Everything TikTok Can Teach Us About Content Marketing

Ryan Porter

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This universal truth shows us that every social media platform is practically the same

I’m enamored by Tiktok, and I’m not sure if I should be embarrassed to say it.

If I was 14, I’d be all in on TikTok. I’d spend my days scheming hilarious video ideas to become an influencer before I got my braces off.

Alas, I’m 25 and still live with my parents. If I was born in a different generation, that could’ve been me with an exclusive invite to a TikTok house.

I don’t have a TikTok account, but I think I would do a fantastic job as a creator. I make ridiculous video edits for my friends all the time. All I’d have to do is throw in some current events or a meme, and I think I could gather 100,000 followers in due time.

As of now, I’m happy if I get a couple hundred reads on any of my articles. How is it that phone-shot videos get hundreds of thousands to millions of views?

What gives? What are these 13-year old TikTok influencers doing that’s blowing them up into the social media hall of fame?

I took a deep dive into TikTok marketing to understand what goes behind a viral TikTok. I want to see what tactics influencers use on TikTok that can be replicated on platforms like Medium and Instagram.

How to go viral on TikTok

I’m going to assume you’ve heard of Tiktok at some point. Essentially, it’s a social media platform initially created to share short music videos. However, it’s adapted into a sandbox video generator that has become highly popular with younger generations.

TikTok is for a specific kind of creator, but the strategies behind the viral TikTok can be transferred elsewhere.

To understand how to go viral is to know how TikTok’s algorithm works.

  • TikTok wants to keep you on the app.
  • They don’t wish to drive traffic elsewhere.
  • They want you to keep consuming content.

Even Medium has adopted these changes. You’ve probably noticed that when you finish reading a story on your phone or desktop, scroll down, and you’ll see another article ready to be read.

Medium, Instagram, and TikTok want to feed you content. According to Wired.com, The TikTok algorithm shows you videos based on your watch history:

“The first thing you see when you open TikTok is the platform’s For You page: an endless stream of videos uniquely tailored to each user. No two feeds are exactly the same.” — Louise Matsakis

When someone uploads to TikTok, the algorithm sends the video to people who may or may not follow the creator already. However, these people have been determined by their watch history as most likely to engage with the video. If they like, share, or watch the full video, TikTok will send it to more people with the same interest. This process will repeat itself until the video goes viral.

This happened to a friend and fellow Medium writer. He created a TikTok that garnered two million views. It was his first video too, but then the site banned him permanently when he submitted his second one.

Additionally, to mitigate the possibility of creating filter bubbles, “TikTok says it purposely shows users different types of videos, even if they don’t match what they may have engaged with in the past.”

The point is, it seems like TikTok’s algorithm is a solid one. Clearly, it works because it’s possible to get a million views on the platform on your first post without having any followers.

Because of the low entry barrier, it’s something to consider for young brands or new creators looking to grow.

Should you use TikTok for your marketing strategy?

Businesses and content creators should highly consider using TikTok to promote their products.

They should also consider their target demographics. For example, I haven’t been on TikTok because I don’t think the major age groups that use it are interested in joining another email newsletter.

Let’s crunch some numbers:

However, don’t let the demographics stop you. I’m friends with someone who runs @illpumpyouup, a family-owned supplement company’s TikTok account, and they post videos about the products they sell.

They directly link to their website, and some of their videos have over a hundred thousand views. That can’t be bad for business.

The users are there, and they want you to spoonfeed them your content.

The TikTok user base is snowballing

Last year, Statista noted there were 140 million active Instagram users on the site, and what we’re starting to see are people posting their TikToks on Instagram. TikTok provides yet another platform to make a piece of content once and share it across all social media accounts.

The user base is there; what matters next are the strategies in place to attract customers.

TikTok marketing strategies

So we know how going viral works now. The next step to consider is how to market one’s business.

TikTok is so popular that it’s literally a verb now. I’m a tutor for my day job, and you don’t know how many times I’ve heard my students say, “Hey, you want to come over and TikTok today?”

