All About Genius Female

What the Actual Tok? The TikTok Marketing Headache for Business

Jan 17

What the Actual Tok?  The TikTok Marketing Headache for Business 

This week saw TikTok eclipse Google as the most visited site on Earth.  While this isn’t surprising, it does present new problems for Digital Marketing Agencies and business owners.  Having mastered Facebook and Instagram, only to have algorithms change and create new problems, TikTok presents a brand new problem for time poor business owners – not only is the algorithm different to the usual social media channels (and always evolving), content production takes the time and skills so many business owners simply do not have. 

The TikTok Algorithm 

Over a billion people are using TikTok each month.  So before you even ask, YES your audience IS on TikTok.  It’s not just the Zoomers anymore.   

TAC Digital Marketing undertook an extensive study of the TikTok Algorithm, attempting to “force” a brand into a series of “For You” pages by optimizing for interest and engagement via competitors.  After replicating this on other social platforms, the digital marketing firm found that the TIkTok algorithm is far more difficult to “manipulate” than the more advanced algorithms seen on Facebook and other platforms. 

The Challenges of the TikTok Algorithm for Business 

The takeaways from the TAC Digital Marketing Case Study include: 

  • The “user centric” elements of TikTok come first.  Where platforms like Facebook use metadata to identify “like minded” people based on a host of scraped information, TikTok’s simpler “user actions” personalization is key to its algorithm.  In other words, TikTok is more “below the line” than other marketing platforms.  This is the biggest risk to business and agencies as the algorithm is currently evolving and there’s a tidal wave of data available for it to evolve and evolve fast. 
  • TikTok creates “subcultures”.  The algorithm that seems to know you better than you know yourself has been so successful because it doesn’t just see users as they are, but as potential members of carefully aligned subcultures.  And they get very specific.  You’ll need to know your audience better than ever because TikTok does.
  • Engagement is key.  Rewatches are the gold standard for getting up there in your user’s “For You” screen and “not interested” is an absolute killer of your content.  
  • Complete watches impact the algorithm.  If your user doesn’t watch your content all the way to the end, you may see a decline in personalization reach.  This means, short, engaging videos do better on the platform.
  • Trending is “Twitter Like”.  The audio, hashtags and content categories of “trending topics” determine how well your content is distributed. If you’re attempting to market a product on TikTok this may present some real problems.  You’d need to create a trend around your product in order to reach “peak success”.
  • TikTok uses hashtags and captions to “understand” your content so optimization is key.  Finding the right pack of hashtags continues to be vital to your exposure.  So, research them carefully.  Note that the hashtags you’re using on Instagram are NOT the standard list you should use on TikTok.  You’ll need to be an active user with your finger on the pulse of what’s “trending on TikTok” to get the most out of the platform.  
  • Local business can use the TikTok algorithm’s attention to “device location” to find local customers.  This is, like Google My Business in that it partially bypasses the main algorithm.
  • On the plus side, follower count doesn’t seem to matter. There are plenty of “viral videos” on TikTok that originated from brand new accounts.  These have NAILED all the expectations of the TikTok algorithm and been shared to people indicating that their interests align with the content. 

TikTok Marketing Best Practices for Business 

  1. Like all content, you need to grab their attention immediately.  Don’t do long winded titles or other “filler” up front.  Straight into the “GRAB” 
  2. Clearly identify your goals and niche so that the comparatively new algorithm is immediately clear on where and when to share your content.
  3. Find the “Trend Bridge”.  Marry what’s currently trending with your business objectives.   If there’s no connection, don’t do it.  There’s nothing more cringeworthy than a brand trying too hard to be “hip with the kids”.
  4. Start with your current market and then dive deeper.  If you’ve been marketing on socials you’ll know enough about your demographic to know where to start.  Both the starter hashtags and the key “baseline cultures” can be found here.
  5. Done is definitely better than perfect.  Your Iphone, in a room with some lights on, dressed in your usual gear, with your hair messy – is fine.  Slap some trending audio on it and post. Don’t get caught up in production values as a slick and corporate video will FAIL.  Be human.
  6. If you can’t be cool, be helpful.  It’s hard to be “cool” when you’re selling…. Roofing insulation.  You don’t need to insulate using a trending dance.  You need to provide helpful and engaging content.  Just like you do on other channels.  Start there.  Don’t try to fake cool.  You’ll simply be cringy. 
  7. Finally, just don’t.  If you don’t use TikTok, don’t use TikTok for business.  If you’ve got a keen user in the office or on site, ask their advice.  It’s not always easy to ask the apprentice how to do content marketing for your business but you know what?  They will likely do a better job than someone who’s never been on TikTok before. 

Welcome to the time consuming brave new world that isn’t actually that new.  If you’re not doing TikTok marketing, you’re behind the ball.  It’s well and truly a thing.  You may think it’s a stupid thing, you may observe teenagers videoing what appears to be stupid things – but those “stupid things” have more than a billion sets of eyeballs on them.  It’s time.