and offer their viewers a direct, tangible gain.
The average TikTok user spends 858 minutes a month on the app — only slightly less than a half-hour per day — but that still doesn’t mean that your content will resonate unless it’s consistently compelling.
Humor helps — it helps A LOT, actually — but it can also lead a company’s TikTok marketing strategy astray if it becomes a priority above all else. We’ve all seen content that seemed amusing at first, but upon further reflection was actually confusing, or worse, in bad taste.
Be Prolific, But Not at the Expense of User Experience
While there are times when repurposing content from one social media platform to another might make sense, each of those platforms occupies its own landscape and requires its own individual marketing strategy. One of the key elements in this strategy is the frequency with which you post. What might seem to be overbearing and excessively frequent on Facebook will seem far less so on Twitter, for example.
So, where does TikTok stand in this “frequency” spectrum? Definitely on the higher end. Simply upping the frequency with which you post can often be a big factor in improving your Tik Tok marketing efforts and TikTok generally recommends 1-4 times per day to be the optimum frequency.
That’s a lot of frequency, so there’s an inherent challenge to remain compelling. You can build an avid audience over time with relevant and entertaining content, but that content has to continue to pique the interest of that audience, or over time your engagement is bound to suffer.
Taking a close, honest look at the user experience you provide can yield big benefits. Is your content consistently worth watching, or are you just assuming that “good enough” will get the job done? Are your videos presented clearly? More than 80% of the content on TikTok is in 720p or higher — despite the relatively small screen size most content is viewed on, clearer is always better. Using out of focus content, or content that constantly veers out of viewing range, is a great way to lose viewers fast. Also, it’s a good idea to try and stick with portrait mode (9:16 ratio) whenever possible, as that’s proven to be the preferred format among TikTok users.
While we tend to assume that most people scroll through social media platforms with their volume levels down, it’s not a good idea to factor this habit too heavily into the equation. On the whole, audio matters quite a bit — even if that sound is just you talking to the camera. Of course, if music does play a consistently strong role in your content, it’s also important to make sure that it’s both appropriate and not so loud as to be overbearing. On the other hand, because there are plenty of users who do in fact keep their device’s volume levels down, adding subtitles is often a good way to capture initial attention.
Be analytical in your approach. The freewheeling nature of the TikTok platform may make it seem like getting too far into the weeds with marketing analytics would be counterintuitive, but it isn’t. You should take a close look at how each of your posts resonates with your audience, based on its content, length, when it goes live, etc.
Just as is the case with other social media platforms, TikTok’s “For You” Feed uses an algorithm that delivers personalized content for each user. We’re all individuals, of course, but the key here is to find that consistent content “sweet spot” that resonates with the highest number of users who would also qualify as likely prospects for your business or service.
And speaking of content length, while TikTok is still associated with brevity, it’s not to the extent that it once was. Theoretically, you have the ability to post up to a ten minute video, but that’s certainly not to suggest that you should. Just rest assured that, if it takes more than 10-15 seconds for your content “story” to unfold, if your content is strong enough, viewers will stay with it. Just bear in mind that those viewers have become increasingly discerning over the years and can also easily detect when you’re stretching your content.
Pay Attention to Your Branding and Approach
While it has matured a bit over the past few years, TikTok still retains most of its reputation for irreverence. After all, what would you expect from a platform that was initially associated almost entirely with dance challenges? As a result, what might be considered the right content tone for Instagram — let alone a more business-centric platform like LinkedIn — would often be way off the mark for TikTok.
But don’t let this quest for irreverence be your sole guide when developing your content strategy. As we’ve already pointed out, humor is a great tool to boost engagement, but that humor should stay congruent with your overall branding. If the content you put out doesn’t match the overall personality of your business, somewhere along the line it will probably cause dissonance that could keep users from wanting to become customers or clients. TikTok users can smell inauthenticity from a mile away.
The same goes with attempting to position your business as more youth-centric than it really is. TikTok was once associated entirely with teens, but that has changed to an extent. Sure, its audience still skews young — 90% of TikTok users are under 50 and 70% are under 40 — but then again, just under 46% of users are between the ages of 20 and 39. That might not be the ideal age range for all businesses —some of them might be better served focusing their social media efforts elsewhere — but for many of them, that age range represents quite a bit of territory that can be effectively approached with less than over the top frivolity.
