The Publisher’s Guide to TikTok

What's New in Publishing 31 Jan 2020 07:58

While TikTok was first launched internationally in 2017, for many news publishers this is still an unexplored platform. Of the handful of traditional print publishers on TikTok, most are still in an experimental phase, trying to understand what content works best. We have dug into this question and prepared a guide for publishers interested in experimenting with TikTok.

Opportunity to reach a younger audience

TikTok has been downloaded more than 1.5 billion times on the Apple App Store and Google Play. This number will continue to grow as Q4 2019 saw a 24% increase in the number of installs compared to the previous quarter. It also overtook Facebook to become the second most downloaded app worldwide. Users on TikTok are also heavily engaged with the app.

On average, a user opens the app about nine times a day and spends more than 45 minutes on the platform.

Eric Jacks, Chief Strategy Officer, Collab

Overall, TikTok has more than 500 million active monthly users, of which surprisingly only 66% are under the age of 30. For an industry vying for the attention of the next news generation, it is clear we cannot overlook the potential TikTok brings. We know that news brand preferences are often formed early on, so it reasons that publishers would benefit from building relationships with young readers.

However, publishers do run the risk of trivialising the news with their TikTok strategies. Nicole Dahmen, an associate journalism ethics professor at the University of Oregon, cautions other publishers from copying The Washington Post’s strategy. For example, while this TikTok about hiring a dog to work at The Washington Post is clearly a joke, it raises the question of if publishers should be joking about how they work in the age of fake news.

When The Dallas Morning News launched their TikTik account, they posted a Full House-style intro of their whole audience team. In Switzerland, 20 Minuten has achieved this personal feeling by posting relatable moments from around the office such as a recent video about the excitement of leaving work on a Friday.

To stand out on TikTok, publishers will also need to find new ways to tell the same story. MSNBC shared the news that President Trump was changing his permanent residence from New York to Florida through a mash-up of his own speech. TikTok users are much more likely to re-share this post than a static text post. NBC News recently learned that lesson when they tried reappropriating a text article into a TikTok. Even though the content itself was perfectly aimed at Gen Z, sharing that the meme “Ok Boomer” had been used in the Supreme Court, the post received massively fewer engagements than their other posts. While their other recent posts have received anywhere from 2k to more than 300k likes, this post had less than 900.

5. Mix in lighter news and offbeat stories

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