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Top tips for posting videos on TikTok and Instagram

Last week, we discussed how to use video to promote brands, this week we are focusing on using video on TikTok and Instagram.

If you are not already posting video content on these sites, the question is why not? As Jenny Tsai, founder and CEO of influencer effectiveness solution WeArisma, points out: “Alongside enabling brands to reach a wider audience demographic of Gen Z and being the most downloaded app in the world in 2022, TikTok presents a unique discoverability opportunity for brands as it is increasingly being used as a search engine by the younger generation. For instance, 53% of users now say they discover new beauty products on TikTok. This is due to the strength of TikTok’s algorithm in recommending content based on user tastes and the nature of the content itself which is synthesised by creators and influencers considered to be authentic by their audiences.”

As for Instagram, 91% of users watch videos on Instagram weekly and 73% of businesses report acquiring new customers from an Instagram Story.

Below we list top tips for posting video content that stands out on TikTok and Instagram.

Keep production simple

Jody Fisher, founder and CEO of Jody Fisher PR: “Don’t buy fancy stuff: your phone has a great mic and lens. Put yourself in a decently lit space, with little to no background noise, and start recording.

“Then edit on desktop, finish inside the apps - shoot your video long form then use a computer to properly trim, edit and crop. Upload that video and apply graphics, sound and stickers. Use the app software to make titles appear and disappear on cue. Always use captions for users who are hearing impaired (they will appreciate it!). 

“Not everything has to be a masterpiece - mix up your posts with longer and shorter videos so people don’t get bored.”

Focus on one passion

Jamie Field, managing director at agency TopLine Film: One of the most crucial things when creating any video content for social media is to choose a topic you’re passionate about and then go to town with it. If you focus only on one key area, you can become known for this, and your passion and expertise will shine through.”

Post regularly

Jamie Field: “Whilst the quality of content is important, when using platforms like TikTok, it’s perhaps more important to post regularly to help create a buzz around your content.”

Be personable

Jamie Field: “My final tip is to be personable - this is social media, remember, so try not to come across too corporate, as this could make the videos feel a bit boring, which is never a good thing!”

Use trending hashtags

Jenny Tsai, founder and CEO of influencer effectiveness solution WeArisma: “Trends in TikTok are fast-moving, making data and analytics key to a successful TikTok brand and influencer strategies. The most discoverable and engaging content contains strong, trending hashtags, is SEO-optimised and uses short-form storytelling in an authentic and relatable manner, making it easily consumed by the audience.”

Provide easy answers

Esme Pearse digital marketing assistant at Napthens Solicitors: “With the average person’s attention span having decreased to below ten seconds, individuals don’t want to be trapsing through websites to find an answer to their query.

“Many people are using TikTok as a search engine, myself included, to answer questions such as ‘where is the best place to eat in Manchester?’ or ‘what film should I watch?’.

“Instagram and TikTok are not just being used for entertainment, but for recommendations in day-to-day life, to stand-out you need to be answering these questions.

“Find a topic that you are passionate about and add your expert understanding of the topic to the content you produce. That’ll at least put you on or near the top of the rankings, and more eyes on you.”

Be snappy and authentic

Shannon Serrao, head of content agency Stir in Motion: “PRs are the OGs (Original Gangsters) of storytelling out in a way that is authentic, engaging and that will ultimately connect with an audience on an emotional level, so we’re best-placed to lead on content creation - whether it be for earned channels or for video-first platforms like TikTok and Instagram. What’s key to ensure with the latter is that you not only capture attention within the first few seconds, but also evoke an emotional response in that time to stop thumbs in their tracks. We’re often mindlessly scrolling whilst using these platforms so if you don’t trigger something instantly, users won’t stop. Be clear on what emotional response you’re after and get it in there quickly. Shock? Nostalgia? Humour? Inspired? Be clear on how you’re going to stir that first, and then follow up with your message. But remember, it’s still short-form content, so that message needs to be a) snappy to engage the viewer and b) authentic to get them to connect with your brand.”

