If you’ve heard of Tik Tok, odds are it was from someone under the age of 30 or from a news report about what the Gen Z-ers are up to.

The next hot social media sharing app following Instagram and Snapchat, TikTok is kind of like a karaoke/video app for your smartphone, and it’s got millions of people autotuning their voices to synch up with silly, absurd, or just plain weird videos and images. And where you find any audience of millions, the question is bound to surface: Is this a good marketing opportunity for my business?

TikTok Quick Facts

  • 15- to 60-second, user-created videos
  • Followers can like or comment on content
  • Use hashtags for searching
  • Ability to create challenges to engage directly with users
  • No explicit advertising opportunities currently, but there are paid hashtag campaigns such as Chipotle’s #GuacDance challenge
  • Over 40% of the app's users are between the ages of 10 and 19

Marketing Through TikTok

Like any marketing initiative, social media marketing is about knowing your audience and tapping into their values. If your brand is known for humor and playfulness, TikTok could be a good fit. Using brands like Chipotle and Uniqlo as models, smaller businesses can find a new way to connect with an audience that is already using the platform. TikTok presents an opportunity to show an authentic, real side of your brand persona, something that would appeal to a younger audience and position your brand as something cool that they would want to engage with and share with friends. Challenges are a good way to test the waters. Chipotle has tried a few TikTok challenges, including the GuacDance for National Avocado Day and the Lid Flip Challenge, both of which encouraged TikTok users to create their own content tied to Chipotle products. This is a great way to create buzz around a new product or a brand and to see if the TikTok audience is responsive to your presence.

TikTok and Your Staff

With any new technology, it’s important to consider how your business can be affected by employees who use that platform. Especially if you hire a large number of younger people, it would be wise to address what is acceptable and unacceptable for them to share on their pages, as it relates to your business, or you could be surprised to see your BOH operations on display in a way that you don’t approve of. You may want to update your employee handbook and training materials to include explicit language related to the use of these platforms in and around work.

Learning the Ropes

Like any new technology, the best way to learn about TikTok is to download the app and start playing around. Use a personal account to start figuring out what works and what is not a good fit before you launch a brand account. Follow a variety of accounts, including other food brands and potential influencers, to learn what the platform is all about.

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