TikTok began as a moderately successful video-sharing tool, but now it’s become one of the most downloaded apps in the world.
Marketers have begun to see the potential of the platform, and yet you still don’t hear that much about how to monetize this new social media app.
That’s why we’re going to talk about what TikTok is and several strategies you might use to build your audience and even monetize this app.
Don't worry, you don’t have to lip-synch videos and put yourself out there on the app. In fact, you can stay completely behind the camera if you wish.
You can think of TikTok as Vine’s strange cousin that originated from China. It's an app on which you can make 15-second funny/silly/weird videos and then add different effects and filters.
TikTok has over 500 million active monthly users and it’s rapidly growing. Instagram’s monthly active users’ number 1 billion, which means TikTok is already halfway to equaling Instagram.
You might want to read that last sentence again because it spells massive OPPORTUNITY for early adopters… 😊
As you can see, this is a HUGE new emerging market of opportunity if you know how to use it to your own advantage.
Probably the most significant impediment to TikTok marketing success has been that most marketers (and business managers) older than 30 have never heard of the platform, leaving vast opportunities wide open for those who take action now.
This is our TikTok marketing guide, offering you multiple possibilities for your business to make the most of TikTok and its young and growing audience.
One note about the age of users: While the audience is decidedly young now, I’ve already witnessed several instances of teens and twenty-somethings getting their parents and grandparents involved.
Unlike Facebook when young people left as older people came in, this platform might reverse that trend, with young people leading their elders onto the platform to see their latest escapades and creative endeavours. Time will tell.
How Does TikTok Work?
TikTok has always been about uploading short videos. In the beginning, when it was known as Musical.ly, users uploaded videos of themselves lip-synching to music videos. Yes, that surprisingly caught on.
But the more talented and technically proficient members uploaded videos of their own original content. Naturally, these are the people who became the early influencers on the platform.
Most TikTok videos are up to 15-seconds long, which is perfect for short attention spans and continual surfing. But you can create and share 60-second Stories-type videos, too.
Examples of what you might find on TikTok are new comedians performing stand-up routines, musicians playing, skateboarders doing tricks, people pulling pranks, fashion and makeup tips, crafters and their creations and just about anything you can think of that holds interest for 15 seconds.
And you will also see (HINT HINT) videos featuring people using their favourite products.
Just like YouTube, a vast number of TikTok users are much more interested in watching videos rather than making videos.
And like YouTube, TikTokers don’t need to follow anybody. You can simply open your app, go to your Discover page and start playing videos. You can also search for videos on your preferred topics by using relevant hashtags.
When you discover a channel you like, you can check out the profile page and subscribe, much like YouTube.
Who Uses TikTok?
We talked about this earlier and different sources vary somewhat on this. Typically, it’s going to be Generation Z, with a female bias (60-68%) and overwhelmingly favored by younger people.
However, I’ve found estimates that say 30-35% of users are over the age of 30, and this number is increasing.
As we said, time will tell.
TikTok has a large number of users in the USA, India, and China, as well as other countries. And just so you know, the Chinese version is called Douyin, while the rest of the world knows it as TikTok.
How Can You or Your Brand Use TikTok?
There are three main ways that brands can do traditional marketing on TikTok. (Note: We’ll cover additional methods of monetizing TikTok later in this article.)
1: You can create your own channel and upload relevant videos through your channel.
These videos could highlight your product if done in an entertaining, somewhat non-salesy manner.
2: You can work with influencers, to spread your content to a broader audience.
You might want to do a combination of running your own channel and working with influencers to spread content to a broader audience.
3: You can pay to advertise on TikTok.
These are EARLY days for TikTok advertising, and things are changing and evolving as they roll out beta models and test them out.
As of now, here are the types of ads that are available, but keep in mind all of this is subject to change:
In April 2019, TikTok launched a beta of its “managed service platform” for biddable ads space.
There is only one ad unit: The standard in-feed video ad.
There are three action models: CPClick, CPM, CPView (6 seconds).
For targeting, TikTok offers age, gender, and state-level geotargeting, and the company is promising interest, behavioural, more granular demo targeting over time.
This ad appears instantly when a user opens the app, bringing your message front and centre. You can then drive users to an internal or external destination. However, the use of this format is limited to one advertiser per day.
Similar to lenses offered by Snapchat and Instagram, TikTok’s branded lenses bring face filters, 3D objects, and augmented reality (AR) to users. This brings an incredibly deep level of user engagement.
This ad campaign heavily encourages user-generated content (UGC) by asking users to participate in a challenge, which are immensely popular on TikTok.
This capitalizes on the users’ natural tendency to create and share content on the platform and has a high potential for virality. The rep partners with the brand for six days during the length of the campaign.
For example, US talk show host Jimmy Fallon issued a #tumbleweedchallenge. Users were challenged to upload videos showing themselves rolling around like a tumbleweed, complete with western music. This simple and silly challenge garnered over 8,000 submissions and more than 10.4 million engagements.
Until your brand builds up a popular TikTok channel of its own, you might want to work with influencers to kickstart your #hashtag challenge.
Best of all, once a #hashtag challenge is launched on TikTok, it’s super easy for people to participate and share.
