How to Increase Your Organization's Engagement on TikTok
What Makes TikTok Unique?
In order to fully utilize TikTok to your organization’s advantage, it’s important to understand what makes the app so unique. TikTok’s innovation is the “FYP” — for you page. A user is served content on their FYP via an algorithm regardless of “following” status. Each TikTok user has a unique FYP that is constantly evolving as the algorithm collects more information on user activity. The algorithm rewards watch time over engagement (likes/comments/shares). This means that the longer a person watches a TikTok, the more likely they are to have future content on their FYP that is similar to that TikTok.
Because the algorithm is heavily based on watch time, it is important to create TikTok content that engages viewers and locks in their attention for as long as possible.
Here are some strategies to do just that:
1. Make it Entertaining
People typically go to TikTok to be entertained, but that doesn’t mean we can’t also have them learn something! For younger generations, TikTok is TV, and many users prefer spending time watching hundreds of short videos over an episode of a show. 30% of US TikTok users claim to watch less TV/streaming/other video content since joining TikTok. Teens ages 12-15 spend an average of 80 minutes a day on TikTok, just about the same length as an hour-and-a-half film. Because of this, your content has to be entertaining.
2. Loop Your TikToks
One of the best ways to engage TikTok viewers is to get them captured in a loop video. A loop is a strategy on TikTok where videos are purposely filmed and edited in a style that makes it difficult to tell the beginning from the end. Loops cause viewers to rewatch TikToks multiple times—whether they realize it or not. Confused? Check out this #PerfectLoop from @enso4pk to get a better idea.
Engaging a viewer in a loop will make them rewatch your video multiple times, and the TikTok algorithm will pick up on it! You don’t need your loop to be as seamless as the one above to still get increased engagement. @recesstherapy does a great job of filming funny interviews with kids that keep the viewer engaged from the beginning to the end. These captivating conversations can distract viewers from the end of a video and cause them to rewatch without even realizing it.
3. Make a TikTok, not an Ad
Yes, TikToks are short-form videos similar to the length of TV ads. But the app’s community has formed a specific content style that is quite different from traditional advertisements. Many TikTok users prefer lower-quality videos because they seem more genuine and less targeted. The most popular TikToks are edited with fast cuts that move at a quick pace. This video from @genzforchange does a great job of putting together fast cuts that keep viewers engaged and wanting to watch more. No wonder they’ve received more than 1 million likes!
You may be worried that fast edits will make it hard for viewers to absorb the content, but this may not necessarily be a bad thing. This forces viewers to watch your TikToks more than once which, once again, is noticed by the algorithm.
4. Engage in Trends
Many TikTok trends fall under one of two categories: trending sounds and dances. A sound may trend for a multitude of reasons, but once it’s popular, there are very few rules as to how you can incorporate it into your video. For example, this TikTok from @genzforchange uses a soundbite conveying happiness and excitement about Starbucks to convey happiness and excitement about Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine receiving FDA approval and Taylor Swift joining TikToK.
Or here, the ACLU uses trending audio about cooking with Elmo to discuss legal jargon, helping viewers understand some of the ACLU’s work.
TikTok was originally known for being a dance app where creators shared short routines that viewers could learn and copy. While there is still a rather large population of dance trends on TikTok, we recommend staying away from trying them unless you’re an experienced dancer. Otherwise, it can come off as very “how do you do, fellow kids”—especially when politicians try to engage.
5. Be Timely
Rapid response and breaking news content also performs very well on TikTok. Breaking down complicated topics, especially related to politics and world news, is a great way for your organization to simultaneously inform and engage your audience by leveraging your knowledge capacity. This video from @public_citizen calls out the hypocrisy between the government approving additional “defense spending” while additional COVID-19 relief is unfunded.
Not only does this video do a great job of informing TikTok’s audience on a current event, but it does so in a simplistic way that uses straightforward language to explain a complicated topic.
6. Make Short Content
Statistics show that short videos perform best on TikTok. 30-50 seconds is ideal for a video where you’re directly speaking to the camera, and 60 seconds should be your absolute maximum. Videos with trending sounds can also be much shorter than 30 seconds.
7. Create a Series
Creating a TikTok series is a great way to get viewers to engage with more than one of your videos. If someone sees a video they like on their FYP from a series, they are more likely to go to your page and check out other videos in that series. This not only helps with views, but it can also increase your following because people will want to see more of that content.
@genzforchange started a weekly series called “Dumb Sh*t Your Politicians Did This Week,” a pretty self-explanatory title. The series has gotten many viewers to come back week after week and even leave comments requesting they feature certain politicians in future videos.
8. Make Part 2s and 3s
As previously mentioned, making short content is really effective. But you can’t always fit everything you want to share in short content. That’s where making a part 2 and 3 of a video can come in handy. @goodmorningbadnews often splits their content into multiple videos like the ones below.
Instead of making one 3-minute video, the content is split into three 1-minute videos. This is effective because it not only falls in line with the recommended TikTok length limits for maximum engagement, but it also leaves viewers wanting to come back for more.
9. Be Consistent!
If your organization isn’t seeing success on TikTok right away, don’t be discouraged! The only way to get increased engagement with content is making more content. When launching a new account, we recommend posting 1 to 3 times a day.
Putting It all Together
While not everyone will achieve instant TikTok fame, engaging in the best practices and strategies above will allow your organization to create content that is in line with user engagement trends and maximize opportunities for success.
(Did you miss part 1 of our TikTok series about Best Practices for Advocacy Organizations? Catch up here.)