If you’re older than 25, chances are you don’t really know much about TikTok. This app has been steadily growing in popularity with an audience of mostly teens, and marketers are just now starting to get excited – calling it the new Instagram or Snap.
On the surface, though, it seems like TikTok is just lots of clips of people doing challenges, doing silly things for views, or miming along to pop songs. So, how on earth could something like this help you to promote your photography business?
Well, we’ve got a few ideas – and the time to get in on using TikTok is now. By the time it really blows up and everyone is using, you’ll be scrambling for attention with other users – but if you get in now while it’s still a little less saturated, you have a good chance of growing your following with techniques like these…
Take part in challenges
TikTok is really not just about the people or brands that use it, but it’s about the sense of community. As a business owner, you’re probably used to posting under your company’s name rather than getting to be yourself. You probably don’t post a whole lot of selfies, for example – but TikTok is asking you to do just that, filming videos of yourself taking part in the challenges that sweep the site.
It’s a hard mental shift, but if you can do it, you should. Here’s why challenges will help you out a lot:
- They’re more likely to help your video go viral. If everyone is sharing a certain trend, get in on the act with your best (or funniest) attempt and then wait for people to discover you. You’re more likely to appear in searches, on the home feed, and following other videos of the same challenge, which means more exposure and hopefully more followers
- TikTok users aren’t looking for bland advertising posts – they want to get to know the person behind the brand. That’s you!
- Especially if your target customers are seniors wanting their portraits taken before graduating high school, or even college grads, then you will want to show them that you understand what their lives are about. Being able to share the latest TikTok craze will show them that you’re on their level more than any other gesture could
Go behind the scenes
TikTok is at its best when it is used for two types of content. The first is highly polished scenes, set to music or with a spoken script, normally planned out very carefully and with some kind of punchline or trick that gives the clip a focal point. Think a short comedy sketch, or a lip-sync where the user changes costume in a jump-cut halfway through.
The second is genuine, unrehearsed, and behind the scenes content. People following Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson love his clips of interviews, sketches, and challenges – but they also want to see him walking around and chatting with Oprah Winfrey backstage, working out in the gym in an unscripted moment, or revealing how many crew members are around him while he films a workout documentary.
Be real in your content. Take your views behind the scenes at your photoshoots. You can set it to music, to give more of a hook, or talk about what you’re doing to give people an idea of how your photoshoots work. Let them see what goes on to make the magic happen.
Set your work to music
The big origin of TikTok was people lip-syncing to popular music, often with a clever dance routine or some great acting to bring it home. You can keep it simple and just find a piece of music that fits the tempo of your lights flashing as you showcase what goes on during a shoot – or you can take it a bit further.
There are some popular categories of musical TikToks, which you can adapt for your own needs:
- The glow-up – this usually starts with the user in their sleepwear or sweatpants, with no makeup on and their hair messy. When the appropriate point in the lyrics kicks in (e.g. ‘Started from the bottom now we’re here’ – the word ‘here’ would be a great point to transition), they use the trick of pausing the recording to get dressed up and do their hair and makeup to represent a glow-up. You could do the same with your studio: show it empty with nothing set up, perhaps with yourself and your camera sad and alone, and then transition to a lit, decorated, bright studio with a model ready to go
- The group performance – often this will start with just one person in frame, only for them to move or a door to open or so on to reveal more people who join in with the routine. Whether you’re lip-syncing your heart out or doing some simple choreographed moves, this could be a great way to fill in some time with your shoot team or to celebrate the end of a successful shoot
- The lyrics change – if you’re feeling really creative, and if you or someone you work with has a good set of lungs, why not record your own version of a classic song? Pick one that everyone knows and change the lyrics to reflect the realities of being a photographer, preferably on the humorous side. People will love it!
Whatever you do with your TikTok, the most important thing is to get involved. It’s a social community where it really pays to take part, with popular challenges of the moment more likely to appear on the ‘For You Page’ (the main feed) and therefore gain more traction. Be sure to use your profile space to direct people onwards to either another social account, such as your Instagram, or your website – so that you can convert casual watchers into potential future clients who keep you top of mind when they are ready to shoot. And be sure to follow Summerana when you join!