In 2019, DJG published a blog post about TikTok for associations called “Is TikTok Right For Your Association?” In it, we stated that the platform isn’t right for every organization. We discussed the benefits and drawbacks of using TikTok to engage with members of your association and took a stance that TikTok should be used sparingly and only in combination with other social media platforms to maximize engagement.
Many other association blogs recently picked up the discussion about whether or not associations should use TikTok. We wanted to revisit our thoughts on the platform two years later after the launch of our previous blog post to see if it is still valid in 2021 going into 2022.
I’ve heard of TikTok, and my kids use it, but what is it exactly?
TikTok has exploded in popularity over the last few years. The platform, created by Musical.ly and released in 2016, is now worth an estimated $1 billion. The app’s success relies on its ability to reach a large audience of 13-25 years old with short videos uploaded from your phone or tablet. The videos range from comedy skits, lip-syncing music videos, challenges, fashion vlogs, and more. The growth of TikTok has been so fast that it is already being considered one of the largest social networks for Americans aged 18-24. The app can reach a larger audience that is difficult to find on other social media platforms.
What has changed about TikTok since our last blog post?
Since our last blog post, the most significant change about TikTok is that it has become more popular in the United States. The app was initially designed for users in China, but its popularity quickly grew in other countries. Most American users are aged 13-17, but the platform is starting to see more users in their mid-20s. The app has seen its highest growth over the last two years, with nearly half of all American smartphone owners between 12 and 24 having downloaded it.
The problem that TikTok faces is that it doesn’t have the same level of engagement as other social media platforms. The average time spent on the app is only about 53 minutes per month, which is significantly lower than Facebook (average of 405 minutes), YouTube (average of 182 minutes), and Instagram (average of 158 minutes). The average session time on TikTok is only about 21 seconds long.
How would an association use TikTok and who is on the platform?
As an association, TikTok can be great for attracting new members and is perfect for reaching your target audience of 13-25-year-olds. The ease of use and interface are significant benefits to using TikTok for your association. The downside is that the app is used primarily as a video creation tool, meaning there isn’t much ability to engage with other users outside of commenting on their posts.
The app is also not very intuitive in understanding the types of content your members want from you. The best way for an association to use TikTok is to create fun videos with staff and volunteers, use popular TikTok challenges or trends, and showcase the work you are doing in your community. The video doesn’t have to be long, but you must create content that fits into the platform’s culture of creativity.
It is estimated that an association would have to create at least 10-20 videos a month to make an impact on TikTok. The videos must be engaging and creative to attract attention, but the results can be worth it. This requires some upfront work in training your staff on how to use the platform and create videos that fit within TikTok’s culture. There is still work involved in getting members to share your video with their friends, which could increase its virality and build brand awareness.
What are some free ideas for content to use on TikTok?
TikTok lends itself well to sharing fun, short video clips of events or behind-the-scenes footage at an event that you want to post on multiple social media platforms simultaneously. The platform also works great to highlight member stories through videos and get new perspectives on issues.
A few other ideas include :
- Showcase your association’s work in the community
- Share quick tips or how-to videos on topics related to your field of interest
- Use popular TikTok challenges in your content
- Recap events or meetings with short video clips
- Highlight new members or volunteers and what they bring to the organization
TikTok is a platform that is still very new for associations, so to find out what works best, you have to try a few things out. The best way to get started is by trying it out and experimenting with content. The only way to know if TikTok is right for your association in 2022 is by trying it and seeing what engagement you get from members, parents, or other stakeholders on the platform.
The good news is that there are many tools available on TikTok that can help with everything from creating your video content, working with subtitles and music tracks, editing the clips together into a cohesive piece, posting them on other social media platforms, and more. The app also integrates with other social media apps like Facebook to share your TikTok videos there.
Is it worth the time investment for associations?