TikTok is huge. If Vine was a fierce lion of the early 2010s, TikTok is a 50-foot three-headed monster that’s coming to steal the attention of every 16-year-old.

According to Influencer marketing Hub, these are the top 10 TikTok marketing strategies:

  • 1. Use suitable hashtags.
  • 2. Follow current TikTok trends.
  • 3. Incorporate TikTok influencers in your campaign.
  • 4. Comment regularly and encourage comments on your posts.
  • 5. Post often.
  • 6. Use TikTok effects in your posts.
  • 7. Make interesting videos with clear descriptions.
  • 8. Use TikTok ads.
  • 9. Set a hashtag challenge.
  • 10. Blend in branded content.

There seems to be some universal truth to posting successful content on TikTok.

Hashtags are a given throughout most social media platforms. Medium is a little different in that authors list the top five most prevalent tags to their stories.

Posting often is another way to favor the algorithm — creators who post often are more likely to get noticed. As a result, platforms will put the creator who posts a lot of content in front of hungry consumers’ eyes.

TikTok and Instagram have a lot in common

Instagram is the forefather of blending branded content and influencer incorporation. A well-composed photo leaves a lasting impression. Mix that with a one-million-follower Insta-influencer and a new CBD energy drink, and you have yourself one hell of an ad.

Instagram creators are free to encourage viewers to like and comment on their posts because they know it increases engagement.

You can’t do that on Medium because it goes against its guidelines. Ask your readers to share your work or give you lovely comments, and you’ll be prevented from being distributed to more readers.

Having consistent interaction with your fans who watch your videos because they like your brand’s personality is the key.

Use TikTok strategies to increase your views on Medium

I know what you’re waiting for. We’re on Medium. How can I use those same strategies here? It seems like writers get the short end of the stick here.

If you’re a writer, you might’ve considered using TikTok to increase your brand awareness. Whether you consider yourself a brand or not, as a writer, you’re promoting yourself. Ever hear of the Wipe It Down Challenge?

How about the Ocean Spray guy? A video of a man cruising down the highway, sipping a bottle of cranberry juice, was re-created thousands of times, to the point where he was featured on commercials, and his life was completely turned around.

The idea here is that TikTok creators feed off of other creators. They get inspired and try to create a famous TikTok with their own twist.

Ashwini Dodani writes in his piece about succeeding with your brand on TikTok:

“What’s your strength? How do you do what you do? How can you help? Once you answer these three questions, your passion will give you innumerable ideas to create content. I’ve formed a community that likes my content and also gives feedback in comments on what I should improve.”

Writers are allowed to be inspired too

Don’t copy anyone’s work word for word. That’s called plagiarism. Ever heard of it? I called out a fellow workmate at my daily newspaper when he copied an entire article from a different source.

It’s excellent to take a subject one of your favorite authors wrote and repurpose it for your own needs. That’s called inspiration. It’s an effective way to deal with writer’s block.

The universal lesson we can learn from TikTok is to create exciting content

Boring content isn’t going to get you anywhere.

Simple content, however, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s boring. In fact, it’s easier to simplify your process if you want to reach people. This means pumping out content in an efficient manner but still solving your audience’s problem.

Content is simply a solution to a problem. The trick is to convince your audience to view your work.

Even a funny TikTok solves a problem. If I have time on my hands and I need some way to spend it, going on TikTok will at least burn off some clock and give me some laughs along the way.

I’m a consumer, and if I don’t get anything out of the content I see, I’ll either ignore all similar content or unfollow the creators. However, if you can make me laugh or help me solve my unique problems, I’m more likely to engage with your content. That helps both of us!

The lesson: Provide your viewers/readers actionable takeaways. There’s no way around it. Writers know this all too well.

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I write about startup culture, productivity, and life's moments. My goal is to serve as a teacher for the next generation of content creators.

Los Angeles, CA
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