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Adam Burt
Adam Burt

Any social network can be a powerful tool for raising awareness, growing communities and maximising player engagement. Today on the blog, we're looking at TikTok. While it might not currently be the biggest social network, it's firmly in the top ten (around 7th at time of writing), and it's growing. It's one of the most creative social networks available, and it has it's own unique demographic skews, which might be useful for you if you're looking to promote your game or studio. So let's take a closer look.

A photograph of someone using TikTok

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a social network focused on video content. The videos are short, and can be composed in the app with a variety of editing options including the ability to add music and filters. 

The most prominent content on TikTok makes the best use of these features - the network is famous for dance clips, lip sync videos, and the kind of short-form humour that would have historically been found on Vine. Like Twitter and Instagram, the platform also allows fans to engage with celebrities and brands.

You can browse TikTok videos without joining, but signing up is encouraged. When you're logged in, you're able to quickly scroll through videos in one of two categories: "For You", and "Following".

Following does what it says on the tin, showing you content from people you've actively subscribed to. But the real magic of TikTok is the "For You" section, which boasts an algorithm that really does seem to learn the sorts of videos you enjoy and surface more of them from across the network.

We had a chat with MJ Widomska from YRS Truly, about the power of TikTok for games marketing

Because of this algorithm and the focus on engagement over list building, the network functions a little differently to the likes of Twitter or Instagram. Building a follower list (while still useful) isn't necessarily the only way to get seen - and good content often seems to get good visibility, even if it comes from smaller accounts. 

All that, in an app has been downloaded over 2 billion times. This is a huge opportunity!

The demographics and opportunities

Chances are, if you're considering using TikTok to promote your game, you're thinking that you want to attract a younger crowd. That's a pretty common assumption.

It's because TikTok has a reputation as a Generation Z network, and although it does boast incredible engagement from that demographic, it's important to note that TikTok does have a broader audience too.

Teenagers account for approximately 25% of all TikTok users, and if you broaden that, ~48% of TikTok users are under 30. It sounds like a lot, but there's a lot of room in the other 52%! 

Building social engagement with a younger generation can be tricky - something you'll probably know by now if you've tried to engage with them already! But TikTok is really well positioned as a network for you to experiment on, and to attempt this kind of engagement. Like with all networks, getting your tone, assets and authenticity right are key to success.

A photograph of two people about to open TikTok

Creating content for TikTok

How to make a post

Okay, let's talk shop. The process of making a video on TikTok is this:

Press the camera icon in the app, and set up whatever it is you want to film. This might be you filming yourself, selfie-style, or it might be filming something interesting, noteworthy, or funny unfolding in front of you. We'll talk a bit more about what to post in the section below.

There are icons available within the camera mode for a variety of tools: A timer function to set up hands-free shots, speed options, sound effects and musical overlays, and a wide array of visual filters. If you're just getting started, take the pressure off and just have fun with it.

What sort of posts to make

On most social networks, there is a clear distinction between people who have influence (those with massive followings) and those who don't. But as we mentioned above, TikTok is unlike other networks and does regularly see smaller creators reaching thousands of new fans. How do they do this? By getting the content exactly right.

Because TikTok encourages this kind of engagement, one of the most exciting ways to use it is to encourage other users on the app to post - even if they have a small following, or no following yet at all. One of the ways this can be accomplished is by engaging in (or starting) trends that allow people to show off their skills - we've already mentioned the most famous TikTok examples (dancing and lip-syncing) but users on TikTok also relish the opportunity to show off their other talents. You name it, someone on TikTok is an expert. 

A lot of creators on TikTok relish the opportunity to be funny. Humour travels exceptionally fast on the network, evoking the kind of challenges that companies are confronted with when trying to harness the power of memes.

And look, being funny is hard. It never seems hard when you're laughing with your friends, but creating genuinely funny social posts (especially ones that feel fresh and capture the current zeitgeist) is a difficult job. Don't force it. Immerse yourself in what's funny on TikTok, and if you spot an opportunity to join in with a joke, then consider the risks and see if you can justify taking it.

If and when you go for it, remember: Be authentic, and be native. Use TikTok's in built tools to your advantage, whether that's creating a Duet (where you create a reaction to someone else's video and the two play side-by-side) or taking advantage of a sound/song that is instantly recognisable to TikTok aficionados

Video is the most critical component of TikTok creation, obviously, so don't be afraid to invest in the things that make video better. Whether it's lighting, space, or just paying someone who's actually really good at filming with a phone. Copy still has a place in TikToks too - with most successful videos also featuring strong captions or headings that keep viewers up to date with what the video is and what's going on.

Creating brilliant TikTok's isn't going to happen overnight. It's full of very creative people, often operating in incredible niches that they can sustain because TikTok is good enough at bringing people together. But breaking into it can be tough as a result.

Start small, and remember - there are companies out there who can help! If you're desperate to make TikTok work but can't find the time or the inspiration, get in touch and we'll either help you ourselves, or point you towards a specialist who can.

Ads on TikTok

Like with most social networks, creating organic content can be harder than just paying for ads. TikTok might be a better lottery than most, but it is still a lottery of sorts. With organic content on it's own, you might get loads of views, or you might only get a few.

Enter: Paid ads on TikTok. At time of writing, paid media on TikTok is used, but nowhere near as ubiquitous as the advertising you'd find on Facebook or Instagram. What does that mean? More opportunity for you.

With less competition using these tools, getting in on the paid media game on TikTok can be extremely effective. You'll need to reach out to TikTok directly to get started, but if your organic content isn't getting the traction you need, a paid strategy might help. Just remember, the number one differentiator in success on TikTok, whether you pay for ads or otherwise, is the strength of your content. No amount of money can fix a bad campaign, so nail your tone and authenticity first!

In summary...

TikTok might have a reputation as a network exclusively for the young, but in reality it can be a powerful part of your social media arsenal, regardless of your demographic.

With an algorithm that truly focuses on content rather than follower lists or who spends the most money, the opportunities available are massive.

And, when you put authenticity and creativity at the heart of everything you do, the results on TikTok can be incredible. Find us there now, and we'll see you in your next short video. We already can't wait to see what you come up with.

More from YRS TRULY

If you enjoyed our chat with MJ from YRS TRULY, then you'll no doubt want to check out more of their content. Here are some blogs from them on the subject - tell 'em we sent ya.

Want your brand to be present on TikTok? Here are your options
There, I said it: as it stands, Byte is unlikely to beat TikTok at its own game

Additional Reading

It seems like as soon as we decided to write this article, a bunch of others sprung up on some of our favourite sites too! Here's some other perspectives and insights on TikTok which you might enjoy.

Video games & TikTok: how to get discovery right, from GameDiscoverCo
Video Games Have a New Way to Find an Audience: TikTok, from Waypoint
How developers use TikTok to boost their games, from GamesIndustry.biz

Sources

Additional photography by cottonbro via Pexels

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