The influence of TikTok is undeniable—it’s the most downloaded app in the world, fuels the creator economy and cultivates thriving communities. In spite of that, many brands are still hesitant to join.

We decided it was time for Sprout to take the leap to TikTok, testing and learning as we go.

A social media company’s social team testing a new social channel is incredibly meta. But it’s also an opportunity. By experimenting with a TikTok marketing strategy we’re poised to be an early leader and a source of data, inspiration and thought leadership within our industry.

In just a few months on the platform, we’ve learned a ton and we’re eager to share. Dive into Sprout’s testing approach, results and top takeaways for other marketers hoping to launch their brand’s TikTok channel.

What we tested

When Instagram launched Reels, we were quick to adopt the new video format. As Reels became a fixture in our Instagram strategy, we decided reposting some of those videos was a low-lift way to test how TikTok can support our awareness efforts and determine which storytelling formats work best.

We had some early hunches about TikTok that influenced our approach:

  • On Instagram there’s an expectation that things should look more polished and high-quality (hence why Reels with vivid graphics and animation perform well). However, part of TikToks’ appeal are their lo-fi, raw feel and frequent focus on creators.
  • The format and video orientation of Reels easily translates to TikTok, but we made a few adjustments to optimize our videos for the latter. For each video, we used TikTok’s native features to add closed captions and music or sounds.
  • Hashtags are hugely influential on how TikTok users discover and engage with videos. Before posting, we spent time researching which hashtags we wanted to use and how they would affect where we showed up on the platform.

In July 2021, we made it official and launched our first TikTok, a video that touches on accessibility features for publishing social content.

How we analyzed TikTok performance

Our primary goal for TikTok is increasing our awareness among key target audiences—social media managers, specialists and other digital marketers. Since we are still testing, we didn’t set hard goals. Instead, we track key performance indicators (KPIs) like video views, profile views and audience growth.

From a qualitative perspective, we sought to understand which subjects and storytelling styles our audiences are most drawn to. With that in mind, we’ve tested a variety of TikToks that run the gamut from trendspotting and hot takes to social media marketing tips and commentary from thought leaders.

On a weekly basis, we update our internal social dashboard with data from TikTok’s native analytics and connect as a team to discuss. 

Results: What the data revealed (so far)

After four months and nine TikToks published, we found that views for each TikTok remained fairly consistent, with an average hovering around 535 views per video. Sprout’s least viewed TikTok, however, skews that data slightly.

We might want every video to go viral, but low performance can be equally telling. In this instance, it revealed clear variables that we adjusted moving forward. Compared to the rest of our content, this TikTok lacks music, has only an original sound voiceover and a stitched video that doesn’t fill the screen.

Our average view count was somewhat surprising at first given that our audience grew 38% from August to October, which speaks to the influence of TikTok’s “For You” page (FYP). TikTok analytics break down where people actually watched your video, and we found the FYP is the top driver for our views.

@sproutsocial

It’s no secret that social teams are on the path to extreme burnout. @J A Y D E shares why it’s time for leaders to take action. #foryou #socialmediamarketing #socialmediamanager #socialmediatips #socialmedia #foryoupage

♬ Cloudy Sky – Tundra Beats

In the example above in which Jayde Powell gets real about burnout, 91% of views came from the FYP, 5% came from a personal profile view, and just 1% came from our direct followers. The FYP and TikTok algorithm consistently serve up our content to brand new people with an interest in social media marketing, fulfilling our goal of expanding awareness and reach. 

Refining our TikTok marketing strategy

By testing variables like themes, formats and other creative considerations, we have the data necessary to become better TikTok storytellers and creators.

We’ve already implemented changes based on early data and seen positive shifts in results. In October alone, our TikTok impressions exceeded our Q2 monthly average by 121% and monthly engagements hit an all-time high.

Now that we have foundational data, a better understanding of the TikTok user experience and an initial grasp on our audience’s creative preferences, we’ll begin developing net-new content made specifically for TikTok. We’ve also come away with ideas for how we might approach higher-lift video projects down the road. 

Final five TikTok takeaways

  1. Regardless of your brand’s industry, there is likely a community for it on TikTok. Find your niche by deep-diving into trending hashtags and exploring relevant brand and industry keywords.
  2. Look to competitors and peers for inspiration. As a B2B SaaS company, it wasn’t immediately clear to us how we’d make TikTok work for Sprout, but seeing brands like Adobe and Shopify kill it on the network gave us confidence and inspiration to fuel our strategy.
  3. Just because one video does well and brings in new followers, doesn’t mean your next video will strike a nerve—and that’s okay! Take note of the variables that differentiate high-performers and flops, and use your findings to inspire your next TikTok.
  4. Take advantage of TikTok’s native features. Music and sounds from the TikTok library increase the likelihood of your video being shown in a FYP. Additionally, keep inclusivity in mind. TikTok’s accessibility features and captioning options are easy to implement and incredibly accurate.
  5. Don’t just wait for people to discover your TikTok channel, spread the news and cross-promote on your other social channels. TikTok videos are easy to export and can add new flair to your omnichannel content strategy.

Testing and learning never stops

TikTok is still evolving at lightning speed, ushering in a new era of marketing, creative and commerce solutions. If your brand is still hesitant to join, start by dipping a toe in and test the waters before taking the full plunge.

Follow Sprout Social on TikTok to keep up with our evolving strategy. Need help fine tuning your social strategy for 2022? This comprehensive guide has you covered—take a look.