And Your Business Should Be There
I’m in love with TikTok.
And if this old guy can fall in love with this imaginative, cross-generational feed of musically enhanced videos, maybe you should take a look at the marketing possibilities.
Sure, teen-agers and 20-somethings drove the social media platform’s early growth, but it is no longer just a domain for the young. Folks forced by the Covid-19 pandemic into stay-at-home boredom have flocked to TikTok. In the first three months of 2020, the number of TikTok users in the general U.S. population increased by 44 percent. Nearly a third of Americans 35 and under have joined TikTok, according to market research company Civic Science.
According to Hootsuite, TikTok is the world’s seventh largest social media platform. It’s catching up to Instagram and is far ahead of Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. One measure of the platform’s popularity is the growing business of offering to teach people how to use it.
TikTok’s national and international numbers don’t mean much if you run a local business. You’re not looking to reach a national audience, but the platform’s growth does mean it’s increasingly likely you will find your customers and fans there.
Why Is TikTok Cool?
It brings a smile to your face. Most videos show people having fun, whether they are dancing, telling a quick story or lip-synching a comedy routine. Not all of the videos are meant to be fun. Some are serious, educational or even emotionally wrenching.
Not all TikTok videos are good. If you come across a video you don’t like, you don’t have to wait long for it to end, or you can just scroll up.
For creators, the videos are easy to make. There are lots of built-in filters and it’s easy to select music to add to your creations. The 60-second time limit (most are shorter) means you don’t have to be creative for long. It’s like writing a sentence without having to worry about finishing the novel.
TikTok almost has a TV-like feel. It’s hard to stop watching once you start, and the commercials aren’t as disruptive.
Want to Buy Some Ads?
What about advertising? For the time being, I’ve seen mostly large brands in TikTok ads. A Hyundai video featured South Korean boy band BTS (clearly targeting young people). Ads for apps are popular, and I’ve seen ads for the new Playstation game system and a small-but-high-powered flashlight.
TikTok has a self-service ad platform, and targeting options include standard demographics, audience interests, and even location. I haven’t used the platform yet, so I don’t know how specific the location targeting gets (give me a call, and let’s set one up). The minimum daily budget is $50 with a campaign minimum of $500. You can even create custom audiences with a Facebook-like pixel that can help you retarget people who’ve visited your website.
Don’t be intimidated by making a video. The ad platform walks you through the process, and you can use still photos to build a slideshow. You don’t need to spend a lot of time shooting or in production. If you want to read more details about the advertising platform, read Hootsuite’s Complete Guide to TikTok Advertising for Marketers.
Take the Organic Approach
There’s no reason businesses must buy ads to appear on TikTok. As with other social media, you can post videos for free and encourage customers to follow your account. The short-video format is good for quick customer testimonials, showing customers how a product is made or used, and for showing off your personality.
If your TikToks resonate with a few people in your tribe, they’ll share, and word will spread.
I know, I know … here’s one more shiny object to think about for your digital marketing. If you need advice on whether TikTok, or any other social medium, is worth your marketing dollars, get some marketing help from someone you trust.
(You can see my TikToks at https://www.tiktok.com/@markawhittaker.)