I’m going to take a wild guess and say that if you are reading this, you’re a business owner who:
- Isn’t on TikTok at all and is struggling to find the value it would add to your business
- Is on TikTok, feeling clunky at the videos you and your team are making, trying to catch a flow and make sense of it
- Is or isn’t on TikTok, but doesn’t understand how to use it as a lead generation tool
Perfect! Before I get into too much detail, I ask that you read this article with an open mind. As a marketer, I take on the perspective that anything can be used as a lead generator, if used with tact and conscientiousness.
Real Quick — What is TikTok?
TikTok is described as a “video-sharing social networking service” where users can create their own short video clips, customize and edit them, and share them on the app. It’s gained a reputation so far for comedic, entertaining, and talent videos. Videos are viewed by a user’s followers (similar to Instagram), those viewing a certain hashtag, or under the #foryou section, where the app pushes content to a user based on their viewing history.
If you show the app you like videos of sports, you’ll see a lot of videos of sports. You tend to watch videos of people dancing? You’ll see a lot of that too.
The app launched in China in 2016 and since then has become the most downloaded social media app in the U.S., beating Facebook and Instagram.
FYI: TikTok ain’t that serious. And I’m going to inject a public pleading right here, right now for marketers and businesses alike to please, please do not attempt to change that. That might sound even more confusing if your business is, well, kinda serious… but I’ll discuss that on that later on.
Should You Even Be On It?
IMHO, yes. 100%.
Although the majority of TikTok’s users are under the age of 21, no matter what your business or your target audience, TikTok can be a powerful lead generation tool if you let it.
Well, some may disregard my opinion as just another typical marketer who wants to hop on the ‘next greatest thing’, but hey, I’m an opportunist, what can I say! I don’t believe platforms are about who’s already on them, I believe they’re about how you decide to use them.
Here are12 reasons why I believe TikTok to be incredibly valuable to businesses right now:
- It establishes your brand as a personal one. Obviously individuals who are a ‘personal brand’ understand the importance, but larger businesses could do themselves a favor by making their brand a personal one. What do I mean by that? Well, in my Branding Trends of 2020 report, personalization is essential from this day moving forward. It’s not going away anytime soon. If we take a look at what makes people buy, it’s a connection. They need to believe they are purchasing from a brand they can trust, but building a relationship with something that isn’t human takes longer than building a relationship with another person. Being able to position your brand as a ‘personal’ one will help shorten the length of time a target takes to hook in to your business. It makes your business seem more trustworthy as well if someone can put a ‘face with the name’
- Again, it’s not that serious. 99.9% of TikTok’s content is light, humorous, and entertaining. It’s real people, being real, and being silly. Keyword: being. Even if you’re a B2B or SaaS company, I’m sure you’ve seen more and more marketers attempting to showcase to you that it benefits you to not be so serious or boring in your marketing. We are all hungry for more human connection and authenticity. I’m sure there’s a place for educational value on TikTok as well, if it’s showcased properly. Think back to when you were in high school or college. Who were some of your favorite teachers? It’s probably a safe bet that they were entertaining, funny, easy to connect with, conversational, maybe a little rebellious. Or, above all else, they were passionate. Our passion comes to life when we are living free in the moment, allowing our real selves to shine. Customers, clients, whoever want to see this from you in all industries and all verticals. Of course, there is a ‘time and place’ for certain things, but I can guarantee your business has a threshold for humor and entertainment it’s not dialing into.
- It lets people connect with you/your team easily. Think about it, if you want more prospects to hop on a call with you, other than knowing your product sounds legit and might help them, what else would speed up that process? A connection to you. Or at least the person who’s going to be walking them through the sales process and support them once they become a customer. I’m not saying you’re going to get direct sales off TikTok obviously (but don’t put it past yourself either!), but any opportunity you have to showcase the person/people behind the business should be a major focus of your marketing initiatives from this year on.
- The content can be reused in a variety of ways. TikTok videos are short, incredibly customizable, and can be reused on all of your social media channels. Think about how much adding one of your videos to an email would spice things up for your customers and increase their curiosity about your next few emails? Or, if you’re really trying to build your community across multiple platforms, send that TikTok video right over to your Instagram Stories. Put it on your website. Save them for future content later down the road, especially if it’s content relevant to events that happen monthly or yearly. Use it in presentations. Onboarding videos. Chatbots. Sales consults. Sharing that creativity and personality will only add brownie points with your targets!
- Showing up on TikTok when it’s unexpected is polarizing. I’m a huge fan of polarization… probably because it’s worked really well for me in my life in general, and I see the value with multiple types of audiences. It’s pretty clear the fight for viewers attention is going to continue on into the foreseeable future, so why not go where it’ll be easier to have all eyes on you? Don’t believe the reports that claim the majority of TikTok is just high school girls dancing. Yes, admittedly there’s a lot of this, but depending on your viewing habits, there’s plenty of variety on the app. I’ve seen a few elderly grandmother-types making funny videos, celebrities, sports players, adults in their mid-thirties… but not that many businesses. Again, stay focused on personalization and bringing your brand’s personality to life, but businesses are unexpected on the app, and depending on what your business does, it’ll be polarizing for your current audience and viewers already on there.
