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TikTok: Social Media Marketing's New Kid on the Block
For both the right and wrong reasons TikTok has been flooding the news recently. There have been all sorts of claims around its data management policies and association (or lack thereof) with its country of origin’s governmental party - but we’re not here to talk about privacy laws and politics; we’re here to talk about marketing. And TikTok, whether you like it or not, is ready to become a marketing channel monster.
For those of you who haven’t used TikTok yet, you’ve probably heard a thing or two about it - most popularly we’ve seen on-TikTokers summarise the APP with something along the lines of “the APP where 15-year olds make dance videos? Yeah, we probably don’t need to worry about that one”.
The reality is, there’s so much more to TikTok than dance videos, and the platform is certainly not only popular amongst teens. In fact, 1.6 million Australians use the APP, and over 400’000 of them are 30+ years old.
Yes, the platform is more popular amongst Gen Z and Alpha, with most of the users falling in these age groups, but there is certainly no shortage of “older” people on the platform.
Now let’s talk about what actually makes TikTok different to other platforms like Instagram or Facebook and where it fits within a smart social media marketing strategy.
The For You Page
If you download TikTok the first thing you’ll see is the For You page. For non-TikTokers, picture Instagram Explore, but people ACTUALLY use it. More so, the For You page is considered the main page of TikTok. On it, you’ll be served an endless stream of videos from creators of all genres, shapes and sizes. In other words, no matter who you are or what your content looks like, at any point in time, your content WILL appear in front of strangers on TikTok.
So how is that different from Instagram and Facebook? Well, while Instagram does have the Explore page, most people focus on the Instagram feed while using the APP - they look at content posted by people who they follow. As for Facebook, while it does tend to add all sorts of content on your feed, it is tremendously driven by the likes and overall engagement of the content. In other words, if the content is not extremely popular already, it’s unlikely that Facebook will present it to you.
TikTok changes the rules of the social media game by allowing anyone and everyone to expose their content with others. This allows people to value content for what it is, not for the number of followers the content creator or brand has. “Free organic reach and engagement? No way! Not in 2020…” Yup - with TikTok the phrase “organic reach is dead” is not all that applicable.
Don’t believe us? Try it yourself. Post a half-decent video on TikTok, add a couple of hashtags, a trendy song and see what happens.
A Super Engaged Audience
On average, people use TikTok 52 minutes per day, with 90% of users accessing the APP on a daily basis. To put that into perspective, with social media super-platform Instagram, around 62.5% users access the APP on a daily basis, and use the APP around 53 minutes per day. With Facebook, 63% of users access the APP daily and spend around 58 minutes of their day on it.
The point? These numbers are all basically the same! In a few years of existence, TikTok has nearly matched (or outperformed) two of the top social media platforms out there, with a global user base of 800 million.
So no. TikTok is not a fad. It’s an exploding platform and people love it. You want to be where your customers are right? You want to message them where they like to spend their time right? Well, just as much as Instagram and Facebook, TikTok is where your users are likely spending their online time at.
Let’s focus on the real of social media marketing and social media advertising now. Recently, TikTok launched TikTok for business - an advertising platform for advertisers to create and publish sponsored content and ads. Currently there are 5 major kinds of TikTok ads you can run:
- In-feed ads - your video ad will show up on users’ screen as they scroll through content.
- Brand takeover - your video ad will show up on users’ screen when they first open the app. After a few seconds they’ll be able to skip the ad.
- Top View ads - similarly to Brand Takeover ads, people are presented with your ad a few seconds after they enter the APP. Unlike Brand Takeover ads, Top View ads are the first in-feed video to show up after 3 seconds of entering the APP - which many would consider less invasive than Brand Takeover, although maybe not as impactful.
- Branded Hashtag Challenge - this is where it starts to get interesting. A Branded Hashtag Challenge involves creating a special branded hashtag - e.g. #PepsiMangoSummer - and coming up with a dance routine or video sequence that matches a song or original sound. People are then invited to replicate the trend (and if you’ve done your work right, they most definitely will).
- Branded Effects - you can create a sticker or AR filter that users can then use on their content.
While these might not seem totally different to what is offered on Instagram or Facebook, there is a key difference - TikTok users really REALLY don’t like ads. Now before you think “why the hell are you just saying this now?!”. What we mean by this is that ads on TikTok SHOULD NOT look like ads. To be completely honest, the same rule applies to most social media platforms, but more so on TikTok.
In fact, the TikTok Ads manager even allows you to shoot videos as you go through the ad creation process. This ties back to their flagship campaign when launching their TikTok for Business platform - “Don’t make ads, make TikToks”.
TikTok is a fun, creative platform full of all sorts of content - ranging from the hilarious to the bizarre. To stand out, gain a following, and drive some business results, you should embrace TikTok for what it is, and allow yourself or your brand to explore their fun side.
Get your team at the office to come up with a dance routine. Jump in on the latest trends and build your brand into the message. Think about a funny or cool application for your product and upload a video while showing everyone what it is.
TikTok has a great community, and if you’re willing to embrace the TikTok culture, you WILL see some good results.
The Last Sunny Corner of the Internet
Perhaps overly dramatically so, TikTok has indeed been called “the last sunny corner of the internet”. With (significantly) fewer ads, a minimal focus on influencers, and content that is ACTUALLY authentic and not a filtered, hyper-edited version of authenticity, TikTok just has a different vibe to it - a good, relaxing and enjoyable vibe.
That’s why more and more people are joining the APP and staying. And as brand managers or marketers, it’s your duty to jump in before it’s too late. Don’t worry - you’re just in time.