Why I was Hesitant to Jump on the TikTok Trend — and Why I was Wrong

Insights | 04/03/2021 | Written by Danielle Smith

Originally posted on Curated Medium.

Confession time: I was late to the TikTok party. As a social media manager, I’m a little ashamed by this. As a millennial, I think my hesitation was warranted — TikTok is very much marketed as a Gen Z platform, and to be totally honest, I was a little intimidated. As a marketer, I was conflicted; professionally, I wanted to keep my finger on the pulse of every new platform in the space, but personally, I didn’t think I was the right fit for the platform.
I let my personal views of the platform initially cloud my professional judgment — but I’m here to tell you why I was wrong.

First impressions

We all know that first impressions matter, and my first impressions of TikTok were underwhelming. I figured it was likely another short-lived social platform for a younger generation that would see a similar fate to the likes of Vine and even Pokémon Go — huge explosions of activity at first, but ultimately lacking in the long-term growth plan. In all honesty, I didn’t give TikTok any serious attention until it catapulted Lil Nas X into the mainstream with Old Town Road, breaking down genre barriers and holding the US Billboard Hot 100 number 1 spot for a record 19 weeks. (Thank you Lil Nas X for awakening me!)

Even then, from a personal point of view, I questioned whether I — as a twenty-eight year old — was too old for the platform. I resisted the pull to join the platform, let alone post anything! From a professional standpoint, again, I saw the demographics of TikTok’s users as too young for my largely middle-aged-or-older targeting clients. Long story short, I was not a great advocate of TikTok, as a user or as a marketer.

Taking the plunge

With TikTok’s growth, especially in the marketing space and the potential it had for advertising, it got to a point where I simply couldn’t ignore it any longer. I wanted to see, first-hand, what all the hype was about. So I set up my own personal account — and I can tell you now, I am no Lil Nas X, Holly H, or Jacob Sartorius. However, I very quickly became hooked. The simple premise, the easy navigation, and the very more-ish nature of scrolling through entertaining — and informative — videos from people I do not know had me coming back to consume content almost immediately.

Admittedly, I have yet to dip my toe into the waters of actually posting my own videos on here, but I dare say it won’t be long!

Opening my eyes

Essentially, what joining TikTok from a personal perspective did was open my eyes to the possibilities it holds for my clients — you know, the generally-targets-older-demographics ones. No, it’s not just about the Gen Z-ers. Yes, my Baby Boomer, ‘doesn’t like social media’ dad has even jumped on the TikTok bandwagon — merely as a passive consumer and not as a regular poster, to my great relief! The magnetic pull of TikTok has inspired many users across all age groups to join, opening the gates for ad targeting to a whole host of age demographics and interests.

As a social media marketer, this is the first platform in a long time that has me genuinely excited for the new possibilities it holds. It has sparked my creative side and encouraged me to explore the options it holds for existing and future clients.
From hashtag challenges encouraging user-generated content or collaborating with influencers, to running paid advertising on the platform, there are a number of directions you can go in when encompassing TikTok into your marketing strategy. A simple Google search of ‘TikTok for business’ will give you literally millions of results to get you started, but if you’re looking to be inspired…

Inspiration

There are so many brands who have already shown how successful TikTok can be, for a whole range of audiences. These are just a few that stood out for me:

Chipotle
These guys seem to be at the top of everyone’s list when it comes to brands doing the most on TikTok! Their videos have gained great traction and promoted the fun face of the company.

The Washington Post
A news company may not be your first thought when it comes to fun TikTok videos, but the team at The Washington Post have put the creativity into their employees’ hands, making for some fresh, relatable, and down to earth videos.

Netflix
We all love a good Netflix binge — what these guys do well on TikTok is condense some of their most popular shows into bite-sized clips that may just work as well in short standalone videos as they do in their original longer formats. (Forgive me for getting a Hamilton reference in here — it had to be done. I mean, have you seen it?!)

Looking to the future

I want to say the future of TikTok is bright. Certainly its journey up to now has given that impression. I also want to believe this as it has reignited my passion and creative spirit when it comes to new ad campaigns. But, while I want to believe that, I am very aware that I am writing this amid a buzz of potential concern.

With India having banned the app recently, the US are considering following suit. If this happens, TikTok will lose a significant portion of its user base. Essentially, this comes down to security concerns over a number of Chinese-owned apps and businesses, including Huawei, as well as TikTok. Whether or not these apps and businesses pose a genuine concern, or whether they have purely found themselves in the centre of yet more political furore, is unclear — as is the future of the app, given these discussions. We can only wait and see.

Second and third impressions

First impressions don’t always count for everything — while I was initially hesitant to jump on the TikTok bandwagon, as a professional and as a personal user, I have now come full circle. My confliction over whether it was the right channel — for me and my clients — was born out of this hesitation. Was I too old for it? Were the users right for my clients? I have come to understand, through using the platform and through wider research into TikTok for business, that my first impressions were wrong. I am not saying that every Tom, Dick, and Harriet with an advertising budget should jump aboard the TikTok train, but I am saying that it should not be dismissed based on assumptions and unfounded beliefs. It is a viable marketing channel that should at least be explored for its relevance to your brand and your customers. It presents an amazing opportunity to flex your creative muscles, have some fun, and drive significant business results. All I’m saying is — as I have come to learn — give it a chance!

 If you’re ready to take the plunge and explore what TikTok can do for your brand, we’d love to join you on the journey. Get in touch with us here.

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