TikTok, launched in 2018 when Douyin merged with Musical.ly, has grown to attract a user base of 17 million people in the UK alone – tempting numbers for PR teams looking for visibility and engagement for future campaigns.
If you find TikTok tempting but are yet to delve into creating content for the app, here is help with getting started (no dancing or sea shanties required) from CIPR’s introduction to TikTok for PR, comms and marketing professionals led by Access Intelligence’s Michelle Goodall, with tips from Zero Waste Scotland’s Claire Munro.
1) Get to know the platform
‘Older professionals like me have lived through a time of explosion, of digital platforms and emerging behaviors,’ says Michelle Goodall. ‘We understand how to access them and build them into integrated marketing and PR strategies and campaigns.’ Incorporating TikTok into your PR toolkit is no different.
‘Strategists need to stay on top of all social media platforms used by young people and niche social apps breaking through, and TikTok has a credible, fast-growing mass audience’.
‘My advice,’ says Michelle, ‘is to look at the data when it comes to planning where to create social presences, experiences, content and ads.’
2) Capitalise on its difference from other social media platforms
While TikTok shares key components with other social networks (following people, sharing content, using hashtags and liking posts), its algorithm is where it differs. Based on content that TikTok considers will be successful, aligned to what you’ve engaged with in the past, its algorithm means that anyone or anything has the potential to go viral. And if you’re looking for the attention of that that younger, Generation Z, audience, TikTok is where you’ll find it.
Zero Waste Scotland, a publicly-funded organisation delivering all things recycling, reusing and repairing, made great use of TikTok campaigns as part of the award-winning ‘Scotland is Stunning – Let’s Keep It That Way’. Aiming to tackle the increase in littering in Scotland’s public spaces during lockdown, Claire Munro and her team needed to engage the right audience.
‘For our campaign, we had two key audiences – families and 18 to 34-year-olds,’ explains Claire. ‘We wanted to be creative about the channels we used – we didn’t just want to do a kind of traditional PR and media campaign which would probably reach the family audience but might miss out the vital 18 to 34s. So, we hit on TikTok.
‘As comms professionals, even if we don’t use these platforms ourselves, it’s our job to know what’s out there, to know who’s using it and know the power of it.’
3) Use TikTok as part of a larger strategy
TikTok is a platform for creativity, not so much for corporate messaging. Here is the place for video, use of trending hashtags, augmented reality and special effects, which may only be one element of your campaign.
Mainstream print titles and traditional journalists, niche-subject blogs and websites, and other social media platforms like LinkedIn, YouTube and Facebook can do the heavy lifting where TikTok can’t.
4) Find the right influencer
While Zero Waste Scotland wanted to make the most of TikTok, it felt advertising with the platform was still relatively untested. The way forward for them was to work with influencers – dedicated content creators with dedicated followings who can produce video that is proven to be popular.
Jared Rowan, aka littlestchicken, was the perfect fit for Zero Waste Scotland, who needed to engage a Scottish audience looking for entertaining content.
‘When deciding on an influencer, look at who their audience is and what kind of content they use,’ says Claire. ‘Does that marry up with your values and your objectives?’
5) Have fun
While dance challenges, sea shanties and memes are abundant on TikTok, educational and activist videos are also widely-shared. What they all have in common is a genuine approach – salesy doesn’t do so well. Any content created for TikTok as part of a campaign should take the same approach – have fun and be passionate about your topic and you’ll find your audience.
‘A preachy tone absolutely does not work with anyone – young audiences in particular,’ says Claire.
‘I would say, just go for it. And make sure you capture the learning, so you can do it again – even better next time.’
Sign up to watch the full video for an introduction to the basics of TikTok campaigns and how to make the most of the platform here.
For more on Zero Waste Scotland’s ‘Scotland is Stunning – Let’s Keep It That Way’ campaign, read our interview with Claire Munro on the campaign’s win at the 2020 Online Influence Awards.