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After working for a security organization, I normally would consider using the platform to be a real threat with the knowledge that a Chinese-owned company may have access to so much of our personal data, but the public has been assured the data is protected in the U.S. I’ll leave the privacy issues to you to research and make decisions on, but I want to talk briefly about the business opportunities.

If we can survive the threat of Trump banning the amazing social channel TikTok, that has surpassed Facebook, Instagram ,and Snapchat for downloads of its app, then businesses have another great opportunity to get in front of millions of people, many of who are in the younger generations. TikTok also needs to keep an eye on innovation and relevance in the wake of the brand-new launch of Instagram’s new Reels, basically a copycat of the TikTok platform. Instagram went all out trying to lure TikTok influencers in, and because it has a strong base—which is somewhat different from TikTok’s—it has a chance to undermine the new giant.

One reason it’s become so popular—even among older Millennials and Gen Xers—is that it is perceived as more authentic and real than Instagram and Facebook. Not so picture perfect when you’re dancing around and being video bombed by Dad, which makes it addictive to watch. And it’s a nice platform for younger people who are feeling the pressures of social media and being perfect.

Most professionals know that content is king—having that relevant, funny, practical post is a must. But these social sites have algorithms that are more complicated—you’ve got to know how to migrate them and stay up to date or you’ll be lost in cyber space with an audience of family and friends.

So how to do it?

Hashtags

Hashtags are the way to be seen, found, and searched for—they’re the key to find trending topics and going viral. You can start hashtag challenges on your own and then seed them through creators and influencers.

One more expensive way to trend is have TikTok promote the hashtag. To get your own to go viral, the key is speed and size. You need a lot of people creating videos using that hashtag within the first 30-60 minutes. This tells the TikTok algorithm that the hashtag is popular, so therefore they show videos using it to more people on the platform.

Content

With all social media channels, it’s important to have the right tone and type of content for that audience. For TikTok, successful content can be categorized into comedy and inspirational.

TikTok challenge

The platform started as a musical platform and many of the posts still use music, which helps to make it more interesting and fun to watch.

Ready to start?

You need to create a profile—called an artist’s profile. This is where you can upload videos and where fans can have direct access to your profile page and content.

Content can be curated and used in a number of ways.

  • Repurposed—do you have a library of videos or some raw material you can grab quick bites from? Try pulling 20-40 seconds of your best and get started with that.
  • Approach an influencer to create content for you. They have mastered the platform and can expand your reach and direct people to your profile.
  • Whether you are using repurposed content or can create a new video with trending hashtags, start populating your profile with ones that make sense to your business. If you are in the security field, you may want to try using something like #firstresponders. If you’re selling products for cat lovers use #catsoftiktok.
  • You can start from scratch and purchase sponsored ads that include shop now buttons that run in the feeds. Remember, it’s important to make the videos creative and fun.

Visit the business learning center on TikTok to get details on formats, testing, reporting, and best practices. They have sessions that take you through the process and help you succeed.

Tip—go ahead and post your short videos on Reels as well if you already have an Instagram account. Those are limited to 15 seconds while TikTok’s can be longer—test them both if you have limited resources and repurpose your videos for multiple channels and sites (like those YouTube and Facebook videos you already have). Keep in mind that Reels is still new, and TikTok’s algorithm helps users see what would be interesting for them. It also keeps a level playing field allowing new users the same opportunities of being seen as big influencers—so don’t hesitate to try the platform and gain a new audience for your brand!

Go explore and then let me know what hashtags you like and what you think TikTok can do for your business.

Here are some fun hashtags you may be interested in (well I like them, so….).

#newteacher—prank for you home schooling parents who need/want to mess with your kids.

#tiktoktips—anyone from Rachel Ray or mask-making friends at home can post and help others.

#dogsoftiktok—They’re dogs. And they are cute. What can I say?

#therealindiandad—stumbled on this and can’t stop laughing with this family.

I’ve been on a number of networking group calls lately and realized there are some small business executives and some younger professionals that may need assistance on crafting a comprehensive marketing and communications plan. Here are some tips to get you started on a template. 

Download the PDF for a step-by-step overview to get you started on a successful plan!

Key Insights:

• Take the time to articulate your Unique Value Proposition.
• Collaborate with team members and stakeholders throughout the process.
• Know your audience—what language they use, what they care about, and what channels they use/visit.
• Stay up-to-date on emerging technology and apply it as appropriate.
• Take care of your brand! Be consistent with design and messaging. Pay attention to details—don’t be sloppy or you’ll look second rate.
• Use data and conduct research to inform decisions.
• Track, monitor, analyze, and be flexible.
• Make an investment to get expert help—whether that’s a designer, writer, digital marketing specialist, or strategist. It will pay off with higher engagement and profits.

