Is It Time to Use TikTok to Engage Members?

If you have Gen Z-ers in your house, you probably know about TikTok, a short-form video-sharing app that may be the next big thing in mobile content consumption. Could it be another way for associations to engage members?

Sure, your association might have a social media engagement strategy that uses Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even Snapchat. But what about TikTok?

If you’ve been following along lately, you may already know that TikTok, known as Douyin in China, is a social video- and music-sharing app that’s surging in popularity around the world. According to media reports, it’s being downloaded in record numbers and has more than 100 million downloads on the Apple App Store. The app skews to younger Gen Z audiences, says Adweek.

While you might write it off as the province of silly lip-syncing videos and dance battle songs, there’s something uniquely fun and original about a platform that puts everyday people and situations in the spotlight. Plus, many TikTok videos are transferring over to other social platforms for replay, causing them to achieve viral fame.

TikTok allows users to create short videos from three to 15 seconds in length or looping videos that run three to 60 seconds long. You might draw a quick comparison to Vine, a failed video-looping platform that saw its demise in 2016 (and which, by the way, is getting a second wind as a rebooted app known as Byte). But what sets TikTok apart is its editing, augmented reality, and graphics capabilities, as well as its functionality, which allows a string of video clips to be pieced together to form short-form stories.

Already celebrities, publishers, and some brands have dipped their toes into the water to explore possible uses for the platform. Associations shouldn’t sit by the wayside either. Here are a few ways membership-based organizations might use TikTok.

A behind-the-scenes look at an industry or profession. A basic premise of TikTok is that it spotlights everyday people who do really interesting things. For an association, videos on the platform could showcase the appeal of a profession or industry. For example, TikTok user Trent, who goes by the name @preszlerwoodshop, often pieces together video snippets that show the craftsmanship of wooden boat building. His videos are a behind-the-scenes look at his work in his woodshop, and often they receive thousands of comments and likes:

Step-by-step instruction. You might not think of a social media app as an instructional tool, but already TikTok has exploded with video content that aims to teach. Simply channel your inner Arnold Schwarzenegger (@arnoldschnitzel) to make step-by-step demonstrations and how-to videos, whether you’re sharing a smoothie recipe or giving gym instruction.

A way to replay videos you already create. Let’s take ASAE as an example. Our social media team already collects and curates video content. Recent shares include a bunch of deer lining up for the Great Ideas Conference, heartwarming moments with members like the Annual Meeting clap line, and even an Associations Now fan video submitted by a member who appeared in the magazine. Each of these could be reshared on TikTok. If you’re not sure what content might work best for the app, be sure to watch a few TikTok videos first. Often, it’s a funny, inspiring, or first-person perspective that results in the greatest engagement opportunity.

Not ready to try it yet? That’s OK. Instead, you might want to pick a username and park it for future use. Just in case.

Have you considered using Tik Tok for social engagement? Why or why not? Post your comments below.

Tim Ebner

By Tim Ebner

Tim Ebner is a senior editor for Associations Now. He covers membership, leadership, and governance issues. Email him with story ideas or news tips. MORE

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