Is TikTok right for your charity?
TikTok has exploded since its launch in 2017 with the coronavirus pandemic generating a wealth of new users. The app has seen its fair share of criticism, but its popularity especially amongst the younger generation is undeniable - favoured by its users for its more organic, raw and entertaining content over the likes of Instagram. TikTok has capitalised on the algorithm, bringing a whole host of personalised content to users. If you can dedicate time to understand its unique culture and create the right content to engage with your audience, this platform has extraordinary potential for charities. Here are some key takeaways to think about how you can use TikTok for your charity.
TikTok for good
TikTok has its own ‘TikTok for good’ initiative, allowing nonprofits to use their app to ‘inspire and encourage a new generation to have a positive impact on the planet and those around them’, and supports them to ‘grow their audience, activate supporters, and raise awareness around specific causes’. One way TikTok for good can help is with promoted hashtags, that has seen charity videos gain millions of views. One example of a charity that has benefited from this initiative is The United Nation’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), who launched the world’s largest dance challenge. These #DanceForChange videos created by users acted as a virtual petition to increase investment in sustainable agriculture. 33K videos were created with 81 million views.
The fact that TikTok for good exists also helps to position itself with audiences who are likely to engage with charity content and further showcases itself as a platform where it is very much welcome.
TikTok has its own culture which must be understood and respected in order to engage with users successfully. Despite its reputation, TikTok is much more than just a load of dance videos and it has many sub-cultures. TikTok tribes or ‘sides’ such as ‘Clean up TikTok’ or ‘Leftist TikTok’ show that there is really something for everyone, and that there is a large audience for social causes, especially if your charity is in any way related to issues such as feminism, racial equality, or LGBT related causes. Animal related videos as also extremely popular. There is a great opportunity to create relatable content with audiences that share your charity’s values and aspirations.
Many of the successful charity TikTok videos which have gone viral are often low-budget and unpolished, but simple, relatable and engaging. Videos with real-life, human content which are not purely aspirational are favoured on this platform, and the 60-second format enables substantial issues to be conveyed in bite-sized pieces. The platform provides a real opportunity to show the people and work behind the charity and inject some personality. It is not easy to predict which videos will do well, so it’s important to get to know your audience and experiment. Being spontaneous and staying flexible is key - not overthinking your strategy will allow you to embrace the moments and make the most of hashtag challenges. There is also an opportunity to recycle old footage, making a short and sweet edit with some additional text and explainers to suit the platform. It is also something you should bear in mind for future filming, that you may want to factor in extra time to capture content for your TikTok channel, and also to keep an extra camera (or phone) handy for spontaneous moments.
When we created this film for Cystic Fibrosis Trust, we were able to create assets simultaneously for their website and social media channels and capture extra moments by planning for this in our schedule within a 3 hour shoot. Whilst the content should feel organic and spontaneous for TikTok, you should still ensure you plan ahead to allow for the extra footage.
TikTok should predominantly be used to build awareness and relevance, and to showcase what you are about. This is especially true as the majority of users are 24 and below, and therefore may not be your typical donors but may be interested in your work and engage/share your story. It may also be used to involve more people in your charity and recruit volunteers. The number of people over 24 using the platform also grows by the day, and so current audiences may become valuable donors in the future.
There are, however, examples of where TikTok videos have proven to successfully convert to donations. British Red Cross were the first charity in the UK to use ‘Donation stickers’ – clickable icons embedded in the videos which take the user straight to a donation form, with the help of Tiltify so that donors don’t have to leave the TikTok app.
In summary, there cannot be a one-size-fits all to content across your social platforms and this is especially true to TikTok which is almost a world within itself. It is also true that the same approach will not work from one charity to the other. It is about finding your own niche and building real personality through creative and honest content.
Thinking about TikTok for your charity? Get in touch with a charity specialist at 2S Films.