Stuck on starting to create messaging for a new audience? Here are some tips…

Are you staring at your blank document wondering where to start? Asking yourself, what do I say to this audience I’m trying to attract/get to purchase/persuade to act? What words do I use to grab their attention, maintain their interest beyond the eight-second attention span (or less) they have, and make them want to cross the finish line and make the purchase or sign the petition?

I’ve been there. Sometimes my mind wanders to my laundry list of chores. And then sometimes the fingers just move fast and furious across the keys as I start that stream of consciousness to be molded and finessed later.

Regardless of where you are in your messaging attempts, you need to start with an understanding of your audience. And that takes research. Listening. Reading. Asking questions of said audience members and others who know their business well. Throughout my career I’ve worked in more than a dozen industry sectors, marketing products, services, and events to professionals in various fields of work. I’ve created comprehensive strategic plans for groups that represented those professions. And while many of my marketing and communications skills are transferable, I still had to learn each audience.

Here are some tips to help you move from a blank page to record-breaking engagement scores.

Persuasive writing

Step one:

Read the magazines, newsletters, websites, social media pages, and so on that these professionals read and visit. Talk to staff members from the professional associations and groups they are members of and ask them questions about what kind of work their members do. Find out what services they engage with the most. Be a fly on the wall during their conference calls. The point is, learn the language they use. Learn what is important to them—what concerns them day to day. The more you study your audience and what they do, the more you’ll be fluent in talking the talk.

Step two:

You’re starting to learn their language and their needs. Now, what kind of people are they as a group and what kind of tone will they better respond to? For example, creative types will respond to humor and abstract design better than say more senior level serious security practitioners. Sometimes you must test this to find out. In any case, you are talking to HUMAN BEINGS. And guess what? Humans make purchasing decisions based on emotions. They confirm their choices later with logic. What does that mean? Use words and images that will create an emotional response. Want to be great at this? Google neuroscience marketing (or neuromarketing) and study the principles of persuasion. For example, scarcity. This is somewhat common, and anyone living in America in the spring of 2020 will understand the toilet paper scare of our generation but think about it in terms of words and positioning in your emails to prospects.

___________________________________________

Dear Dawn,

Because you are a loyal member of our organization, I’m extending you the opportunity to bring along one colleague to an exclusive event, just for conservation leaders such as yourself. There are only 100 seats open for the July Summit on Energy Conservation so sign up to today to secure your place. Once we have your registration, we’ll send you a unique code so your colleague can register for free.

_______________________________________________

neuromarketing brain and shoppingThere—you’ve created a sense of scarcity—there are only so many items/seats/opportunities available, so I better get it, or I’ll lose out. And if you caught it, the message also made Dawn feel super important and part of an exclusive group (which she is—because all your members and customers are special). An example of another principle of persuasion that I like—making your audience feel they are part of a like-minded group. The current 2020 spring lock down during the pandemic has people needing to feel a part of a community more than ever before—so it’s a good tactic if deployed in a genuine way.

And don’t skimp on the visuals. Humans pick up visual messages and clues at a much faster rate than words. Connect the graphics with the message. Use gifs and video to grab attention. Remember, human beings! Just because it’s a business message doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy looking at engaging visuals (and humor where appropriate).

Step three:a/b testing

Test, measure, adapt. Use A/B testing on your subject lines and content at the very least. Test time of day and day of week that’s best for your audience. Experts used to say never to send on weekends. Lo and behold, turns out Sunday is a great day to send emails! Each audience is different. It’s more important to benchmark against yourself and previous campaigns to understand the rhythm and response behavior of your audience. And make sure to target as much as possible. It’s not always possible to craft and send 13 separate messages, but if you have a multidisciplinary audience, you should be sending unique messages to the main audience groups for better response rates.

Step four:

Hone your skills. Keep writing, keep measuring and tracking, keep learning about your audience, and keep trying new tactics! Be creative.

One final note—this type of writing is persuasive marketing copy, not content marketing that leverages relevant content via subject matter experts. You must learn to adapt your style of writing to the strategy you are deploying. Social media posts will be crafted differently than emails as well. Learn best practices for each channel and medium and become a pro at increasing engagement across them all.

Resources:

MarketingProfs—there are training tools, articles, and more to help you hone your writing skills. https://www.marketingprofs.com/resources/?loc=nav&search=writing

Social media examiner has great articles on various topics including writing and neuroscience. https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/

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