Tech World on TikTok – Is it for you?

I’ve been using social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram for many years. They are great to promote videos from SSW TV, get tech news out, share an SSW Rule, and give my general thoughts about software development. I first saw TikTok in China, TikTok gives you brain damage… Later I saw my kids using it, and wondered if should use it for myself or SSW.

A little research shows that over 1.5 *billion* people are using it and even Scott Hanselman is now a “cool” TikToker. I loved his most recent video where he gave us a sneak peek into the Microsoft Archives – so many fun memories!

I think you and your company should adopt TikTok too. Let’s dive in!


The 3 A’s of Being a Good Consultant ⭐️ #ssw #microsoft #software #devs

♬ original sound – SSW_TV
Video: My first delve into TikTok to help developers become better consultants

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a mobile app used to share videos from 2 seconds, to 10 minutes. It’s been a worldwide phenomenon, but not without controversy.

Donald Trump famously tried to ban the app from millions of US smartphones, citing security threats posed by its Chinese ownership. He even went as far as to sign an executive order which said that ByteDance had to either sell TikTok to an American business within 45 days, or see it forcibly removed from app stores and blocked. The deadline was extended several times, and it appears to never have come to fruition.

Despite this, TikTok surpassed 2 billion mobile downloads worldwide in October 2020, and according to Cloudfare has now surpassed Google as the most popular domain for 2021. Crazy stuff!

Why Use TikTok?

#1 Exposure – Over 1.2 billion active users per month

TikTok is used in over 150 countries – the top 5 are:

  • 120M United States
  • 87M Indonesia
  • 72M Brazil
  • 48M Russia
  • 41M Mexico

#2 New Audience base – you will get access to the under 25s, as well as a large female audience

Figure showing TikTok User demographics
Figure: TikTok is popular among teenagers, 55% are under 24 years (28% blue +26% red)

#3 Maximize Creativity – it allows you to explore a different side of your business, like what makes you fun and interesting

The people and culture at your company are important, and putting a fun video of your employees on TikTok is more appropriate than say LinkedIn, where the same video would be potentially received poorly as it is not “business” enough.

#4 Unique Algorithm – TikTok will recommend videos that match your interests

It uses data like your location, hashtags you follow or use, and of course videos you like. TikTok gives you a personalized feed ‘For You’, which is similar to your Instagram’s ‘Explore’ page.

#5 Paid Ads – There are a few different types of ads that you can launch on TikTok, depending on your goals and audience

#6 Real-time analytics – You can track your profile’s performance, understand your audience demographic, and measure your success

Tips for Using TikTok

#1 Video length – The most effective TikTok videos range from 15 seconds to 3 mins

Here are some of the most-watched TikTok videos of all time:

  1. Zach King’s Harry Potter illusion – 2.2 billion views (18 sec)
  2. James Charles’ Christmas wonderland transition – 1.7 billion views (15 sec)
  3. Khaby Lame’s ‘How to open a car door’ video – 350 million views (25 sec)
  4. Boss reacts to case in the box (30 sec)
pie chart showing the popular music
Figure: The most watched video lengths on TikTok – 80% of the most watched videos are 11-20 seconds long

#2 Use music – TikTok have a royalty free music library that users can use to make their videos more memorable

If you use music that is not in their library, be aware that TikTok uses a bot to auto-detect content as copyrighted and your audio in the video could be muted, or the platform may prohibit the video from being uploaded altogether. You can see more about this on: SSW Rules to Better TikTok

Fun Fact: The most popular music genre used on TikTok is Hip-Hop/Rap making up for about 60% of the pie!

tiktok songs chart
Figure: Music Genres used in TikTok Videos for 2020 with 60% of videos using HipHop/Rap (dark pink), followed by Pop (light pink)
Source: TikTok

#3 Use captions – Captions are an excellent way to open your TikTok videos to a broader audience

They increase a video’s general accessibility, prompting more users to “like” your content. Users include:

  • People commuting or those in a general loud area
  • Or people lying next to someone asleep 🙂
  • The deaf or hearing impaired
  • People with learning disabilities
  • Those with Attention Deficit Disorder or Autism
adam tiktok
Figure: TikTok – Adding captions means people can watch you video on silent, and can also read along with the audio to increase the comprehension

#4 Vertical or landscape – The best orientation for recording is vertical

However, you can also record horizontal and then reframe and crop it to a vertical export for TikTok. You might do this if you want to post the same video to both YouTube and TikTok.

Figure: YouTube – the above video was used twice

#5 Use a template – using a template will ensure you never upload a video that is not optimized for TikTok

You can see SSW’s Rule: TikTok Reference Guide When Editing

Use an overlay reference guide when editing TikTok videos. This will ensure that your videos are formatted correctly while keeping in mind TikTok’s User Interface. Once ready to export the video, you can turn off the guideline layer. See below images:

tiktok reference
Figure: A video on TikTok that shows all of the things that might cover your video content
TikTok overlay guide
Figure: The template overlay we use on our videos to ensure we don’t cover any important stuff – like the captions or the name of the person speaking
guide turned off
Figure: The same image with the overlay turned off – everything fits nicely

Come join the fun on TikTok – you can follow me @AdamCogan or @SSW_TV.

Hopefully this will help you get started on your TikTok journey. If you’re using TikTok and can think of any other great tips – let me know in the comments below!