Don’t follow all trends

Chelsie Tang, senior content strategist at agency Splendid Communications: “What’s TikTok and Reels without trends? But it can be easy to get caught in the trend bubble without considering if it’s truly relevant to your audience. Using native insights alone will only get you so far - so, consider data driven resources such as GWI and cultural reports to get a truly holistic sense of what your audience wants from brands and content.”

Experiment and adapt

Chelsie Tang: “Few brands/individuals are able to post banger after banger straight off the bat. Standout content often is a result of ongoing experimentation and data-driven insights from posting different types of content. Experiment with format, visual style, copy length and even topics then post, review and analyse; enabling you to figure out what works (and doesn’t!) and optimise your content strategy accordingly. 

“In essence, pay attention to the latest trends, explore new creative techniques, and constantly analyse the performance of your content to optimise your strategy.”

Put the audience first

Kinda Jackson, MD, digital marketing and social media at agency Brands2Life: “It's thought stand-out TikTok and Instagram content comes entirely from the video; the visuals, the sounds, the trends. While this plays a part, stand-out content is always audience-first. And if it's done right, it has the ability to cross into editorial. Creative treatments that resonate bring opportunities for integration.

“Start with, ‘why would my audience care about this? And why would they share it?’

“Storytelling will be key. No one wants to see a list of product benefits, but demonstrating its impact on your audience in an engaging way will fuel its influence.

“Once you’ve nailed your message and who it’s for, the video you create will have impact. Consider the most appropriate style to bring it to life, if there is a trend that will work, or a sound that’s right for your message. Just don’t lose sight of who your brand and audience are in the process.”

Be confident on TikTok, human on Instagram

G Bansal, co-founder and strategy director of inclusive agency One Twelve Agency: ''For TikTok content creation, the key is to be confident in what you’re posting. Use trial and error and learn from the content that results in the strongest engagement. Viewers respond best to content that’s spontaneous and authentic on the platform, so think of your goal as curating a community. Plus, you should always make the videos accessible by including captions. 

“Instagram is more about visualisation of information. Make posts as human as possible - for example, include content that feature people’s faces where possible, as these are promoted by the algorithm over generic images.”

Be natural and keep it brief

Guy Clapperton, founder and lead trainer of media training agency Clapperton: “Whether on TikTok or elsewhere, it’s important to be yourself. Make a brief point (you don’t have long) but if you’re not a natural showperson don’t try to pretty it up unduly; it can be distracting and you’ll end up doing the video version of dad dancing. Do some research on whether your audience is actually going to be where you’re putting your video, get in, make your point and a call to action and get out. The rest is noise, don’t let it drown you out.”

Six suggestions for engaging content

Katie Coutts, social creative at PR firm M&C Saatchi Talk: “Here are the top things to remember when working on content.

  1. Experiment with different formats: Don’t be afraid to try different content formats, such as tutorials, behind-the-scenes footage, Q&A sessions, or challenges. Experimenting keeps your content fresh and helps you discover what best resonates with your audience and what makes them connect to you most.
  2. Optimise video length: Keep your TikTok videos short and snappy, ideally under 60 seconds. On Instagram, pay attention to the optimal video lengths for different formats - shorter videos tend to perform better overall as they cater to users’ shorter attention spans.
  3. Embrace humour and entertainment: TikTok and Instagram are both platforms where humour and entertainment thrive. Incorporate personality and light-hearted funny elements into your content to entertain and engage your audience for high shareability.
  4. Show behind-the-scenes footage: Take your audience behind the scenes of your creative process, whether it’s a photoshoot, product development, or simply a day in your life. Sharing exclusive glimpses into your world can create a sense of intrigue and authenticity.
  5. Tell quick tips and life hacks: Short-form content performs well on both platforms. Sharing quick tips, life hacks or bite-sized pieces of advice or information related to your niche will provide value and make your content stand out.
  6. Incorporate music and trending sound effects: TikTok and Instagram both have extensive libraries. Use them creatively to enhance the mood and impact your content. Choose tracks or sounds that complement your video and evoke the desired emotions.”

And last, and probably least, is my top tip which is - if in doubt use kittens or puppies. Always a winner!

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