Ep 64: Serious Social – Succeed on TikTok with the IFers

With over 2.6 billion downloads worldwide, TikTok has fast become the social media platform to be. But should brands be on there? And how do you achieve success? In this episode of Serious Social, Sophie Shaw and Belle Lawrence outline best practice tips for both organic and paid TikTok strategies.

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Full Transcript

– Hello everyone. Welcome to another edition of Serious Social Live. Today I’m joined by a lovely guest. I always love having someone to chat to on a Friday. Welcome Sophie.

– Hi, there.

– Hello. Sophie is an account manager at IF and she today is bringing us everything we need to know, well, maybe not everything, a lot of things we need to know on TikTok. So she’s been looking all up, revising, got lots of tips for everybody. So I hope you’re looking forward to it. Grab a pen. We are gonna be talking about some best practise advice for brands. Because if you haven’t figured it out, TikTok is massive. And you need to decide whether you want to be on it, need to be on it as a brand. As of the beginning of July, 2021, so this month, TikTok has had over 2.6 billion downloads worldwide and has about 700 million monthly users. Including me and Sophie but don’t follow us. We also have an IF TikTok if you want to go and see our monthly roundups of arts, social snapshot or some people running about in dinosaur outfits. I’ll leave you to go figure that out on your own. So obviously TikTok being so big, lots of brands want to figure out if they should be on it. And we need to look at the bigger picture when it comes to TikTok. They are just another social platform don’t be super scared of it. But let’s talk first Soph about content, because there’s lots of different types of content that we can create on social and TikTok is no exception. So, do you want to talk us through some of the different types of content that might be relevant for brands to look at?

– Yeah, sure. So there are five main content areas that brands can be focused on. So there’s challenges, storytelling, trends, education and influences. And each piece of starter content are great for different reasons. So to just quickly run through it. So challenges, these are usually started by creators with large followings or brands that put a bit of paid ads spend behind it. They’re usually accompanied by a hashtag and they help with reach and a great way to fast track brands growth on the app. Then storytelling is, this is great for brands or creators to get creative, grab attention and maintain engagement with you as well. Not to mistake it to stories on Instagram. Storytelling is literally start, middle and end an actual story. Then we’ve got the trends. So jumping on a trending sound, dance, filter, topic, wherever it may be. That’s usually accompanied by a hashtag and they’re easily found through discovery page or on the feed page. And again, help with reach like the challenges. The education videos are extremely popular on TikTok and they are usually watched in their entirety. So they are actually quite short like 15 to 30 seconds, but it helps brands to get themselves across, dive deeper into important topic and also drive engagement. And then the last one influences obviously like everything. They allow brands to drive engagement and awareness in a short period of time. And they are great for both organic and paid.

– It’s interesting the education piece because I know that there’s a huge following of the #learnonTikTok. Which people don’t think necessarily that you’d go to TikTok to figure out things. But little bit like YouTube used to be back in the day, it’s used really people looking up things, learning how to cook, learning how to clean, clean talk it’s huge. So you can get loads of different tips and tricks. But also it can be really useful for education sector to get on board with as well. So, okay, great. Obviously each different type of content is gonna work differently for brands. How about let’s just look at some best practise tips generally that brands could take away about using TikTok.

– Yeah, so I would say first off be personal because personalization is key on TikTok as is with every other social platform as well. Because audiences want to hear about your business. So adding depth into your videos can help your audience understand who you are and what you stand for. And then your videos will reach the right audiences and receive greater engagements with that. But on that as well, brands they needs to experiment and explore the different styles of content because sticking to just one style that only suits one audience can really limit your reach. So you need to switch up a bit as well. Then I would say clarity is also key on TikTok. So the app is so fast paced, it’s important to be clear and concise. So brands should find clear captions so the audience know what to expect about giving away too much. And obviously, you only have a really short caption so it needs to be snappy. And then with that as well, make use the different features available. So like auto captions as well. And then the last one I think which is probably the most important is to not force it. Because obviously it’s so tempting to want to jump on like every trend, every sound. But if it’s not right for your brand, it doesn’t fit, meet your values or your messaging, then it’s best to just drop it and move on to the next piece.

