How To: Market Yourself With TikTok

25 Mar 2020

This post was written more than two years ago. The content or information below may no longer be accurate.

Social media platforms come and go. MySpace and Bebo were arguably the first really popular social media websites, where teenagers would socialise outside of school. The ability to customise profiles in a way that other current platforms don’t allow appealed to a younger audience. But eventually their time passed and Facebook, Twitter and Instagram took over.

Another social media site that had its heyday was Vine. Acquired by Twitter in 2012, Vine allowed users to create 6-second videos. While that may not seem very long, it gave birth to hundreds of iconic videos that, despite Vine’s closure, are still a part of internet culture. Even more importantly, internet personalities and artists like Shawn Mendes and Jake and Logan Paul got their start on the site.

Vine’s demise was different to MySpace and Bebo’s. MySpace has struggled on under various different ownerships, and Bebo has repurposed itself as ‘a company that dreams up ideas for fun social apps’. Vine, however, was shut down – with the site still hosting previously made videos, but no longer allowing new ones. The internet reacted with horror at the news of Vine’s closure. The fact that the site wasn’t financially viable didn’t matter to the general public, so eventually a replacement sprang up to take its place.

TikTok started its life as Douyin, and was mostly popular in China. Eventually, Douyin bought out, a similar site and changed its name to TikTok. The concept is simple: users can upload 15 second clips, but can also link four together to make minute-long TikTok videos. With over 1.5 billion downloads, everyone from individual people to multinational companies have realised its potential for marketing. 

Who is TikTok for?


While TikTok videos can be on any number of subjects, the majority of uploads are centred around things like dance, lip-sync, comedy and showing talents. This has inevitably meant that most of the users are under 30.

Of course, as with most social media platforms, a large amount of TikTok’s users don’t upload any content. Each user has their own page that allows them to follow others or to be followed, and can subscribe to feeds. Alternatively, as with Instagram, there is a ‘discover’ page that will automatically show users videos that relate to ones they have previously viewed.

So if you decide to use TikTok to market yourself as an artist, it would be worth bearing this age demographic in mind. While it’s used by artists of genres as diverse as rock and classical, it’s unlikely artists appealing to older audiences will have much use for it.

How Can Artists Use TikTok?


The potential for artists on TikTok has become more apparent over the last year. While it operates like other social media platforms, where certain users amass millions of followers and become ‘influencers’, the high level of creativity TikTok ‘gives the audience the opportunity to be their own influencer,’.

Timothy Armoo, CEO of digital agency Fanbytes argues that the best way for artists to market themselves isn’t to upload videos, but instead find ways for their fans to interact with them.

Yungblud used #Rocktober as part of one of his recent marketing campaigns, and videos with the hashtag generated over a billion views. While some may not realise that they were watching or creating content related to Yungblud, if even a fraction of the users were aware, the campaign easily, cheaply and organically reached millions of people.

TikTok and Brands


As TikTok is the ‘new big thing’, brands are desperate to partner up with users to promote their products. This can work for artists trying to promote themselves on the app in two ways. For those with a reasonable amount of followers, brands will reach out to them to use their products in videos – the artist will receive a fee and have the brand’s recognition boost their views. Alternatively, brands also create their own videos, which often use music. Artists who can get their songs onto a well-known brand’s videos and will instantly have millions of people hearing their music.

TikTok and Hashtag Challenges


Hashtags have become an essential part of online life. Being able to group videos together into a trend makes it easier for users to clock up many more views than they might otherwise, and TikTok users have been quick to capitalise on this with Hashtag Challenges.

Hashtag challenges are when a user comes up with a concept or idea, then others make their own versions of them. For example, Jimmy Fallon’s #tumbleweedchallenge  had people dropping to the ground and rolling around like tumbleweed to country music. This generated thousands of submissions and millions of engagements.

The marketing potential for Hashtag Challenges is huge. For example, a brand could make their own or work with an influencer who could use their product in a video. This would allow them to reach millions of users who are working their way through the various challenge videos. Artists could instead make videos and upload their own music behind it.

In summary…

The TikTok app’s growth has been incredible, to the point where it has overtaken Facebook and Instagram. While this will slow down eventually, as it is newer and appeals to a small demographic, TikTok is constantly looking for new ways to increase its usership and, unlike Vine, doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon. Make yourself a profile and get creating!

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