You hopped on the TikTok bandwagon, maybe even posted your employees participating in the latest viral dance challenge, and now you have a solid audience. But what comes next?
In the past year, TikTok has become a primary channel for a lot of brands and a secondary channel for even more. The platform is the first social network that can really compete with the likes of Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. In fact, TikTok’s average watch time per user each month even eclipses YouTube.
In our webinar Your Brand Built a TikTok Audience, Now What?, panelists Madeline Moy, Senior Social Media Campaign Manager at Starbucks; Nick Cicero, VP of Strategy at Conviva; Jared Kleinstein, Founder of Fresh Tape Media and Gondola; Carina Petrillo, Social Engagement Manager at Hulu; and Victoria Tran, Community Director at Innersloth, discuss tips for keeping your TikTok presence humming.
Here are five best practices as you develop your TikTok strategy for 2022 and beyond.
Put user-generated content at the forefront.
User-generated content (UGC) is one of the best ways to create an efficient, sustainable strategy for your TikTok content in the long term.
This content allows brands to highlight their unique relationship with customers, as users can express things that brands could never say and often say things in a better, more organic way. Many users have such a unique way of expressing a message that it resonates with a brand’s community better than a brand could ever present it.
UGC is also a great way to test your own content. If you’re listening to what your audience is creating relative to your brand, you can incorporate those themes into your content, even without reposting. This will give you ample source material and entry points to analyze and pull insights back that you can test with your team.
“We are specifically looking for videos that are aligned with Starbucks’ values, authentic, and relatable, positive and uplifting, native to the TikTok channel, and then, most important, entertaining. … We really feel that TikTok allows us to showcase human connection in the best way and maybe is even the strongest of any of the platforms that are out there right now.” — Madeline Moy, Senior Social Media Campaign Manager at Starbucks
Capitalize on text-to-speech and other simple features.
Leaning into the natural functionalities of TikTok can help you overcome red tape within your company while allowing you to play into trends. Don’t be afraid to use the platform’s backgrounds, filters, screens, and, in particular, text-to-speech feature.
Audiences continue to respond well to the text-to-speech functionality, which gives a voice to creators and brands alike, helping to personify a brand without the viewer needing to see or hear who you are. Its original Siri-esque robotic voice has now taken on an identity of its own in the platform and allows people to feel more comfortable creating content since they don’t have to be the focus of it.
This inherent functionality has opened the door to many creators who otherwise might not be creating if it didn’t exist and allows brands to have a persona without requiring them to assign one main face to the brand.
“We also don’t feel comfortable just picking one person from our team and saying, ‘Hey, surprise, you are now the voice of Hulu’s TikTok.’ We can use that text-to-speech feature and give Hulu a persona without assigning a permanent persona.” — Carina Petrillo, Social Media Manager at Hulu
Prepare to be humbled.
If you’re used to producing successful social content, TikTok is going to humble you. Success on TikTok is a moving target because the trends change so quickly. Even something that did really well yesterday might be out of fashion today.
Your first strategy should be authenticity—you don’t have to do everything that’s popular on TikTok. We’ve all seen cringy examples of brands trying to chase trends. If a trend doesn’t feel authentic to your brand, don’t force it. Instead, focus on approachability, which will take you far in terms of audience engagement.
Another strategy is to focus on quick-turn content. By increasing your capability to do more lightweight and fast content, you’ll be able to hook into current trends more easily. To support this strategy, ensure you have a social media manager who is constantly surfacing trends to capitalize on as they happen. That timeliness is everything on TikTok.
Still, don’t dismiss more professionally produced content. Experts warn that brands are at risk of under-investing in content when it comes to TikTok. To be successful on the platform, you’ll want a well-rounded strategy that includes both “low-fi” and “high-fi” content.
“We’ll see everything from that kind of stuff, where we did a TikTok with Puma where we poured chocolate on top of a coffee and it got six million views, to Microsoft EDU, where we did a series with the creator that had a 10-person crew and a whole rented set and everything. That stuff has over seven million views in a couple weeks. … Just because low-fi does happen to work often on the platform doesn’t mean that you should skip out on the high-quality stuff.” —Jared Kleinstein, Founder of Fresh Tape Media and Gondola
Find a cadence that works for you and your community.
Many brands post two to four times a week, if not multiple times a day, while others only post once a week. When it comes to posting frequency, there’s no silver bullet. It’s really about finding a cadence that works for you and your social media community.
To ensure your cadence is sustainable, create content that brings you joy and doesn’t burn you out. Once you identify that, measure what works and what doesn’t work so you can maximize your time and resources. See what gets the most engagement, what gets the most views, and structure your content around that.
Remember: TikTok is less about creating corporate ads and more about creating a true community around your brand, having fun with content, and growing together with your audience.
“The ways I found to create quality is to create enough quantity so that I can figure out what works for me. I think there is a lot of initial energy you will need to put into this, like all the tracking of all the creation, but once you get a cadence, it works out really well. Then your community expects it; they kind of understand it’s like that once-a-week cadence.” —Victoria Tran, Community Director at Innersloth
Understand and measure what you can control.
When you’re establishing your strategy, do a deep dive into identifying the themes or buckets that you want to create content under. These could include things like, “What do we promote that represents personality?” or “What do we create that shows off behind the scenes?”
After you identify your themes, create content that falls into those buckets, tag your content in relation to its category, and measure what drives the highest engagement or viewership based on the problem that you want to solve.
For example, if you have 50 TikTok posts that are sitting under five different buckets, then you can start to analyze things like:
- What content categories did I make each week?
- What type of content resulted in big spikes of follower growth or huge boosts in viewership?
- How do the different content categories relate back to my account-level metrics?
- Did the posts that were the most successful have something in common, like the type of content versus a specific sound or filter?
Once you identify any trends, you can replicate them to boost your chances of future success.
“You have to take it with a grain of salt because there are anomalies that are just going to happen on any given day from TikTok, from the zeitgeist of things that are happening, from trends that happen on TikTok that you might tangentially fit into because of the algorithm and personalization, but the most important thing is you can only control what you can measure. I think that’s the thing to think about.” —Nick Cicero, VP of Strategy at Conviva
To learn more about creating a successful TikTok strategy—including how to overcome legal hurdles and strategies for responding to negative comments—watch the Your Brand Built a TikTok Audience, Now What? webinar.