By Joshua Burkheiser
We all are responsible for reaching customers and marketing to the best of our ability. Part of that responsibility is using the tools available to us at that time. Yes... we all use Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Part of that has to do with our comfort level. But many of us have avoided one platform in particular; if we use it, we will set the world spiraling out of control, flinging us off at terminal velocity.
The problem with this is that TikTok is a monster in the world of our future customers! If you think I am joking, look to your right. There is a really good chance that the person next to you is scrolling through it right now. Whether it's your partner cuddling next to you on the couch or one of your employees sitting at their desk (who is supposed to be doing their quarterly reports, Kelsey! I see you!).
TikTok is available in over 150 countries, has over 1 billion users, and has been downloaded over 200 million times in just the United States! I feel as if I need to repeat this... 1 billion! This is higher than the number of people who watched the Super Bowl at 96.4 million! It cost 5.6 million for a 30-second ad during the Superbowl. Compare this price to the literal 0 dollars it costs you every time you upload a video on TikTok, and it just makes financial sense. In fact, it almost seems foolish not to take advantage of this!
Charli D'Amelio is a viral TikTok trend dancer, and with 109.8 million followers, she is a global giant! Yeah, I get it; she is just dancing; how does that even compare to how my author brand or business can use TikTok? I'm glad you asked, and this is where following a blogger with a science background comes in handy.
Charli has cashed in on how the human brain works. The human brain is an incredible supercomputer that functions through a maze of neurons and pathways that uses a vast array of chemicals. This is why TikTok is so effective; they have managed to plug into our frontal lobe. I'm not being facetious; I am using the literal tense. The frontal lobe is part of the brain’s cerebral cortex. It consists of the left and right frontal cortex and is easily the largest of the four major lobes.
This section of the brain is also the slowest section of the brain to mature, constantly shedding and creating new neurons until a person reaches their mid-twenties, sometimes later. It is responsible for cognitive functions and control of voluntary movement or activity, but for me, what makes it the most interesting is that it receives dopamine.
Dopamine: This neurotransmitter and hormone have quite a few responsibilities, but the part that applies to us today is that it is a reward system for our frontal lobe! Think of it as that first cup of Pumpkin Spice Latte in September or sitting back with a glass of wine while you watch DAHMER - Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story on Netflix. In fact, for the first 30 seconds, that is precisely what's happening to your brain. It happens during many activities in our lives, and we don't even know it's happening. The brain is an incredible network of ups and downs, a rollercoaster we either hate or love.
And this is precisely why TikTok has taken over the world! TikTok acts as a reward system thanks to the dopamine flooding our frontal lobe by watching each of its videos. This makes us translate the pleasurable feeling into a desirable activity that we immediately want to repeat. And what makes TikTok so compelling is the length of the videos. The average length of a TikTok video is 15 seconds, which leaves the brain confused as to why the pleasurable feeling has ended and leaves you craving more. Compare this to the average length of a television and radio commercial, 30 seconds, and you begin to see why TikTok is the current leader in marketing!
Ok, so we understand the science, but how can we use that to our advantage?
You have to be unique; it can't look like a cash grab. You need to provide your viewers with something they don't have to pay for (Much like this blog, I suppose). In the same way that we as businesses lean into discounts and loyalty programs to gain customers, the same must be applied to gaining followers and, with proper closing techniques, customers.
Take my channel, for example (@joshuaburkheiser). You will notice that there aren’t a lot of videos that actually pertain to my book. It's blotted with true crime videos and the like. Do I write true crime? I mean... yes, but not primarily. I realized early on that I couldn't just do a whole bunch of book promotions and hope to gain followers and readers. I write crime fiction which is the 5th most popular genre in 2022; this means that I am competing with literally thousands of other authors for readers. I needed to provide something unique. Are they the best videos on the planet? No way. But they are entertaining, and they are free. I am providing something of value to my followers.
So how can your business stand out from all other companies on TikTok? How can we make our videos enjoyable? And finally, how can we turn followers into customers? I'm here to answer all of these questions, have no fear.
First, it's essential to understand that what is working for the TikTok stars, dancing, and the like, probably won't work for your business model and, in fact, may fly in the face of your business and personal ethics. If you have a bank, maybe don't do TikTok trend dances. I don't feel as if I should have to say that... but hey, to each their own. If you do it and it works, please let me know! Instead, maybe show a "customer's" journey from your front doors to the counter and being walked through opening up an account (personal information excluded). Your staff should be all smiles (as they should be in real life).
Maybe if you are a restaurant or a drinking establishment, have your bartenders do cool tricks while making a customer's drink! These videos are prevalent on TikTok; it would be wise to brand them and take advantage of their popularity for your business.
If you're in the administration and clerical services industry, possibly look into showing your business volunteering at a charity or doing a 5k for a great cause! Brand your shirts and smile a lot! It's all about making your company seem fun and exciting. Just like infants, we recognize people as being safe and comforting based on smiling. This applies in the media as well.
Colleges... You have zero excuses for not being on TikTok. Literally, just start an organization amongst your students for making TikTok videos about your school, with a list of loose guidelines (got to keep it clean), and let them be creative! Brand the videos and hashtag them to death! Your students have a great understanding of what it takes to be successful on this unique platform.
Making your business stand out from other companies is easier than you think. I have touched on this before, show your personal side! In today's society, the perception of successful entities is abhorrent. We are bordering on the environment of the French Revolution regarding society’s thoughts and ideas. So, it is essential to show that we are out here struggling just like all of them. That we are their friends, families, and neighbors. We HAVE to show them we are HUMAN. Maybe let your employees bring their dogs to work and make videos, or have a cat mascot that you dote on. Other businesses don't do this, frankly, at least not well. Making your company a fun environment for your employees will also translate to new followers and customers.
Turning your followers into customers is an art all on its own. I was an active recruiter for the Army for several years; this comes with initial schooling and certification, followed by monthly training on closing for the time you are out in the field. From all of this training, one thing stood out to me, the infamous funnel. Every salesperson worth their salt will recognize this term. And while it is an old-school way of turning prospects into hot leads but it's still super effective. TikTok is that funnel!
It's very seldom that a free service is provided to us with customers so effectively, so take advantage of it! They wouldn't be following you unless they were interested in some way! Maybe they like your ethics; perhaps they like your product or service; it doesn't matter the reason... you have their contact information. How many of us have paid for lists that didn't pan out? TikTok provides us with this list in a way. You may not have their emails, but they actively subscribe to your videos. Use this as a way to communicate with them, don't be afraid to tell them about a discount or a sale. It's okay to use this platform in this way!
And now for the free hashtags! Yay! Here you go, use them with my blessing!
#business #entrepreneur #marketing #success #motivation #money #entrepreneurship #startup #love #smallbusiness #businessowner #inspiration #work
So, quit being afraid, and start a TikTok page today!