What Is TikTok?
While TikTok has been around for a few years now, its merger with musical.ly and expansion worldwide, has resulted in the app quickly become a household name and major player in the digital space. TikTok is a remarkable app that is made for self expression in whichever way the user wants to portray themselves to their audience.
TikTok is an app that has progressed significantly over the past year. Originated in China, TikTok has rapidly made its way throughout the world. It is not only available in 154 countries worldwide, but is also established in 75 different languages. Through its worldly expansion, TikTok currently has ~800 million monthly active users, 60 million of which are solely in the United States. It has been downloaded 1.5 BILLION times worldwide; not only is it successful in that regard, but to reiterate its success, the overall “average time used per day” extends out to 52 minutes per day. Needless to say, this app has made it into the rotational phase of social media check-ins.
According to Music Business Worldwide, TikTok saw an 18 percent increase in downloads, and was downloaded 2 million times between March 16 and 22, an increase from the previous week’s 1.7 million, Sensor Tower reported. The app also saw a 27 percent increase in the first 23 days of March compared to February with 6.2 million downloads.
Most recently, TikTok is pledging $375 million to support those fighting the COVID-19 pandemic; this includes $250 million in funds, $100 million in ad credits, and $25 million in ad space for public health information.
Who Is TikTok For?
Though TikTok’s primary audience consists of people between the ages of 16 and 24 years old, its main philosophy is that “it’s an app for all ages.” There are a number of communities, varying in age, that have recently been established and seen rapid growth. On TikTok, age is but a number; the content is the primary focus, regardless of who is creating it. From music to comedy, or dances to crafting/artwork, all are welcome!
Working in the music industry, we often assess how we can utilize a new found platform to benefit our artists. TikTok cannot be ignored, since often trending releases on the social app translate into a positive streaming impact across digital services. Below, you will find some direction on how TikTok should be utilized as a tool in the music industry, as well as some direct examples for how some of The Orchard’s distributed artists are finding success.
How it Works
Upon opening the app, you’re greeted with the “For You” page, which is an immersive, full-screen endless stream/timeline of videos that will make your day! TikTok’s feed is algorithmically-developed based on each individual’s specific interests, behavior and overall engagement. Before you know it, your For You page will be incredibly well tailored to the kind of content that interests you based on your interactions with the app’s content. The common denominators that are generally seen with content that populates on users For You page, is its reliability and overall quality.
Yes, the “For You” page is where you can find videos based upon your specific interests, but the “Discover” page is the central location for all things trending. Want to know what’s hot and what’s not? This is the spot to be! This portion of the app focuses on establishing one location where the user can go to find hashtag trends, suggested sounds and accounts putting out the most popular content. The Discover page is constantly changing due to reflect the most recent, popular content. As an artist, this is the most important area of the app to be familiar with. If there is a trend that an artist could execute, that is definitely something that should be on the to-do list. Utilizing the Discover page to stay in the know can help an artist create relevant content that will pull in views and essentially establish popularity.
They say that your first impression is the most important, right? Well, your profile page is the place to establish yourself with some strong initial content. But wait! Before you begin creating, it’s important to make sure that your homebase is an accurate representation of how you want to be portrayed. A quality image, a strong bio (short & sweet) and social media handles are all necessities in establishing a quality profile. If an artist distributed by The Orchard, needs help with verification, contact your Label Manager.
You may not know exactly what type of content will resonate with your audience until you test the waters with some trial and error content. TikTok encourages a variety of original concepts, trends, challenges, and popular sounds. If an artist comes up with a quality idea for a trend that has not yet been established, why not try to get it started? Though focusing on an artist’s music is most certainly a top priority here, not all of their posts have to focus on that. Fans love to see what an artist might like to do in their free time, different hobbies they have, or even hidden talents that they could showcase. Relatable concepts can go a long way on this app. Behind-the-scene of their regular life or their music life can certainly go a long way. Remember there’s no such thing as “too much”content!
One factor that separates TikTok from other social media platforms is the timing of posting. With Instagram, Facebook, and even Twitter, the strategy behind the timing of the post has always been meticulous: “8pm on Tuesday night is the best time to post, wait until then!” Or, “Don’t post twice in one day, your followers will get annoyed and lose interest.” On TikTok, posting as frequently as possible is actually beneficial. We’ll say it again, you can never have enough content; an artist should be posting every day, multiple times a day, if they have quality videos they’d like to share. Remember though, QUALITY over quantity! You never know who may see the videos or if it could hit a major algorithm. Quality and consistently are key!
While keeping all of the previous points made about content in mind, it is imperative to remember to tie your posts together with captions and appropriate hashtags.
In a post, captions are used to make sense of the initial idea, the physical video, and the use of the specific sound selected. At the end of the day, it should form one comprehensive concept. Sometimes, captions can just be seen as hashtags themselves.