- It adds curiosity. As soon as you gain attention from your polarization, the thought in the back of audience member’s minds will be, “wait, why are they on TikTok?”. Yes! Yes, please. As humans, we’re curious by nature. Even with all the push for entertaining, funny content today, why do you think sharing educational value and highly informative blogs is still considered part of a really effective content marketing strategy? Because we’re curious! We want to learn more, be more, do more… we’re constantly absorbing and assimilating information. Since TikTok is still relatively new to most demographics other than the 10–20 year old crowd, and I’m almost certain your business isn’t the large majority of content creators on the app, it’s going to raise some eyebrows. Any eyebrow raise is in your favor.
- It makes you new and noteworthy… which often means newsworthy. Yes, welcome to a wonderful positioning tactic that will make you more attractive to PR opportunities! Again, we’ve got curiosity, polarization, and a trendy new app all under your positioning? Reporters, journalists, media outlets, and other influential players love this. Whether you’re actively pitching (or ready to work with a Public Relations Specialist) to the media and blogosphere, or you want to become more easily found by those looking for a new story or angle, welcome your brand to TikTok. It’ll also create a buzz that your community talks about, which inevitable reaches those outlets or platforms faster too.
- It positions you as an industry leader. Consider the fact that you may only have a mere slither of competitors also actively on TikTok, you are leading the way for the industry, which automatically positions you as an authority figure. You took a risk, and whether or not it sticks with your brand (give it at least 6 months before you get rid of it), it’s a risk most others weren’t willing to take. To your targets and competitors, this looks like you trust yourself/your business, you’re driven to take action, you don’t need permission… all highly valuable assets. Oh, and it shows you’re willing to fail. That makes a true leader.
- You could be getting a head start. Remember when Instagram came out? The intention behind it was purely to help friends and family across the world ‘instantly’ ‘telegram’, or send each other photos. It was simple, fun, lighthearted… now look at the behemoth it has turned into. Hell, we’ve always had ‘influencers’, but I think it’s safe to say that Instagram is where the influencer marketing trend got started. Remember when YouTube came out? Or Facebook, which was strictly for college students? Even if the app ends up flopping (I don’t for see this happening) take a look at Vine… those who were very successful on Vine just took their followers and transferred over to Instagram. Either way, it’s giving you a leg up.
- It makes video a regular part of your brand… and that is essential if you’re going to market online. Let me say it again: essential. If you aren’t already using video in your business, I hate to say it but you’re really far behind. But, using TikTok will change that. Video is the wave of the future, but even the ‘reach’ algorithms are giving video Instagram and Facebook is going down, fast. What’s being favored is short, bite sized content (hello Instagram stories, oh, and TikTok videos), and live material. Video is only going to continue to become more and more vital to your business — look at the other ways it’s used regularly already: video calls/chats, livestreams, video for CRM, video sales demos, video lead magnets, video and voice texts, video in email… the list goes on. TikTok gives you and/or your team the opportunity to get in the habit of (and more comfortable) making videos, integrating naturally.
- It prepares you for the future. I’ll keep this point short since it’s along the same lines as above, but we’re going to see the rise of things like VR over this next decade, so using video will prepare you for this. TikTok is already a video forerunner because of how customizable it is, which gives users a jump start on any new technology to come out in the future. You’re already adapting yourself to use video editing tools and think creatively. It’ll keep you open and flexible with VR options in the future.
- You’re building brand awareness with future buyers. Don’t target younger millenials or Gen Z’ers? You will eventually. And these generations are the ones that really, really value the relationship they have with brands. They want to know you care and are passionate about what you do, they want to know your values, and they want to feel authentically connected to you. Not only do they have the buying power these days, as they grow older, if you aren’t for them now, you will be someday. Unless you see your business with an end date in the near future, you can plant seeds and get ahead of yourself by inadvertently marketing to who’s going to buy from you five years down the road.
Just like with everything else, it’s up to you to decide what’s right or wrong for your business. When making your decision whether or not to hop on the TikTok bandwagon, make sure you’re doing so from a neutral perspective. For some of you, depending on your business, coming up with a legitimate strategy with TikTok may be extremely uncomfortable. Although it could look ‘illogical’, again, think about how some of the factors above would increase your ROI. Maybe you don’t end up using TikTok after all, but you look at other opportunities to increase polarity, curiosity, and getting in front of future buyers.
What’s your take on TikTok? Do you see the value in it? How do you think companies can leverage the platform, even if they don’t fit in to the typical user base? I’d love to hear your thoughts below 👇