Why should publishers care about TikTok?
TikTok exploded onto the social media scene in 2019. It was the second most downloaded app of the year, and its popularity hasn’t waned; in 2020, it moved to number one. Despite some political turmoil surrounding the app, which was launched by a Chinese company, it continues to enjoy a steady flow of new users. TikTok is a short-form video sharing platform. Content is limited to one minute in length and can be customized with filters, emoji, text, and sound. Sounds cool, right? But why should publishers care?
TikTok combines elements of Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube to create an entirely new social media phenomenon. Initially dismissed as a fad, the platform is rapidly gaining popularity as the go-to social channel for the under-34 demographic — 50% of users — and 10- to 19-year-olds in particular — 32.5% of users. In the United States, 100 million active TikTok users per month spend an average of one hour every day scrolling the platform.
Magazine publishers seeking to expand their audience and boost consumer engagement cannot afford to ignore these statistics. So, how can publishers leverage TikTok?
Tips for using TikTok
What’s New in Publishing (WNIP) has some useful suggestions for getting “a piece of TikTok’s insanely fast-growing pie.” Try these strategies for TikTok success:
- News content. TikTok isn’t set up chronologically, but engaging content with a longer shelf life helps contributors gain traction.
- Explainers, aka educational videos. Grab attention by offering something new. Reference content from your latest issue to intrigue your viewers and leave them wanting more.
- Journalist vlogs. As WNIP points out, “People connect with people.” Leverage your most charismatic contributor as an ambassador for your publication, or build your TikTok audience with a vlog series featuring your regular contributors. This multichannel approach adds visibility for a behind-the-scenes look at your people and their process.
- The entertainment factor. Short-form content is engaging, particularly when it’s entertaining. Appeal to your audience with diverting content to build a loyal TikTok following you can convert into new subscribers.
There is a dramatic “adopt or perish” desperation regarding the rise of social media platforms for marketing. But if your goal is expanding your readership, keeping up with hot — and proven — marketing trends can only help. And forward-thinking publishers are already using TikTok to increase their exposure.
How publishers are using TikTok
Publishers are always anxious to increase their readership — which means engaging a younger demographic. For instance, a 2018 survey showed only 9% of respondents aged 18 to 29 were regular readers of the Washington Post. While this doesn’t directly apply to magazine readers, it’s a red flag for every print publication.
With these grim demographic statistics in hand, the Washington Post’s video editor Dave Jorgenson turned to TikTok to catch a younger crowd’s attention. Given its usage statistics, TikTok was the ideal platform for the Post’s attempts to expand its reach to a younger audience. Jorgenson now posts regular behind-the-scenes videos of work life at the newspaper, and his efforts have generated a fan base of 177,000 and counting.
BookTok — another clever and creative use of TikTok — is also proving beneficial to publishers. BookTok is a channel of TikTok users who make short-form videos to share their reading recommendations. NBC News reports that this entirely new social marketing channel is driving significant sales for book publishers. Knowledgeable retailers, including Barnes & Noble, have jumped on the #BookTok bandwagon — and it’s paying off.
To attract the next generation of magazine readers — and build your publishing brand — TikTok is the marketing tool of the moment. Create and curate content to engage your target audience, and contact your Sheridan representative to learn how we can help you streamline processes, reduce costs, and keep up with the latest in print and publishing.