Social media is a cornerstone of every modern business’ marketing strategy, and small craft shops are no exception. From building brand Twitter accounts to joining Facebook groups to doing Instagram giveaways, crafters have turned to social media to promote their businesses and find online communities.
But if you feel like your online following is lagging or you’re getting bored creating the same content, you might want a new option.
Enter the hot new platform: TikTok.
Since its global debut in 2017 and US debut in 2018, TikTok is quickly emerging as a powerhouse social media app. TikTok currently has more than two billion downloads and 800 million active users worldwide, with more daily active users than Twitter. The way you use the platform is relatively simple: you can create, share, and interact with short-form video content.
And while the app might be well-known for teenagers doing fun dances to pop music, its user base has expanded significantly. It has a highly specialized algorithm that suggests new videos specifically tailored to their most niche interests. And that means that there’s a relatively large arts and crafts corner.
This corner can show art how-to’s such as drawing, painting and sculpting tutorials. Another common category is DIY content, featuring craft activities like tie-dying and scrapbooking. Videos can also fall under a common trope of online videos known as “oddly satisfying,” where creators make inexplicably visually appealing videos with everything from slime squishing to cake frosting to soap slicing.
These videos are racking up billions of views and expanding the audience and reach of their creators. Plus, putting together crafting TikTok videos isn’t that different from making other social media video content, creators say.
However, as the app gains momentum, concerns about users’ privacy have risen. The US administration has threatened to ban the platform this fall, although the company has sued to stop the government from blocking it. Reportedly, some US companies and investment firms, such as Microsoft and Sequoia Capital, are considering a bid for the app.
Although the future of TIkTok’s ownership is uncertain, its user base is still strong. So using the app as a marketing tool or to find a collaborative community could be worth your time.
Videos, including TikTok, might be the future of social media marketing
Filming videos for TikTok requires only a decent phone camera and a level of excitement about making more content out of your art.
Maayan Gordon, who runs a social media consulting business and also blows glass, said that she first got on TikTok last year when she wanted to try to get her content in front of a new audience after her Instagram following plateaued.
She has been able to gain two million followers on her TikTok account, mostly by taking quick videos of her own work and life, or repurposing other artists’ videos.
“Can you put a lot of time into it? Of course,” Gordon told me.
“But do you have to? No.”
“It can even replace the time you’re spending on, let’s say, creating your Instagram content,” she added. “You can even repost your videos on both platforms. And I’ve learned so much just by using it — I think the following is really the bonus of why you would use TikTok. The main reason is, do you want to get good at creating videos? And every business should want to get good at creating videos because videos are what sell, more than anything else these days.”
Indeed, Hubspot found in 2017 that videos have a high conversion rate: according to its survey, 64% of potential customers are more likely to buy a product after watching a video.
Josie Lewis, a fine artist who makes colorful TikToks of various painting and other art techniques and has several billion views on her videos, was in agreement.
“About a year ago now, I was watching it and thought it looked interesting. I didn’t know if there was anything worth pursuing there, but I’m a strong believer in diversification of social media,” Lewis said. “I already have a lot of the video content to remaster it and remix it to suit the TikTok format. So that helped a lot, I wasn’t necessarily making a lot of new content but I just had to re-edit some stuff.”
“And it turns out it really hit a chord with that audience which is really quite global. And about six months to a year ago, because TikTok was growing so quickly, it got a lot of organic reach and things could go viral easily.”
Building your brand on TikTok, and achieving your marketing goals
“Really, it’s just about thinking: what is your brand, what does it stand for and what are the various ways to engage with people through your brand image,” Gordon said. “Mine is creativity, authenticity, and transparency, with a courageous aspect.”
With that, she’ll post videos of her glass blowing, her food, and her dogs to show her followers that she’s a real person behind the account.
“I post even if I know it won’t go viral, if I know it will deliver value to the people who are following me,” she said. “To me, that’s more important than gaining a new audience.”
I’ve got two million followers, if I can just make those extremely loyal, I’ll never need anyone again. So I’m figuring out how I can attract the people that will be very loyal and in love with my brand, and if that repels some other people who are less interested that is fine with me.”
Lewis’ videos are “approachable stuff,” she said. When she puts her videos on YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook, the content that performs well is slightly different on each platform. She has seen massive growth on TikTok, and believes that the conversion of followers to customers is still coming.
“My whole goal is to drive traffic to the stuff that I’m selling and to my mailing list, and each of those platforms do it in a little bit of a different way,” she noted. “TikTok is the biggest audience but the worst performer for that so far. The value of TikTok does remain to be seen — right now it’s aging up, as more non-teenagers are joining the platform. And TikTok itself is investing more heavily in educational content like how-to’s, so that’s an interesting shift.”
Regardless, both Gordon and Lewis see the value in learning how to create excellent video content, gaining more insight into understanding how people approach their material, and interacting with a growing crafting community.
Holly Secon is a freelance science and culture writer and communicator. She’s previously written for Business Insider and GreenBiz, a sustainability media company. Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org.