– Yeah, definitely. That bit about being personal or switching it up to different topics is really challenging for brands because unless you didn’t know guys, the For You page is the algorithmic feed that you get on TikTok. And effectively it works by continually showing you more content of the type of content that you’ve already watched. So if you watch a lot of cleaning videos, I don’t do that honestly. Sometimes you fall into sides of TikTok that you’re not expecting. And if you watch a lot of cleaning videos by mistake, you get served more and more and more cleaning videos. So if brands are trying to get in on a specific topic, you need to think about how that’s gonna play out in the For You page. There is also then the second feed that you’ve all got on TikTok as well which is people that you already follow. So obviously you won’t be able to follow your brand, but it tends to be a bit less popular. People just want to kind of be entertained and see what’s gonna come up. And yeah, the clarity thing is really key, isn’t it? Keeping all of those captions really short. The character count is really small compared to most of the others because really they want you to communicate your message in the video rather than in the text underneath. So that’s a bit about content. How about the strategy side of it? And this is where we get technical because TikTok for business are super helpful and they have three pillars that they say you should be thinking about when using TikTok for a brand. Which are organic bit, paid peaks and creator partnerships. So let’s start with looking at organic, it’s the easiest one to kind of get involved in. What do you think businesses can achieve from an organic strategy? And What will make them successful?

– Yeah, so organically from the offset, creating a business account opens up more options for brands. So you get real time metrics and content performance and audience insights. The limiting factor obviously is the restriction on sounds because of the licencing, but there’s plenty of ways to create engaging content on the platform. And it gives us marketers a way to challenge ourselves and find something that can still jump on a certain trend without using that specific sound. So overall the organic objective of TikTok really is to keep your audience engaged. So I would say there’s three steps to follow. First off, I would say maintain a steady stream of content to stay at the front of your mind, of your audience and increase your known presence in the app. Obviously like you said, if people click on the follower feed, then it will be easier to see that. Secondly, it’s important to monitor the analytics available and just to discover who you’re engaging with. This can then help to find out how they react into your content to improve your strategies and also drive future content ideas as well. And then finally, like all other platforms, community management is needed to build connections. So you need to interact with your audience by responding to comments, but also have a look and discover other profiles and videos and like and engage with them to increase your awareness and hopefully your following as well. I have found that on some brand accounts, if you just go in their For You page, people that follow you, it flags it there. So it’s always good to then see who that audience is as well. And I think on the comments like Instagram, links don’t work. So if someone asks a question, respond to them there or make a video and respond to it that way. And I think that’s probably the best way to keep the conversations flowing as well.

– Yeah, that’s quite a new feature, isn’t it? Well, maybe a couple of months old so not that new, but replying to a comment with a video is great because then if someone’s asking a question or lots of people are asking the same question, you can address that in one video, super simple. And then yeah, like Instagram, I guess you want to think about having a link tree or some kind of holding for all of your links on your profile so that if you’re trying to drive traffic in some way then you can do it like that. Great. And so with most strategies, we’ve just talked about organic but socialists pay to play. You can’t always get the reach you want especially if you’ve got a new product or a new brand just by doing organic. So if we look at paid social, TikTok has a couple of different paid solutions. They have in-feed videos which is what it says on the 10. Branded hashtags challenge which they will help you create and they would also help you create things like branded takeovers. They have top view ads and also branded effects. Now, some of these are not cheap, they are premium options and we’re talking expensive premium options like you might see on Twitter for this of premium options or YouTube for their header videos, that kind of thing. But auction is still an option. So don’t feel like you’re priced out. You can just play in the auction just like pretty much any other social platform. Obviously we want to keep the content aligned between organic and paid. You can’t just crack on and put loads of adverts out and no organic and expect that TikTok work for you I don’t think. You want it to align with your marketing goals, right?

