As a fast-growing video-sharing platform, TikTok is expected to have 1.8 billion users by the end of 2022. The platform has come a long way since it was launched globally in 2017.
In recent years, TikTok has evolved into a unique social media platform where spotting trends, creating reactive relevant content, and leveraging influencers and user-generated content is the name of the game. To succeed on TikTok, marketers need to reconfigure traditional marketing practices and embrace the platform’s fast-paced, community-driven nature.
Though trend-spotting is nothing new in digital marketing or traditional marketing in general, TikTok focuses on just how valuable trending content is.
Trending content on TikTok feeds into the platform’s algorithm. Meaning, if you hop on a new challenge or use a trending sound in your latest video, TikTok is more likely to feed your content to more users’ For You pages. When your brand produces timely content it allows you to reach untapped audiences who aren’t yet following you.
By keeping up with trends, brands also get the chance to communicate their values or viewpoints surrounding popular topics. In this way, brands become a part of the conversation at a grassroots level. Brands can produce relatable content that showcases their personality. It’s an opportunity for stretching creative insights, connecting with target audiences, and strengthening a brand’s story.
TikTok is known as a platform where brands and content creators can get exposure—fast. And while gaining this type of traction on the app is great, you need to be able to keep it up. A lot of the more traditional ways brands have managed their social media profiles in the past no longer work here. TikTok has quite literally forced brands to be more open-minded and loose. Your brand personality has to be a lot more fun in order to succeed on the platform.
This has been the biggest learning curve for a lot of brands and social media marketers, who are traditionally used to being more polished and professional on social media platforms. As an agency, we’ve learned that you can still present yourself in a positive manner, but you have to be willing to be a little informal. This includes being more flexible in your processes as well.
Currently, content that trends on TikTok uses trending songs, sound effects, filters, hashtags, or styles of editing. Some ways brands can stay on top of TikTok trends in 2023 include:
The only difficult thing is that TikTok trends can change really quickly. If you miss a trend at its peak, you can appear behind the times and not “cool”. While social media managers are used to planning out content months in advance, that way of thinking has been challenged. It’s now a split between planned content and keeping some spots in your social media calendars open for reactive content so you can capitalize on emerging trends. This also means that for brands to succeed on TikTok, approval times between brands and agencies need to be quick so that you can capitalize on these trends before they’ve passed.
Community management is how businesses engage with their audience. It encompasses social listening, addressing customer concerns, and participating in discussions that are relevant to your brand. Some businesses take community management further by engaging their communities through contests, polls, and so on.
As TikTok gained popularity, it also reshaped community management as marketers knew it. All in all, TikTok is an online space and community that values raw authenticity. This pushed brands to practice community management in ways they never do outside the platform or on other social media channels.
From #BookTok to #WitchTok to #MoneyTok, TikTok is heavily focused on communities. Using a social media platform as a sounding board or bulletin board for announcements (which is a very common approach in other platforms) will not be effective on TikTok. Instead, focus on creating a community space using the following strategies:
As a platform that values authenticity, the ideal messaging tone on TikTok is conversational, real, and even bold. This applies to both published content as well as comments and replies. A great sense of humour is also a key factor for success on TikTok. Marketers are pushed to showcase their quick wit and ability to think on their feet.
TikTok doesn’t favour polished videos. Humanized content is what thrives on this fast-moving platform. It’s content that’s created by real people. As we all know, people trust real people—and it isn’t that a brand is untrustworthy, social media users (and especially on TikTok) just want to connect with the people behind the brand. Fun, humanized content from a brand’s employees, its leadership, and everyone’s pets is what we’ve seen work.
Most marketers post four to six times per week on TikTok, with the platform itself recommending you post one to four times a day. This can be an overwhelming benchmark for brands that are just starting out. However, it’s well known that the TikTok algorithm rewards consistency, as it wants to keep both users and creators active on the platform.
It’s better to maintain consistency than to aim for frequent posting that culminates in a complete long halt. Long-term planning is key. At the same time, planning needs to be kept flexible in case there will be new trends that brands can leverage. Social media marketing departments are pushed to collaborate and set aside dedicated time on a weekly or even daily basis for spotting/predicting trends, as well as content creation.
Many marketing departments are realizing that staying on top of trends, creating fresh trend-reactive content, and engaging with communities makes TikTok a full-time job on its own. Moving forward into 2023, businesses that want to leverage TikTok as a marketing channel will likely need to hire for positions that focus solely on the platform.
TikTok is a prime example of how the social media landscape is growing more and more segmented. You can no longer post the same type of content across all channels and expect the same results. What will work for Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn just won’t work for TikTok. To see real success, you need to lean into each individual platform’s best practices, stay nimble in your planning, and trust your social media marketing teams.