How to Determine Whether TikTok is Right for Your Brand

TikTok app

TikTok is taking over.

And it’s not just Gen Z users anymore, with older folks taking to the platform to create and consume content in droves. But even as more brands get in on the act, there are still some things to consider.

Should your organization get in on the viral challenges and trends? PRNEWS set out to help answer that question with yesterday’s (April 14) webinar: TikTok: Best Practices & How to Make it Work for Your Brand During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

As much of the world is sheltered in place, people are looking to TikTok for some escape, said Synchrony’s senior vice president, Tuck Ross. People are either super bored or super busy, but everyone wants to find out what others are up to since we’re all going through this together.

“They’re looking for a way to escape, and it’s this incredible amount of communion around these same topics that’s really breeding this creativity,” he said.

Stick to the Fundamentals

Even though there’s a great opportunity to engage with their audiences on the platform, there still needs to be sensitivity to the current moment. Brands that strike the wrong tone will risk doing damage to their brand. Senior vice president of social & digital with HUNTER, Michael Lamp, reminded anyone taking to TikTok to keep the fundamentals in mind.

“Brands that are practicing tone-deaf content (right now) are actually doing the largest harm from a PR perspective ,” he said. “We’re trying to lead with utility and offer value to our consumers, so if you’re overly selling to them or sharing content that does not show you understand the moment we’re living in, you’re going to drive folks away.”

But coming across badly on the platform isn’t the only problem with TikTok.

There are persistent security concerns around the platform, with the U.S. military banning the app from work phones and encouraging the same with personal devices. At Northeastern University, the college’s social media director, Meghan Donovan, said she and her team are watching what’s happening on their account.

“You really need to be vigilant about paying attention to your content and knowing that these vulnerabilities are out there,” she said.

She’s talking about reports that researchers have been able to retrieve personal information from users, that the app can read and store what you’ve copied to your clipboard, and even that some developers recently showed that hackers can post to accounts they don’t own.

“What those software developers did to expose this issue was they uploaded a video containing coronavirus misinformation to the World Health Organization account,” she said. “It seems like new things are coming out all the time … you might want to be careful about where and when you use the TikTok app.”

But that’s not to say it’s all doom and gloom. Donovan has had success on the platform for Northeastern and shared a few tips.

TikTok has a specific culture, as do many social platforms, especially in their early stages. And if you’re not willing to jump on viral trends and participate in challenges, then it may not be for you. Another consideration to make, according to Donovan, is whether brands identify a face for the account since much of the content is centered around a person or group. For Northeastern, the team relies on their students, the school’s mascot and faculty and staff to be the faces of the account. However, with the spread of COVID-19 and students and staff all working from home, they don’t have the same talent pool. Ever resourceful, Donovan said one of their video producers stepped up as the face of the account, filming and editing videos from his home.

“TikTok definitely requires that there be a face for your brand, so whether that’s an individual or group of people, you’re really going to have to have someone who’s out there,” she said.

Still on the fence about TikTok? You can check out a recording of the webinar and access our speakers decks and materials here.