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Digital Essays 2022: growing your brand on TikTok – by Hashtag’s John Karam

TikTok is one of the hottest tools for marketers but most business are yet to benefit from its power and reach, writes Hashtag’s John Karam

By John Karam, social media manager, Hashtag Social Media Agency

Take a look at the Instagram pages of an average brand and a regular user. It is often easy to identify which one is a brand and which one isn’t. However, when you do the same for two TikTok pages, the difference may not always be so obvious, considering that the brand uses TikTok to make TikToks, and not ads.

Why is the difference so evident? 

One of the things that sets a brand’s social page apart from an average users’ page is that the brand’s content centres around its products. It follows brand guidelines and features its offers, prices and logos in a post. These elements do not come off as natural to the social platform. While the style and content vary from brand to brand, it is clear that as soon as any of the above points become the focus, content starts drifting away from what a normal user would post on its page.

This brings us to an important question – why do normal users post what they post? Most people use social media to interact, update, entertain and educate their friends and family. They post content that their friends and family are likely to engage with, such as pictures from vacations, funny memes or an interesting take on the news. Meanwhile, brands post content that their audience are interested in engaging with, which leads to a completely different outcome.

Creating for TikTok

With the rise of TikTok, brands are increasingly resorting to a natural and user-focused content strategy that they would not normally use on other platforms. When you observe brands that are successful on TikTok, you will notice that they post content that blends with the style of average users. On the other hand, TikTok ads that look like conventional ads usually do not perform well on the platform. 

To what extent does a natural and TikTok-friendly approach work? Overall, the average engagement rate by followers on TikTok is above 7 per cent – that is six times higher than the engagement rate on Instagram Reels, which lies at 1.65 per cent, according to Socialinsider. Evidently, users on TikTok enjoy the content more.

Engage better

Can brands replicate their TikTok content strategy to other platforms? There are three aspects to consider here — content that the audience wants to consume, content that brands want their audience to consume and content that brands want to communicate packaged in a way that interests
their audience.

There is no magical formula to ensure success when it comes to social media but there are ways to increase engagement. The first step for brands is to understand the nature of the platform they are communicating on. For instance, what works on TikTok may not necessarily work on Twitter. Secondly, brands need to understand their audience, how they prefer to communicate and topics that interest them. Most brands are guilty of bombarding their audience with content or trying hard to sell using social platforms. Thirdly, keep the content relevant and timely. These two factors are underestimated but it can make a huge difference to how the content performs. Nobody wants to see a brand hop on a trend that died three months ago. Additionally, not every piece of content needs to be a high-end production. Sometimes, simple content created on a phone can outperform the highest quality content.

The safe bet: always offer value through content – whether it is entertaining or educational – and always prioritise your audience.