Just as is the case with other social media platforms, your content has to strike a natural, conversational balance between entertainment and promotion. Generating revenue is, of course, the ultimate goal for any company’s social media efforts, but the “cocktail party” analogy that’s so often used to describe effective social media etiquette applies here, too. You want to give your audience the motivation to become customers, but you don’t want to “shout” at them. The hard sell approach definitely doesn’t work here.
Pay Attention to Trends and Use Hashtags Effectively
Arguably more than any other platform, TikTok is very “trend-centric” and its users spend an appreciable amount of time seeking out content under trending hashtags. To take full advantage of this, a business should try to leverage these hashtags in their content — but in a manner that makes sense. When content and hashtag don’t coincide, it can create ill-will among TikTok users pretty easily, so the key here is to regularly research which hashtags are trending, then attempt to develop content that’s an obvious match.
Since TikTok’s algorithm puts a high priority on favoring content based on its popularity and the number of views, businesses that master this process can introduce themselves to a sizable audience in a relatively short amount of time while still staying on brand.
TikTok’s hashtag challenges have skyrocketed in popularity of late and while the most high-profile success stories in this category come from companies that also put a substantial amount of advertising money behind their efforts — often well into six figures — it is possible to gain traction by creating a hashtag challenge without a huge expenditure.
Since users are more likely to join in a challenge if someone they know is already participating, many companies seek out TikTok influencers to get the ball rolling. As such, this wouldn’t necessarily be considered a fully organic strategy, but since these influencers span the range of audience sizes — and therefore fees — it’s often possible for a company to partner up with an influencer at a price point that makes sense for both parties.
If you’re thinking about creating your own hashtag challenge, it’s important to make the central action repeatable by a wide variety of users. A challenge centered on anything requiring a high level of skill won’t cut it — it’ll only serve to alienate people. And if you’re considering incentivizing users through a sweepstakes of any kind, be sure and familiarize yourself with TikTok’s rules in this area.
Take Advantage of TikTok’s Advertising Features
On more than a few occasions, we’ve talked about social media’s overall declining organic reach. It has been in a virtual freefall over the past few years and certainly shows no signs of reversing that trend anytime soon — except where TikTok is concerned. Businesses can still achieve a level of organic reach far beyond what other platforms may offer — sometimes literally 20 times more.
There’s bound to come a time when that stellar level of organic reach starts to decline, but even before it does, advertising on TikTok makes a lot of sense for many brands. The platform got off to a rocky start when it first started offering advertising back in 2018, delivering cost per thousand (CPM) rates that were rightfully considered to be woefully inefficient, but things have since calmed down in that regard.
That CPM has settled to a more palatable $10, which compares favorably with Facebook’s current $14.40 — a rate that has gone up considerably in only the past 12 months. And while TikTok’s advertising minimum of $500 might not make testing as painless as it is with some other platforms, that’s still within the reach of most companies.
TikTok offers an array of advertising formats, including Top View Ads that are positioned at the top of the user feed, and InFeed ads that are positioned between user videos, and offer a briefer duration, but can be formatted to include a call to action.
Admittedly, some of the top-tier advertising options TikTok offers will only appeal to businesses with decidedly deep pockets, such as Brand Takeover ads, which allow companies to virtually dominate the feed while positioning non-skippable ads to appear just as a user opens the app. These same ads can also appear as still images in the For You page, with a clickable link that will direct viewers to a landing page.
A number of very well-capitalized companies have paired the aforementioned TikTok hashtag challenge with substantial advertising buys for promotion — and have enjoyed a surprising level of success, even when the product being promoted wouldn’t seem to lend itself to this approach. A great example of this would be lawncare company Scott’s #DoTheScottsSlide challenge. This challenge, centered on customers creating videos of themselves dancing on their newly pristine lawns, also included entry in a sweepstakes contest and resulted in more than 2 billion video views and 1.3 million user videos created over the course of only two days.
While anticipated results would have to be tempered accordingly, companies of all sizes can often fuel their own hashtag challenges with relatively modest advertising budgets.
Only a short time ago, TikTok was considered the most niche of all the social media platforms, but it has evolved considerably and, largely because of its unusually high level of engagement, represents a great opportunity for motivated businesses to grow their audiences and increase their customer bases.
We’re curious . . . have you tried your hand at marketing on TikTok? If so, how have things gone so far? If not, is TikTok going to be a part of your business’s future marketing initiatives? We’d love to hear from you.