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  • Writer's pictureryan@socialbrain

It's Time to TikTok

With A billion downloads in 2018 and over 500 million Monthly Active Users, TikTok is probably the most successful social channel not on Australian businesses’ to do list.

So, what's the gist of TikTok? Essentially, it's a meme machine - like Vine's short sketch comedy video loops with a touch of karaoke lip syncing and a few smart editing touches. The videos can be up to 60 seconds in length.

The huge and rapid success of the platform has made it the go-to meme factory for 13-25 year olds and placed the Chinese owned parent company Bytedance square in Facebook’s crosshairs and it may even pose a threat to Spotify's dominance in music streaming.

The huge number of MAUs has also made it a go-to for many social savvy brands like NBA, Universal, Fox, NBC, Liverpool Football Club, Washington Post, Chipotle, Calvin Klein, Fenty and Guess. Like other social platforms, there are no limitations on the industries or scale of businesses that can start on TokTok.

The potential for businesses to get a foothold with Gen-Z (and old-aged early-adopters... cough) is huge. The platform is fun and, when executed well, the content can get great organic exposure (branded content is not hobbled as it is on Facebook operated platforms). TikTok also allows brands to showcase their less stuffy side (as the Washington Post does so well) and launch 'challenges' - campy musical and action based memes like Chipotle's Guacamole Challenge.

Companies that want to dabble in TikTok would be best to learn the kinetic tone and humour of the channel first. It's a great opportunity to piggyback on challenges & trending #s, to keep employees engaged at work, and to show the world how much fun you are.

If you choose to go down the meme path, TikTok's also a good litmus test for how thick-skinned your business is as you'll need to prepare to make fun of yourself and, maybe, to be made fun of.

Many brands just make optimised ads or compilations of old footage but the edit style and movement of the images within the 9:16 frame is what makes it work - this approach is not far from Instgaram's hero content Stories.

The rapid rise of TikTok

*November 2017 -Bytedance, a Softbank funded Chinese startup, purchased the app and reskinned it to become TikTok.

*November 2018 -Facebook release Lasso (limited to a handful of countries), a clone of the TIkTok app intended to appeal to TikTok’s audience in the same way Instagram’s coopted stories feature stifled snapchat.

*November 2018 - TikTok’s parent company Bytedance was valued at $75 billion surpassing Uber to become the world’s most valuable start-up.

*February 2019 - TikTok passed one billion app installs. More than half of these installs occurred in 2018.

*November 2019 - Compelled by social media competitors, the US government has begun investigating if TikTok is a threat to national security (and Facebook’s social media hegemony).

*December 2019 - TikTok passed 1.5 Billion installs

How to do it

The musical origins of the app mean that pretty much every meme has a soundtrack element. The music can be grabbed and edited from within the iOS or Android TikTok app and filters, text elements, gifs, or emoji, can be applied as with most social media apps.

A good sense of the how TikTok Tok music and editing knit together is given this Teleporting Challenge tutorial:

Many of the most popular trends on TikTok use sleight of hand elements, but the key feature is always the 'talent' in front of the camera. Like most social platforms TikTok tends to reward playful narcissism. You can try to skirt around the image consciousness by simply being happy, playful in how you dress up and only featuring people who actually get TikTok. The stress here is not an affect - you should not try to rope in people purely to be made fun of as this could be very bad for your organisational self esteem - not to mention the individuals involved. As social media Yoda would say 'Mandatory fun isn't'.

This tutorial goes heavy on the magic TikToks but will also give you a reasonable idea of how image, kinetics, and music are the core of this social media.

As always, the best way to get started on TikTok is to dive in - also, if you really want to get it right, get some content production pros in to help you with strategy and scaling content.

You may find that you have content sitting around that can be repurposed and you may discover that you have some stars in waiting sitting around the office. Make a plan and get to work quickly - there's still a chance to get a head start and some extra attention for your brand on TikTok in Australia.

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