This article is adapted from Lauren Pope’s outstanding interview on the Product Marketing Life podcast. Check it out here. Since this episode aired, Lauren has moved on from G2 and is now embracing the freelance life. Congratulations, Lauren!
Hey, I’m Lauren Pope and I'm a Content Marketing Team Lead at G2.
I've been doing content and social media marketing for about five years and I love the creative opportunities it provides. I’m excited to share how I've channelled that creativity through TikTok to build my brand.
In this article, I'll discuss:
- My TikTok journey
- How to grow your TikTok following
- How product marketers can use TikTok
- Whether product marketers should own TikTok
- B2B vs B2C product marketing on TikTok
- Companies crushing it on TikTok
- How to measure your TikTok success
- How to get brand recognition through TikTok influencers
- Your TikTok challenge
My TikTok journey
I grew up with social media; I remember when Facebook opened up to the general public. I remember Twitter’s launch. Between those experiences and my background in social media, when I started getting TikTok videos from my very cool teenage sister, I knew this platform was going to be huge. I could just tell. It felt a lot like Vine, which my fellow millennials may remember.
And so in October 2019, I decided to download TikTok to figure out what it was all about and how it worked. Social media is so integral to content, so I wanted to be knowledgeable about this new platform. Plus, I needed to know how it worked before I could start talking about it on LinkedIn or Twitter.
I figured the best way to learn about TikTok was to get in there and make some videos. My first video was just an afternoon with my friends out in Chicago and it got 400 likes in a couple hours. That’s when I decided to just keep making videos and see what happens, and since October 2019, I’ve posted at least one video each day.
Some videos take longer than others. Sometimes I'll be out on a walk and see a really beautiful tree or some flowers, then it just takes about a minute and a half to just shoot a couple of clips and throw them together for my personal TikTok.
I've shared some baking videos, and they take a little longer – I've got to go to the grocery store to get my ingredients, and I have to make sure my counter is clean so I don't have people in the comments like “Your counter’s dirty!”
I like to batch my content. I write down my video ideas in the Notes app on my phone, and then I set a couple of hours aside every week to shoot all those videos and save them to my drafts. That way, when I'm at work I don't have to figure out what video I’m doing that day – I already have 10 lined up to choose from.
How to grow your TikTok following
If you want to grow your following on any social media platform – whether on your personal account or the company account – the most important thing is consistency. That’s why I post every day. This is especially important if you’re just starting your social media journey.
With TikTok in particular, you can’t be afraid to look silly or to experiment. Just make sure you keep tabs on the kinds of content people respond to. That’s going to allow you to find your niche.
I've been really surprised by what types of videos perform well. My most liked video, with over 100,000 likes, is of a candle I bought. I just took a video of the candle, posted it, and went to bed. The next morning I woke up to about 5000 new followers. Meanwhile, I've spent hours getting everything together to film some videos and only gotten just a couple of hundred likes.
I think the biggest mistake anyone can make is getting on there with a plan that you refuse to change. That can easily happen – we marketers love to plan; we spend months putting together strategies, but the biggest mistake you can make is not being flexible, and not tapping into the community that's already there.
You can’t make content in a vacuum. I found a lot of my early success by following accounts that were making the content I wanted to make and had the audience that I wanted to have, then befriending them and commenting on their videos. They both inspired me and answered the questions I had. You’d be surprised how inviting and helpful the community is.
How product marketers can use TikTok
Marketers often have this misconception that TikTok is just a bunch of teenagers dancing. They think there’s no way their target audience is going to be on there.
The truth is there are so many niches and subcultures on TikTok. Everyone's on there. I've seen CMOs talking business; I've seen Illinois politicians TikTok talking policy. TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social apps, so it's silly to assume that your audience isn’t using it.
Product marketers just need to get creative about finding the people they want to reach. Think about what problems your target customer has and how your product can solve them, and then make videos about that. It's an easy way to make helpful short-form content, and it's off the wall enough to grab potential customers’ attention.
You can make videos to engage your current customers too, in the same way you would on YouTube. Make a 60-second video about five surprising ways people can use your product and then send that to a customer. That’s a quick, digestible piece of content that they can view. More importantly, it's fun, it's different, and it catches people's attention.
