Welcome to The Social Smarty Show, your weekly podcast for social media marketing tips, tactics and practical digital marketing advice. Let's get you taking real action to grow your online audience, build connections and your business. I'm your host, Jodine McIntyre. Think of me as your digital marketing coach, cheerleader and wingwoman all rolled into one. Grab some of my social media marketing knowhow for free at socialsmarty.co/freebies. Now, before we dive in, make sure you subscribe so you don't miss any future episodes.
Welcome to episode number ten of The Social Smarty Show. In today's episode, we are going to be talking all things TikTok. What is it? And do you need to be using it to market your business?
Now, TikTok has taken the social media world by storm. Remember when we were all forced to stay home thanks to the spicy cough. And we all looked online for entertainment, didn't we? Many of us, me included, found TikTok. Those short snappy dances with the really catchy music or the skits that made us laugh out loud, it was just the dopamine hit that we needed.
And pretty soon, TikTok was growing faster than any other social media platform in history. How fast? Well, according to the Guardian, I'll link the source in my show notes, TikTok landed its billionth user, yes, that's 1 billion users in 2021, four years after going global. And that was half the time it took Facebook, YouTube or Instagram to reach a billion users.
The only social media app to reach a billion users faster than TikTok was actually Messenger. But I don't think that really counts because that was when Meta, which used to be called Facebook, when they made Messenger a standalone app. So I don't know if you remember back, but Messenger used to be just part of Facebook and then they split it out and then we all had to go and use Messenger. So it wasn't like they were gaining new users for Messenger. It was really just that we were moving over there. So moving existing users over.
Back to TikTok. Now, I remember asking my friend in Australia if she was using TikTok during this time when we were all stuck at home and she was like, no, mate, I just don't get it. Okay, that's a terrible Aussie accent. But she didn't have any interest in adding another social media platform to her life. Fair enough. But that didn't stop me from sending her all of the funniest videos I found on TikTok via Messenger. You see, TikTok makes it really easy for us to share content when we see something on TikTok. There's lots of different ways that we can easily share that via other platforms. And I think that that feature has really helped their massive growth. I mean, if you think about it, if you were my friend and I was sending you all these funny or interesting videos that you were enjoying, you might want to see more of that. So you might want to see what else is on TikTok. So then you download the app, you start scrolling, and that's where Tik Tok's algorithm takes over.
But before we dive into TikTok's inner workings, let's have a chat about what it actually is. So TikTok is owned by a Chinese company called ByteDance. And you might remember when Donald Trump, he was then President Trump, he threatened to ban the app in America. Why would he do that? Well, my understanding is that in China, there's a law that requires Chinese companies to basically cooperate with the government. So if the government wants to access information about your business, then you have to comply, you have to pass over that information. So Trump's concern was that the Chinese government could access all of American users data if they wanted, but also that the government could potentially influence TikTok's content, like the moderation of the content that is shown in the US. Now, obviously, the ban and go ahead and TikTok just continues to grow. It's just growing like crazy.
So what's so great about TikTok? Well, the thing that really stands out to me, firstly, is the algorithm. So the algorithm is the thing that sort of sits behind the platform and decides what you see. Now, on most social media platforms, we follow people, we follow businesses, we follow subjects that we're interested in, and that populates a feed of content. So our news feed. So we pick up Facebook or Instagram or LinkedIn and we head to our feed. And the content that we see is, of course, dictated by the algorithm. But generally, it's content from people that we follow or businesses that we follow or topics that we have said that we're interested in, like a hashtag that we're following.
Now, TikTok is a little bit different. So when you head into TikTok, you are taken to a feed that is simply called For You. And this is where the platform itself decides what it thinks you want to see. Of course, you can follow people, so you can follow other accounts, and there is a feed for those accounts. So you can go into your Following feed and see content created by the people that you're following. But most people stick on this For You feed. It's also called a For You Page or an FYP. And basically, we let the algorithm, we let TikTok decide what we see.
Sounds a bit crazy, right? How on Earth does a platform know what you want to see? Trust me, after you have spent some time scrolling, TikTok really gets to know you. Like, I swear, TikTok, the TikTok algorithm knows me better than I know myself. I recently heard it called an "addictive recommendation engine", and I could not have put it better myself. The algorithm, the For You feed, it is just incredible how quickly it picks up what you're interested in and the type of content that you want to see more of and it just keeps feeding it to you in this kind of addictive manner.
And the cool thing about this For You feed or the algorithm picking the content for you is that if you want to start creating content, you actually don't have to have a massive following to reach a huge audience. Because remember, it's not necessarily the people that are following us that see our content. It is the algorithm that dictates who sees our content. So because of that, you can post a video without any following at all and reach huge audiences.
