The clock is TikTok-ing for businesses to join the platform – our social media and digital PR experts explain why

by Lara Hunter-Douglas

Wednesday, August 12th, 2020

Your business already talks the talk and walks the walk. Now you should also learn how to Tik the Tok

Social media and digital PR experts explain the attraction of TikTok

FROM 15 second dance videos to minute long cooking tutorials, TikTok is the newest social media platform taking the world by storm.

Fun, fast-moving and highly addictive, TikTok is the platform of choice among Gen Z – but it’s only a matter of time before businesses will be eyeing it carefully for the opportunities it can offer them.

As an enthusiastic TikTok user, I was on cloud nine recently, after one of my videos was visited by a Hollywood celebrity. Noah Schnapp from Netflix’s ‘Stranger Things’ liked one of my videos, which had already gone viral and earned me a little taste of TikTok ‘fame’.

The service was previously the popular app ‘Musical.ly’ from 2014-2017, when it was bought by Chinese internet technology company ByteDance and reinvented as TikTok. However, the main element remained essentially the same: lip-syncing to popular songs. With TikTok being the seventh most active social media in the world and over 3.7 million of its users from the UK, it’s difficult to find someone who hasn’t heard of this app (even if they’re not on it).

It’s unlikely the hype around it will die down anytime soon, as Donald Trump’s threats to ban the app for all American users means publicity and attention surrounding TikTok is only growing.Even if Trump manages a ban on TikTok, that would simply create an opening in the market for social media app developers to fill the hole, as it seems the 60 second video format is not leaving anytime soon. Indeed, Instagram is already launching their alternative, Reels, with very similar features.

One of the reasons why TikTok has become so widespread and successful is due to its broad range of content. From tutorials to vlogs and of course TikTok dances, there is a never-ending feed of varied entertainment. Critics point to the fact that it’s all too easy to accidentally spend hours stuck in the TikTok rabbit hole.

Netflix Screen grab Noah Schnapp for social media and digital PR blog post

Noah Schnapp in Netflix’s ‘Stranger Things’

Now the question is how users can cultivate popularity and a major following on TikTok. For example, the reason one of my TikToks achieved such high engagement was simply because I had asked a question. More specifically, a relatable question that resonated with TikTok’s youthful demographic.

As an only child, I asked a question about siblings: “Do you talk to them like a friend or a cousin?” This appealed to users both with and without siblings and led to flurry of comments, garnering the large engagement

Social media and digital PR experts discuss going viral on TikTok

Usually my video posts will gain about 500 views and 50 likes. However, my “siblings” video received 313k views and 73.7k likes. It also reached six different countries, whereas normally my posts will reach two countries, if I’m lucky.

Quick disclaimer – I am not an influencer in any way, I don’t get paid for posts, I just make TikToks for fun and to interact with friends and other users my age, like many of the other users on the app.

This blog post, ‘5 Reasons Why TikTok Is So Addicting’ was written by Liv Benger and perfectly explains why many young people became ‘addicted’ to TikTok during lockdown.

Recently I have started up work at Holyrood PR to help with admin work, and a lot of this involves scoring the media coverage generated for clients. Something about this that has surprised me a lot is the amount of print and online news sites that are still thriving and reaching large audiences (maybe I’m just a bit too gen Z).

While it can be difficult to quantify the reach from social media coverage generated from our campaigns, what isn’t in any doubt – for a PR agency or in wider society – is that social media is getting bigger and more important in every way, every day.

This is why businesses should pay attention and make an effort to understand current platforms like TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram in the same way they pay attention to The Scotsman, BBC and Huffington Post.

It’s important to remember that when platforms such as Twitter and Facebook started up, they were scoffed at by business professionals and seen as trivial.

Now Facebook is the biggest business advertising platform on the planet with over six million businesses actively advertising on it in 2019.

Likewise, Twitter has become the serious channel for breaking news across the world. Virtually every credible journalist uses it extensively, and I’m sure you have also seen some interesting tweets from political figures, like Donald Trump.

There are already a number of quick-thinking Scottish business that have joined TikTok, such as Ivy & Twine. Run by a husband and wife in Kinross, it makes its own scented candles and diffusers. The couple have amassed 77.7k followers on TikTok and uses the platform to exhibit products in a fun and creative way.

Along with Scottish businesses in TikTok there are also individuals who have made their way as influencers, including 15-year-old Kristen Scott from Paisley. The young star has gained 718.4k followers and a whopping 33.3 million likes across her videos. Kristen uses her platform regularly to speak up about issues such as bullying and body image, encouraging everyone to be kind and love themselves.

@ivyandtwineSad because it didn’t really take 15 seconds but hey 😅 ##fyp ##featureme ##foryou♬ Figure It Out – Blu DeTiger

These two examples highlight how gaining followers on popular apps can be beneficial in boosting the popularity of your business or brand. One of my personal favourites is the TikTok account of global ice cream giants, Ben and Jerry’s, especially its Mother’s Day and Edible Dough recipe videos.

Of course, businesses won’t necessarily be welcomed onto TikTok with open arms by its users, since no one wants to be bombarded with sales messages while trying to enjoy a dance video. However, wherever there are huge audiences, businesses will show up eventually.

Those businesses that are creative and willing to have fun and experiment, will be able to get a head start on rivals.

But first they have to give TikTok a try and see what all the fuss is about.

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Social media and digital PR experts explain the attraction of TikTok

Lara Hunter-Douglas

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