Planning and Creating TikToks

Picture of Aliza ShermanAliza Sherman is a web pioneer, author, and international speaker. Sherman is the author of 8 books about the Internet including The Everything Blogging Book, Streetwise Ecommerce, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crowdsourcing and Social Media Engagement for Dummies.

Planning and Creating TikToks

TikTok, the short-form video hosting platform with a social networking component, continues to grow in popularity. If you’re thinking about creating your own videos for TikTok, take some time to think through what you’d like to convey to the TikTok audience.

Here are some things to consider as you plan and begin creating TikToks.

1. Who is your audience?

The TikTok audience skews younger than Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Based on TikTok’s data, about 57% of TikTok users are female and 43% are male. Almost 43% of TikTok’s global audience is between 18 and 24 years old. 32% of TikTok users are aged between 25 and 34. If you are looking to reach Gen Z and Millennials, TikTok could be the right place for you to market your product or service.

2. What kind of content do you want to produce?

Look closely at the popular videos on TikTok and see what they have in common. Are they appropriate for your brand and what messages you’re trying to convey? Some of the popular types of videos on TikTok include:

Dance videos - Users create their own choreography or attempt dances created by other TikTok users

Challenge videos - Users are challenged to do something - typically humorous or outrageous, but sometimes risky or downright dangerous)

How To videos - Demonstrating quick step-by-step instructions to making things from crafts to cocktails or how to use something like a gadget or a fashion accessory.

Dialogue reenactments - Lip-syncing to audio that can be famous lines from movies or TV shows to comedy routine clips to original audio from other users.

Singing or Playing Instruments - Showing off musical talent is popular on TikTok

Opinion or Advice - People expressing their opinion on an important or offering advice, whether based on expertise or lived experience.

You don’t have to choose only one type of TikTok to produce, but you do want to convey a specific style that is recognizable and memorable as well as aligned with your brand.

3. Storyboard your videos.

Once you decide the type of TikToks you’d like to produce, write out proposed dialogue or messaging. Keep in mind videos are typically between 15 to 30 seconds although could be as long as 10 minutes. TikTok recommends a video length of 30 seconds or less.

Storyboarding consists of sketching out frame-by-frame images to visually explain what will be shown on screen. Visuals are usually paired with some dialogue or captions, but before you start writing, envision what you will show and how you will show it to get your point across. You can get as detailed as showing when to zoom in or out, when to speed up action or slow it down, and what to add to the video frame if you want to use stickers or other embellishments at particular places in the video.

When writing out content for your TikTok, think in terms of both dialogue if something will be spoken as well as captions that are typically shorter and appear intermittently as text over the video to emphasize points. Make sure the dialogue and captions complement and don’t detract from the visuals.

4. Create a brand hashtag.

As with any other social network, hashtags play a role in helping people find and identify content. Two of the most popular tags on TikTok are #ForYou and #FYP. The For You Page is a curated feed of TikToks that is presented when a user first opens the TikTok app (iOS or Android). The TikTok algorithm compiles these videos automatically based on a user’s interests or app usage habits. Whether or not these two hashtags actually influence getting onto the For You page is debatable, but people use them anyway.

Most companies using TikTok also use a hashtag with their company name or one that is closely related to their business or brand. If you’re already using a hashtag on other social networks that works for your brand, you may want to use the same one. Do a search of your hashtag on TikTok to see what else shows up and if it makes sense to keep the same one.

5. Join a TikTok trend.

Browse the Discover tab on the TikTok app to see what videos are trending. Determine which trends are aligned with your brand, then plan out how your trend-specific video will play out. When you’re ready to publish it, check the hashtags related to the trend so your video can be grouped together with other videos on the same trend.

When looking at trending videos, it is important to think through how aligned it is with your brand and to assess if there are any risks involved. Be careful to avoid copyright infringement. More importantly, stay clear of anything that is risky or dangerous to avoid potential liability issues. Even if the trend isn’t something you started, you could get involved in a legal situation if something unfortunate happened due to someone seeing your TikTok of a risky challenge.

Overall, when planning and creating your TikTok video, use popular videos as templates for your content but make them your own. Get familiar with the particular visual style of the more popular TikToks as well as the tools TikTok offers to achieve specific looks and sounds. TikTok may not be for every company, but if you use it creatively and stay on-brand, you could enhance your social media marketing and reach a fresh, engaged audience.