TikTok, is time ticking for your business too?

TikTok expert Joey Scheufler’s appearance at 24 uur in Bedrijf started off a bit confrontational. He asked the audience: ‘Who uses Tik Tok for business?’ Only five of the more than 100 attendees raised their hands. Of course, that also had to do with the average age in the room. We had a chat with Joey about that.

Text Colette de Vries

What can boomers look forward to on TikTok?

‘Everything! More than half of the users on Tik Tok are over 24 years old. And the older audience is growing fast. There are over six million active users in the Netherlands who spend 80 minutes a day on the app and watch almost 40 billion videos every month in total. Tik Tok really is for everyone. Because it’s so simple. The algorithm detects how long you watch something and adapts to what you like in no time. Then you only get that in your feed. The more you watch, the better it gets.’

As a company, what do you need to prepare if you want to be on TikTok?

‘Nothing. Just start. In fact, it shouldn’t be too slick at all, because then it will seem fake very quickly. There’s no need to hire a Dutch celebrity because on Tik Tok, anyone can become an influencer. That’s because it’s not about the number of followers, but about good videos. Even with zero followers, you can reach a lot of people. All you need to do is make sure a small group of people likes and watches your video. Then the video will be shown to a larger group. So it’s about authentic videos rather than influencers selling themselves. If you miss the target, it’s no big deal, because the video won’t be viewed much. There’s an opportunity for good Dutch language videos because a lot of content is in English.’

What kind of companies is Tik Tok particularly interesting for?

‘Every company. The reach is huge. People often get in touch with a company for the first time through TikTok. And you only reach the people who like your content, and from all walks of life. Even small businesses can reach a lot of people and figure it out by doing what works and what doesn’t. For example, one sandwich shop found out that showing a new sandwich every day was a huge hit. And several eateries in Amsterdam have seen long queues at the door every day after a video went viral.’

Why are you such a big fan yourself?

‘I really find TikTok a breath of fresh air. Precisely because it’s not slick. The number of followers doesn’t matter so much – it’s the content that matters. It has to be real and authentic. Everyone is unique. That should really jump out at you. That’s why it’s so easy. You can stand out just by being yourself. No slick content, as long as the message fits your business.’

‘I really find TikTok a breath of fresh air. Precisely because it’s not slick’

What do you personally consider one of the downsides of TikTok?

Business-wise, there are no drawbacks. The downside of media and phone use is, of course, a problem. TikTok is addictive. The algorithm gives you an endless stream of whatever you want to see. It is precisely that addictive element that you can take advantage of as an advertiser. People are on their mobiles a lot, but you can’t control that as a company anyway. It’s no different from when companies started cleverly advertising on TV and radio in the 1970s.’

Are your own children on Tik Tok?

‘No, they’re eight and nine and for them I find it pollutes their brains. You have to be old enough to be able to think for yourself in what you’re doing. About everything. TikTok is no different from any other social media consumption. We should start media literacy at a much younger age. Because parents and teachers don’t know either. Everything is aimed at influencing you. You have to learn to deal with that and most importantly learn to limit it.’

There’s no way round it: is TikTok a safe space or a potential propaganda machine?

‘Even with all the focus on TikTok’s data security, it’s only getting more and more attention and users. Americans are lobbying strongly for TikTok to disappear. Also because they’re missing out on a lot of ad revenue. But aren’t Google and Facebook just as bad? TikTok complies with European rules. You can’t ban an app just because it has a Chinese owner.’

Why do you recommend that every company use TikTok?

‘Because of the sheer number of people. The reach is huge and your target audience is there regardless. It really is the platform for getting exposure and growing quickly. It’s not a question of whether you go on TikTok as a company, but when.’

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