As TikTok continues to grow with over 1 billion lifetime installs (of which half are monthly active users), a familiar worry is starting to brew among marketers — the same worry that comes up every time a new platform hits the mainstream — which is if you haven’t already created a marketing strategy for it that you’re desperately behind the eight ball.
Fortunately that’s not supported by the evidence, and if you don’t believe me just ask Jennifer Aniston, who just joined Instagram for the first time and has already amassed 13+ million followers. Like Jennifer, there are both large and small successful brands that have never experimented with Instagram — getting involved for the first time in 2019 and still reaping the major benefits and learnings from all those that came before them expending precious human and financial capital resources in the early days to learn what worked and what didn’t. So, resist the temptation to drop everything you’re working on to worry about TikTok and repeat after me… “purpose before action.”
Purpose before action
If you’re asking yourself if you should be diving into TikTok and are reading this post to assist in that decision, then you’re starting off on the wrong foot. Ask not what you can do for TikTok, and ask instead what TikTok can do for you. Your purpose lies in your marketing goals for 2020 and beyond — and your action will be deciding how to leverage existing advertising and social platforms to achieve those. Ask yourself:
- Is needing to align with the zeitgeist of the moment a driving factor behind the long-term success of my brand?
- Are China and India (and “global” in general) a priority for my brand in 2020? Note the U.S. represents only 5% of TikTok’s monthly active users.
- Is my brand lenient on brand safety requirements in its marketing strategies and comfortable with a platform that is following in YouTube’s legacy of battling a child predation problem? Or that has already had to pay a $6M fine to settle an FTC violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (“COPPA”) and has experts in the privacy field worried?
- Do you like paying a premium to advertise on a platform that has yet to implement baseline levels of brand metrics like measurement, reporting or benchmarking?
If you answered “yes, yes, yes, and yes,” today is your lucky day. TikTok is the platform for you in 2020, and we’ve outlined a few suggestions for how to get started. If instead you paused and said “on second thought, I’ll stay focused on my existing marketing initiatives on brand safe mediums and give TikTok more time to mature, develop proper tools and leverage the creative learnings of those haphazard marketers who are diving in now and making mistakes before incorporating TikTok into our planning,” then we applaud you for keeping your wits about you.
While your peers and competition scramble to drop other initiatives in favor of a TikTok play — stretching their creative resources and ad dollars ever thinner — continue to execute on strategies you already know work best and continue aligning your brand with platforms that share your organization’s core values.
“Core values? What are those??… Sign me up for TikTok!”
For those brands willing to take on the risks associated with diving into TikTok in 2020, we offer three simple suggestions
1. Don’t do it alone, and don’t do it with amateurs
There are already thousands of TikTok influencers that have figured out what works best and what doesn’t. The likelihood that you’re better than they are is nil. So, lean onto those that have a proven track record of success with previous consistency and high performance on YouTube and Instagram. You’re likely already working these folks, so collaborate with them to tactfully launch on the new platform. You’ll invariably pay a premium for this approach, but in this world, you usually get what you pay for.
2. Plan for considerable creative resources
To succeed on TikTok, you need to have the infrastructure for rapid creation of many bits of content. In addition, you must be able to experiment constantly to define, refine and then re-define your place in the TikTok ecosystem over and over again. Few marketing departments have the budget to proficiently play around with it, so make sure it’s an investment that will pay off for you. Remember the importance of focus, so if you’re going to do TikTok, be the best damn TikTok brand in your space and go all in.
3. Download the app, and THEN do your research
It’s always shocking how many people read posts like this one, but have never actually downloaded or used the thing they’re reading about. How does that even make sense? Stop listening to what other people think (yes, we’re aware of the irony of that statement) and download TikTok to draw your own conclusions; don’t follow anyone else’s. After you and your team have downloaded it and used it daily for a month, only then do your research on how other brands have made it work and equally read up on those that faltered. Check out posts like this one, and that one, and this one and a dozen others. Okay, you’re ready… have fun and good luck!