So, for example, at the time of recording, I think I have 147 followers. That is a tiny audience. One of my videos has had over 14 and a half thousand plays, and that's not unusual. Videos from accounts with literally no followers can blow up without warning and get massive, massive reach and reach huge audiences. So that's a really cool thing about TikTok.
The second thing that I think is so great is that the content creation process is really simple, yet really powerful. So if you think about creating video for social media, it's typically been quite difficult, quite time consuming. But TikTok has a built in video editing tool, and the features are really intuitive. It's easy to use. You can make some really eyecatching, fun, engaging videos right there within TikTok without having to use another software or another app to do so. It makes that content creation process really, really simple.
Sounds great, right? So we should all jump on and make TikToks for our business? Well, actually, us business owners have a little bit of a challenge when it comes to TikTok, let me take you back to July 2020. This is when TikTok was really starting to take off. So TikTok launched something called the Creator Fund. They offered $200 million to pay creators to make content for the platform. So pretty much anyone who was already making content on the platform posting videos who was over 18, had a certain number of followers and video views they could apply to be a part of this Creator Fund and start getting paid to make videos. So now you have this platform with people actually getting paid money from simply making content. So they're not trying to get you onto their website to buy their products. They're not trying to get you on a discovery call or to fill in a booking form or sign up for their emails. Their purpose is to create content that is so good that you'll watch it over and over again and come back for more. And as business owners, that's who we're competing for for views.
Now there's literally accounts that have these incredibly niche content ideas designed to just entertain you. I'm going to put some examples, some links to examples in the show notes, but I thought I'd tell you about a few of my favorites.
Number one is Air Fryer Guy. He literally videos himself cooking things in his air fryer like air fried toast an air fried Kiwi fruit. And when he's frying he sings these catchy little songs. Now that is literally what he posts about.
Then there is the Ceiling Fan CEO. He ties his phone to his ceiling fan and as his phone rotates around him and records he lipsyncs to songs. It sounds really silly, but it is really entertaining.
And then there's a guy called Benn Allsop and so he has the largest DVD collection I have ever seen and people try and catch him out. They ask him if he has a really obscure movie title and he then makes a video revealing that yes, he does indeed have a copy of, I don't know, Psycho Beach Party or Josie and the Pussy Cats. Really entertaining.
And then there is my favorite. I still can't believe how many views his videos get, but it is Mikey with two Y's, mikeyyk88 he lipsyncs to sound effects. Now think a ringtone or an electronic sound effect and him lip syncing as if the sound is coming out of his mouth. It is so hard to explain. You just have to go and watch. I promise you it's really entertaining.
Now I want to make it really clear. I know that I've said that there are some challenges for business owners using TikTok and I'm not saying that there's no point in using TikTok for marketing. In fact, that is a massive opportunity for business owners. Literally, businesses have blown up overnight because of the way the algorithm works, but we actually need to approach it slightly differently than we do with our other social media platforms. What we need to do with our content is we need to approach it from a place of entertainment. So we need to recognize that there are people on the platform looking for entertainment and that's how we need to position our content. So we need to think about content that makes people smile or laugh or think or learn something or discover something new or nod their head as they say, yes, I can totally relate to that message. We can't fall back on that simple promotional "buy my stuff", "book my services" type posts that maybe we are used to creating for other social media platforms.
My number one tip, if you are keen to give TikTok a go for your business is spend some time consuming. Take a look at others in your industry using the platform. Look at their profile. Scan through the videos to see which ones have the highest number of views so that's public - on every profile you can see how many views each video has had. Have a look for the ones that have a high number and have a look at the type of content that seems to be resonating with their audience.
Now, I don't mean outright copy it. I mean get some inspiration and start to understand how the platform works and what content actually does really well on the platform. Now I know there is a trend at the moment and I'm guilty of it too of creating Instagram Reels, literally downloading them and posting them over on TikTok. And depending on the content of your Reels that can work but if you are again posting that really promotional content then you're probably going to fall a little bit flat with your audience on TikTok.
The other thing that's really important to understand with TikTok is it is audio driven so people actually do have believe it or not their audio switched on on their phones while they are watching TikTok and so we need to have an audio element to our videos.
So take some time, see what's working before you dive in. If you need some help with the technical aspects of how to create TikToks, how to set up your account I would love to help you. I'm working on a get started with Tik Tok training or we can jump on a one on one session together but it is a really big opportunity if it is approached in the correct way.
Right, that's it for this episode. I really appreciate you being here. If you know someone who might enjoy this one please send them a link to listen and if you haven't already make sure you hit that subscribe or follow button. I will see you back here soon. Stay social.