You can create your own content to place on your own channel or work with influencers to encourage their followers to create user-generated content that supports your brand.
Keep in mind that TikTok users tend to be young. They love participating, rather than simply being passive. That’s why if you can find a way to encourage your TikTok users to create videos of themselves with your products, you’re likely to get a high buy-in.
A great example is the Chinese restaurant Haidilao and a do it yourself option on their menu. Customers who selected the DIY menu item created their own unique off-menu dish and then filmed the experience.
Once a few patrons uploaded their culinary attempts, others flocked to the restaurant so that they could also create their meal and video.
Ultimately, more than 15,000 people requested the DIY option; 2,000 ultimately uploaded videos of their creations, and 50 million people viewed the videos.
Your goal in making content on the app is to try and get big with it, just like any other social media platform. It's a fairly new app so there's not a lot of seasoned creators that you have to compete with yet.
But TikTok millionaires have already been minted on TikTok, mainly in China, since the app got its start there.
Now this is key: As you gain a following on TikTok, transfer that following to Instagram, YouTube and your email list.
Just to be safe, do NOT put all of your eggs in one basket. Remember Vine? There were marketers who concentrated exclusively on Vine, and when it disappeared, so did their followers.
Transfer your audience to different platforms, and that way if one platform disappears, you’re still fine. Of course, it’s highly unlikely that YouTube is going to disappear, or even Instagram for that matter. But TikTok is still too new to say for certain that it will still be around in 5 or 10 years.
Plus, it can be easier to monetize your following on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook Groups and your own email list, too.
There are some folks who started on Vine because it was easier to build an audience there. Then they transferred their audiences to YouTube and are now millionaires. Something to think about 😊.
The influence marketing techniques you see on YouTube work on TikTok, too. Choose influencers who have audiences that are suited for your product.
And if possible, consider letting your influencer create the content their way, because they know what their followers like.
One of the best things about TikTok is you or your influencer do NOT need to be the next Steven Spielberg. TikTok’s young clientele aren’t interested in high video production values, but rather originality and fun.
It’s best to trust your influencers to produce their videos their way – even if it looks amateurish to you.
Let's say you start a dropshipping store. Maybe you sell t-shirts or apparel or anything people 35 and younger might like. This could be a golden marketing opportunity to get the right influencers to promote your stuff.
Since TikTok is new, odds are these influencers aren’t getting too many brand deals, so they probably won’t charge too much for a shout out. The return on investment you could get with these influencers could be huge.
Here’s a money-making method that simply involves hunting and editing videos.
People right now are creating TikTok compilation videos that are making tremendous money on YouTube. In fact, it's kind of mind-blowing how much people are making using this little method.
Here’s how it works: When you upload videos to YouTube, your goal is to get a certain amount of views and subscribers that allow you to connect your channel to Google AdSense, which then starts playing advertisements at the beginning of your videos. You earn a percentage of the advertisement that's being played.
People are taking a bunch of TikTok Videos and compiling them into one video, and then uploading that new video to YouTube.
People used to do this with Vine, and they were doing extremely well. Of course, the problem with that is Vine no longer exists so those channels ran out of content to post. TikTok is the new version of that.
If you go to YouTube and search TikTok compilation, and then filter it by view count, you’ll see videos with over 200 million views in six months.
If you do the math and figure out how much money they're making, it gets insane. On YouTube, you get paid per 1,000 views, and how much you get paid depends on the type of content you have.
But even being super conservative with our figuring, these top TikTok compilation videos most likely are earning well over a hundred thousand dollars in 6 months. In fact, it might be three times that much for the top viewed videos.
How much you earn will vary and I make no promises, but you can certainly see the potential in this. Keep in mind that throwing up just one video might not get you the YouTube traffic you seek. But being consistent and continuing to put up videos will bring the traffic.
Why do people love these videos? I think it’s because people want a quick laugh and they have short attention spans. Each clip inside the video is going to be maybe 5 to 10 seconds, and then it’s on to the next clip.
And when the video is over, most times the viewer then wants to watch another compilation, and another and so on.
How to Make the Compilations?
This isn’t going to be a whole primer on making video compilations, because frankly, it’s pretty darn easy.
You choose a topic or theme for your video and then search TikTok for appropriate videos.
Use SaveFrom.net or a service like it to download the videos.
And then use WeVideo.com or any software you choose to make the videos.
Both SaveFrom and WeVideo are drop-dead easy to use, and if you do have questions, they have help sections. You can also look on YouTube for help as well, but I don’t think you’re going to need it.
Make it a practice to create and post at least one video a week. Make the videos 5 to 10 minutes long and no longer.
It’s better to have many shorter videos than a few long ones because you’ll get more views and make more money.
If I were to convey one thing about TikTok, it’s this: Because it’s new AND it’s growing like wildfire, get in now and just DO something with it. Experiment and find out what works for you and your business.
There are going to be many more ways to monetize TikTok that haven’t even been thought of yet. You don’t always get the chance to be in on something new and hot, but when you do get the chance, it just makes good sense to DO something about it.
Enjoy, have fun, and watch for the possibilities and opportunities.