7 Tips for Making TikTok Work for Your Brand
The platform is here to stay, and so is the vertical format.
Here at Ingredient, we’re all a little obsessed with TikTok, and not just because it’s the meme-alicious rabbithole of the decade. (Hello, folded tortilla!) It’s also a fantastic way to reach consumers — and it’s literally turning video on its ear. Well, okay, on its short side.
If you’ve been studiously ignoring the social media platform, we’ll break it down for you. TikTok is a place to share and discover videos up to 60-seconds long. (Stay tuned: 3-minute videos may be coming!) There are two main things that make it different from other platforms: algorithm and format.
Unlike the majority of social media platforms — where you follow the folks you know and the brands, stars, and pundits you admire — TikTok uses an algorithm to collect data on what you like to watch and sends you related content from creators who share your interests. If you’re into the Great Lakes, there’s a TikToker for that! Collecting vintage Pyrex? Here's a TikTok for you. Weirdly specific, we know, but that’s the beauty of TikTok. It’s more than awesome lip-syncing videos, and the more time you spend on it, the more relevant content and creators will magically show up in your feed. Once they do, of course, you can like and follow them.
TikTok’s algorithm makes it a fantastic place to engage your audience — it will not only connect people with your content, but also encourage them to collaborate with you by riffing on your videos (like @BillieBillieB did in the Pyrex TikTok above).
Now for the format: TikTok is all vertical (AKA: 9:16 aspect ratio). If like us, you’ve been shooting horizontally for a while, and you’re used to working with all that expanse, this might feel like a hurdle. Hop on over it! There are plenty of good reasons to go vertical, including the fact that 94% of people hold their phones vertically — why not meet them where they are? Plus, vertical is supported on every other social media platform, from Instagram Stories to YouTube Shorts, so your video will be easy to watch and look terrific everywhere it goes.
Of course, there’s more to a strong TikTok video strategy than simply going vertical. Here are a few tips from Ingredient’s crack team of TikTokers.
1. Avoid creating an ad. TikTok videos are for recommending, learning, collaborating, and having fun rather than overtly advertising. It’s the perfect place to go behind the curtains with your brand’s how-tos, how-we-made-its, hacks, and bloopers. On TikTok, the vibe is casual, and the tone can be anywhere from funny to soothing, helpful, or conspiratorial.
2. Experiment, take risks, and have fun. TikTok is kind of the Wild West of social media right now. Culturally, it’s a highly creative platform that’s less about super produced perfection than throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. That makes it a great place for brands to try out their ideas, like a new video style, message, or use for a product.
3. Own the trend — TikTok style. Let’s say you want to jump on the feta pasta bake train. We say go for it, but make it your own. That means not only mixing up the ingredients, but also using all the tools and effects TikTok offers to differentiate your video. For example, you could apply an existing meme — like a trending sound clip or caption — or collaborate with another creator by riffing on their video (see tip # 5).
4. Take a deep dive. Can’t fit what you want to say into one 60-second video? End it on a cliffhanger and direct your viewers to part two! A multi-part series allows you to tell a longer story, revisit developing topics, or break down the steps of a long-winded project, like making croissants. If it’s fun and educational, TikTokers are here for it — there’s a reason #LearnOnTikTok is hot, hot, hot right now.
5. Collaborate like mad: On TikTok, collaboration is the name of the game, and there are a bunch of ways to do it.
- If another creator posts a TikTok that’s relevant to your brand, you can repurpose their work by “Stitching” a snippet of it to your video or creating a “Duet” — side-by-side video — in which you respond to them.
- If you’ve created influencer partnerships, you can use Stitch and Duet to riff on the content they create, give it even more reach — and create a conversation with both the influencer and your audience.
- Once you post a TikTok, you can encourage your audience to create Duets with your video. You can also respond to their comments with videos, creating an ongoing content stream.
6. Invest in community management. It’s important to respond to comments and questions from your audience: It’s good customer service, it builds a rapport with your audience, and it encourages collaboration. Plus, it can help you create more content (see tip # 5c above).
Want to learn more about community management? Check out our blog on it.
7. Post your TikTok videos on all the platforms. Your TikTok video will play, music and all, on most other platforms. The caveat is that TikTok will watermark the video. The good news there is that it will help folks find your TikTok account. However, it may also mean that the other platforms will be less likely to promote it. If that’s a concern, check out Instagram Reels.
8. Repurpose your old horizontals. So what do you do with all the 16:9 videos you’ve already invested in? Edit and repurpose them! In many cases, you can zoom in on shots. And if you end up with a lot of head space, you can always fill it with a banner or onscreen text.
Interested in talking about how TikTok fits into your social media strategy? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org — we’d love to have a virtual cup of coffee (and swap TikToks) with you.