Facebook may still lead the pack in overall users, but TikTok has remained the fastest growing social media platform for two years running.
Experts who initially thought TikTok’s popularity was a youthful pandemic trend are now reconsidering that opinion. Boomers and Gen Xers are also hooked on the highly consumable format, logging considerable amounts of time interacting with the app. In 2021, users spent an average of 44 minutes swiping away each day – surpassing daily averages for YouTube and Facebook.
Even with all the buzz around its rapid growth, some companies may struggle to imagine themselves on TikTok. However, as the digital landscape continues to evolve, a broadening range of home retail and hardware brands have found a home on the platform.
Here is what you need to know about assessing your brand’s potential on TikTok, and how to make its algorithm work for you.
What’s the deal with TikTok?
So what does TikTok offer that its competitors don’t? And what is it that users find so engaging?
Leverage TikTok’s unique attributes, and you may gain access to a segment of your audience that you’ve been missing on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Video content is king.
Video is the preferred format of today’s digital consumer – the amount of video content we view online has doubled since 2018.
This phenomenon coincides with the rise of TikTok’s video-only platform, and it didn’t take its competitors long to follow suit. What continues to set TikTok apart, however, is the power of sound. With 88% of users recognizing that sound is key to enjoying the short videos, which are often set to earworm soundbytes or clips of pop songs, TikTok is much more likely than competing platforms to be explored with the sound on.
This combination of catchy sounds and punchy visuals offers brands unique opportunities to creatively catch the consumer’s eye. Moreover, it’s a chance to use this medium to demonstrate products, showcase benefits and preemptively answer buyers’ questions.
TikTok is engineered to engage.
There is something undeniably satisfying about that endless stream of user-created video content. If you’ve ever lost track of time while swiping through TikTok, you have intermittent reinforcement to thank for it.
Intermittent reinforcement is a psychological principle that explains why we are more likely to repeat a behavior when a reward isn’t guaranteed. Though TikTok’s algorithm for serving content is highly deliberate, to the user, the assortment of videos feels random. The inability to guess what kind of content is behind the next swipe is powerful motivation to keep engaging with the platform.
TikTok’s sheer biological appeal is a good reason for brands to consider adding themselves to the conversation. Offer users something that warrants a second look, and they will continue being served your brand’s content – no programmatic ad purchase required.
TikTok is an equal opportunity platform.
TikTok’s algorithm is designed to prioritize content that the user will find interesting based on factors like demography, followed accounts and content watched to completion. In other words, an existing following or a large budget for ad placement aren’t necessary for catching fire on TikTok.
The same targeting that enhances a user’s experience can help brands get their content in front of the people who truly want to see it.
This is good news for visibility as well as actual conversions. The platform is very efficient at recognizing users who are ready to make a purchase within your product category, as well as duplicate audiences who share key traits in common with your prime prospect.
Videos don’t need high production value in order to perform well on TikTok. In fact, quick, homemade content is the platform’s bread and butter.
TikTok users are more likely to respond to product placements and influencer marketing when it feels genuine, unrehearsed and true to the content creator’s experience with your products. Compared to its competitors, great TikTok content is simple and inexpensive to produce.
How to launch a retail brand on TikTok
If you think TikTok may deserve consideration in your overall social media strategy, here are a few tips for getting started:
1. Check on copyright laws.
Sound is an important part of the user experience on TikTok, but using a copyrighted song or clip could land your company in hot water.
Choose from TikTok’s extensive library of trending sounds, or use your own original audio.
2. Be consistent.
In order to get traction on TikTok, you should plan on posting weekly at minimum. It’s best practice to prep a library of video content prior to your launch so that you can maintain a regular posting schedule.
Fortunately, because video content is so popular across platforms, there are many opportunities to repurpose the content you create for TikTok on other social media mediums. Bear in mind, however, that users are more likely to engage with these other platforms sound off. Consider adding captions to any relevant content before sharing off of TikTok.
3. Be yourself.
Authentic, user-created content is what makes TikTok fun. Be true to your brand’s voice and don’t worry about coming across as perfectly polished. Content that seems spontaneous and personal will outperform videos that look and feel like advertisements.
4. Make sure your content can stand alone.
Be aware that your videos may be served to users out of order. TikTok’s algorithm prioritizes relevance, so if the third installment in a five-part series sees an uptick in popularity, it can be the first thing a user sees.
Make sure any multi-part videos include links to earlier segments, and provide enough context so that out-of-order content isn’t confusing.
5. Plan community management.
It’s important to be social on social media. While TikTok tends to emphasize content creation over communication, brands still need a system for engaging with other accounts and responding to comments.
Develop a strategy for interacting online in a way that is authentic to your brand, and you will build a digital community that supports your goals for growth both on and offline.
6. Don’t hesitate.
Unsure about how to get started? If establishing a presence on TikTok seems overwhelming, the best first step is to park your account. Even if you have no plans to actively post, don’t wait to create an account, secure your company’s username, and add your logo and branding.
Parked accounts can still collect followers, so a built-in audience will be waiting for you when you are ready to begin adding content.