Have you heard of TikTok yet? If you have an adolescent or teen child or grandchild you may have. The app started out as Music.ly, where users created 15-second videos lip-syncing to songs. After a buyout from a rival ByteDance, which owned TikTok, it is still essentially the same. Users create videos with 15-second soundbites from songs or dialogue from movies or tv shows, Recently, crafters have begun getting in on the action, recording DIY painting, sewing, and drawing tutorials and they’re finding significant audiences on this new social platform.

TikTok has 1 billion active users, with almost 27 million in the US. That’s similar to Instagram far more than Twitter (336 million) and Snapchat (186 million). Most users are squarely in the highly sought after Gen Z demographic, with 41% between 16-24 years old.

Safety concerns

Last February, the Federal Trade Commission fined TikTok a record $5.7 million for violating U.S. children’s privacy laws. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule effectively means that operators of websites or online services cannot (knowingly) collect personal information online from children under 13 years of age. This rule is why social media apps require users to be 13 years or older. The investigation was initiated while TikTok was still Musical.ly and that app required users to provide an email address, phone number, username, first and last name, a short biography, and a profile picture. Because user accounts were public by default, that meant that a child’s profile bio, username, pictures, and videos could be seen by other users. And until October 2016, there was a feature that let others view nearby users within a 50-mile radius. TikTok has remedied this by restricting what users under 13 years old can do.

Users can set a TikTok account to private, turn off commenting, hide the account from search, disable downloads, disallow reactions and duets and restrict an account from receiving messages. As per Common Sense Media, “Because of TikTok’s emphasis on popular music, many videos include swearing and sexual lyrics, so it may not be age-appropriate for kids to use on their own. It’s also easy to find people wearing revealing clothing and dancing suggestively, although TikTok won’t let you search for objectionable content…”  Keep in mind that TikTok doesn’t permit images or videos to be sent in comments or messages, so people soliciting images would have to ask to make contact in another app (like Snapchat, Instagram or text).

Craft content on TikTok

Though TikTok is mostly known for dance videos, comedy skits, and memes, as more people start using the app, more types of content are popping up, and this includes craft content. Crafters on TikTok tend to show either simple projects or short tutorials, all sped up and set to a popular music track from the app. Most content is probably more about inspiration, delight and sparking ideas rather than a clear, factual tutorial. And some videos advise viewers to go to their YouTube or Instagram accounts for more details.

Jennifer Dickerson of FiberFlux says that creating simple tutorials that can be shown quickly work the best for her. “You only have a handful of seconds to display your content, so often I’m creating very quick tutorials or parts of them.”

Like with Instagram and Twitter, people use searchable hashtags on their content. You can find trending hashtags on the app and save your favorites so you can return to that content when you wish. There are hashtags for #diy, #artprojects, #knitting, etc. as well as seasonal hashtags like #TransformUrDorm that craft content creators could use.

A quick trip through the #diy hashtag on TikTok looks a lot like looking at a bunch of short YouTube videos. Many content creators who are already comfortable creating video for YouTube and Instagram are trying out the platform. Vanessa Vargas Wilson, the creator of the popular DIY YouTube channel The Crafty Gemini, began creating content for TikTok just this week. “I like that I can offer some crafty inspiration for a mostly younger crowd in just 15 seconds,” she says. “It’s making me stop overthinking things because there isn’t much to do or show in such a short video clip. I’m hoping to get more eyes on my videos that will turn into YouTube subscribers and eventually customers.” Dickerson concurs. “TikTok is completely different, focusing on very short and fast videos that have an element of being more direct and candid. This has helped me to stretch creatively and forced me to distill tutorials down to their essence, and use tools like speeding up the video, cutting unnecessary parts out.”

And although most TikTok users create videos directly in the app, you also have the ability to upload a video. In this way, a content creator can edit and repurpose video used on other platforms. For example, First Media’s Blossom brand edits their longer YouTube videos for TikTok and artist Josie Lewis repurposes her Instagram videos.

TikTok is interested in increasing the amount of DIY craft content on the site as evidenced by a recent campaign in which they worked to recruit talent through an agency. Specifically, they were searching for creators who specialize in DIY content that they defined as “arts, crafts, fun life/household hacks, etc.” These creators use the hashtag #tiktokpartner.”

Is TikTok right for your business or product?

The short answer is: it depends. What are your business goals? If they involve brand awareness to Generation Z, maybe you should give it a shot. Dickerson mentions that “As a content creator, I’m always open to new places to share my brand. It is always exciting to share my content with new audiences!”

“I’m reaching a different group of viewers on TikTok and I think there is a lot of potential with this platform for creative online businesses to promote our products and services,” Vargas Wilson says. She’s posted three videos so far and one already has over 200,000 views. “For now, I’m having a blast with it!”

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Melanie O’Brien is a social media professional with 7+ years of experience driving audience growth and engagement. Her past experience includes working in the creative lifestyle space as a former sewing blogger and fabric shop owner. She currently works with small creative businesses and organizations managing social media posting and strategies to free up their time to do more creative work. Find out more on her website: https://www.melanieobrien.net/ 

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