Do you want to become a TikTok superstar? Well, we’re here to give you the basics as part of our continuing series: Marketing Your Brand on Social Media. Let’s get started with a few of the basics for those of you who aren’t familiar with the marketing opportunities offered by TikTok before moving into the nuts and bolts of success in marketing on this platform.
Why you should want to become a TikTok superstar
Let me start off by saying that not every brand needs to be a TikTok superstar. The demographics of the platform show that it’s best for brands with a younger target market, say the 12-25 year olds. Sure, there are older folks hanging around, and the platform will likely attract a broader community as time goes on, but for now, it’s mostly the youngest social media users. In fact, nearly half of all US users are between 10 and 29 and 50% of the US creators are between 18 and 24. Thus, as of the end of 2023, it’s a young platform created by and for young users. While the platform isn’t right for everybody, the disposable income held by users in this target market adds up to big bucks when you consider that most have few expenses because they live at home so they don’t pay rent, utilities, food, or other major bills yet earn money with part-time or full-time jobs. Instead, according to this source, their money goes toward fueling a luxury lifestyle. The TikTok user base also skews slightly female.
What is TikTok?
TikTok is a video-sharing social media app commonly accessed through mobile devices, although you can access a desktop version. A Chinese company owns TikTok, hence the slew of regulations making their way through various governmental bodies. Fears over privacy and data sharing with the Chinese government underpin many of these efforts to ban TikTok, especially given the control the Chinese government exerts over Chinese companies and the young age of most of the app’s users.
Unlike YouTube, which features longer videos, TikTok competes with Instagram Reels to deliver very short, pithy videos. Instagram Reels captures the ecosystem created by Meta (Facebook), while TikTok is a stand-alone platform with about half the user base of its bigger competitor. But the differences between the two platforms are massive. For instance, TikTok has a different look and feel that relies on spontaneous, unfiltered posts with the ability to add sound, music, and background effects without much effort.
Content on TikTok
If you have teens, tweens, or Gen Zers living in your house, you can probably imagine the types of content that play well on TikTok, but here you go:
- Entertainment and celebrities
- Dance, comedy sketches, and music routines
- Health, fashion, and beauty
- Pet videos
Of course, some brands mastered the art of being a TikTok superstar in other areas. Five-minute Crafts creates how-to crafting videos that play well. But, TikTok isn’t designed for serious topics, users look for fun when they log into TikTok
How to become a TikTok superstar
First, know you can’t become a TikTok superstar overnight unless you’re already a well-known celebrity. For the rest of us, the only path to becoming a TikTok superstar is through consistent effort over a span of 6 months or more. If you can’t commit to this effort, there are no shortcuts. However, if you are willing to commit the effort toward becoming a TikTok superstar, here’s some advice that will help you optimize your effort.
Identify your target market
As I said earlier, TikTok isn’t for every brand. If there isn’t a natural fit between your brand and a younger demographic, you should choose a different social media platform for your marketing strategy. If you do appeal naturally to a younger demographic, you need to understand them at a deeper level if you want to succeed.
Define who you are trying to reach and build personas like the ones below for each segment of your target market. Pay particular attention to their behavioral identifiers and the problems they face. Consumers buy solutions, not products. Tailor your content to appeal to the interests and preferences of your target market using the language, music, and symbols that resonate with them.
As with any type of marketing, find your niche and stick to it. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. For instance, notice the persona for Maggie is older than the average TikTok user. Hence, you may want to create content to reach her on a different platform rather than using TikTok generically to reach her as well as the younger men in your target market.
Understand the platform
Start with your profile page and hack the “For You” page to create content that resonates with users. TikTok is unique, emphasizing creative, entertaining content that often follows trends, challenges, or uses popular music. Spend time on the platform to understand what type of content resonates with the user base. If your staff reflects your target market, ask them for ideas about the types of content they enjoy on the platform.
Check out your competitors to see what content they use and what garners the most engagement from your target market. However, TikTok favors uniqueness, so don’t try to replicate what your competition is doing.
Creating TikTok videos isn’t hard and you don’t need any special equipment beyond your smartphone and a bit of lighting. In fact, professional-looking videos don’t play well on the platform. You might want to create an outline to ensure you cover your key points but DON’T write out a script. Your video should seem spontaneous and natural. Go live with an event or in an interesting place.
TikTok relies on hashtags to deliver content that interests users, so include a few in your description.
The key to success on TikTok is engaging content that stands out. Focus on creating videos that are entertaining, informative, or both. Use humor, storytelling, and unique perspectives to capture attention.
Consistency is a big part of success on every social media platform. You can’t put something up and expect to see success. Instead, you should plan to create one or two short (15-30-second) videos to post every day.
A content calendar will help you keep up your efforts and meet your goals by allowing you to brainstorm ideas ahead of your posting schedule. It’s much easier to create content consistently when you have a schedule with topic ideas. Also, you can create content ahead of time and set up posting using an automation tool like Buffer. An automation tool reduces your workload by allowing you to create content during downtime and post it on the days and times that are optimal for reaching your target market. It also reduces the downtime you experience when shifting from one task to the next.
Creating content on TikTok isn’t hard. The platform contains most of what you need. Simply capture some video with your smartphone, add music, backgrounds, and a voiceover (if you don’t want to use audio captured with the video). Easy peasy and the platform contains everything you need, including music tracks, filters, and backgrounds.
Leverage trends and challenges
Don’t know what to post, follow trending hashtags, challenges, and songs. This can increase the visibility of your content. However, ensure that your participation is authentic and aligns with your brand. Hashtags are essential on TikTok for discoverability. Use a mix of trending, general, and brand-specific hashtags. Don’t overcrowd your posts with too many hashtags.
Respond to comments, engage with other users’ content, and encourage user interaction. Building a community around your brand can foster loyalty and increase engagement. Create stackable content that encourages user-generated content. This type of content asks questions that encourage users to stick their own content to part of your content. Another option is to create duet content that stitches your content to a video that’s already trending.
Partnering with TikTok influencers can also help you reach a broader audience. Choose influencers whose followers align with your target market and whose content style complements your brand.
Analyze and adapt
No one becomes a TikTok superstar without using metrics to guide better decisions. Utilize TikTok’s analytics tools to monitor the performance of your content. Look at what works and what doesn’t, and adapt your strategy accordingly. Don’t get fooled by vanity metrics such as number of followers. Pay attention to KPIs (key performance indicators) that track to your goals.
Incorporate paid advertising
Like other social media platforms, as the platform gains users, its efforts turn to monetizing the platform, and organic reach (unpaid) declines. We’re not seeing huge declines yet, but it’s only a matter of time before you’ll need to shift your focus to paid advertising. If your budget allows, explore TikTok’s paid advertising options like branded challenges, branded effects, and in-feed ads to expand your reach.
Remember, success on TikTok, like any social media platform, doesn’t happen overnight. It requires time, effort, creativity, and adaptability. Keep experimenting with different types of content and strategies to see what works best for your brand. You can become a TikTok superstar if you’re willing to put in the effort and learn more beyond these basics when it comes to effectively using TikTok to market your brand. I’d love to hear about your journey or answer any questions you have. Simply enter your thoughts in the comments section below.
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