TikTok might be challenging to explain to someone who doesn’t use it. It’s one of those platforms that you have to use to get. But, at the same time, if you spend a lot of time on social media, I’m sure you’ve seen some funny, short clips floating around as TikTok makes its content easily shareable. Perhaps the closest association I could think of is the now-defunct Vine.
I recently attended (virtually, of course) the North American tech conference Collision and tuned into three TikTok masterclasses hosted during the three-day event. I learned more about the brand and what it can offer businesses, both big and small.
While this story offers tips for businesses looking to use or grow on TikTok, I find some of the advice provided to be helpful for any creator on the platform, too. You might not have a business, but if you’re an avid or aspiring creator on TikTok, the pieces of advice offered might be helpful for you, too.
Download the app & use the Discover tab
The three sessions I tuned into were hosted by three different TikTok Canada’s team members, including Joshua Bloom, GM of global business solutions; Connie Chan, creative strategist; and Nik Djukic, director of brand partnerships.
Of course, the first piece of advice offered was to download and use the app.
Joshua said businesses should use the app to discover and plan what they want to post on TikTok. Look through relevant hashtags, see what users are responding to and liking, and find inspiration on subject matter that fits your brand.
Connie and Nik both encourage businesses to fully utilize the Discover tab. It’s a hub for daily trends on the app and shows TikTok’s editorial curation at work. Going through the trending hashtags will inform you what the TikTok community is talking about. Nik also advises users to look at what other businesses are doing.
Find your brand voice
Once you grasp the concept of TikTok, it’s time to take a look at your brand. Think about your purpose and why you’re on the platform. Joshua said you should “humanize your brand” and create your personality on it.
Connie talked about how her team analyzed brands who are active on the platform, naming four personas you can adopt as a way to connect with the community. These personas include being Relatable, Aspirational, Informative, and Inspirational. All of them have undertones of lightheartedness and humor, which is at the core of what makes TikTok attractive to its users.
When talking about each quality, Connie mentioned that Relatable is the “BFF of TikTok’s heartbeat.” The kind of content ranges from everyday occurrences to silliness that audiences can relate to. Aspirational aims to be larger than life or something to strive for. This persona adopts a more luxurious, premium, and high-class look to them. Inspirational taps into how you can inspire creators to co-create with you or encourage them to take ownership of what you have to offer and make it their own. And Informative wants to educate and show off your skillset to the audience. This persona seeks to help those who want to learn more about that community, products, or services you offer.
Use TikTok’s tools
While it’s tempting to bring the content you use outside of the app, TikTok encourages you to use the features on offer within the app. The beauty of the platform is any user or creator starts off with just a phone and an idea. TikTok’s team emphasizes how “sound is the soul of the TikTok experience.” It’s one of the reasons why the platform’s community is engaged.
Use tools like Duet, React to reply, Stitch, and find the perfect sound (or create one) to match your message. As Connie said, the platform is designed to tell rich stories with sound on.
Show up authentically
One of the biggest draws of TikTok is the lack of curated content, as Joshua pointed out. The content leans mainly on the natural expression of its users, and that off-the-cuff, spontaneous approach is often celebrated on the platform. Of course, there is well-produced content on TikTok, but the goal is still to do so as authentically as possible, even with that approach. As Connie said, “When brands show up authentically, the TikTok community shows up, too.”
Joshua advised businesses to experiment, see what resonates with the community. Find a way to get people to participate with your brand on their terms. Authentic content is usually the best content.
Nik mentioned how you shouldn’t be afraid to hop on to a trend. These are excellent sources of inspiration. Find a way to make the trend your own, and create content your customers can relate to.
Connie summed it up perfectly by saying, “Real is the new cultural currency.”
During his session, Joshua brought on L’Oreal’s CMO, Samantha Daude, to share her brand’s experience on the platform. A great piece of advice she offered was to listen to the creators who are using and talking about your products. Look at how they are using and “taking ownership” of your products.
Likewise, Nik brought on the CEOs of Lala Hijabs, Sana and Will Saleh, to offer excellent advice on creating authentic content on the platform. Sana said, “You want that piece of content to be valuable.” She talked about leaving your audience wanting more and “always have your audience in mind but don’t try to sell to them.”
“Real is the new cultural currency.”Connie Chan, creative strategist at TikTok Canada
Engage with the creators
Besides creating your content, engage with the creators on TikTok. Whether these creators are already talking about what you offer or those you think fit your brand. Joshua talked about how you should treat creators as advisors and speak with them regularly because they know where the trends are going.
Connie said that the creators are your gateway to engaging with different communities on TikTok. She talked about how you should show up the same way people are showing up. That insight you can gain will help you succeed on the platform.
L’Oreal’s Samantha emphasized how brands can give creators guidelines, but you should allow creators to have “full ownership” of the product as “creativity is their domain.” Keep the communication going, she said. And, on a more practical note, “When a product goes viral, make sure you have enough stock.”
There are more ways to engage on TikTok as a brand, but these are good jumping-off points on how to show up on this very engaged and engaging platform. You can also check out this TikTok for Business site for more information.