Two reasons your business might not need TikTok
It’s not hard to see why TikTok has skyrocketed to success among the younger crowd: it’s fun! Teens and young adults can dance, do impressions, take part in challenges, and – my personal favourite – practice their stand-up comedy routine making fun of misogyny and ignorance. There’s truly nothing funnier to me than a reasonable, respectable person making educated, funny commentary about cringey ignorance – and it’s easy to see that I’m not the only one, as some of these loops boast millions of likes and comments.
In this way, TikTok becomes more than just a social media platform: it’s an activity in itself – for creators and viewers. The TikTok algorithm has a way of steering you towards content and creators it knows you want to see, and the more you engage with it, the smarter it gets.
I understand the appeal – who wouldn’t want to get “famous” on an insanely popular social media platform? Millions of eyes and tapping fingers on your video, extreme exposure, and insane engagement (even if it’s @jenny2003 tagging her BFF @kay_la49_ saying “omg us”).
While acknowledging its popularity, its exposure potential, and its addictive nature, I can’t help but hesitate when TikTok is deemed a high priority in a marketing strategy-esque type conversation, because the thing about TikTok is that success is often defined by going viral – and going viral is not a strategy.
When developing a marketing strategy, research is imperative – you must study the successes and weaknesses of your competitors, analyze trends and statistics, and tailor messaging to your core demographic.
This is where we identify two key reasons your business may not need TikTok.
1. It’s hard to plan viral
Say your competitor or an industry-similar business hits the TikTok lotto and finds 750,000 people who love their content, and they blow up and go viral. Even then, it doesn’t matter how much time, effort and money you funnel into your TikTok presence because you cannot simply copy virality.
In theory, going viral is the perfect marketing plan, but in reality, it’s incredibly difficult. Chances are, your business doesn’t have the budget for network effects, and isn’t revolutionary enough to achieve sustainable, profitable growth through pure viral marketing. The other option is to have such an awe-inspiring event or campaign that people will naturally talk about it and share it all over the place. How do you do this? You spend $25 million and film a dog walking on water while wearing your brand’s new waterproof headphones. Risky and jaw-dropping, right? But likely over your budget (and I’ve yet to see my dog walk on water.)
Bottom line: if going viral was easy to plan, everyone would do it.
2. Your demographic is looking for you elsewhere
Is your core demographic, or even a majority of your target market, on TikTok? Are they looking for your business there? If they’re not (and, generally speaking, if you’re looking to reach anyone outside of the 16–34-year age group – which represents three-quarters of the TikTok demographic – they’re not), you shouldn’t be focusing company time, energy, and funds on TikTok. Those resources could be better spent elsewhere – somewhere with proven results, where you know your audience is trying to find you.
Don’t get me wrong, every so often I stumble upon a brand or a business I was not going out of my way to find that piques my interest completely by accident, on a random platform – but are you willing to jeopardize your company’s livelihood on your potential customers “stumbling upon something completely by accident”?
Bottom line: most 21-year-olds have no use for your HVAC company or insurance. So, if that’s what you’re selling, you likely don’t need a TikTok.
All in all, when I consider TikTok for marketing purposes, I’m often reminded of the old saying, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Even though the platform has a chokehold on a large portion of social media savvy youngsters, you have to ask yourself if that’s who you’re trying to reach – if not, maybe hold onto your eggs and steer clear of that basket.