By now, you’ve likely seen the craze around the latest social media platform, focused on short form videos, often involving dancing or funny actions set to music. Founded in 2016, TikTok began to reach its height in popularity in the United States around June 2020, when many young people found themselves inside homes searching for the latest in entertainment due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, with over 2 billion downloads worldwide (compared to the 1.8 users on Instagram and nearly 3 billion users on Facebook), it’s a social media platform worth looking into for every organization. While much of social media has been branded as targeted for and by young people, many platforms have begun to expand beyond that demographic, often drawing in adults with quick images, graphics, and - now more than ever - videos.
But why should your nonprofit join TikTok? Will it be worth it in the long run? The short answer is yes – and here is why. Unlike Instagram and Twitter, which requires specific algorithmic focus and dedication to expand your audience, or Facebook, where accounts can only be shared by people already following your page or actively seeking you out, TikTok videos have the ability to gain a wider audience – or even go viral — without too much strategic initiative. If you’re looking to increase your audience, raise awareness, or even just have a great excuse to create fun, low-risk content, TikTok is the best place to get started. Better yet – there are even options to actually fundraising on TikTok!
To start out, spend dedicated time looking through the different videos on TikTok. Watch to see what patterns arise, how music is used, and what people seem to be commenting or liking the most often. There are several “trends” that happen on TikTok, where a certain dance, music or audio clip is essentially repeated by people, sometimes putting their own spin on it and making it most relevant to their population. For example, voiceovers, in which a specific audio clip is placed over a video, is incredibly common and easy to create (and end up with funny content); see this example from Catskills Animal Sanctuary. Other organizations have used music and text, such as on Giving Tuesday, which helps to share information while also making it fun to watch.
On most social media platforms, copying is seen as plagiarism and heavily reported upon, but the opposite is true for TikTok, where many of the most popular videos are actually copies of others that have started and become viral. Sometimes it’s hard to determine exactly where the trend began, and that is due to the true variability of TikTok videos, which don’t always focus on the original but rather creativity and each user’s ability to take something created by others and expand or put a new twist on it.
While TikTok are relatively easy to make, buying some minor equipment can be helpful. A dedicated cellphone that can be used to make the videos and even shared with different members of the time to take videos can often be helpful. Different types of lighting options, including a ring light, can also aid in providing your videos a relatively professional quality without much effort. As for video editing, the TikTok app itself has a quality video editor that is easy to use and allows even those without prior video editing skills to create fun short videos with relative ease.
TikTok videos are meant to be fun, short, and often light-hearted, so consider what stories or information you want to highlight about your organization – and also which ones might drive donations. As you start to build and create videos, think about how these videos can fit into your current social media strategy and ongoing communications campaigns. Can they aid in adding more content that can then be shared across multiple platforms? Consider how TikTok can be an asset but not a burden, such as how Movember used their TikTok to create short videos advertising their upcoming campaigns, using similar imagery and messaging used across all their marketing materials.
After you’ve started building up a following on TikTok for your organization (no matter how small!), start looking into the fundraising features available. These include Donation Stickers that users can add to their posts or live streams to collect donations (see an example here), as well as displaying a Fundraiser which allows users to link an organization in their profile underneath their bio. In order to be eligible for a Donation Sticker, TikTok requires organizations to create a profile on Tiltify, as well as make sure their profile is complete on Benevity Causes. This will ensure that the donation will go to the right place when a sticker is chosen, as well as make sure any donations are coming to the right place!
However you chose to get started with TikTok for your organization, it is definitely a worthwhile investment to start laying the groundwork for a profile on the platform, because it is unlikely to go away anytime soon. Just as our social media teams manage profiles for Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, TikTok is the latest in the list to help expand your organization’s audience and ensure you’re able to grow just as quickly as any other. If you still need more inspiration, check out these links to different TikTok ideas here.