TikTok has firmly cemented its place in our day-to-day as one of the fastest-growing social media networks.
It’s quickly become the go-to place for short-form video content and is ruffling enough feathers over at Meta to have Instagram rolling out changes to compete.
But there’s more to TikTok than cats riding on robot vacuums or trending dance moves.
Global brands have been quick to realize the power of the TikTok algorithm as a way to engage with audiences of all ages and leverage sales with influencer partnerships.
And with the average user spending over 90 minutes on the app daily, finding community through other creators has become an important part of TikTok’s appeal to its core audience.
How does this work for digital marketers, though?
Let’s take a look.
How TikTok Knows What You’re Looking For
Like any good search algorithm, TikTok gathers data about you to tailor your experience on the app.
The more you interact with videos through liking, commenting, sharing, or following, the more you’ll start seeing content aligned with your interests.
Sounds and hashtags on videos, along with device and account settings like language, are also factored into the algorithm.
All of this data gets pulled together to generate a personalized “For You” page (FYP).
Generally, the videos you see here are a mix of people you follow and new-to-you creators that TikTok thinks you’ll like, based on what it knows about your past activity on the app.
Thematic content guides the algorithm, and the more content you see and interact with (including view time), the more related and adjacent content the app will show you.
Searching For Content
The search bar is the place to go if you’re looking to find content around a certain subject matter.
Here, you can be as specific as you like, whether hunting for a creator by their username or sticking to a broader topic, like a city name.
The most relevant results will show up first, along with some suggestions of other searches that you could make around that subject matter (similar to Google’s suggested search with the flair of “People also ask“).
For example, someone looking for recipe ideas using Trader Joe’s products can simply search “Trader Joe’s” and have a whole list of options to click through, like:
- Trader Joe’s recipes.
- Trader Joe’s must-haves.
- Trader Joe’s hashbrowns.
- Trader Joe’s meals.
From there, you’ll make your selection and be taken to the “top” feed first – these are the most popular videos under that particular search.
To appear in this section, creators typically use the search phrase as a hashtag in their video captions to increase their chances of being found and text in the video while being thematically relevant.
Once they’ve gained popularity, TikTok will list them in the “top” results.
You can scroll across to “users” to find anyone with similar usernames to the query that you’ve searched, “sounds” that are related to that search, any “live” content, or related “hashtags” – all have a presence in the filtering tabs.
Under the “hashtags” section, the videos that started the tag will be displayed first, followed by the most popular videos under that hashtag.
Using the search option on TikTok is one of the best ways to find content creators and communities around the topics that interest you most.
The more specific you get in your search, the more targeted the content you’re shown will be.
What Does This Mean For Digital Marketers?
The search function is ideal for finding communities that center around your personal interests and/or brand affinity categories.
But it’s also a tool that savvy digital marketers can easily leverage to position their brands in front of both new and established audiences.
Thanks to the algorithm’s work, accounts with very few followers can gain traction more easily on TikTok than on more established platforms like Instagram or YouTube.
Jumping on trending songs or hashtags is an excellent way for brands to capitalize on already-popular content and increase social reach (just be wary of copyrighted music and be sure to follow FTC guidelines!).
Think of new ways that you can repurpose existing content that you have on other platforms and integrate them into your TikTok strategy.
Do your research to see what trending songs people use and how they use them in their videos.
Do you have something that could fit or be adapted into a new video using the same sound?
Educational content does well on TikTok, but entertaining videos are still the most viewed, commented on, and shared, especially in verticals like fashion and retail.
In fact, according to TikTok insight data, “40% of Millennial TikTok users on fashion journeys prefer brand content that is fun and entertaining. ”
If you’re willing to put some dollars behind your TikTok marketing, the search function is a useful way to help you find trending content that you can replicate for a paid campaign.
(Although trends often make for better organic content since they move so quickly on this platform)!
As a still relatively new advertising channel, impressions, clicks, and conversions are still more affordable for most markets than on other platforms, so now is the time to start experimenting.
In-feed ads operate similarly to Instagram Stories, taking over the user’s screen before they scroll to their next video.
Creating ads that look and feel like unpaid TikTok content is ideal, particularly since users may not initially realize that they’re watching an ad.
That means longer view times and a better chance of clicks to your site or shop. TikTok’s ad platform slogan is, “Don’t make ads, make TikToks.”
Note, this is not the time to try and repurpose your pre-roll or other highly produced ad spots. Even your social content from other channels will probably fall flat.
TikTok is a unique ecosystem and content type worth investing in on its own.
These tools are also good for finding influencers to work with on branded collaborations.
Thinking about the topic of your business is helpful here.
There may not be hundreds of influencers waiting to work with a dentist’s office, but if you offer teeth whitening or cosmetic procedures, beauty or wellness content creators are a good place to start.
Finding influencers to work with through the search tools is also a good way to find user-generated content (UGC) about your brand or topics related to what your brand offers.
UGC works well on almost every social platform, particularly on TikTok.
There is also a creator marketplace you can tap into if you’re just trying to get your program off the ground.
There’s no question that TikTok is becoming widely used as a search engine for many people.
Though it has a reputation as a “young” app, TikTok is increasingly the go-to app for many demographics for finding creators, communities, new brands and products, and content they love.
It might seem like a shift away from the social marketing that we’re used to, and, in some ways, it is.
But there are opportunities for smart marketers to get their content in front of new people, and the sooner we start treating TikTok like a search engine, the further ahead your brand will be.
- How To Go Live On TikTok: A Step By Step Guide
- TikTok Has A New Way For Advertisers Reach Users
- Social Media Marketing: A Complete Strategy Guide
Featured Image: Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock