Over the last 10 years, social media has become a crucial ingredient in the marketing and communications mix. Races across the world have hopped on board – creating amazing communities and producing compelling content that drives registrations. While you might have mastered the classic platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, there’s a new social media network on the block that you have likely heard about: TikTok. This video-centric platform might have at first seemed like a flash in the pan, but, with 1 billion monthly active users and 200 million downloads in the U.S., it’s clear that TikTok is here to stay.
It might feel daunting to add another social media network to your ever-growing list of things to do as an event director, so we’ve assembled some tips to help you get started with help from ultrarunning influencer Andrew Glaze, J&A Racing Digital Marketing Manager Jessie Walker, and the London Marathon’s Social Media Manager Jon Sutcliffe.
Tip No. 1: Remember The Three E’s of Content
No matter where you’re producing content online, keep in mind that all top-notch content does one of three things: educate, engage, or entertain. Have an idea of which you’re trying to achieve whenever you create a new TikTok video. Educational content can be how-to’s, history of your event, or training tips and tricks. Engaging content seeks to gain feedback from your online community – it asks questions that viewers can answer in the comments or asks them to hit the like and share buttons. Entertaining content is simply meant to make someone smile with an inspirational story, funny joke, or beautiful visuals that will keep all eyes on you!
Tip No. 2: Keep On Top of Trends
Sutcliffe says that one of the most challenging, but most important elements of success on the platform is understanding what users are currently engaging with and making viral. “To do that successfully, you have to spend a lot of time browsing videos, looking at what is performing well, and thinking of how you can adapt your content to that particular trend,” Sutcliffe told us.
Tip No. 3: Use The App To Edit And Prioritize Quality Video
All three of our experts agree that it’s wise to edit your video right in the app. Sutcliffe said, “Content which looks native to the platform works better than heavily edited/produced videos which you would see elsewhere.”
Before editing, Walker recommends you film videos with your regular phone camera or with another digital camera outside the app. She said, “This preserves the video if there were to be a bug in the app or if it were to update and delete the drafts we have saved.”
“The latest TikTok update clearly says that the app prioritizes high-quality videos. You’ve got to have good lighting, a phone or camera that shoots great video,” Glaze shared. He also uses drones and the ‘disappearing selfie stick’ Insta 360 camera to capture his content.
Tip No. 4: Reap the Benefits of Organic Growth
You may have found that organic growth is very hard to achieve these days on Instagram or Facebook, where ads have become increasingly vital to gaining followers and engagements. Glaze confirmed that TikTok is a platform where organic growth is still possible.
“I have almost 100,000 followers and I’ve only been on TikTok for three months,” Glaze shares. “If you provide good content, you have the ability to reach so many more people.”
Tip No. 5: Not Quite Ready for TikTok? Try Instagram Reels
While J&A Racing has a TikTok account that they’ll be launching soon, they first decided to try out Instagram Reels – which offers a very similar experience to TikTok. “It was a platform we were already using and felt comfortable with,” Walker said. The team was apprehensive at first, she told us.
“Our initial concern with Reels was if the time and energy put into reels would return the desired results (i.e. registrations, merchandise sales, etc.). The more we have worked with them, we have realized the value is much higher than that. Reels bring a personality to our company that others don’t necessarily see within our posts.”
Tip No. 6: Know What it Takes to Go Va-Va-Viral
We asked our experts: what were some of your first viral videos or most watched posts on TikTok and Reels. Here’s what they told us.
“[Our first viral video was] of a man dressed as Big Ben struggling to get under the Finish Gantry. Since our launch last year we’ve grown to over 25,000 followers amassing over 20 million views, so we’re really happy with how our first year went. [Our most watched video was] Mo Farah falling off a tumbleator at the 2019 running show!” said Sutcliffe.
“Our most-watched video to date is one of our office dog’s birthday celebrations. It seems people love to see what our office life is really like and all of the fun we have with our pups,” Walker said.
“The video [which got 1.2 million views] was about my running streak and the same video had gone viral on Instagram…eventually I started posting videos of my (own) races, narrated by me. That style of video went super viral. I have two videos both almost at 10 million views – both races,” Glaze shared.
Tip No. 7: When in Doubt, Try it Out!
All of our experts echoed a similar sentiment: don’t take TikTok and Reels too seriously – experiment, see what works, and enjoy the experience.
“It has been a great experience and learning opportunity for our team. We spend all day together so why not create a few videos together too!” Walker said of J&A Racing’s use of Reels so far. Sutcliffe shared, “Have fun with it, not every video is going to go viral – just keep trying to bring value!”
About The Author
Meg Treat, APR is the owner and principal of Treat Public Relations, a PR agency specializing in media relations and publicity for endurance sports events. She is also a limited-term lecturer at Purdue University’s Brian Lamb School of Communication. Treat is a five-time marathoner and an ultramarathoner.