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Interview

Interview: TikTok Marketing Crash Course: How TikTok Can Help Your Brand Drive Billions of Views, With Evan Horowitz, CEO of Movers+Shakers

On January 27th, Peter hosted a webinar entitled 'A Crash Course in TikTok Marketing', featuring Evan Horowitz, CEO, and co-founder of creative agency Movers+Shakers, who created the most successful marketing campaign on TikTok ever.

SHOW NOTES

Link to Webinar

TRANSCRIPT

Peter:

Welcome to unpacking the digital shelf, where we explore brand manufacturing in the digital age, Peter Crosby, executive director of the digital shelf Institute here. A very special episode of the podcast today on January 27th, I hosted a webinar entitled a crash course in Tiktok marketing, featuring Evan Horowitz, CEO, and co-founder of creative agency, movers and shakers who created the most successful marketing campaign on TikTok ever. And the attendee list nearly broke our zoom. So given the interest, I thought this audience would benefit from the conversation as well. Some of the magic may be lost. We're having presents some, some visual examples, but we will provide the link to the webinar in the show notes, if you want the full experience. So without further ado, here's a crash course in TikTok marketing. Tell me a bit, uh, you know, TikTok, it's, it's relatively new. It's certainly evolved over 2020. Tell us, you know, sort of where tech talk is, uh, uh, today and, and what it looks like. And, and, uh, yeah, just give us sort of the lay of the land.

Evan:

Sure. Yeah. It's been a wild ride. I mean, tech talks only a couple of years old, which is, which is insane. Um, I mean their growth curve just makes Facebook and Instagram's growth look sleepy by comparison. Uh, you know, by the end of 2019 TikTok had about 40 million monthly active users, uh, in the us. And it was pretty much all gen Z and, and also pretty much all of gen Z was on TikTok at the end of 2019, um, which I think led to its reputation as a, as a younger platform. What we saw though over 2020 was just that it grew and aged out faster than any platform in history. And I think in large part, this is fueled by everybody being at home. And we, what we saw was while we entered 2020 with pretty much everyone I took doc was gen Z leaving 2020.

Evan:

And now in 2021 only about half of TikTok is gen Z. And the other half is over 25. And, uh, pretty much at this point, all millennials are actively engaged on tech talk, at least as viewers. Uh, and in addition to that, we're seeing gen X and even boomers adopting the platform quite rapidly. So what we expect is that growth curve is going to continue. It's going to continue to age up. And what that means for brands is that, you know, TikTok, which might not have been relevant to you in 2019 is around now relevant for most brands, uh, because probably at least a big segment of their audience is right now spending a disproportionate amount of their social media hours on TikTok.

Peter:

Now, is it, is it all, uh, dance videos? You know, what, how has the content types because of that expansion and demographic evolved at all?

Evan:

Yeah, it's a great question. It's, it's not all dance videos. Um, we, we could show that we show a few examples, but a TikTok still has the reputation. I think among people who aren't really on TikTok, that it's all teenagers dancing and there is a lot of teenagers dancing still on sex talk. But what we've seen is just an explosion of other types of communities building. So now pretty much every micro community has a big conversation going on on TikTok. If you're interested in car repair, a lot of discussion about car repair on TikToker, interested in horses, if you're interested in beauty and skincare, if you're interested, whatever it is that you're passionate about, you can find a basketball community on TikTok, and, uh, again for brands, that means that there's probably a conversation already happening about your category and your industry there. In fact, your brand is probably being discussed already.

Peter:

So you wanna, you want to get on, on top of that story before any competitors do? I would imagine

Evan:

It's a good idea. Yeah. I mean, there's, there's still a lot of white space, uh, but it's less and less, you know, we've been working on TikTok now for about two years. Um, I've been doing TikTok one-on-one webinars for that whole time. And it's just been interesting to see the evolution where originally, when we started working there, there was only five or 10 brands who had ever done anything on Tech-Talk. And now, um, you know, now it seems like most brands are already in engaged in some way, but there's still a lot of opportunity to lead conversations, especially with those millennial audiences and older, you know, we launched a lot of millennial brands on tech talk over the past year and just a lot of opportunity to lead that conversation because it isn't as mature yet, which is super exciting for brands.

Peter:

Yeah. And, um, before we go to kind of the opportunities for grants, and I don't know whether you have any insight into this, I know we're all figuring out, but you know, obviously there was a lot of political furor around TikTok in 2020. Uh, the administration has changed. I don't know if any of you have heard that, but there's a new president. Um, and I was, when is therefore a new commerce department and a bunch of things going on, um, uh, do you feel like this, do you have a sense of whether this new administration, whether, uh, TikTok might come out of a crouch and, and really start to lean in more, to more of the commerce experiences? Cause they've been very invested and for obvious reasons in driving the user experience, but now, um, do you feel like maybe we have some hope ahead that things might relax on the other front?