It would also be cool to get a product marketing team on TikTok to do a series covering how the product is made and the whole launch process. We often misjudge what videos people would watch, but I would love to watch a product marketing team build their product from the ground up.
As we've seen, product marketing is having a moment right now; it's trending to be the next big thing. That means people are going to have to get scrappy to stand out. Everyone’s making ebooks and running webinars – what else can you bring to the table?
As product marketing continues to stand in the spotlight, product marketers are going to have to find creative, wacky ways to break through the noise. That’s what makes TikTok so powerful.
Should product marketers own TikTok?
In my utopia, all the marketing teams within a company would work in perfect harmony. Unfortunately, we're all very busy so that doesn’t always happen.
With that in mind, I think the smartest approach is to have a social media manager look after the company's TikTok account. Product marketers would then be responsible for coming up with video ideas, driving the strategy around launches, and looking at what’s working.
The aim should be to build an organic partnership with the social media manager. Ask them about current trends and explore ways to harness them in your videos. In the same way, I wouldn't create content in a vacuum for my personal TikTok, I don't think product marketers or social media managers should be creating content in a vacuum for their businesses.
B2B vs B2C product marketing on TikTok
I can't lie – some industries are more likely than others to do well on TikTok. If you have a tangible product that can be purchased by the masses, your job is going to be much easier.
Take Fenty Beauty – they’re blowing up on TikTok because they have visible products they can get influencers to show. In short, TikTok is easier for B2C marketers to harness.
For B2B, TikTok is better used for thought leadership and company culture plays. Look at G2 – it’s a software review site. I couldn't start a G2 TikTok telling people to buy our products because it takes more than a 60-second video to explain what buyer intent is and how G2 can fuel your content engine.
That doesn't mean it's impossible to use TikTok for B2B – you just have to get creative. You’re already creative with your content and outreach, so apply that same creative energy to your company TikTok. It’s not so different from what you’re doing on any other social platform; it just has an added video element.
Companies crushing it on TikTok
If you’re in eCommerce, you have to see Fenty Beauty’s TikTok, and if you’re in B2B, you have to check out Dave Jorgenson from the Washington Post’s TikTok. They’re both doing an amazing job. Their content shows the depth of what you can achieve with a company account.
People tend to think very rigidly when it comes to company social media. They think it has to be branded with the right colors and so on.
For example, Dave Jorgenson totally blew that way of thinking out of the water. He's making off-the-wall video content that just happens to be coming from the Washington Post's account. He's not going on there and telling breaking news stories; he's making content about company culture and what it's like to be a millennial working in an office.
How to measure your TikTok success
I measure the success of my personal account in terms of video views, follower count, and likes. Again, it's a personal account, so I'm using it just to build an audience.
For businesses, success means getting your videos in front of the right people. You don't have to pay for ads to be successful on TikTok. That makes it a low-risk, high-reward situation, which product marketers love.
Not everything we do is revenue driven. The return on your investment of time in TikTok is brand recognition, and you can't underestimate the value of good free PR.
How to get brand recognition through TikTok influencers
I haven't been a TikTok influencer for very long, but already a couple of companies have slid into my DMs to tell me about a product that they think my followers would like to see. The incentive on my side is free products, and I've used and reviewed all of them.
What companies should do very early on is follow the people they think they’ll want to send their product to eventually. Don't wait until you've built an audience to start looking for influencers.
Make those connections early on, engage with their content, and be a familiar face to them. That way, when you slide into their DMs after you’ve built some traction on your account, they already know who you are, they know what your product is, and they're more likely to accept.
And, of course, the golden rule whenever you’re working with influencers is to choose people whose content is relevant to what you’re doing. I had someone approach me about promoting a pre-workout protein powder. I was like, “I haven't done a single push-up on my TikTok, so I'm not going to do that, but thank you.”
Your TikTok challenge
If you've been waiting to get on TikTok, now's the time to do it. TikTok is happening whether you like it or not. If you’re not on TikTok and your competitors are, that's a huge area you're missing out on.
I challenge everyone reading this to try TikTok for at least a week and see what happens. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the organic reach and engagement you get.