Remember when Facebook was the only “must-have” social channel that your brand had to have? Those sure were simpler times. Facebook’s rampant early success led to an uprising of social platforms that ushered in the Web 2.0 era. Business owners were soon left wondering how to implement Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, the ill-fated Google + and more into their marketing mix.
Then, just when you thought you had a handle on all the places your brand needed to have a presence in, along comes TikTok, taking the entire world by storm. But exactly what is TikTok? And how can you position your retail operation to take advantage of its massive reach?
Engaging small businesses
TikTok is a video-first social network that currently boasts an absurd user base of more than 1 billion people across the world. Facebook, by contrast, has nearly 3 billion users, but that number is starting to show signs of decline. Meanwhile, TikTok has already surpassed Twitter, Pinterest and SnapChat in terms of monthly users. Plus, the time spent on TikTok per day is second only to YouTube.
But are TikTok users part of your target audience? TikTok’s demographics certainly skews young: Its Gen Z penetration is higher than any other social brand, with 47 percent of its active users between the age of 10 and 29. However, the number of American adults using the platform grew 5.5 times in the last year-and-a-half, indicating that it’s no longer a platform that can be ignored. Even older television and music personalities like Gordon Ramsay and Rod Stewart have channels.
TikTok has made a concerted effort to engage and champion small businesses across their platform by providing first-class, user-friendly tools that make it easy to get started and stand out. You’ll want to start by creating a TikTok Business Account, which will allow you to utilize their commercial music library, content-management platform and full data analytics suite so you can track your brand’s performance.
Get out the camera, start posting
So how can your business effectively utilize TikTok to promote your products and services? The key to effectively winning eyeballs in the social-media space is by just being you, engaging with your audience and letting your brand’s values resonate. And even though TikTok is the new kid on the block, the concept of how to win on that platform is as old as the Internet itself – content is king. Not just content for content’s sake though; quality content is king. Users (and Gen Z, in general) are drawn to people and brands that are unique and engage them in ways that cut through the traditional corporate marketing messaging. Creativity and authenticity are valued above all else.
Humor and personality are the keys to unlocking the magic of video virality. If you think YouTube became the online behemoth it is by being the go-to place for funny cat videos, you’re basically right. It really doesn’t have to be more complicated than that, because virality is the key to inexpensive exposure on any social platform. It’s the online equivalent to word-of-mouth advertising, which has been and always be our best form of advertising. The next time you have a customer bring in a mower that won’t start and your service tech finds a family of squirrels has been living in the motor housing for a few years, get out that camera and start posting.
Now, you might be thinking, “I’m not very funny and as a busy working professional, I don’t have time to be trying to make silly little videos.” No problem. That part of content creation isn’t for everyone. In that case, you’ll still want to consider adding TikTok to your ad mix. Why? Because you advertise where the eyeballs are. It’s the same reason you don’t spend the bulk of your ad budget in the newspaper anymore (please tell me you don’t!). TikTok is already the number-one grossing app by revenue in the world, outpacing even YouTube, while the engagement rate is appreciably higher than Instagram or Twitter. TikTok’s advertising platform makes it extremely easy to upload your ad and pick a target audience, and then arms you with analytics to let you know how many eyeballs you’ve reached.
A marketing-mix addition
I’d suggest carving out 10 percent of your annual budget to begin implementing a TikTok advertising plan. But be warned: I wouldn’t expect any spend here to be eligible for co-op just yet, because it’s a newer medium and manufacturers are notoriously slow to add approved channels to their mix.
I know adding another channel to an already crowded online landscape seems daunting – but this one just hits different. And as noted earlier, the numbers can’t be ignored. Smart retailers should consider adding TikTok to their digital marketing mix in the coming year.
Brett Morris is the owner of Dealers Digital (dealersdigital.com), a digital marketing agency for outdoor power equipment dealers, and dealerAMP, a marketing automation platform for the OPE industry.