Thinking of putting your business on TikTok? Wondering how other brands are using TikTok successfully?
In this article, you'll discover how to create TikTok video and find examples to inspire you to use TikTok in your own marketing.
Why Consider TikTok?
TikTok's growth is fascinating on many levels. For starters, it's the first major social media network that started in China and then spread to the U.S. and the rest of the world. This expansion was expedited when they acquired Musical.ly at the end of 2017.
Because of this, the platform has an extremely international and diverse audience. If you spend more than a few minutes on TikTok, you'll likely see videos from people in multiple countries and languages. The audience is also young; most users are younger than 30.
TikTok was the most downloaded app in the iOS App Store from January 2018–March 2019. That's five consecutive quarters.
The NBA uses TikTok similarly to ESPN, with even better results. They have more than 5.5 million fans and 79 million hearts. Whoever is running their account does a great job of varying the content with everything from basketball highlights to fun fan highlight videos.
Many NBA teams also have their own accounts. The Chicago Bulls have taken this to the next level with an account for their mascot, Benny the Bull. Benny has more followers on TikTok than on Instagram.
He also does collaboration videos with other mascots, like this one with the Philadelphia Flyers' mascot Gritty.
Despite the rapid user growth, it's still early days. If you're susceptible to shiny-object syndrome, it's easy to read articles like this and instantly create your account and start posting TikTok videos. That's rarely a good idea or a sustainable marketing strategy.
First, do your research to see if having a TikTok presence even makes sense for your business. If so, also think about resourcing. Who'll be responsible for posting and managing videos? What kind of budget will you need? How will you measure the results? These are all things you need to consider.
There are plenty of reasons not to join TikTok right now; however, if your brand fits many of the following criteria, you may want to consider joining sooner rather than later:
- Most of your target customers are younger than 35. While the app is starting to age up, the majority of users are Gen Zers and younger Millennials.
- Your products are visually appealing and demonstrative.
- You're a musician or artist.
- Your brand is trendy with a casual, fun, and “cool kid” vibe.
- You have the resources (staff, budget, etc.) to be able to add another channel to your mix.
Pro Tip: I'm a big fan of pilot programs for testing new marketing channels. If you think your brand might do well on TikTok, start with a 1-month or 3-month test. This requires less time and fewer resources and is less risky if your hypothesis doesn't work.
#1: Install TikTok On Your Mobile Device
While other social media sites block the ability to download other people's videos, TikTok's product team has made it easy to share videos elsewhere. By default, other people can share your content on other social media sites and group texting platforms, and even download full GIF and video versions of your content, all of which is watermarked. This practice gets the word out in an organic, seamless way.
Note that if you don't want to make your content shareable, you can turn off this feature in your privacy settings.
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After you download the app (iOS and Android), you don't even have to set up an account to start viewing videos.
When you create an account, TikTok will use AI to surface videos they think you may like on the For You feed, which is the default screen when you first log in. These suggestions get smarter as you spend more time on TikTok, which makes the app incredibly fun and addictive. The app is worth downloading for the awesome animal TikTok videos alone.
#2: Create Your First TikTok Video
If you've ever posted a story on Snapchat or Instagram, you're likely to find the posting features on TikTok powerful, intuitive, and easy to use.
The upload screen gives you the option to create a 15-second or 60-second video. You can either upload an existing video that you recorded earlier or record something on the fly. Regardless of which option you choose, TikTok lets you add special effects, speed up or slow down the video, set a timer, and flip between your front and back smartphone camera.
Once you've uploaded your video, you'll be able to trim it right within the app.
In addition, you can add different filters, transitions, and other special effects as seen in this screenshot.
One of the most popular features is the ability to layer sound on top of your video. You can either create your own audio mash-up or choose from thousands of options within TikTok's library. I won't get into it in this post but there are many different audio tactics you can use.
Just like on Instagram and Snapchat, you can also quickly add text on top of your videos.
When you've finished creating your masterpiece and are ready to share it, you have the option to write a caption, add any relevant hashtags, and adjust your sharing settings.
Even though TikTok's discovery is AI-based, hashtags still play a big role for users who are searching for content. It's worth taking the time to do your research in advance so you choose the right hashtags. Two hashtags that you'll see often are #foryou and #foryoupage. People use these hashtags to try to get on the main TikTok feed.
