Back in March, we looked at how brands were creating (and contributing to) TikTok communities.
The influence these TikTok communities can have on sales and mentions across platforms is crazy.
Take skin care product, The Ordinary AHA BHA Peeling Solution, which has gone viral on TikTok yearly since 2020 – with that year’s spike resulting in an 85,000 person waiting list.
The fact that #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt currently has 16.8 billion views on the platform and is used across social media speaks for itself.
TikTok’s published stats show its users think TikTok is 1.48x more likely than other platforms to help them explore new communities and content. People know that if they want to feel like part of a community, TikTok is the place to be.
Community generated entertainment
TikTok has started to define its focus as community-generated entertainment (CGE) – mobile-first video entertainment “built by and for the community”. It looks at what content individual users enjoy engaging with and builds their recommendations around this, rather than around what their friends and followers may like. This gives TikTok a powerful way to build communities of interest. This is also how most of us are using the platform: for bite-size entertainment, tailored to our specific interests right now, in our time.
While 76% of TikTok users welcome brand involvement in their communities, brands need to talk to the community in a natural way that reflects the language of the community. It’s not just about knowing what hashtags to use but also understanding the meaning behind them and how they’re perceived by that community.
Four essentials to effective TikTok community posts
Find the right community for your brand
Brands should not overcomplicate it. Most of them usually have fan communities ready and waiting to be entertained by them and this is where they should focus:
If there’s no massive fandom waiting out there for your brand, you could get involved in a partnership or look for related communities to get involved with. For example, Le Creuset tends to focus on #CookingTok, but it also shares posts with #CleanTok when it needs to wash the pots.
You could also try building a community around your brand as it grows, like Little Moons did.
The important thing is to find the right community for your brand. If the fit doesn’t feel natural, people are more likely to see your brand as intruding on their fun or trying to sell them something they’re not in the community to get.
Give people what they want
It can be as simple as that. Memes and funny videos are two of the most popular content styles on TikTok. People want something that can give them a quick burst of entertainment.
In the case of communities, people want videos that enhance their experience of the community and their area of interest. If it feels like you’re forcing your brand or products to fit into the community, it’s probably a sign that that community isn’t quite right for your brand. Brands should build credibility and authority elsewhere, and then leverage it on TikTok.
Talk to people in the replies
For many TikTok users, community isn’t just about consuming content but chatting with others in the replies to posts – sharing their experiences of their shared interest. For example, #BookTok community members may share their views on a book mentioned in the video.
Brands will find it much easier to form bonds with the community if they take the time to chat.
The Victoria & Albert Museum does this well. You might think a museum account would be a bit stuffy, but the museum’s TikTok is friendly, funny and approachable. It’s important to humanize the brand if you want to get the full benefit of being part of a community, and having a good level of responsiveness and an open, casual tone can really help.
Be proactive – comment on other posts and share fan content
Finding and commenting on other posts made by members of the community is a great way to show that the brand wants to be part of the community rather than above it. It also shows that the brand is listening and aware of what’s happening and that it’s interested in the topic – rather than just seeing it as a way to market the brand.
Comments and share are where brands can stretch their communities outside of the obvious. Brands can find and comment on posts from communities that would usually be outside of their area of interest. For example, a brand account might comment on a clip from a popular show. As long as this is done genuinely (i.e. the brand sounds enthusiastic and knows what it’s talking about), it can be a great way to show a wider audience the human side of the brand.
Sometimes it can be hard for brands to strike the right balance when engaging fans on social media. If the post feels too out of place, it can feel like the brand’s intruding.
There are TikTok communities for everyone, even brands.
This means that brands don’t have to try too hard to find communities that are natural fits. It’s easy, and they should stick to them. Simple fits tend to be where brands are doing a fantastic job of community engagement on TikTok, and this makes the app’s users much more open to engaging with them.