As a wedding photographer, I only shoot 25 weddings per year. When I share a video on social media, I just need that one person to see if that will end up being a client. In fact, one of the TikTok videos I posted got me leads before it had even hit a thousand views. It's not about having a million followers or going viral—it's just getting in front of one person that will potentially hire you and take it forward from there. The power is enormous.
With news of multiple companies looking to buy TikTok for U.S. use, it seems this social media platform isn’t going anywhere. I know, I know—yet another social media platform that all of the teenie-boppers are obsessing over. It’s borderline infuriating when we have to spend more time producing and posting content for an extra channel. I get it. I really do. Why should you even bother getting on TikTok as a professional?
The purpose of social media is to go wherever your audience is. Wherever your client demographic is, you need to be there, too. If you’re not relevant to your clients, they won’t connect with you as much as the photographer who is. That equals lost money and none of us want that.
First thing you want to think about is who is your target audience? If your target audience is people in Gen Z, then yes, 100% don't even think about it. They’re the ones that started and thrived on TikTok. But what about everyone else? Well thanks to quarantine, almost every demographic is on TikTok and hashtags like #over40 and #momsoftiktok are trending like crazy.
Thanks to the coronavirus, there’s been a TikTok explosion. The majority of people have a lot of extra time on their hands, and a lot of people over the age of 25—yours truly included—have decided to fill that time with the newer social media platform. Millennials and Gen Z are very prevalent on the platform, but almost everyone else is there too.
Maybe four months ago, I would have said you could start dabbling on TikTok if you had a bit of free time on your hands, but it's not necessary because most buying-age demographics just weren’t there yet. Now, it’s another story completely.
Even if TikTok hadn’t broken generational lines, it’d still be something to consider. Just because your clients aren't on there yet, doesn’t mean they won’t be soon. All you have to do is wait a few years, and then all of those Gen Zers and high school seniors will grow up into your target demographic. And then you’ve been right there with them all along.
Being on TikTok early and establishing a presence and following for your brand will only benefit you. Even if all you did was claim your username and began to understand the platform a little bit, it’ll still help you understand your clients better. That’ll not only help us book more clients, but help us relate to them during the shoot, get the best expressions from them, and deliver a stellar customer experience.
Fast forward to where we are now. Is it too late to join in? Absolutely not. TikTok is still relatively new, and in a very short period of time you’ll get thousands and thousands of views. The reach potential is huge and unlike any other social platform. Do you need a zillion followers for that reach potential? Absolutely not. Do you need to have some kind of presence, figure out something to do, and make it relevant to the people you're trying to attract? Ding, ding, ding—yes! In fact, you probably already know a bit about grabbing that reach just by applying what you know about Instagram hashtags to your caption in TikTok.
Now, how can you get started? One option, the easy but expensive option, is to hire someone to do the work for you. We all know with this fun new platform may be amazing, but sometimes we just don't have time for new things in our marketing endeavors. Sometimes we just don't have the patience for it, but you can hire someone.
If you can’t hire someone, then the first thing I suggest doing is repurposing some of your content. That’s what I did when I first started dabbling in TikTok. While it didn’t garner me the most views, it did help me slowly learn the platform without spending time creating exclusive content for it.
The second item of business is to go look at some other business owners’ accounts. What are they doing? Of course you're welcome to look at my TikTok account (@VanessaJoyPhoto). I have a couple thousand views on most of my videos, with a few reaching upwards of 500,000 views, and I’m getting the hang of things as I do.
Getting inspiration from what other people are doing and seeing how things are working should be part of your research and development process. Take a few moments and look at your peers. See if they’re already on the platform and what they’re finding success doing.
You don’t need any extra photo or video gear to get started, but I do find my Benro phone tripod very helpful. You don’t have to do your content creating in TikTok either. I’ve created videos using Animoto and then just embellished them in TikTok. The best part is that creating content is easy and you don’t need any other skills besides what you already possess. The platform is more about genuine, fun content than exaggerated displays of perfection. It can be as easy as taking some behind-the-scenes footage, showing that first, then adding the final photo at the end. Pretty similar to things that you’re likely already doing on Facebook and Instagram.
Go ahead and give it a try. Start your R&D on the platform and just start scrolling around. If nothing else you’ll find a ton of hysterical content and people that you can relate to on a personal level. And at best you’ll find a new place to connect with new clients and grow your business.