CEO of sketch, Three-time founder and contemporary visual artist (Adno). 15+ years of technology and art combined.
TikTok became a phenomenon among the social apps. The accessible and easy-to-use short-form mobile video platform has experienced stratospheric growth since its launch in its current form in 2018. In 2021, the company reported that it had 1 billion active monthly users, and the platform was expected to 1.8 billion app downloads before the end of 2022.
It is no surprise that TikTok is among the most downloaded apps. With its funny and quickly digestible content, TikTok is also one of the brands most favored by Gen-Z. For now, despite to assure around national security, the safety of Americans’ personal information, and how the app is the mental and physical health of teens and young people, TikTok continues to grow in influence.
From my observations, the diversity of content on TikTok is as broad as YouTube, except on TikTok the challenge is to captivate the viewer almost immediately. Videos can be as short as 15 seconds, with the platform coming in early 2022 extensive the maximum video length up to 10 minutes. The short video format lowers the threshold for content creation and makes it accessible to a whole range of content creators who might struggle to succeed on YouTube or Instagram.
Indeed, TikTok has proven to be a valuable platform for advertising and promoting businesses, while retaining a place for smaller individual creators or artists. It doesn’t take much to fire up a TikTok account and produce content that gets discovered. I experienced this by setting up and growing a TikTok account myself as the CEO of a tech company that helps digital creators learn and produce art.
From my perspective, the potential for both startups and creators is promising: with a consistent upload schedule and an understanding of the inner workings of TikTok, companies can not only create followers, but also reach people who may not have discovered that they are interested in their niche topic.
How does the app work?
TikTok is similar to Instagram in that you scroll down a vertical feed of videos that you can watch and interact with. TikTok presents users with content chosen by it artificial intelligence algorithm. That means it can help get your content out to the right people, which is incredibly important in growing a community of like-minded people. It also increases the chances of your content being presented to people who otherwise wouldn’t have discovered your content.
TikTok users can easily navigate massive amounts of content with a simple scrolling feature and most importantly, be exposed to content they love to watch. This is because TikTok controls what users see and optimizes the video feed to maximize user happiness. Even if you subscribe to a creator, there’s no guarantee you’ll see all of their videos in your feed.
Such product design leads to the belief that TikTok users are more likely to see videos on topics they would never look up on their own. I find the whole experience of using TikTok to be a kind of organic discovery – a satisfying sense of finding new interests.
How can your startup successfully use TikTok?
I believe TikTok is a unique platform that offers startups a unique opportunity to tap into audiences they might not otherwise have been able to reach. Of course the app works around trends and hypes. In my experience, there is some content that the algorithm favors at the time of release to keep users engaged, and some hashtags bring more like-minded people to your content.
As a creator on TikTok, you can take advantage of this. Decide which hashtags to use by considering frequency and volume. If a hashtag is widely used, there is a high risk of getting lost in the shuffle, but I’ve still found that it can be worth using popular hashtags in conjunction with a medium-used hashtag. In my experience, a medium-used hashtag can help drive your video and highly recommend it to viewers. You may even find that some of your old recommended videos remain popular for a long time, which is extremely beneficial. For example, over time, old posts can be featured in new countries and gain additional views, even if the trend is over.
With the right strategy, you can maximize the effectiveness of hashtags. But that shouldn’t get in the way of the creative development of your content, because to succeed in the long run, you need to experiment with different formats.
I’ve also found that videos that speak to a viewer personally and don’t exude “high production value” tend to fare better on the platform. Users enjoy authenticity; they like to see real people behind the product. In many cases, you have to stand out to stand out on TikTok. Some for example museums and art galleries create TikTok accounts, making art accessible to a younger audience that rules the platform. A low production value lowers costs for companies and leaves room for experimentation.
One of the main challenges brands need to consider when using TikTok is that it’s trial and error; after posting a few random videos without your own unique style, you may not see the results you were hoping for. My advice is to keep repeating and find your own “TikTok language”. For example, a friend of mine tried to post videos for several months, but only after six months did they find the right format.
Because of TikTok’s accessibility, I encourage startups to consider using the platform. A consistent upload schedule, product transparency, and lightweight presentation are key factors in growing a following.