How to crack Tik Tok, no dancing needed.
Written by Genie talent members, Cullen and Ola.
It’s easy to fall out of the loop since this has all come around so fast. But as creatives who live in both worlds of content and advertising, we’re here to take you on a guided tour of how to capitalize on the fastest-growing video platform in the world, TikTok.
Forget what you think you know about TikTok –
Before we dive into the good stuff, we think it makes sense to cleanse any preconceived ideas you might have about TikTok. On the surface, you might think it’s just mega-famous teenagers doing dance crazes, new viral trends every week and wild memes sprouting out of thin air. But in truth, that’s just scratching the surface of what this platform is. We see it as a new haven for creatives.
On the same platform as the dance craze kids, you have therapists that get people through the day, chefs teaching people how to cook and even doctors who are sharing specialised knowledge (and in some cases even diagnosing people and saving lives).
And creators like us, who document fixing up their house – even though that same house is trying to destroy them…
Authenticity is key
TikTok is an interlocking web of videos. Compared to other social media platforms it’s most similar to Twitter in the way that conversations interlink and ideas are shared. But one thing that sets TikTok apart from every other app is authenticity. A TikTok video doesn’t have to be polished (in some cases it’s better if it’s not). But one thing the video must always be is REAL. Real emotions, real reactions, real stories. That’s the core of it all.
Take Dylan Lemay for example. On the surface, he’s just some guy serving people ice cream, but if you look a little deeper you’ll see that with every video he’s sharing emotive and relatable stories in a satisfying way. Through these stories, he’s grown a community of supporters that probably know him better than his mum. The community that he has built is now helping to fund the start-up of his own ice cream store in the heart of New York.
The videos going viral on TikTok are of people doing their own things in their own way. Each creator brings their own unique personality, skill or style to the table and people follow along on their journey if they can relate. It’s that simple.
But what about the algorithm?
TikTok’s algorithm is the reason why the platform is growing so fast. The app serves up creators and videos that users will relate to. TikTok’s ‘For You Page’ is an endlessly scrolling feed that shows you varied content. While it does this it’s constantly learning about the videos you like and the ones you skip, just so it adapts to your likes and interests. Then it feeds you videos from creators it thinks you will love.
But the real magic is in how the videos are distributed on the FYP (For You Page). Each video performs based on how many people engage with it. So even creators with zero followers can post an amazing video, get millions of views and become an overnight viral sensation.
No other app gives creators an ‘equal’ opportunity to reach an audience and share ideas with the world in this way.
Why do brand accounts stick out like a sore thumb?
TikTok is so much more fast-paced and impermanent than what we’re used to.
In advertising, everything goes through a process. It MUST be considered, screened, tested, polished and tweaked with big budgets, casts and a crew. TikTok can be like that, but for the most part, it’s spontaneous, improvised and raw. These values sit on opposite ends of a scale.
The way most brands approach TikTok takes the fun and authenticity out of the creative work. Whilst creatives that don’t necessarily understand the platform will pitch generic ‘let’s do a challenge!’ ideas.
How brands can become part of the conversation
Adverts really stick out on TikTok and most TikTok users are speed scrolling past them. To get around this, brands need to rely less on paid promotional ads and focus on building a platform using organic reach. Doing this will bring them into people’s feeds in the same way as everyone else: by creating authentic content that has value at the heart of it.
Duolingo and Ryanair are masters of this, Duolingo has 3.5M followers right now with every video gaining over a million views because they’re making organic content that people actually look forward to seeing!
Brands should seek out people who understand TikTok. Whether that’s within their team, an agency that they work with, or going directly to a content creator.
Going direct to the creator can take many shapes, we’ve seen brands hire established creators to run their TikTok accounts – in the case of Ryanair, they use Creator Olivia Neill to curate their content…and she’s definitely a reason for their success.
There are literally millions of established creators that can carry a Brands message to their audiences at mass. And if done in the right way (an authentic way) these collaborations can be very, very powerful.
The best example we’ve seen of this was Doja cat’s Partnership with Taco Bell.They’d asked her to make a rap jingle for a Pizza (possibly the cringiest idea we’ve ever heard). But she took the idea and made an authentic ‘viral’ masterpiece by first breaking down how embarrassed she was to be making it.
TikTok presents a huge opportunity for brands, they just need to be ready to be brave, loosen control of the process and allow authenticity to flourish. Everyone who is working with brands, from in-house teams to agency leads should be open to understanding the intricacies of TikTok and the creator economy.
Yes, you might gag when you land on the FYP for the first time, but eventually, it will understand you – and more importantly, you will understand it and that will help you create authentic and moving ideas.
Cullen and Ola are a super-smart multi-disciplined team on Genie, that create and develop BIG ideas. Working for clients like Lotto, Mercedes, Warner Music and PG Tips as well as creating many of their own passion projects that have been featured in the Evening standard, Timeout, Scope, Campaign, Adweek and more.
Follow Cullen and Ola’s house renovation journey on TikTok,@bricksanddisorder