The short answer is yes. The best way for an association to maximize engagement on TikTok in 2022 is by using multiple types of content that are fun and engaging for your target audience. The current success of TikTok is undeniable, but, like all social media platforms, it isn’t going to last forever. The content on TikTok has a shelf life that will dwindle over time as more people become accustomed to its culture and expectations, so the best way to experience this platform is to get on it while you can.
A bonus of using TikTok for your association in 2022 is that some brands and companies are still trying out the platform before they commit, which means your association will have more opportunities to partner with these organizations on creative content.
How are other nonprofits using TikTok to their advantage?
Several nonprofits and larger organizations are currently on TikTok, including The American Kennel Club, The American Red Cross, and The World Health Organization. The American Kennel Club has been on TikTok for a little over two years now, and they have managed to grow their following from around 80K followers at the beginning of 2019 to close to 200K as we close out 2021.
One organization caught our eye recently with some TikTok-based campaigns that are both creative and pure in their intent. The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) has put out several recent campaigns, including some expected song and dance routines, a recent “pass the phone” campaign, 15 facts over 15 days, and a breaking barriers campaign to help raise awareness and fundraising. The NDDS is doing a great job connecting with their audience on TikTok and other social media platforms. The organization also recently announced over 140K followers on TikTok, making it one of the largest nonprofit groups currently using the app.
Another organization that we have seen be successful on TikTok is The Cybersmile Foundation. The nonprofit organization is committed to tackling cyberbullying and online abuse and has been able to gain over 100K followers since starting its account in 2018. The Cybersmile Foundation uses TikTok to be extremely creative as they use it to share short video clips of interviews, volunteer opportunities, members’ stories, events, and more. The organization also uses TikTok to share funny memes and videos relevant to the nonprofit world.
These campaigns have a life of their own on TikTok that cannot be done on other platforms. The campaigns work well because they help keep followers engaged with your account and introduce them to information about the issues you’re trying to raise awareness for. The videos and memes also create a more relatable side of the organization that some users might not get from seeing text or photos on other social platforms.
What are some things to keep in mind when considering TikTok for my association?
One major factor that should be taken into consideration is the age group of your target audience and how their behavior may differ from older generations when it comes to social media use. The NDSS has done a great job engaging with people under 25 years old, but we can’t say if this tactic will work for all nonprofits. The bottom line is that you will want to do your research before investing in TikTok for your association and make sure it aligns with the organization’s goals, capabilities, and audience.
Secondly, start slow and find a great rhythm that works for your audience and brand messaging. The truth is you will need time to figure out what your strategy should be as well, so you don’t end up spending too much time on TikTok with little to no results. The best way to get started is by trying it out and experimenting with content.
Lastly, make sure you have the time in your schedule to manage a TikTok account and all of your other responsibilities as an association. The most important thing about using TikTok is consistency, and you will need a team of dedicated people to make it work.
So do the same rules apply two years ago in 2022?
The purpose of TikTok for associations hasn’t changed in the last two years. The goal is to attract new members and create awareness around your organization’s mission. As we mentioned before, the difference now is that the audience you are targeting is aged 13-25 years old, and they behave differently on social media than older generations do. The other main difference is the sheer size of TikTok has grown exponentially over the past two years, meaning there are more users to reach out to and more competition. TikTok is still an excellent tool for associations to use. We recommend trying it out if you think your audience would be interested in seeing what’s going on within the organization.
The biggest step for associations looking into TikTok in 2022 should be careful research before investing time and resources into an app that could yield little results if not done correctly. The NDSS has done a great job keeping their approach simple, creating fun and humorous content, and engaging closely with their audience on TikTok to help raise awareness around down syndrome but they also have produced an exorbitant amount of content in a short amount of time to keep their profile active. This can be a big challenge for small associations who may not have the staffing or resources to constantly make videos and content. The important thing to keep in mind is that you won’t see results overnight, so research, patience, and dedication are required before achieving success for your association’s presence on TikTok.