– Yeah, definitely. And due to the fast nature of the platform your ads needs to be compelling in order to receive the desired results. And compared to organic I feel like they can be a little more challenging than always on content as well.

– Yeah, definitely. And TikTok themselves if you haven’t seen them say, don’t make ads make TikToks. It’s actually really important to be working in the platform the way that people want you to present yourself, not with just kind of slapping an add on because most people don’t like ads at all actually. They want them to be personalised. They want them to be interesting and more often than not, they want to be entertained because that’s what a lot of consumers are on social to do anyway. Obviously, sometimes when you look at something like LinkedIn or some other platforms they might be doing some networking, but entertainment is absolutely key. And when it comes to producing ads, you want to think like you’re making a TikTok but you also need to think about the value of that production. If you’re doing the big ticket premium stuff, it could be you need to think about it like a TV ad, obviously in portrait. If you’re doing auctioners you might want to start on the side of more authentic TikTok content use and brand advocates. Get the right vernacular within that platform. So have you got any best practise tips say for paid?

– Yeah, I think following on from the whole bit of don’t make ads make TikToks. So I think brands need to be authentic, so they need to stay true to themselves and keep their messaging consistent and making sure that the content resonates with their audience without screaming ad. And then obviously you need to make sure it’s thumb stopping. Like we said, it’s such a fast paced app that you need to make sure that your users stop in their track and you need to maintain that viewership. I think even more so than what you had on the likes of Facebook or Twitter as well. So to do that, I would say you need to centre all the important elements of your videos because of the captions and the icons. It can get cut off from the bottom and the side. So that’s really important. Then I would say, you need to make sure it’s accessible because not all audiences consume content in the same way. So you need to make use the features like we mentioned earlier the auto captions as well. So just for example, if there’s someone that’s a bit hard of hearing, they can actually still follow along with that as well. And then finally, I would always say call to action. If you have an action that you want your audience to follow, make sure it’s strong and make sure it’s clear so that you can get your desired results.

– Absolutely, be strong with the call to action, tell them what you want to do, want them to do and they will be much more likely to actually do it. And for sure plan for portrait. And I mean, if anyone’s producing ads for social or content for social and you’re not thinking about planning for portrait and how will it render down into that portrait frame then you’re definitely missing a trick. You’ve got to add that into your process. Further so, to summarise everything we’ve discussed today, there are probably four tips that we pull out for you guys for brand success. First, set yourself goals, make sure you know what the business aims and objectives are so that you can line up what you choose to do on TikTok with those. Stay up to date with the trends. You need to be on the app. You got to spend a bit more time in there, make sure that you know what’s going on and stay on top of what your community is interested in and what they’re doing, what they’re consuming. Be consistent with your content. You do need to post a steady stream of organic if you’re trying to build up that way. That might feel really daunting but if you just build up a content stream first and then as you release it consistency in the background, keep producing more so that you’ve got some to come up, that’s probably the best option. And then finally analytics, this is something that is often missed by brands at the first stage. You need to look at the analytics, what’s it actually doing? How is it working? And if it’s not working change it up so that you can make sure that you’re optimising for success. So that’s about all from us for today. Thanks for joining me Sophie. Hope you enjoyed speeding through all those tips.

– Yeah, I know. I mean, we can literally go on for hours talking about this all. But got work to do.

– Yes and so is everyone watching. So we actually are going to produce a blog for this Monday and it will be on our blog so you can go and read a little bit more detail. Obviously, if you’ve got any other questions you can get in touch with us directly via our social profiles or find our emails. You can also watch all of our Serious Social Lives on YouTube or you can listen to podcasts. So head over to wherever you get your podcasts and subscribe to that and you’ll get everything. There’s a huge library now because we’ve been doing this for over a year. So, you’ll find lots of different topics that you can get on board with. So, next week Katie Howell will be live here. So we’re going to see you then but for now, thanks Sophie and we’ll see you all soon.

– Thank you.

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