Let me be honest with you, I’m not interested in social media, Snapchat, Discord, and Twitch, mean nothing to me.  I was there at the beginning of MySpace, Google+, and Vine so I know that no social media site is permanent.  And when something new comes along, I wait a long time before even bothering to learn about it. What can I say, I’m old and need to conserve my energy.  But when TikTok was launched in 2017, it took off with young people which is rare and I took notice. All of a sudden I saw people doing silly dances, and telling corny jokes all over the internet.  However, controversy quickly ensued when politicians in the U.S. accused Tiktok of being spyware for the Chinese government with the former President of The United States calling for a total ban. 

To foster a sense of trust, the company that owns the site, ByteDance, promised they would keep their users’ data on servers located outside of China.  Later on, they were found sending data to a Chinese server by an Australian security firm.  And despite the revelations of aggressive data collection, like scanning hard drives and accessing geolocation on an hourly basis, people still love the app. In fact, it reached one billion users in 2021.  This aggressive data collection may be a sign that TikTok is following in the footsteps of Facebook and may hand over this data to advertisers in the future.  If so, there will be a legitimate alternative to Facebook for advertisers looking to reach young people. This is important because young people are notoriously hard to market to. They have a tendency to avoid sites like Twitter and Facebook due to their reputations as negative and boring platforms.

Nonetheless, the question remains, is it worth creating an account on TikTok?  The answer is complicated because TikTok is not just another social media app.  Like Youtube and Snapchat, you have to be comfortable using a camera.  I know several authors who won’t do video because they’re insecure.  Some of them feel they’re too old or not attractive enough to show their faces and there’s nothing wrong with not wanting to be on camera.  However, you don’t have to show your face on TikTok, some creators have gotten around that.  I’ll address that later, but right now let’s break down the facts about TikTok and see if it’s worth the hype.      

The Stats

As I said before, TikTok is popular with young people, in fact it’s now more popular than Instagram (for Gen Z) in the U.S. That’s pretty impressive for an app that’s only been in the U.S. for 5 years. Here are more facts about TikTok:     

  • 57% of their users are female
  • Users spent $2.3 billion dollars within the app in 2021
  • 54% of their users are between the ages of 18-24

Right now, TikTok is the most engaging social media app with the average user session being 10 minutes. 

Most people on the app are there for entertainment purposes so you can’t treat TikTok like Facebook or LinkedIn. If you can’t bring funny or informative content, then this is going to be a hard platform to master.  

Content Check List:

If you have a good camera on your phone, you can make quality TikTok videos. Unlike Youtube, TikTok videos are usually created on phones. So all you need is good lighting, a quiet place to record, and you’re pretty much set. If you don’t like the idea of not editing your videos before you post them, you can use an app like iMovie or even Canva.  

The most popular videos on TikTok all have common links and they are:

  • Good music
  • Popular hashtags
  • Captions
  • Content that is under 34 seconds

One thing I need to warn you about is copyright, on TikTok, followers can take pieces of another user’s content and add them to their own videos. These are called duets and they do this to create reaction videos like on Youtube. However, this might be a problem if you’re using pieces of your book as part of a post especially, if you are shopping that book around to agents and publishers. Publishers in particular want you to own and control 100% of anything you submit so be warned.  Even if you delete the video from your account, it may still exist elsewhere on the internet. This could ruin your chances of getting that manuscript published.      

TikTokers Who Aren’t On Camera

On the subject of content, I found several BookTokers who’ve made videos without showing their faces. So if you fear being on camera due to insecurities this may be the way to go. Here are just a few examples of BookTokers who made videos without appearing on camera:   

 

How To Find The Book Community

There is a book community on TikTok which you can find by using the hashtag #booktok. As you scroll you’ll notice book recommendations, book confessions, and people showing off their book collections. Several authors have already claimed space on the site including bestseller Colleen Hoover:

Warning: Language

@colleenhoover

Signed all the books you guys ordered this weekend. My hand hurts and it looks like I’m sad but that’s just my face. I’m so happy. ❤️❤️❤️

♬ ART IS DEAD – Bo Burnham

You can find your community based on your book’s content for example you just go to the search engine and type in things like:

#WitchTok (witchcraft content)

#FinTok (finance content)

#Animals

#ReadersOfTikTok

#BookTober  

#TBR (To be read)

#ReaderProblems

#BookWorms

#FantasyBooks

It would be wise to study popular videos to find the best hashtags to use because sometimes a hashtag will lose its popularity while new ones are being created.

Thinking Of Advertising On TikTok?

Here’s the bad news, I haven’t found any authors who have had success using TikTok ads. First of all, you need a business account for that and TikTok makes you purchase coins which many authors find weird. One author in my Facebook group lamented, “I set up an ad for $1.00 per day and they increased the ad spend” so they basically ate through her small budget. While another author claimed his views went down on his other content after advertising on the site. 

Authors who have had success on the app have done so through influencer marketing. They find someone with an engaged following who will review their books or at least shout them out. And yes, you have to pay these people. This is where I think the power is on TikTok right now because users can control the direction of the algorithm unlike Facebook, or any of the older social media sites.

In Closing

Do I think TikTok is a must for authors? No, only because TikTok is geared towards young people and not all authors are writing for a younger audience. Also as I said earlier, some authors aren’t comfortable in front of a camera nor do they desire to create videos. This is extra work, work that is not writing. TikTok is about entertaining people or informing people, and if you’re not interested in doing either, then this isn’t the platform for you. 

Anyway, if you found this post helpful, please like and share.  

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