Connect with customers, grow brand awareness with the latest marketing darling.
By Ellen Weaver Hartman, APR, Fellow PRSA
First there was MySpace, then Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram and now TikTok. Let’s face it. The popularity of social media’s channels changes as quickly as the attention span of Gen Z.
TikTok is the latest marketing darling, and it’s an easy one to adopt. TikTok is one of the fastest-growing media channels worldwide and the most downloaded app in the Apple App Store. In the U.S., the number of adults on the platform has grown from 2.6 million in 2017 to 14.3 million as of last September – a 550% increase.
As of last December, the app had been downloaded 2.6 billion times worldwide. TikTok also seems to be the favorite platform of Gen Z, 68 million people who range in age from six to 24.
If you take a quick look at TikTok, it seems more of a platform to show off your dance moves than market your incredible hamburgers, and that’s a fair assessment. But, and it’s an important but, it is an incredibly effective way to connect with your customers, have fun with them and get your message across – and maybe twist away.
So what is TikTok? The platform features videos that – if effective – last no more than 15 seconds, and the shorter the better. Now one may ask, how can 15 seconds (or less) get customers to go to your restaurant? It’s because TikTok is simple to use and it can be personalized by editing effects and background music. Influencer Marketing Hub estimates that TikTok ranks first in measuring customer engagement levels across accounts on all sizes.
In addition to TikTok videos being easy to create, there is little cost involved and it can be done quickly. Simply log on to the TikTok App and you’re set.
After recording a video, it’s time for post-production, where voice effects, filters and other special effects can be added. Add hashtags, as research shows the hashtags help fuel TikTok’s popularity.
Customers, especially Gen Zer’s, love to spend a lot of time watching the short-form video and, in a desire to become “influencers,” make them with the hope of “going viral.”
There are many ways restauranteurs can utilize TikTok in their marketing and customer engagement efforts, but the key to success in TikTok – the secret sauce if you will – is to understand why the audience loves it so much. Successful TikTok videos revel in being authentic and telling stories of joy, goofiness, honesty, courage and being real. Make it human, and you will connect. More than 60% of TikTok users feel a sense of community when on TikTok and feel energized, motivated and confident.
Using TikTok for your Restaurant
Remember TikTok is designed to create a sense of community through happiness, authenticity and shared experiences. Here are some TikTok tips.
- Download the app and create your account. Plan out your videos using a vertical format. Remember the allure of TikTok is that it brings happiness to the viewer – the sillier the better. Have fun with your brand. Add music, rapid motions – anything that will keep the viewer’s attention – for 10 seconds.
- Link to other social media profiles to grow your followers.
- Be real. Show employees working but with special effects. Give viewers a behind-the-scenes tour of the kitchen to show off your most popular dessert.
- Partner with your suppliers. Show where your produce comes from or your fish. Or issue a challenge. One of the best ways to engage your audience is through a challenge and hashtag it properly, such as Chipotle’s #GuacDance challenge asking fans to show off their avocado-inspired dance moves. The challenge, with over 250,000 submissions and 450 million views in six days, led to Chipotle’s biggest guacamole day ever with more than 800,000 sides of guac served.
- Share a recipe. Use jump cuts to make it in 10 seconds. Or introduce a new menu.
- Have a mixologist or cook offer a rapid-fire class or a series of mini-lessons, or run a contest for anything from naming a new drink to the best combinations of pizza or burger toppings.
- Use the bio section for a call to action such as signing up for your email list or following you.
TikTok is an increasingly powerful marketing and customer engagement tool that connects with your audience on an emotional level and invites them to join you in your restaurant community. It’s easy to use, doesn’t cost a lot and portrays your brand in an authentic way that resonates with today’s customers. Get the app and start dancing.