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Behind the scenes action and finding your niche - how businesses can go viral on TikTok

·3-min read
Gen Z is the biggest user of TikTok  (AFP via Getty Images)
Gen Z is the biggest user of TikTok (AFP via Getty Images)

Whether it’s trending dances, astonishing glow-ups or making videos with your gran, TikTok trends seem to come from nowhere and before you know it, everyone’s doing it.

But how do brands tap into the trends and harness them to bring more visibility - and new customers - to their door?

According to some estimates, there are more than 21 million TikTok users in the UK, most of whom fall into the Gen Z demographic - those born between the mid-to-late nighties and 2010.

Jay Richards, co-founder and CEO of Imagen Insights, which works with brands to help them target Gen Z consumers, told the audience at the Evening Standard’s SME XPO event on Thursday that more than half of Gen Z consumers spend more than an hour on TikTok every day, making it an ideal platform to raise brand awareness.

But how do businesses get started?

Create a community

“I saw one lady yesterday doing test practice for a driving theory test [on TikTok] - you couldn’t get more dull,” Richards said.

“But her community absolutely loves it. Why? Because she’s engaging with them both in the comments and while she is doing the live video.”

Replying to people with personalised video comments - or even fulfilling specific requests, such as particular new colours of a product - brings your community closer, he said.

Don’t be afraid to live in your niche

Richards pointed to a brand called Stitch which only produces clothing with anime characters on, and has a huge, albeit niche, following on TikTok.

“I think sometimes as brands and as companies we get a little bit terrified that we need to do everything, but you can just do one thing and do it very, very well,” he said.

“That’s what I love about this brand - they don’t care about anything else. They don’t care about appealing to the masses.”

He suggested businesses should find a format of video, or a particular type of content, which works well and stick to it.

Don’t take yourself too seriously

“I know you’re a small business, and you started this yourself and it is super important to you, but the best people on TikTok can laugh at themselves,” Richards said.

He pointed to a recent video which Ryanair did, suggesting that people who lost money in the recent cryptocurrency crash could still afford to take its flights.

“If you can be a brand or a company who is not afraid to take the mick out themselves to market themselves on TikTok, you will do much better than somebody that’s trying to be serious,” he said.

Comedy content is the most popular type of video on the social media platform, followed by food and drink videos, he pointed out.

Reveal what happens behind the scenes

“What Gen Z really wants to see is just to see how nerdy you are, to see the random little things you care about,” Richards said. “They want to see that background stuff.”

Larger companies are beginning to do this, he said, including factory tours from luxury brands, or videos from CEOs.

“TikTok is replacing the TV,” he said. “If you’re going to be spending your money anywhere, the best place to spend it is on TikTok.”

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