Why your business needs TikTok. Here are 10 tips to get started with short videos

Digital Marketing

Shana Bull is a marketing educator and digital storyteller, working with wine, food, hospitality businesses, teaching classes on marketing, and freelance writing. Reach her with your questions about digital marketing at shana@shanabull.com, @sharayray on Instagram or at shanabull.com.

Read Shana’s past columns.

Nathan Miles, co-founder of Groove Wines in Santa Rosa, started as a viewer on TikTok back in March of 2021, swiping through short vertical videos about food and drinks for a few months before sharing his first video for his wine brand.

For Nate, TikTok is a place where he learns about “different vibes and strategies that are working, as well as just general inspiration.”

TikTok, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd., was launched in 2017. It’s easy for people to dismiss it as a social network for kids who want to see videos of other kids dancing. But over the past year, the app has seen rapid growth, and there is truly something for everyone on the platform.

And that’s kinda the point.

TikTok users create 6-second to 3-minute videos on almost any subject within community guidelines. Those videos are algorithmically placed on feeds for people with similar interests or demographics. (For Nate, his feed mostly displays food and beverage content, whereas my FYP, the “main feed,” shows me marketing, Rupaul’s Drag Race, composting, political, and geek culture videos).

It isn’t like Instagram where you have to be following people to see their content; the algorithm shows users videos it thinks they will enjoy based on past views, likes, searches, and saves. And many times it is eerily specific.

Yes, wine brands can use the app.

TikTok originally welcomed Gen Z and younger Millennial audiences. (Gen Z encompasses ages 10-25, and millennials are 26-41 years old—not kids anymore since older millennials are 40-plus.) Now the app welcomes every generation, and anyone can enjoy quick videos that make them laugh or watch ultra-specific videos that educate them on topics they care about.

Personally, I have learned a lot about composting from a Gen Xer on the app.

According to online data company Statista, “as of August 2021, the majority of content creators on TikTok were aged between 18 and 25 years old.” But older groups are growing at a fast rate, so wine brands: you can add the words “21+ to follow” in your bio, since there is currently no age gate like there is on other social networks.

Change your mindset about videos

Instead of long-form videos on YouTube that teach users everything they need to know about a subject in one video, TikTok focuses on a singular subject, taught very quickly.

This creates an opportunity for brands to create value-based videos in a relatable way that truly connects with an audience.

Many wine educators can be found on the app (check out @TheMillennialSomm or @The.Wine.Nerd or @winewithdavid for educational and fun content about how to enjoy wine), as well as a handful of North Bay businesses (Ram’s Gate Winery in Sonoma and Tank Garage Winery in Napa are the first two that come to mind, and Clover Sonoma just started with Clo the Cow videos).

Tank Garage Winery is a great case study for any brand looking to use the app to connect with viewers across the globe (tiktok.com/@tankwinery). Of course, they have fun colorful labels and good juice, but it’s their personality that makes the videos fun to watch.

Their videos showcase many questions that people ask about their brand. This video answers a question they receive a lot about their wine labels.

Videos like this balance the winery’s account content of entertainment and education, alongside more viral videos of them in the cellar set to trending music. They started utilizing the app in earnest only within the past year, and it’s already paid off. In fact, they have a few videos with over 1 million-plus views apiece.

They are starting to see people visiting the tasting room for the first time after discovering them on TikTok. Unlike Instagram, those who view their videos are mostly people who have not heard about their brand — yet.

Being on TikTok can make you a better marketer overall

Even if you don’t want to use TikTik to market your business, it’s good to at least know how the platform works. We will surely continue to see more borrowed features appear on Instagram as the app changes up its own feed.

There aren’t very many North Bay brands on TikTok right now…which means there is room for growth.

And even if you don’t want to use the platform for marketing purposes, searching videos within your niche is useful to get a sense of how people are talking about your industry. This provides a peek into what social media marketers should expect to see with all the Instagram changes moving forward.

So, do you plan on getting into TikTok soon? Let me know, or visit my TikTok account (@shanabull) and say hello!

10 tips for getting started on TikTok

1. Niche down.

Because there’s something for everyone on the platform, you have a chance to connect with others who share your passions. Make sure that you’re posting videos that make sense for your own niche. Look at creating five different content pillars within that niche to make your brand unique. (I go into detail about these here: shanabull.com/blog/brand-passions-for-social-media-marketing).

2. Short and to-the-point (just like Twitter).

Short-form videos should be very simple and focused on one idea. Don’t over complicate the video.

3. The use of a hook within the first 1-3 seconds to capture attention.

As as a viewer only takes seconds to figure out if they want to watch your video or swipe away.

A hook is something that piques attention and should be effective enough to make viewers stick around longer. It is comprised of the on-screen text and action you take during those first couple seconds. It can be something like “3 Tips for pairing ____ with _____” or “5 things I wish I knew before _____.”

4. Use a call to action

Put one at the end of the video to drive engagement. Ask your viewers to comment or follow—simple things like leaving a heart emoji or clicking the link in your bio to sign up are all it takes.

5. That pesky algorithm can actually get you seen by more people.

As I talked about in my last North Bay Business Journal article, the algorithm favors content that excites people. Bright colors, easy-to-understand hacks or tips, and a fun personality are all contributing factors.

6. Try things out.

Sometimes you don’t know what your audience wants to see from you until you try it.

Yes, it’s great to have a plan of what promotions and events you have coming next, but as Paige Fandrei, Marketing and Content Coordinator at Tank Garage Winery said to me, “You also want to USE the app. The more you use it, the better understanding you will have of what to post.”

7. Practice may not make perfect, but it can help make you more confident.

Continuously making short-form videos and having a different mindset when you’re out and about (shooting quick B-roll style videos on your phone when doing things throughout your workday) matter in this new age of social media marketing.

8. Use the app to search and engage with content that you like.

This is one of the best ways to get a feel for what makes sense for your own brand, and you’ll be more knowledgeable on what’s trending at any given moment.

Instead of just being able to search through hashtags like Instagram, you can be very specific with keywords and often find just what you are looking for (if you can’t, make your own video addressing the topic!).

9. Have fun.

Some of the most engaging TikTok videos are educational but taught in an entertaining way. And, they don’t take themselves so seriously.

10. Stop overthinking!

Ed Feuchuk, general manager at Tank Garage Winery, said it best: “The key is to not overthink it. Businesses tend to overthink posting on social media in general, and it prevents them from creating content. The [TikTok] platform rewards videos that are interesting, not the most beautiful.”

Digital Marketing

Shana Bull is a marketing educator and digital storyteller, working with wine, food, hospitality businesses, teaching classes on marketing, and freelance writing. Reach her with your questions about digital marketing at shana@shanabull.com, @sharayray on Instagram or at shanabull.com.

Read Shana’s past columns.

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