We’ve been helping organizations launch and create content for their TikTok accounts and wanted to share what we’ve learned along the way. The platform is so helpful for finding and engaging new audiences, but there are some important things to consider when you’re getting started.
Here are some mistakes we’ve seen (and learned from personally):
Mistake one: Not being intentional about why you’re getting on the platform
There are a lot of great reasons for organizations to be on TikTok – the massively growing user base, the unique algorithm, and the ability to reach younger audiences in creative ways, to name a few. But unless it fits in with your organization’s broader digital strategy and goals, you shouldn’t just rush to TikTok because everyone else is.
If you’re already on Instagram or Snapchat and can repurpose vertical content across platforms, you already have an increased ROI in adding TikTok to your social media strategy. And in our experience with creating the TikTok for North Carolina’s Department of Health in Human Services, we knew we needed to be on TikTok to combat misinformation in our field.
When you’re intentional about the reason you’re on the platform in the first place, you can create a content calendar that works across multiple vertical platforms and more directly reach your audience by designing content with them in mind.
That said, people of all ages from all over the world use TikTok, and even your grandparent can go viral for their peanut brittle.
Mistake two: Forgetting to link back to your website and other social media accounts
Keep your branding consistent across your social platforms, and link back to your website and other social feeds in your TikTok bio, especially if you’re verified on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. That will help show users you are a legitimate organization and will also help your page get a blue checkmark more quickly if TikTok admin can see you are the real deal. It’s also important for users to be able to respond to the different calls to action you include in videos.
If you’re a nonprofit and hoping to fundraise off TikTok videos, consider using linkinbio or linktree to create a “Donate” tab directly in your menu. If your brand has merchandise, include a “Merch” tab. Sub-Tip: Don’t make the mistake of listing a link to every single part of your website or every past project. Curate the links in your dropdown link in bio selection and focus on where you want people to land what about your organization your videos are promoting.
Mistake three: Losing audio because you didn’t know the music licensing rules
On TikTok, there is a difference between trending sounds and trending music and there are a variety of ways to use both. But your ability to use certain music is dependent on the type of account you run. TikTok for Business says that if you have a business account or plan to use your account for “marketing, advertising, sponsorships, endorsements or publicity” you must use songs from the Commercial Library. That means when the new Harry Styles song “As It Was” is trending, you won’t be able to use it on your business account. However, there are plenty of trending sounds that business accounts can use. See for example how Duolingo uses a trending sound in a video. Trending sounds may include music that are remixed by TikTokers or pieces of speech that have gone viral and turned into a meme.
This is why it’s so important to have your eye out for trends and to conceptualize your content around them. Reacting to trends in real time allows you to be a part of the conversation and reach your audiences on the platform while safely following licensing guidelines.
Personal and creator accounts are run a little differently and have more leeway for using popular sounds. Think of celebrities for example. The Rock can use popular songs while promoting his alcohol brand because he is treated as an individual and influencer. Some organizations will take this into consideration when creating their TikTok strategy – either with their influencer strategy or by choosing a leader or identifiable figure representing their organization to be the face of their TikTok.
The last thing you want to happen is to spend hours preparing a TikTok video or ad campaign that loses its sound because of licensing issues.
Mistake four: Thinking you don’t need TikTok ad manager
Even if you’re not planning on investing in paid media on TikTok and want to focus on organic reach, creating a TikTok ad manager account can help you stay on top of trends, hashtags and sounds that are popular.
Unlike other social media apps, TikTok’s ad center tells users directly what is trending and has helpful search functions – from helping you hone in on what hashtags are trending in your country and target industry to seeing the popularity over time of top songs and sounds.
That means when it’s time to conceptualize content, you can more easily target your audience and get an idea of what strategies are successful already. While I don’t often use TikTok Ad Manager for paid ads, I will use it to find popular music that is safe for licensing and especially when I’m doing work in international languages and need to find what music, sounds or hashtags are trending in different countries.
Mistake five: Editing your videos in the wrong place
If you want to use a video from TikTok on Instagram or Snapchat it’s important to consider before: “How do I want to edit this?”
If you’re basing content around a trending filter on TikTok, you’ll only be able to use that filter by filming and editing within the app itself. That means that when it comes time to share the video on other platforms, you’ll have to download the video from TikTok, which automatically puts the TikTok users handle and a TikTok watermark over the video.
While this isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker to reshare on other apps, Instagram has been open about not promoting “unoriginal” videos – aka those with a TikTok logo. If you can avoid having a TikTok watermark by editing your vertical video in an outside app it will increase your chances it performs well across platforms.
That said, many videos shared from TikTok still thrive on Instagram or Snapchat. What’s important is being intentional and thinking about where you want your videos to go ahead of time. You don’t want to come up with a great way to use a trending sound, film it in-app, and later wish you’d edited it in a third-party app like Final Cut or iMovie so you could share it without the watermark.
And on a final note: Also be careful to save your drafts in TikTok so any content you film in-app isn’t lost. Drafts are stored locally on your device, so if multiple people have access to your TikTok account they won’t be able to see your drafts. Only you can. That’s why it’s important to think about who needs to sign off on video content before it’s posted and how you can best edit and prepare it on third-party apps if necessary.
For more information and tips on how to start your own TikTok, reach out to Brooke, and check back for more content on influencer marketing and helpful digital storytelling techniques.