Evan:

Yeah, I mean, even, even the last few months, you know, there was a headline in one of the, um, pop culture publications that was like, uh, Trump forgot that he cared about TikTok and TikTok can't get answers from them. You know? So like that, that whole story was interesting maybe in, I don't know, September, but, uh, really only from a wall street journal perspective, you know, there's been so much drama in the headlines in the business press about that, but if you just exist in the TikTok community, you would never know anything happened because the community has just grown and matured very rapidly as there was, you know, drama in Washington, DC that nobody on TikTok really cared about. Um, and, uh, from the platform perspective, yes. You know, TikTok has continued to invest and expand its capabilities, uh, in terms of its marketing and ad product offerings.

Evan:

Definitely. Yes. Um, shopping and e-commerce is continues to they every month. They're adding new features, whether they're beta features are being rolled out full stream to allow more lower funnel work on tech talk. So that's only going to continue. So let's, let's dive into that a little bit in terms of, because I have seen a number of Ted talks and I was sort of getting in the beginning, but under not a ton, but I actually just pulled up some examples if, if we, if you want to take a minute and show. Yeah. Because I think, I think it'd be fun to just, uh, for those of you who haven't seen as many Ted talks, um, you know, to your point, I do think there is still a lot of myth that, um, TikTok is all about dancing. And so these are just a few fine examples to show you the variety of conversations that are happening on tech talk.

TikTok:

I hate that I have a full-time job as an accountant,

Evan:

As an account.

TikTok:

Nobody asks you questions. When you say you're an accountant, what they do, I'm an accountant, where do you work at a place where accountants work?

Evan:

Thousands of videos were created with this song, tons and tons of people got on that.

TikTok:

Listen, I really hate to be the one to break it to you, but we're going to be working from home for awhile. And since most of the people I work with, can't seem to understand basic social cues. I put together some helpful zoom tips, so you can stop embarrassing yourself, tip one, orient yourself properly. Who's flashed the screen. Shouldn't be 70% your boobs to stop with all the, how are you? How's it going at the beginning of meeting? How's it going? How am I not? Well, to just enough Xanax to get through this meeting. So let's get started. Tip three, do not under any circumstances, make a joke about not wearing pants. That joke was dead in April, along with

Evan:

Wow. I'm in trouble. [inaudible] Oh my God. Okay. It's happening? Everybody stay calm. What's your procedure. Oh my God. A million views. Yeah. Million. Yeah. Just to give a sense of the breadth and the person who just asked. No, not everything I take TOK is funny, but those are the best ones to share on a webinar. Maybe you should have a boring one on just to show how it can be misused or boring. No, but I mean, there is, I think in fairness, it's a good point. There's a lot of talk that leans into other emotions. You know, it is overall a joyful and positive place, but there's a lot of, um, more serious conversations or inspirational conversations or conversations about, you know, um, values driven issues, which are really important and especially in the gen Z and millennial audience.

Peter:

So, um, w because of the way that is, it does, I mean, that just screams authenticity, like when a brand thinks about the world they're entering into what makes TikTok different from, from the other social platforms that we may have more evolved strategy on.

Evan:

Yeah. I mean, there's some key differences. Um, I think the biggest things about TikTok is just the tone and, uh, dynamics of the community. So take talks mission is to spread creativity and inspire joy. And, um, it really does deliver on that creativity and joy. And I'll talk to both of those. So I think it helps differentiate from the other platforms, um, you know, TikTok. I think one of the reasons why it's grown so fast and why it's so addictive as a user is the level of creativity is just really unparalleled. And they've done that by lowering the bar, to allowing the general public, to become creators and express their creativity. They've made it easier in two ways. One is that the editing tools and everything that's built into the app is just easier to use, but more importantly is they have lowered the bar to the, um, like the aesthetic and a world that, you know, on Instagram, you know, to be honest, like, I don't feel like I'm ever Instagram worthy, unless I'm on the Amalfi coast with a glass of Pino, you know, like, uh, but, but TikTok is not like that.

Evan:

TikTok is just about being raw. It's being yourself. You film it in your, you know, in your living room with your sister. Um, and that again has just unleashed this flood of creativity. And so when you think about the stories that really do well on TikTok, they are creative driven. Um, and then the second piece is, you know, about joy and TikTok really has become a place where people go for relief. They go there for, um, entertainment and, you know, it's the opposite of Twitter in many ways. Twitter is about, you know, intense, serious discussion take talk is in general about levity. Not that there's not also a place for more serious discussion, but, but done in a very different tone. You see this, even in the comment sections on videos, you know, Instagram can be assessed pool of hatred, uh, in the comments.

Evan:

And that does happen sometimes on TikTok, but much more UC Tik, TOK users cheering each other on, you know, we ran a campaign for, um, one of our beauty clients that was, uh, actually it was the first ever TikTok reality show. And it started with an invitation for people to nominate themselves, to be selected, to be the contestants on the show. 3000 people made TikToks, nominating themselves. But the reason I bring it up is because on those tech talks, when people aren't arming themselves, we saw people really complimenting each other and being like, wow, your makeup is on point. You should totally win, you know, in a, in a, in a way that the community came together to cheer for themselves, that you wouldn't have expected if that was on Instagram, for example. So I think this upbeat, positive energy is really a differentiator for TikTok as well. And it's important for brands to think about that when you're developing your content strategy for what you want to talk about and how you want to express on TikTok compared to some of the other platforms.

Peter:

Yeah. I mean, as a marketer, uh, that, to me, that, that, that opportunity to show up with joy would be a tremendous, um, I would get excited about that, that task. So let's, let's head towards let's head towards that. Uh, so we have a ton of people on this webinar who clearly are here because they're thinking, all right, I need to understand this. And I, then I want to know sort of how I can we, uh, where do I start? So, yeah. Maybe lay out a bit sort of, what are the opportunities for brands to show up right now? Um, and, and do you see them evolving? Well, we'll talk about later on, in the year, let's start with like what's available today

Evan:

In terms of ways to engage on TikTok. Yes, exactly. Yeah. Let me just share, uh, I'll share a slide again. Um, so you this yep. Yep. Um, there's basically five main ways into Tech-Talk as a brand. Um, the first one is having your own channel. So of course you can have your own branded page and put out your own organic content. Um, the second way is working with influencers, take talk has a very robust and dynamic influencer community. Um, and that's a really great, great way for brands to participate. Um, ads to talk has what they call their in-feed ad, which is a traditional ad product, very similar to a snap ad or an Instagram story ad. Um, and, uh, then you have number four, which is these nasty viral challenges. This is what all the headlines about TikTok are about. Typically, you know, we run a lot of campaigns that get billions of views.

Evan:

Uh, this is not possible, and I have a platform. We can talk a little bit more about that. Um, but that's super exciting. And then the fifth bucket, which we really continue to pioneer and is these disruptive activation. So for example, I mentioned last year, we ran the first ever TikTok reality show, right? It's just out of the box way to create engagement and entertainment on Tech-Talk. We launched a holiday album with a client, uh, for the holidays and made a TikTok native, and it was super, super innovative. So, um, anyway, those are basically the five main ways in, and there's not a right place to start necessarily.

Peter:

And, uh, when it comes to the in-feed ads, like, is that a self-service model on, on, uh, on TikTok? Or is that only accessible through agencies or what's the sort of accessibility of that, right?

Evan:

Yeah, it's both. So they have a fully self service offering, which they didn't always, but now that's a well out of beta and anybody can go on, there's basically no minimum. So, you know, you can just go on and dabble yourself. Um, they also, they also sell as through reservation where you work through their sales team. Um, and, uh, yeah, so there's different ways in there.

Peter:

So I, I, there's a couple, there's a bunch of questions coming in, which is awesome. Keep them coming. Yeah. I'm just going to pick out a couple that I feel like tie in at this stage right now. And so Janice asked, can a brand get on board with TikTok without partaking in the trends. Absolutely realize trends. So I wasn't sure if that was a particular TikTok offering or is she just saying like, sort of being on top of like the latest sort of, you know, hopping on board?

Evan:

Yeah. Well, let's talk about trends for a second. And just Janice maybe is a little bit ahead of some of the rest of the audience here on what even that is. So before I answered the question, okay. Yeah. Just to get a little bit of contact. No, Janice is definitely hip with the kids here. So it's a trends. Often marketers use the word challenge. It's basically the same thing. Um, but, uh, trend is, uh, as a, um, theme and variations that goes through TikTok. This has happened a couple of times on other platforms, you remember the ice bucket challenge where all of a sudden everybody's dumping ice on their head, or like Harlem shake or Gangam style. These are a couple of dance trends that happened back in the Facebook era, uh, where everybody's making their own video with the same theme, right? That's the idea of a trend.

Evan:

Um, so trends are now are unlike on Facebook and Instagram. It's every day on tectonic. There's hundreds of trends happening where now everybody's doing this dance, or now everybody's telling a story about this particular thing, or now everybody's using this new special effects in the TikTok app in a similar way. Um, and this is, I would say about half of the content on TikTok is trend driven and that's part of what makes TikTok so cool is people love to put their personal spin on a trending conversation. Um, so to get to Janice's question, um, no, it's the short answer brands do not have to participate in trends to, to be on TikTok. You can just make your own content and tell your own story in your own way. That said, participating in trends is a big opportunity for brands to, uh, engage on the platform and something that we generally recommend, because it does two things.

Evan:

One is the algorithm preferences, trending content. So your, your content will typically get more exposure. And second that's what gives your brand a lot of cool factor. You know, people love seeing anybody, a brand or a person enter a trend in a fun way. And when you, as a brand, join a trend, you look like a brand that gets it, you know, and that's really what gen Z and millennials are looking for. They hate advertising of course, but they love brands that engage with them in a way that they love to engage with their friends and joining trends is a great way to do that.

Peter:

No, imagine that one of those steps is you need to have somebody on your team as, as many of these brands I'm sure already do for Instagram and, and, and others to be monitoring that channel on, on a really, really constant basis to, to capture those things while they're happening, because they come and they go,

Evan:

That's true. Yeah. Yeah. And that's tricky. And, you know, I think that's why a lot of brands are calling us for help because they don't have that bandwidth, their skillset. Um, it is, it is, uh, a manual thing. You know, you can look at reports, but that's kind of looking in hindsight as opposed to looking at what the now by the time something shows up on TikToks, discover page, where they feature things that are trending. It's kind of almost too late, you know? And so what a lot of what our team does is they just have their ear to the ground. I've got a lot of very talented folks who are identifying those up and coming trends so that we can find the ones that are the right fits for each of our different clients, and then put, figure out how does this brand, or how does that brand, how could they hop on this trend in a really fun way? And they create that content, get it out before it's on the discover page.

Peter:

Yeah. We have so many questions coming in and I just want to tell everyone we're about to go into a section, which is the five success strategies for tech talk. So I think we may get to a lot of your questions, know that I'm watching them, and if we're not getting the answer, I will, I will pop in. But one of the others I thought was applicable at this stage was, um, uh, how do you identify the right influencers that align with any brand?

Evan:

Yeah. Influencers is really interesting. I mean, uh, on a basic level, it's no different than what you're used to on Instagram or YouTube or Twitch or wherever you're used to working with your influencers. Um, you're looking for people who align in terms of values and personality with the brand and your target audience. I think some key differences to note is first of all, in general, the TikTok influencer community is a pretty unique bucket. Like it, it doesn't overlap a lot with the people who are influencers on the legacy platforms, um, because TikTok is its own beast. You know, it's, it's challenging and difficult and different to create content on tectonic. And so in general, there's certainly lots of exceptions, but in general, the people who were really successful on info on Instagram, they struggle to get as much relevance on TikTok. It's just a very different storytelling style.

Evan:

Um, so that's the first thing is you really want to focus on influencers who are native to TikTok who really grew up there. Um, and then beyond that, it's, uh, I think it's similar search process is what you're used to. Um, one trick is TikTok has a creator marketplace, which is a searchable database. That's open to any brand that you can go in and you can see, um, that's a great starting point. Um, although not all influencers are listed there because they have to jump through certain hoops to be eligible for the creator marketplace and not everybody does, you know, for someone from my team, doesn't use that very much. If for us, it's more just, we have our ear to the ground of who's trending. Who's cool. Who's up and coming that we can still get while they're relatively inexpensive. Um, you know, because so much of it is like trends. It is really like, who's, who's, who's now who's up and coming now and it would be relevant.

Peter:

Yeah. Yeah. Well, let's, let's jump right into, um, some of your advice, the, those success strategies that you've got, um, walk us through some of those, those ways. And then, uh, and then I'll keep my eye on the questions as we go through.

Evan:

Okay, cool. Well, I think an easy way to do that. I'll just go back to that same slide and we can talk through the different, um, the different types of TikTok activations, and I can give a pointers for each and certainly happy to answer more questions from the audience. So we already talked about number two, influencers, um, going back to number one, the brand channels. Um, you know, the first thing here is that now we're in 2021, TikTok is a mainstream platform. It's no longer optional for most brands, whether you have a TikTok channel or not. I think that's the first thing just to kind of put on the table. Um, if you're not there yet, you're, you're in good company. There's still a lot of brands that are scrambling to catch up, but this is something that you definitely want to have as part of your 2021 plan is how you're going to get going with, and you're always on organic presence, um, because this is where people are looking to learn about new products.

Evan:

Um, you know, some things there is you really want to think about, well, first is how does your brand translate into tech talk? And I think this is one of the trickiest pieces of entering tech talk for a brand, you know, any marketer after spending a little bit of time on TikTok, you immediately understand how different the world is in terms of visual aesthetic in terms of storytelling style, in terms of cultural norms. So you want to figure out how does your brand, how has your branding and a translate into the Tech-Talk world and what we do when we, when we go through the strategy phase with our clients, is we're really looking for, you know, understanding the brand and what's true and authentic to the brand. But then also looking at what's native to TikTok and finding that sweet spot of overlap, where the brand can express in a very TikTok way, right?

Evan:

And that's going to be the foundation for not only your channel, but also any ad content that you do, uh, or things like that. Um, the second thing I would just say with the brand channels is, uh, consistency is key. You know, the tic-tac algorithm is very extreme, uh, and the Instagram algorithm, because it's really driven by your following. Your, uh, your viewership is, is more consistent in a certain band, but on TikTok, following is only a small part of the algorithm. So your content can be seen by anybody. In fact, we've launched brand channels that had a million views on the first posts with zero followers, if this great content, right. So, um, but it does require that you keep coming up and spinning the wheel, right. So just be consistent on your brand channel. Um, we talked a bit about influences already, so I'll skip, right, right.

Peter:

Can I just stop you on the brand channels? Just cause there's a few questions that I think might fit in, um, can brands reuse influencer content to grow their own page?

Evan:

Yeah. So the answer is yes. Um, you can repost content obviously with permission and rights from the influencers. Um, but uh, an important caveat there is it's different from Instagram. So, you know, on Instagram you have your following and they have their following and they don't overlap as much. Uh, TikTok, as we were just saying, is any content can be shown to anybody. So the TikTok algorithm actually discourages reposting because in general, they don't want the same content appearing multiple times on different channels. So it's a good hack, you know, especially if you're like super low budget and you just want to get started. Yeah. Get, do some influencer reposts for your page, just so there's something there. Um, but it's not a good long-term strategy. And in general there's certainly some exceptions, but in generally we discourage it. And instead, if you want to leverage influencers, what we tend to do as well, commission the influencers to create different and custom content for the brand page more in slightly using the brand's tone of voice.

Peter:

So Tyler said, I've noticed that we get a few hundred views, but we are not getting subscribers or likes, is it because we are too commercial?

Evan:

I could be. And Tyler, I haven't seen your channel, but, uh, it also requires patience. You know, it's either not to say, there's not things you can, you can do to improve your content. But if you start with zero following and you're just kind of putting out your own content, um, you know, typically, uh, it's gonna, it's gonna grow a little bit more slowly, but being commercial is definitely a watch out, I would say. So again, having not seen your content, um, it's not that people don't want to see product people love product. You know, we do some of our, our videos that we create that are like close-up product, texture shots, things like that. People love that people love learning and being educated about the product, but I think there's a way to do it. That feels very tech talk and there's a way to do it. That just feels like it's a commercial and there's a big difference.

Peter:

Oh, a little deeper on that. Like what I'm imagining that there's, uh, given the, the context, it, that, that authenticity, the showing up through the lens of the, the consumer's conversation on tech to it's sort of finding a hook in, is that important? Like what, what is that next level of kind of being authentic on TikTok? Like how do you describe that?

Evan:

Yeah, it's a great question. I mean, the authenticity is, is one piece, right? So the whole vibe of what if you're creating content for Instagram and a lot of brands have nailed that. It's just so different now when you're creating content for TikTok, right. And if an Instagram, it looks curated, it looks like a photo shoot. It's beautiful. That's not what people want to see on Tech-Talk. They want to see it much more raw. They want to see how it's actually in real life. Um, and, uh, and that, that's an important part of the authenticity. Part of it is the stories that you're telling, you know, is this like, are you trying to make your brand to seem like aspirational and slightly unattainable, which I think a lot of brands do successfully on Instagram, or is this a little bit more day in the life?

Evan:

Another big thing too, that I think a lot of brands, if you haven't spent a lot of time on tic-tac, you don't understand very well. Is there certain storytelling styles that are the norm on TikTok? Um, for example, a classic TikTok storytelling style is a transition video where there's a before and there's an after, uh, and in the middle, there's usually something happens in the music like a beat drop. So, you know, before you get out of bed, your hair is all messy and then the beat drops and all of a sudden there's a transition and now you're glammed up. You're ready for the day, right? Classic talk, transition video, or before you have the cooking ingredients out all over your kitchen counter, and then there's a beat drop and you have a beautiful Apple pie, you know, like that's a classic tic-tac storytelling style.

Evan:

And when someone sees the video like that from a brand or anywhere else, it feels like, Oh, that was made for tech talk. Another typical storytelling style on TikTok would be, um, to make your points. You actually use your finger and you point around it, little text, bubbles that pop up with the beat again. Um, so whether this could be like, you know, we'll see an example actually later I ha uh, one of the ads that I'll show is, um, is a brand doing it, but you can talk about your product features, but using, pointing to text boxes, right? Um, that when you make a video like that, it feels TikTok. And I think one of the things that I see a lot of brands doing is they make videos. I just don't feel TikTok, cause they're not using one of these storytelling conventions. And it just feels a bit out of place.

Peter:

And, uh, sorry, please, if you can put your questions in the Q and a tab, cause I'm not monitoring Chad and I have. So all of a sudden realized that there's, uh, some coming in there as well, but I will try to look over there. Um, so, uh, one of the questions that came up and I think it goes to what you're talking about, cause you, uh, Alexandra asked about the minimum budget for brands to enter TikTok. And it sounds like to do number one, you just need to kind of show up and, and be as authentic as you can, which I don't think cause one of the questions she asked about was cost for content, video production for the brand account and cost for hashtag challenges, just, uh, and I know we'll probably get to the hashtag challenges and things a little bit down the line, but as a start, it just feels like you can kind of bring your personality there. Is that your brand personality a lot? What do you think?

Evan:

Yeah. I mean, you know, there's a, an answer to that question where very, very minimal cost to enter tech talk. You can, anybody from their phone right now can shoot an upload, a video, you know, to their brand account. Um, you, if you're really lucky, maybe you have an intern or somebody on your marketing staff who just really gets the platform and can help you get off the ground. If you do, that is amazing. You have a golden goose. Um, most people don't have that if you have one and send them to me, cause I will hire them very hard to find people who really get this platform. So we hire and train obviously a lot of that. And I think that's why people come to an agency like ours that really helps a brand, you know, not just have like a smart kid. Who's great at making content, but understand a brand marketing strategy and how to build content around that. Um, so, you know, I think there's quite a, there's a scale in terms of where brands, uh, spend on organic channel, you know, for pay it again, it starts very low. Like you can just do a test and learn with a thousand dollars, a hundred thousand dollars, whatever test and learn it looks like for you. Um, and see how that goes.

Peter:

All right. Last question. Before I let you actually get to number two, cause LNS, do you need a person or a personality featured on your channel? Is it better for a brand to kind of build a voice or to mix things around? Or what have you seen be successful there?

Evan:

Yeah, there's not a right. It's a great question. Um, some channels are very successful with like a, a hero host. Uh, if you look at Washington post one of the best examples, there's a sky, you know, it's an example of, he just said he, he works for the Washington post. He is a genius, a TikTok, and he has made their channel very, very successful and it's all him and his creativity and the way that he does it. Um, that's rare, you know, and again, those people are a bit of a unicorn. Um, and um, so we never do that. Like when we're planning a channel for our clients, we don't ever rely on a specific personality. Uh, we create a broader content strategy that can be more diversified. Sometimes there are recurring faces that we'll build. They kind of become the cadre of faces of a channel. Um, but we don't, it's just a very risky strategy to put all your eggs in this one. Person's basket. Again, if you have that one person who's amazing, the gray at it can work really well. And there's, there's some other good examples of that, but not generally where you would start. Yeah.

Peter:

So you, you just mentioned, uh, the pillars of a content strategy is, is there an easy way that you can kind of list off like what those pillars are? I mean, I'm sure it's similar or connected to other social channels, but w what is it that stands out to you when you sit down with a brand to kind of figure out their TikTok DNA?

Evan:

Yeah. I mean, there's a few, a few key pieces of it. Certainly, um, you know, things that you're used to like the visual world and the aesthetic that you're living in is something that we think about a lot. It's going to be different for sure. Then your visual world, obviously for T for Instagram, um, we're looking at the tone of voice and, um, you know, a key one is really what are the themes that you're going to be talking about, uh, on TikTok, people love, uh, there's certain categories of conversation that people love. So we think a lot about that. For example, you know, people love SMR, oddly satisfying, you know, product texture, posts, people love comedy, right? So we're thinking about what are those buckets of conversation that are relevant for this brand that, um, you know, it's not, there's no one formula there, right?

Evan:

It really is. What's, what's appropriate for the brand. Um, in the last one that I would highlight is music. Music is super important. That's a difference, you know, from other platforms on Instagram, you can sort of throw a royalty-free track on the back of a video. And it's kinda like, alright, it's cool. Take talk. You know, when you're developing your TikTok video, we're thinking about the music at the onset, right? Cause the music really helps tell the story on tech talk, uh, in a way that it's not really as relevant on Instagram, for example. So those are some things to think about.

Peter:

And if a brand is using music, they need to license it. Right. Is that

Evan:

That's a great point. Yeah. And that's a, that's a common question that we get, you know, TikTok is great as a consumer because TikTok pays the license fee for the general public to make videos. Um, but what they're buying is a non-commercial license. So any branded content, you as the brand needs to come in and buy your own license, or you use TikTok, TikTok also provides a royalty free library to brands, but it's an, it's a subset, a very small subset of the whole library, and you're not going to get the latest Megan, the stallion and take talks, royalty free license. So, um, uh, so yeah, you do need to think about bringing your own licenses.

Peter:

So let's jump a bit to the, the more sort of creative and exciting things you talked about, like viral challenges and, and the disruptive activations. I think it might be cool to kind of give, we've talked about the core brand channel a bit, but let's leap over to, you know, if you're, if you're really going for it, here are the things that are working great for brands. Uh, so, and then we can come back to questions.

Evan:

Sure. Yeah. So I'll jump over to number four here, viral challenges, you know, this is what most of the articles about tech talk or talking about. This is, you know, we, we get a lot of press for our clients. Most of the press we get for our clients is around these viral challenges because they're just so buzzy. Um, I'll show you a case study, uh, in a minute, but, um, you know, basically TikTok is unleashed a new dimension of vitality. So on a normal social media, if you make a video that video can go viral, it could get a million, 10 million views, which is awesome, same on TikTok. But what TikTok brings also to the table is that because of the trends that we were talking about earlier, um, it's normal on TikTok for people to then start creating videos, to add another level of virality. So now on our best performing campaigns where we launched branded trends, we have, uh, thousands, hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions of people from the general tic-tac community, creating videos for your brand. So this is how we get to these billion view campaigns, you know, movers and shakers as an agency actually has passed 90 billion views on our TikTok campaigns. And a lot of that is through this type of virology where we're unleashing a ground swell of TikTok community participation in joining the branded campaign, which is pretty wild, right?

Peter:

You're going into it believing you can create that virality.

Evan:

Oh, we can. Yeah. It's very, it's very reproducible. Um, not to say, I can predict exactly what level will hit. It is truly viral in the sense that like it's bigger or smaller, but, you know, with the big paid, um, TikTok challenges, we're typically getting to a billion views within 24 to 48 hours.

Peter:

It's sort of the, uh, the secret sauce of you being that confident. What is it that you know, that you can share with our audience?

Evan:

Yeah. I mean, this could be a week long masterclass cause we've, we've been doing this for years, but, um, you know, part of it is just the, um, you know, for the biggest challenges it is, it is, it is a big media buy associated with that. So that's important to understand is this is not like, again, this is not a $0 thing where you just put a video and it happens to unleash this thing like this, there is a media plan, there's an influencer plan and there's a bunch of things that you pay for and you line up, um, that anybody can do. And, um, you know, a lot of brands, even with mediocre creative strategy are able to get those billions of views. If you buy those products. Um, you know, the best challenge is really then hinges on the creative strategy, which, um, that's a lot, there's a lot of nuance there, right?

Evan:

And how do you create a trend that tic talkers are going to want to do? And that's what we spent a lot of time thinking about. How do you create the music for that? You know, we almost always write original music for these trends because you have 15 seconds difficulty. That's the length of a typical TikTok video. We architect every second and those 15 seconds to help tell the narrative arc of the trend to make it musically and culturally relevant. And you know, all those things really play a big factor in how viral something goes. So I know you have some examples in your deck. Are there any ones that you want to share that might spark the imagination of, of our viewers? Yeah. I mean, just on that, let me just jump to, um, let's this one, this is, uh, this is, you mentioned the beginning. We've we've done the biggest tech doc challenge that ever happened. This was actually way back in 2019 with elf cosmetics. Um, I'll just play this as a, it's like a two minute long. This is all about that video, about that campaign.

TikTok:

Let me see them tuning. Gimme space, wait, wait, show me that. Then I show it in the towel. We don't talk to that. Well, let me see them tuning. Gimme base wait.

Evan:

So a lot of takeaways here, but I think one of them is the TikTok doesn't exist in a vacuum. You know, TikTok offers you the opportunity to spark a cultural conversation that can flow well on and off the platform walls I could. I know while downloads is five minutes, do you want me to play a couple more branded TikTok examples? Or do you want jump into questions? Let's talk, let's do questions. Cause there are so many and I, I hate to disappoint. Um, and uh, yes. Um, let's see, what tools do you use to maximize your visibility on TikTok, hashtags, et cetera? Yeah, I mean, hashtags is an interesting one, very, very different hashtags on TikTok compared to hashtags on Instagram and Instagram, you just fled the hashtags TikTok. You actually want to be very nuanced with your hashtag strategy, uh, because TikTok, TikTok algorithm uses the hashtags in your caption to, to guess who, which is show your content too.

Evan:

So if you use non-relevant hashtags, then, uh, your content will be shown to people who want like your video and then the algorithm will suppress your video because the people who are seeing it, aren't liking it. So you want to be really selective with hashtags. Um, but I think in general, you know, the thing with TikTok is you just gotta make great content. It's gotta be really good storytelling. It's gotta feel very talk. And those are the most important things, uh, to help expand your reach. You know, it's, we don't play a lot of like the algorithm game. Um, the algorithm really is good. You know, like if it's good content, if people like it, that's, what's going to get at reach. So that that's really what to focus your energy.

Peter:

There's I can feel some anxiety in the Q and a tab about adding another social channel that I need to understand and manage and be successful on. Like, what are the advantages, if any, of doing an instructional style video on TikTok versus YouTube? Uh, somebody asked about can't I just use Instagram real central. A lot of my demographic is already on that channel. You know, how do you think about whether or not, or, or how to prioritize these channels? I mean, I know you have a, a really strong, I mean, I know you work with other channels, but you have a very strong view, obviously as a TikTok is an opportunity. How would you advise somebody as a desktop?

Evan:

I mean, look as an agency, movers and shakers works across all social media, so I don't have a horse in the race with talk, you know, um, we have a lot of success with tech talk with our clients. We have a lot of success on Instagram and YouTube with our clients, you know? So, um, it's, uh, I agree with the questions like you want to be thoughtful and methodical about where you invest your time and energy, which is limited, you know, the biggest brands, you know, we have a lot of the fortune 500 reaching out to us now for help. Like, yeah, like they need to be on TikTok. You just need to be on all the platforms. You know, if you're big and have a big budget, conversely, on the opposite end of the spectrum. And you know, I had a call earlier today with a startup D to C brand and, you know, it might, it might make sense to focus on one platform and not spread themselves too thin.

