In social media land, the talk of the moment is TikTok. Maybe you’ve seen some short TikTok dances on Instagram or Facebook and have wondered what all the fuss is about.
Or, maybe you’ve become addicted to the TikTok platform, and you know way more than anyone should about creating short, memorable video segments for public consumption.
Either way, we’re here to break down how TikTok works, why it’s exploding on the social media landscape, and what you should know before jumping onto the TikTok bandwagon.
At Romain Berg, we stay current on social media trends so we can provide you with the most effective social marketing strategy for your highest search rank, web traffic, and conversions.
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TikTok: an explosive evolution
TikTok began as a sleeper video platform called Musical.ly. Users posted 15-second videos of themselves lip-synching and dancing to the dialog and music options on the app.
Of course, our competitive drive as humans pushes apps like Musical.ly to the top when you add in user likes, followers, and a “hall of fame” for videos with a high volume of likes or engagements. Plus, users could also share their video posts to other platforms, like Instagram, which also drove up the app’s popularity.
Enter the Chinese company ByteDance. This company purchased Musical.ly in 2018, changed the name to TikTok, and automatically imported all of the existing Musical.ly users to the new platform, whether they wanted to go or not.
Now, you can create a video on any topic you want, as long as the video is 60 seconds or less. There is still much dancing and lip-synching, but users can expand their material as far as their imagination allows, within the allotted 60 seconds.
Video is where it’s at, or is it?
Video is the new black for online marketing, and especially gathering, holding meetings, and connecting during COVID-19. Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube continue to highlight and improve video posting, whether live or pre-recorded.
It’s smart to use these video platforms to refine your brand voice and reach out reliably to your audience. Video can surpass words in user experience because of the interactivity of speaking, facial expressions, and body language, as long as you use them well.
With TikTok, however, you only have 60 seconds to make a lasting impression. Most TikTok users create infectious, fluffy content to share with friends, participate in slapstick human-trick challenges, or see what their favorite celebs are up to.
Also, remember Vine? Yeah, we thought so. We don’t either. That was another short-length, video-based social platform that fizzled before it found its feet.
We get that users like to have fun with video online, especially now while we’re required to stay home as much as possible. Still, from a marketing perspective, we’re not convinced TikTok is a thing, even with the popularity of influencers, enforced home stays, and localization.
Can TikTok spy on us?
So, user privacy is all up in everyone’s grill these days. Here’s a “fun fact” about TikTok: Recently, all military personnel were asked to remove TikTok from all personal and government-issued smartphones.
Why? Because TikTok could pose a national security threat, and the app is under Congressional review.
Even though reps from TikTok state that US user data resides only in domestic locations with back-ups in Singapore, there is no evidence to suggest that TikTok’s parent Chinese company ByteDance couldn’t access and compromise US user data as it wished.
When we don’t know exactly what a social platform will do with our data, we give it a very skeptical side-eye and move on.
As it turns out, Chinese companies currently have little recourse for appealing decisions made by the Chinese government. If that doesn’t make you nervous when it comes to data privacy and our national security, it should.
Ethics matter in choosing your favorite social media apps
Though most social media platforms provide entertainment, information, shopping deals, and resources for users, it’s essential to understand how each platform views your privacy. Further, you should know how a platform shares or censors the information you post to your feed.
For example, knowing how Facebook filters and quells inaccurate news stories can be helpful to you as you craft your weekly marketing posts and ads on topics of any kind.
Social media companies have to carefully balance their user’s (perceived) freedom of speech with whether to allow proven false information to proliferate, for example. It’s a difficult high-wire act to perfect.
With TikTok, there have been censorship issues with posts that speak unfavorably of the Chinese government, or reference the events of Tiananmen Square, protests in Hong Kong, the treatment of Chinese Uighur Muslims, and independence for Tibet and Taiwan.
When you know the ethics that govern each social platform, you can make more informed decisions about where to spend your marketing dollars.
Observe social media trends, but keep doing what works for you
The future of TikTok as a heavy-hitting marketing tool is unclear at best. Though they’ve increased their followers and subscribers during COVID-19, no one knows if TikTok’s popularity surge is a quarantine trend, or the beginning of a social media mainstay.
We get that the videos entertain and engage users like the latest ear-worm pop song on the radio (or Spotify, or iTunes, or wherever.)
However, there are too many historically successful platforms out there to take TikTok very seriously just yet. It’s crucial to leverage the social platforms that work best for your business.
I.e., if your people hang out primarily on Instagram or Pinterest, that’s where you should focus your social media budget and efforts. You won’t go wrong talking to people right where they are while you watch how the social media platform newcomers perform.
Of course, it’s also a good idea to remain open to happy marketing surprises wherever they occur. TikTok could deliver more visibility and relatability for companies marketing on that platform, but only time will tell what kind of marketing impact TikTok has.
Shake a leg on your social media jam with Romain Berg
If you think it’s challenging to find your social media jam as a business owner, Romain Berg can help. Our team of experienced SEO analysts and content production champions help you nail your message and expand your audience reach with each organic post and paid ad.
Fill out our contact form today, and we’ll be in touch to create a social media marketing strategy that converts reliably on the most reliable platforms. We deliver results, not hype.