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TikTok's Fate is Uncertain. Use These 3 Trends to Own Your Audiences

Building a marketing strategy that goes beyond social media is the goal of any brand.

September 25, 2020 5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

With TikTok’s fate uncertain, there has been a mass exodus of creators moving off the platform in hopes of salvaging their followings and continuing their internet dominance and fame. Hundreds of thousands are fleeing to American created Byte, a comparable knockoff, according to reports from The New York Post. Most of these creators’ livelihoods are on these platforms, which does beget the question — how much time and energy should one dedicate to building an audience on top of another network?

This is not a new concept. We saw this play out with Facebook and publishers, Instagram and influencers, Snapchat and brands, and again now with creators and TikTok. 

As entrepreneurs and creators, we should keep a couple of these lessons front and center to ensure we learn how to own our audiences when building on top of another network. Here are some trends to adopt: 

Trend 1: Use the network as the top of the funnel 

As with all platforms, TikTok can be a means to an end: engage followers and potential paying customers on every level of the funnel. Making your following platform-proof involves hooking people at the top of your funnel via TikTok and similar platforms and then cementing your following and relationships with individualized marketing campaigns, as well as branded merchandise, which will take your following and brand to places where TikTok is not designed to go.

Building a marketing strategy that goes beyond social media is the goal of any brand. While TikTok offered an opportunity to build brand awareness, creators can then lead their audiences off of the platform into their funnel. 

Related: As TikTok Teeters, These 3 Social Networks Are Ready to Pounce

Trend 2: Move your audience with tools like SMS and email 

With a growing number of internet users, as well as an increase in global digitization, email is not only the preferred platform for digital marketing, but it’s also expected to grow at a significant rate during the next decade. Allowing creators to plan, schedule and monitor marketing campaigns, email marketing builds customer loyalty.

Liberating creators to skip social media algorithms and to send messages directly to followers with their latest offers, SMS and email allows creators to customize their message. Finding methods to obtain followers’ telephone numbers and email addresses is the challenge to a personalized campaign. In an interview with MIT, TikTokker Ryan Beard, who has millions of followers, suggests a variety of unorthodox approaches to encourage followers to opt-in — from advertising and guest booking on relevant podcasts to trading branded games for followers’ data. 

In the same article with MIT, Hank Green, one of the earliest and best-known YouTube creators, says, “the thing that I’m always saying to creators is that you have to find ways to matter to your audience, and you have to find ways to connect with them, ideally, that isn’t controlled by these intermediaries.” Green has recently become a regular presence on TikTok. “None of the big platforms should be fully trusted to host the ties between creators and the communities that form around them online, he says. “At any point, any one of them can pull the plug."

Related: Survey: Nearly Half of America Hates TikTok

Trend 3: Monetize immediately 

Jessie Simms, model and TikTok prankster with 1.7M followers, not only works with brands but also launched her own merchandise company on top of TikTok.

“I think that my personal style doesn't really have a genre," says Simms. "It's really all over the place. I like what I like, and I don't really let what's ‘trendy’ influence what I wear or promote. If I don't like a brand or find that it is fitting for me, I won't work with them. A lot of people will have you focus on creating value before monetizing, but I’m a firm believer in monetizing right away. Being able to monetize allows you to not only add value, but capture your audience data right away, and move them from the network to your own funnel. As a businessperson, this is a no brainer for me.” Green has started businesses and written books on the back of his YouTube and Tiktok success and is a big believer in monetizing immediately as well. 

Simms' background as a professional gymnast played a role in her social media journey, and when she began her acting career, casting directors would always ask, “How many Instagram followers do you have?” So, she recognized early on the social currency, but also knew that follower counts wouldn’t pay bills, which led her to realize the importance of treating social media as a for-profit business. 

The tides are changing though and networks are becoming more aware of the value the creators provide to their networks. With Instagram expanding its recently launched "Guides" feature, organizations and experts can share tips and advice versus redirecting traffic outside of Instagram, which is a good step in the right direction for owning an audience. As TechCrunch describes, creators can leverage the "Guides" feature to increase their revenue from their affiliate networks and guide followers to sponsored posts. Additionally, as reported by Wired, TikTok recently announced their $200M fund that will be compensating creators. Even with the lack of transparency into how the fund works and how TikTok will compensate creators fairly, it's a step in the right direction and the vision is more clear than ever. It's important for creators to own their audiences.

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