Marketing on the popular TikTok platform can attract and engage an audience of potential customers. But like so many social media platforms, as it matures TikTok may become more difficult to earn a following.
For example, Jon Shanahan, co-founder of Stryx, a men’s skincare company, has guided his company’s TikTok page to more than 1.8 million likes. Some of that success has to do with the platform’s age and level of adoption. And as it grows, TikTok may be relatively more difficult for brands to replicate that level of engagement.
On February 25, 2021, Shanahan took part in an exclusive 30-minute interview for the CommerceCo by Practical Ecommerce community. During the live event, Shanahan took questions from community members and shared his thoughts and opinions about TikTok.
“TikTok today is what Instagram was in 2012,” said Shanahan, adding, “It was a new platform [with] a lot of excitement [and] a very different culture than the other [social media sites]. Every platform has its own language to it. YouTube is a lot more long-form and educational. There is a language to YouTube. Same with Instagram. It’s visual. It’s photography…TikTok is all about creativity…and there is a lot more off-the-cuff creation.”
TikTok content also doesn’t need to be perfectly polished.
“There is an arms race on YouTube to get [the] nicest camera and the best microphone. But on TikTok, it’s ‘What’s your best idea?’ That is a huge differentiator,” said Shanahan.
TikTok’s culture and language make it a distinct tool in the content marketing toolbox.
A video on TikTok from a business “is definitely content marketing,” according to Shanahan. “It has a lifespan to it that Instagram doesn’t really have. TikTok will continue to push your video for 90 days. An Instagram post … might see views for two to three days.”
Shanahan describes TikTok videos as one portion of Stryx’s content efforts.
“YouTube is our content library. We have a lot of tutorials, a lot of FAQs. If somebody wants to know all about Stryx, YouTube has that content,” said Shanahan.
“Instagram is like a pretty grid. We can show off our products and customers and do some demos,” Shanahan said. “But TikTok is like the tip of the spear — a lot of brand discovery.”
The pattern Shanahan describes for this company’s videos aligns with the content marketing tenants of attracting, engaging, and retaining customers, wherein Stryx uses TikTok during the attraction phase.
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“The best time to start [on TikTok] was yesterday, and the second-best time is now,” said Shanahan. “Early on, if you had a single hit video, your follower count would grow like crazy. That just doesn’t happen as much as it used to.”
The challenge for TikTok and any nascent social media platform is that as it grows, creators will likely find it more difficult to attract attention.
Creators — individuals or brands — will likely require increasingly radical or outrageous content to get good results.
“Building a YouTube audience is much more difficult than it was two years ago, five years ago, or six years ago, and TikTok is at an early place,” said Shanahan.
Fortunately, TikTok is not yet saturated. There are still opportunities to promote your business there.
Shanahan recommended becoming familiar with the platform, spending a few minutes or even an hour a day for a while.
He described his initial experience. “I had lunch with a friend who described TikTok to me as ‘YouTube but with creator tools based on sounds and trends,’” said Shanahan, ” I was like, ‘That’s interesting. I’m going to try it.’ I put the first video up. Three hours later it had 300,000 views. I thought, ‘There’s something here.’”