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Marketing Social Media TikTok

TikTok and the power of the first 3 seconds

By Georgia Pontin | Video editor

Wilderness

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March 29, 2023 | 8 min read

Believe it or not, buzzwords are your best friend. Georgia Pontin of Wilderness gives a crash course in winning TikTok content.

Cockapoo in a bee costume, catching some rays

It’s not about going viral, it’s about building a loyal community who actively engage with your content / Josh Rocklage

The secret to TikTok stardom is simple: grab a camera, film anything you can think of, post it online for the world to see, and watch your views sore into the millions. It’s that easy, right?

While that may work for some people, building an engaged audience is much more important and it starts with having a solid content strategy. The power of TikTok is unmatched for its ability to help creators reach new audiences but to reach them, you need to plan what your content will be, ideally choose a niche, and continuously make engaging and relevant content.

TikTok has over one billion monthly users, so there are plenty of people to reach – but also a lot of people also competing for views.

I’ve followed every ‘recipe for TikTok success’ to find what worked, from using trending audio to posting at a certain time each day, and these are what I’ve identified as some of the most important steps for high-performing TikToks.

It’s important to note that different strategies work better for different accounts. For example, as a content creator, I can sit in front of the camera and talk for the full three minutes – no music or hashtags, and that content will perform better than if I followed a trend because that’s the type of content I prioritized early on in my content strategy.

Going viral isn't the goal

Often, TikTok success is justified by if your video goes ‘viral’. The term ‘viral’ is subjective but usually means over 100,000 views or likes and, while you will have reached a lot of new accounts, it’ll ultimately harm your account in the long run unless you can keep the views up. This is because, most of the time, overnight success skips the process of gaining an engaged following. That’s followers who regularly enjoy your content and like the videos or comment.

A large influx of followers are likely not aware of you and your content, they’re just a fan of that one video that went viral and will pass by the next time they see another video. Therefore when you post videos, the engagement rate will be lower and the videos won’t be pushed onto the For You page as easily as they didn’t hit the targets in the first moments after posting.

Accounts like RyanAir have a dedicated following that regularly like and comment on their videos, which plays into the fact that they have high-performing videos. Focus on building a small group of loyal followers and build up from there.

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The people want people

They say emotions speak a thousand words, and it’s true. Scrollers are more likely to stop and watch your video if they see a person on the screen and bonus points for hearing them speak.

TikTok is known for its influencers who use their charisma and commentary to subtly encourage their audience to buy certain products or live the way they do. You want potential followers to feel as though they’re chatting with a friend, they need to feel as though they can trust you. That’s why it’s important to make your content as authentic as possible. Gen Z knows when they’re being advertised to and 81% of consumers say they trust real opinions over ads, so give them someone to trust.

Buzzwords are your best friend

You have about three seconds to capture viewers' attention, so you need to make your point quickly. TikTok makes it incredibly easy to just keep scrolling and many people will unless they hear or see something that will convince them that the contents of the video are worth sticking around for. Try key phrases like ‘you won’t believe X’, ‘you need to see X’, or ‘our top 3 X’.

It’s very much a clickbait situation, but it works. Making an outlandish claim will also help as it encourages people to have their say. For example, the trend of ‘unpopular opinions’ videos performs well because it allows viewers to decide if it’s an unpopular opinion, in turn, encouraging them to offer their opinion on the topic.

Put your spin on it

If you’re following trending audios, there are likely going to be hundreds if not thousands of people using it. Your content needs to offer something that the audience hasn’t seen before. Consider your USP and apply it to the trend, even if that particular trend has absolutely no relevance to you or your usual content. The best way to do this is to imagine common experiences that the general audience will relate to.

At Wilderness, we saw a perfect example of how we could use the ‘Pedro Pascal and Nicholas Cage’ trend for our client, Sykes Holiday Cottages. By highlighting the common experience, it appealed to a variety of audiences like the travel community and couples who have probably encountered this situation before. As a result, the video was one of the higher performers on the account.

Marketing Social Media TikTok

Content by The Drum Network member:

Wilderness

Working at the intersection of community and commerce we embed brands in online culture through social-first thinking.

We are an independent social media agency working with some of the world's biggest entertainment and consumer brands.

Founded in 2015 we are now one of the fastest-growing independent agencies in Europe with a team of more than 40 social experts and a presence in London, Amsterdam, South Africa and Copenhagen

The Drum - Top 50 Digital Agency of 2021

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