Hashtags are SO important on TikTok. To reinforce the importance of this statement, we will repeat: Hashtags are SO important on TikTok. Hashtags are what help establish the algorithms that control this app. When using a hashtag, you will be able to see how many views it has and which ones are currently trending (this can also be found on the Discover page, as mentioned previously). It is important that an artist uses appropriate hashtags, which are relevant to the content and to select the ones that have the greatest potential of being seen. Keep in mind that there are only 150 characters allowed in a caption, choose your words and your hashtags strategically!
As with any social platform, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. Yes, artists want to make sure they’re seen by their community, but it is equally important for them to see their community as well. Engaging with TikTok users is a great way to establish a fanbase, to gain respect on the app, and to show fans that the artist cares. Artists should be sure to take the time to like and reply to the comments that are mentioned on their posts, like the posts of the people they follow, along with people they don’t. They need to make their presence known and to share their greatness with the social world!
One of the great strengths of TikTok is the variety of options available to the user for sharing purposes. If a video wants to be shared to someone who doesn’t have a TikTok, that’s quite alright; it can be shared via SMS, Instagram/Instagram Stories (however TikTok’s over 15 seconds long will be cut off in Stories), Snapchat, Facebook/FB Messenger, Twitter, Whatsapp and even email! There is also a Direct Message option within the app. This capability is great to keep in mind regarding the variety of ways an artist’s content could be shared with others; though the videos are established in TikTok, there is nothing to hold you back from platform jumping. The more views the better, especially considering the opportunity for not only reaching the different platforms, but with that comes reaching across all associated demographics.
First, set up a profile using the tips mentioned above and get posting!
Once a post is created on the app, we recommend sharing the video across multiple socials. One of the most effective ways of doing so is by sharing it to your Instagram Story. When the video is exported to IG Story, it incorporates the creators specific TikTok handle on the upper left and bottom right of the video; this makes for an easy way to have their IG followers transfer right on over to TikTok.
Most importantly, have fun with this app! It’s a great opportunity to showcase music, personality, sense of humor, hidden talents etc. Artists live a life always seeking perfection, whether it’s recording a track/album, selecting artwork, recording music videos etc. This is finally an opportunity to let loose, and be yourselves.
One feature that users should definitely be utilizing right now to connect with fans is the live feature. Users can go live on TikTok as long as they are over the age of 16 and have a minimum of 1,000 followers. Make sure you are connecting with other users by liking, commenting, and sharing other users’ videos as well as taking advantage of the duet feature. The duet feature allows you to create your own video while another users’ video is playing right next to it. For example, check out what a duet video looks like here.
Examples of Artists to Check Out
Tenille Arts has been jumping on the hashtag promotions and puts her own personal touch on it. My personal favorite is her video for the promotion #lovesongcovers with her caption “Boys can leave. #pizza’s always there.” This piece of content received 116.9K views. The video here starts with her singing, then it pans out to pizza and ends with her eating pizza. This type of content is comical which tends to perform well on platforms. She also created a video for #safehands and sang her song “Somebody Like That” here.
It is important to immerse yourself in the TikTok community and learn what is trending and what works. If you do not and you promote only your music, you may come off too salesy and ingenuine. Feel free to hop on a challenge and make it your own. Put a unique spin on it. Russell Dickerson has been joining popular dance challenges. For example, he did the Renegade, Out West, Can’t Touch This, and the Right Foot, Now Left Foot Dance to name a few. He has a healthy balance on his account of immersing himself in the platform, encouraging fans to listen to his current music, and creating unique content. Check out Russell’s “at home workout that will keep you from getting extra soft” here.
This at home workout will keep you from getting EXTRA SOFT! You’ll be WIPED!! 😜😜😜😜 ##TPChallenge♬ Get Loose – Huncho Da Rockstar & Kblast
Another artist that has been doing a phenomenal job is Jake Miller. Jake Miller has been creating a new original song every couple of days about the Coronavirus. Jake comes together with his family and includes them in his videos. Jake’s content is a great way to lighten the mood and bring a smile to your face with everything going on.
The first single he posted from home received over 368,000 views and went a little like this. “I got too much time on my hands cause corona came along and cancelled all of my plans” with the million dollar question as his caption which we all have been asking “How Long Will This Last?”
His second single “Take a Walk” received over 5.1 million views and includes his Mom. It goes a little like “My momma keeps asking me to take a walk, bruh we’ve done 30 circles around this block.” And these are just the beginning…
By taking reating relatable, unique content and turning it into a positive, Jake has grown his TikTok followers to over 441,000. Jake has been sharing user videos too, which gives that personal touch and connection to his fans. He also is leveraging his 934K Instagram followers to expand his social reach and grow his audience. With Jake consistently posting unique, creative content, he gives his users a reason to stick around on his profile and a reason to come back for more!
See The Orchard’s full presentation on TikTok Best Practices below: