Dom: We’re here to chat a little bit more today about TikTok. In the last episode, if you listened to that, we were chatting more generally about the platform – whether it’s something that luxury brands should be looking at. I think we came to the conclusion that you can’t ignore it; it’s the competition.

Louis: If you watch and listen to the previous episode, you’ll realise you definitely can’t ignore it.

Dom: That is the takeaway from the last one. So if you haven’t listened to it, you don’t need to bother now, you can’t ignore it. So today, we’re going to talk in a bit more detail about growing an account. So we’re going to do a few different podcasts talking about TikTok marketing. Today we want to talk about how easy it is to start a TikTok account, how quickly you can grow versus how quickly you can grow on Instagram and how quickly you used to be able to grow on Instagram versus now. And we’ve got some kind of cool case studies we discussed in the last episode…

Louis: In the previous podcast we talked about how we really wanted to experience TikTok; be insecure in a way and grow it ourselves, to see how quick you can grow a significant TikTok audience that you can use as an exposure page, or an influencer page. Also, to see what TikTok engagement is like and how the engagement compares with Instagram.

Again, as you’re joining now, I think what’s key to mention, is our strategy from the beginning. When we joined it was around, if I remember correctly, the key event where we started to post on TikTok and see some great engagement was around the Geneva Motor Show last year, so it must have been March or April.

Dom: Yeah so it was content that we got out of the motor show wasn’t it?

Louis: Yeah. Then we started to put up different lifestyle pages and sort of noticed the engagement from the very beginning of TikTok, to now, where obviously there is a curve a bit like Instagram. So the very beginning scenes were probably on the ‘Explore’ page or equivalent of the ‘Explore’ page and were pushed quite a lot. Obviously because of fewer people on the platform, relevance of the content and a niche audience that you’re trying to target. And so obviously, with some of the content, that’s what I noticed. But this is a separate thing we should discuss – what was probably engaging really well at the very beginning but slightly less nowadays. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t get a video going viral or that you can’t grow it significantly within three months, from 0 to 40k followers. So that’s a bit of a case study we’re going to discuss today and I think it’s an interesting one to share with you.

Dom: Yeah, that’s a good one. That’s kind of the focus today, what we’re having a chat about. We had the approach of – a bit like we had with Instagram – if we’re going to talk about it, we need to know how to grow it and how to make it work ourselves before we can take it to any clients. That was kind of our approach with our TikTok marketing experiments – let’s grow some pages, let’s see if we can make it work, let’s get some data to see the type of content that engages and what doesn’t engage. So we’ve got a few different pages now but the one we’re going to talk about today is quite a specific one because it started over a short space of time.

Louis: Yeah, and that’s something (I mean, to be fully transparent) that we started just before Christmas 2019, so just a couple of months ago. It was already, in a way, quite late onto the platform. Again, to go back quickly, we specialise in luxury and luxury lifestyle. So anything from automotive, to watches, to hotels and real estate. Our end goal from the beginning was to specialise in everything high end and luxury. So we created different pages around that sort of lifestyle. The latest one that we’ve created, which is the one in December, is actually a bit more like a travel destination…

Dom: It’s closer to that isn’t it? It’s a destination page. So that destination page is looking at how you create almost like a travel editorial type space on TikTok that’s a bit more mature. With anyone that uses the platform, there’s a lot of criticism around it, with brands looking at it saying ‘is it just lots of teenagers dancing and lip synching?’. It is a lot of that.

Louis: It is a lot of that but again, like we said, even though you have probably 70% of the platform doing a lot of dancing and lip synching and all of that, there’s still the other 30% you can’t ignore.

Dom: Yes, 30% that are aged 25 and up.

Louis: We need to discover and consume content that might be more relevant to them.

Dom: Exactly, there is that audience there, that 30% who are the millennial (and beyond) audience. It’s kind of about working the algorithm so that you create the type of content that they’re going to want to see and, in theory, TikTok will put it in front of them. Then for the younger audiences that aren’t interested, it won’t resonate with them anyway and so it won’t go viral. So it’s about finding the content for that niche, which I think was a key part of the strategy around the destination page.

Louis: It was. I think this one key thing we have learnt from the different pages we’ve grown is to basically keep producing and putting content out pretty much two to three times a day, minimum. Also to keep being relevant to your audience by thinking what they’re here for and what they’re willing to see. Also listening to the audience; through that we discovered that the audience was really keen on a particular destination and wanted to learn more about that destination, for example, to know the exact locations of where to go and where to find certain things and all of that. So it’s about listening to the comment, engaging with them and trying to tailor it to them even more so you can really speak to that audience and be receptive to it.

It’s an interesting one, because, by having done several pages from cars, to watches, to travel and more specific destinations – you can see how it’s not necessarily about the quantity, which is quite similar to Instagram strategy in a way, where it’s not about the volume of the audience and the number of followers, but the relevance and the quality of the content you produce. If you combine the results of videos on a regular basis, certain videos can have much higher engagement, even though their followings are lower.

Dom: The opportunity with democratising the platform is that, even if you’re looking from a brand perspective or an influencer perspective, there is an opportunity to grow really quickly as you could back in 2011/2012 Instagram. That opportunity is there but one of the really interesting things is consistency, because if you step out of your niche that content won’t read very well.

Louis: Again, we tested it. So through that destination page – we tested it a bit to see if you could bring in a bit of car, if you could bring in a bit of watches, and if you could bring slightly more lifestyle to it. This doesn’t engage, for example even if it’s a really cool car, a classic car or a supercar that will really engage on another channel, it actually doesn’t engage at all; people are not interested.

Dom: It’s the same on a car page – we’ve trialled this on large car pages that contain predominantly interior shots of cars, you know, nice content around cars. If you put up something about a hotel, it just won’t engage. Which is really interesting and which I don’t think would happen on Instagram as much.

Louis: No, probably not as much. I don’t know if it’s a case of the audience directly not engaging from the beginning and the algorithm not picking up on it or pushing that specific video. Or, is it that the engagement you get on a video sort of sinks and resonates with your niche, then TikTok puts you in a category and therefore anything that is outside that category won’t engage. I think it’s a bit of a mixture of both. I mean, we’re still learning.

Again, what we’re trying to say is if you’re looking to grow a TikTok account – if you’re still thinking, shall we? Shall we not? Do we start? – you need to consider a few things, like the consistency and producing the content. It doesn’t need to be like Instagram marketing, where sometimes the content has to be edited and tailored slightly more – it can be a bit more raw and authentic. But you still need to put up a lot of content and spend time on it and really stay focused on your audience and your niche and not really go out of that. So from the beginning, you need to literally sign off and say ‘I’m going to stick to that’ if you want to grow significantly.

Dom: That’s great advice. I think, if you’re a brand, and you’re specialists (such as most people in luxury) where you can pin exactly what your thing is about, then there’s an opportunity from the onset to do this on TikTok.

Louis: Yeah, and a couple of weeks ago they introduced the URL which is a massive game changer. Before, most of the feedback we had from brands and luxury brands was ‘yeah, we found it first’. So we talked about the audience and the fact it’s quite a young demographic and so people question whether it’s relevant or not. That’s one thing and we’ve already answered that. The second thing is that it’s very difficult to find relevant people to follow. For example, if you’re a luxury fashion brand, you’ve got to find the right influencer that will talk nicely about your product and feature your product; this is probably easier to find on Instagram. This is because what you’ve viewed is then suggested more in your feed, and basically based on the algorithm picking up on what you’ve been watching and liking and engaging with over the past week, to then push whatever seems to be relevant.

Dom: I think it’s sending people off, isn’t it? So before they put the URL in, which was still just in the beta version, how would they send people from TikTok to a website or somewhere else? Now that is starting, brands that really want to track that as a KPI now can, which is going to open up lots of opportunities from an SEO angle. From our perspective, in terms of running a campaign, we can say ‘Okay, we’re going to send someone from an influencer page’. We can then click off the bio to the site and start tracking that data, which is going to change a lot. It’s going to create a lot of new opportunities for us as a business; we can start actually testing it and seeing the traffic that we’re getting there.

So let’s just quickly talk a little bit about how long it takes to grow. Because that’s quite interesting, like realistically, how long is going to take you to get to 10k, then to 20k TikTik followers – it’s what people want to know about, ultimately.

Louis: I mean, here we’re being completely transparent, we have all the data in the screenshot. We literally did an exercise before Christmas where we decided to monitor and video screen everything. So you see everything that I see, for example, when we open the app every single day, how the account has grown, and how people engage with that. We’ve been completely transparent on that – to show you everything, from the day I created the account, to day one, day two, up to day seven, where we were already around 5k. So we managed to grow that account from 0 to 5k within a week by posting, on average, 3 to 5 videos a day – so, quite a lot. The more you post, especially at the beginning, the more likely one of the videos might go viral and help your growth.

Dom: And it may give you a chance to make some good content.

Louis: I’m not saying it’s a fool-proof science, because another page where we also started from scratch took longer to grow.

Dom: I think that they give you a chance in those first few posts by putting them out to a wider audience. So if that is a good bit of content, that you notice has got that viral nature to it, you’re in a good place. So if you waste that opportunity at the start, it’s quite hard to come back again.

Louis: So you should take that specific video that went viral and not do the exact same video, but try to do something very similar, you know, that’s your niche.

Anyway, so if I’m correct, 0 to 5k within a week. I think the gross 5 to 10k was also another week, then it grew quite quickly from 10 to 20k. Then I would say over the last few months it has been growing from around 25 to 42k. So, again, within three months, for an already quite saturated destination page, the gain started quite late. But it was for a trending destination where a lot of people had already been posting about it and so it’s not something new, like a real niche, where you’re the first one owning that space. It’s about creating something, in terms of content, that is more relevant, depending on your angle.

Dom: I mean, if you look at those numbers and you compare it with other platforms, apart from the investment in creating the content and the strategy around it, it’s purely organic. There’s no media spend behind it. I know we’ve discussed this before, but it really is true if you’re a small, young, medium sized brand and you’re thinking, ‘Okay, are we going to do a bit of everything? Or are we going to nail one thing?’. I mean, you’ve got one thing; you should go all in on this.

Louis: I think we’ve mentioned this in previous podcasts, but I think if you were to start a platform today, you’d mainly think to have an account on just Facebook and Twitter. But if you’re like ‘Okay, I need to be more 2020’ and be on the latest platforms that millennials engage with, then you think about Instagram, which is an obvious one, and also about TikTok, which you have more of a chance with than Instagram now. However, lots of people, even people massive on TikTok keep pushing their Instagrams through TikTok, and so driving that traffic back to Instagram. They’re focusing time, money and energy to create content on TikTok, nailing their TikTok marketing and growing this platform quite quickly, to then use this platform to drive the audience back to their Instagram.

Dom: Yeah, that collateral benefit makes a lot of sense.

Louis: Again, it’s similar with a YouTube audience, they can ask ‘why would I follow you on Instagram as well as this platform?’. So why would I go on TikTok just to be redirected to another platform? You have to make it attractive for them to be redirected from TikTok to Instagram. So maybe you could show more behind the scenes on the Instagram page or vice versa. So for a photo on Instagram you could go and check out all the behind the scenes on TikTok and see how we spent like 10 hours to get that shot, right? And also what we went through in terms of the creative process and all of that. So it’s about trying to find something where the audience feels interested in moving to another platform.

Dom: Yeah and that’s an added value, it’s not just the same thing repeated – just sharing content repurposed on TikTok isn’t a great marketing strategy and as we’ve seen, doesn’t actually work. So it’s about having a unique approach to both platforms. I think it’s a cool site. We’re going to talk a lot more about TikTok, TikTok influencer marketing and TikTok marketing in general over the coming weeks and months. We’ll talk about some other pages that we’ve built. The challenges we faced, as well as other things, obviously about our specialism – luxury TikTok influencer marketing. But yeah, I hope that was helpful and if you’ve got any questions…

Louis: Yeah we’re just having conversation here. So if you have any questions, any specific topics you want us to dive into then we can try to answer them. Again, our approach is forcing us to experience it ourselves before advising clients so we can say ‘Okay, we’ve been through that, we’re doing it on a daily basis’. Same with Instagram influencer marketing. We’re doing this so we know how to approach it, and can suggest that this is the strategy we think is right for you.

Dom: Exactly. So thanks very much for listening, watching, wherever you are consuming this.

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