Evan:

Right. So I think you have to evaluate where you are in that spectrum and the guiding principle, in my opinion, should be, where is your consumer? Where are they spending their time? And what we're seeing is there's a big migration in certain demographics to Tech-Talk, uh, you know, 49% of TikTokers actually aren't even on Instagram. So the question for you is where is your customer? Where are they spending the most time? And then you follow them. You know, the reason that we launched on Triller is not just because we love to do every hot new thing, but one of our clients, you know, we're seeing their, their consumer spending time there. And so it's relevant to reach them there, but that's an assessment, you know, I think each brand has to think about with their audience.

Peter:

Just, um, uh, getting back to the El video for just a second. Did, did you guys with elf create that audio track? Was that a custom record for this campaign? Yeah. Yeah. So we create

Evan:

A ton of original branded music. We've been doing that since before TikTok existed. I think that's one of the reasons movers and shakers has been so successful as an agency with TikTok is because we have really been developing the art of branded musical storytelling since before TikTok existed. So now we've created a ton of music for TikTok, specifically with our clients. Um, but, uh, but yeah, music is a great way in general for brands to connect to culture. And especially that is true on TikTok.

Peter:

So there, there are still so many questions. Uh, so I'm going to suggest two things. One you must have at, on your website, a ton of, um,

Evan:

If have a ton of resources, let me, so it's actually 0.4 on this slide. So movers, shakers.com is our website. We, if you go to our blog, you know, we write about tech, talk a lot, a lot of good tips there. We actually have two full e-books about Tech-Talk, um, which we can send out as a up even, um, Peter, we can figure out how to do that. Um, and, um, we, we run a lot of webinars. We have one-on-one webinar two Oh one webinar. We do a lot of partner events like this, and those are all listed on our website as well. So definitely a lot more resources there and feel free to invite your colleagues. You know, I'm sure a lot of people come because this is referred to you by a colleague. So if you have people in your office, whether your marketing team or your CEO who like needs to get that TikTok, one-on-one education, feel free to send them to our website.

Peter:

Um, I will ask one last question cause I, I want to honor the B2B folks that are on our, on our webinar and asking, um, is the B2B sector, um, particularly if you know that your, your B2B product is highly used by consumers is, can be, to be where have you seen and have you seen B2B use cases working on TikTok?

Evan:

B2B is definitely slower to develop. Um, and you know, if you're a true B2B brand, then I would say like, don't waste your time here for sure. Right now, you know, it's just not worth it. If you're a B2B to C brand, you know, like I would love to make zooms, TikTok channel, for example, you know, like they're obviously a B2B brand, but it's B2B to C really. And they haven't called us yet, but like, I just, you know, as we're here on the slab and I was thinking that would be so fun. So I, you know, in that spectrum is somewhere, but definitely for a lot of proper B2B brands, you know, if I'm Salesforce or something like, you know, don't bother, like it's just not worth your time right now.

Peter:

Uh, any, any last minute tips about what might be coming, uh, you know, uh, there was a question on, you know, how can brands get their content up on TikTok can it be done on desktop? Is it in, um, you know, isn't that up? Yeah. So it can be done on desktop or, or can

Evan:

It only be on mobile? Yeah.

Peter:

Okay. And then the other question right now, a TikTok does not have an API for brands to be able to get in the way they might get their content up on Facebook or Instagram or, you know, uh, or any, or the, some of the other platforms that have, have, um, API APIs. Is that correct?

Evan:

That's right. Yes. TikTok is very non API developed at this moment. And in any sentence that goes for reporting and analytics as well.

Peter:

Uh, just putting my Salsify hat on for a second, I can say that we have been trying to connect up with them to see what the opportunities are in the future to doing that. And right now they are. So hyper-focused rightfully on the user experience that that's probably down the line, but I think you had mentioned to me when we spoke in, in preparing for this, that, you know, they, they move fast. So it, it could happen. It could happen. Um, but it's not on their roadmap that we're been hearing, right?

Evan:

Yeah, they do. Yeah. I mean, they're, like I said, we've been working closely with TikTok for about two years now and we've seen them grow from like, I think 30 or 40 people in the U S now to, you know, hundreds and thousands. I've lost track. I mean, they have like hundreds of salespeople in the us now. Um, and they're, they're great. They're smart. I mean, they're, this success is not just because the app is great, but it's because their team is fantastic and they keep adding new features. They're very customer centric in terms of their B2B clients and constantly adding new ad products, third party integrations, measurement tools, et cetera, to help support marketers. So, I mean, we pay their bills, so, and they're, they're great at being responsive to us.

Peter:

Thanks again to Evan for joining us. As I mentioned, the link to the full visual plus audio experience will be in our show notes, or it can be found on the DSI website@digitalshelfinstitute.org. Thanks for being part of our community.