Another feature unique to TikTok is the ability to do duets in React mode. You can record yourself alongside your video in a split-screen. This is one way to encourage more engagement with your videos and can be particularly effective with dance challenges.
#3: Explore These TikTok Use Cases for Inspiration
Some of the brands you would expect to be early adopters—including musicians, sports teams, and colleges—are trying cool things on TikTok. In many cases, their videos have more organic views and engagement than their native Instagram posts.
Bakeries, cake decorators, and pastry chefs have been quick to adopt this platform. Due to the visual, highly demonstrative nature of baking, this one makes sense. Most of the TikTok videos end up being chefs and bakers decorating cakes and cookies set to popular music. Many have amassed more than 100,000 fans using this strategy.
The Bailey Bakery has more than 4.4 million fans and 92 million hearts. All of their posts are just bakers decorating cookies with music in the background. Often, they use TikTok's built-in effects to speed up the process.
Colleges and Universities
With such a young demographic, it's no surprise that many colleges and universities have TikTok accounts. The University of Florida (UF) has more than 83,000 fans and 973,000 hearts. The account shares everything from student accomplishments and sports hype videos to behind-the-scenes campus footage and dance challenges.
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In this video, they showed off one student's invention—”Gator Bubbly”:
When you think of TikTok users, lawyers are probably not the first group to come to mind. There are dozens of lawyers on this platform. Some use it to build brand awareness and have fun, such as Anthony Barbuto (@thelawyer), who has amassed more than 1.8 million followers and 26 million hearts.
Others lawyers, like Patrick McGeehan (@magic_city_lawyer), are using it to share their legal expertise and advice. This video has more than 48,000 hearts and nearly 1,000 comments:
Many smaller mom-and-pop-type eCommerce shops, especially AliExpress sellers in Asia, are using TikTok to share product demos. They'll often demonstrate how one of their products works with music in the background.
This TikTok post from the Lomile Shop shares one of their closet organizing products and has more than 1.9 million hearts and 6,800 comments:
Unless you're living under a rock, you've heard the song “Old Town Road” at least a handful of times in the last year. The popularity of this song is largely due to how the rapper, Lil Nas X, cleverly used TikTok to get the word out.
Two years ago, Lil Nas X was quite literally an unknown artist living in his parents' basement. He was the first artist to understand TikTok's meme culture and harness it to appeal to the “cool kids” to create a viral hit that has broken countless records, including the longest time spent as the number-one hit song on both Spotify and Billboard Hot 100.
Early on, he posted a video of himself performing “Old Town Road” on TikTok, which turned into a meme. Due to TikTok's copycat culture, this meme spread like wildfire with over 513 million video views and more than 5 million people producing videos using the hashtag #oldtownroad, including this popular one of a guy riding a horse at McDonald's.
From local bakeries and newspapers to lawyers, realtors, and small mom-and-pop eCommerce shops, a growing number of businesses you wouldn't expect to be early adopters on a platform like TikTok are hopping on and seeing impressive results.
In some cases, the overall reach and engagement levels of their TikTok videos are more than five times what they'd see on more established social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
Law Enforcement Agencies
In addition to lawyers, there are many cops and entire Sheriff's offices using TikTok. The Pasco County Sheriff's Office—which already has a large, engaged following on other social media sites including Twitter and YouTube—was one of the first to jump on the TikTok bandwagon. They have more than 295,000 fans and over 3 million hearts.
The content on their account ranges from general tips and ride-alongs to behind-the-scenes footage and deputies (like this one) doing their own takes on popular TikTok dance challenges.
The Washington Post has more than 158,000 fans on TikTok and 4 million hearts. When you look at their content, they do a great job of integrating TikTok's meme and fun challenge culture with sharing what's going on behind the scenes in the newsroom.
This TikTok captures a fun exchange between an editor and reporter, and has more than 98,000 hearts and 165 comments:
Should your brand be on TikTok? As the fastest-growing social media network, this is a valid question that more businesses should be asking. Above are just a few examples of how some early adopter brands are using TikTok.
What do you think? Is your business on TikTok? If so, how are you using it? Please share examples in the comments below.
More articles on video marketing:
- Learn how to develop a social video strategy for your business.
- Explore how to create short, snackable videos for Instagram and beyond.
- Ten video experts share the tactics and tools they use to create successful video content.
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