Using TikToks (and their comments) as a source of insight can give you a deep understanding of how people feel, think and act about topics that matter to you. It’s raw, unfiltered – it’s what people say to each other when researchers aren’t in the room.
The potential for the charity sector is significant. It offers a chance to better understand what drives interest and activity around your cause. Which will give you the insight you need to innovate, communicate and fundraise. But why is it so popular and how can charities use it effectively?
A rising platform
Cast your mind back. It’s 2020. Lockdown’s well underway and everyone’s stuck inside trying to entertain themselves online.
The British Red Cross has created an innovative new comms strategy to protect people from COVID – a TikTok dance hand washing tutorial. It goes on to amass over nine million views.
Its popularity is not surprising. TikTok has become the world’s most popular entertainment app (and their social media manager Nana Crawford and the team are awesome).
And the charity is not alone in attempting to harness the power of this new platform. Battersea, Macmillan and UNICEF have all followed the British Red Cross onto the site as part of a larger trend where charities are using social platforms to tackle big issues.
However, while charities are making headway in engagement, TikTok remains massively underused for insight. Without public API’s, none of the usual social listening tools are up to the task of analysing or drawing rich insight from it. Meaning TikTok analysis is a budding tool, full of potential – just one that needs a more creative approach.
If you’re looking for innovation in research, it’s here. Will you be an early adopter?
So, who’s using TikTok?
TikTok started as a platform for sharing music and dance videos but has expanded to become so much more. Its appeal lies in the fact that it’s incredibly engaging. Short, scrappy videos of people living and sharing their lives. It’s compelling.
It brings together communities of people who share the same interests and passions. For example, content with the following hashtags (all of which could be used by charities) have been seen in eye-popping volumes.
- #Breast cancer – 1.3 billion views
- #Shelterdog – 1.6 billion views
- #climatecrisis – 464 million views
- #mentalhealth – 44 billion views
Combine this with these stats about the platform:
- TikTok has over 1 billion monthly active users
- 47% of TikTok users are between ages 10-29, this is down from 62% last year showing the user base is ageing (42% of users are now 30-49)
- 61% are female
- 37% have a household income of +$100k
And TikTok is clearly a platform in ascendance, a place with significant reach – and most importantly for insight – engagement.
A place to gain insights for fundraising and innovation
Keeping fundraising fresh and engaging is a constant challenge. What worked today might not work tomorrow.
So, product development teams need a constant source of inspiration to help them think about new mechanisms for fundraising and how to best position them.
As we saw above, TikTok attracts huge volumes of engagement in many charities’ primary causes. This gives you a deep pool of people’s experiences to dive into for inspiration.
Watching how people talk about issues will help you see where the frustrations are – and importantly – how people are finding innovative solutions to work around them.
People also use hashtags like #fundraising to raise awareness of what they’re doing – another great source of inspiration
Takeaway: TikTok content (video and comments) can show us what’s important to people – about the causes they support and why, revealing important dynamics and drivers which can help spur innovative thinking in product design.
A place to gain insights for comms and engagement
TikToks can also help keep us grounded. When we work in complex organisations with different stakeholders, we can become divorced from the reality on the ground.
The way we talk about the cause can quickly become ‘corporate speak’ rather than reflecting how our audiences talk about it. This creates a divide that makes it harder to communicate effectively.
People don’t talk to researchers the way they talk to each other – that’s one of the reasons why TikTok is so useful. It’s a welcome dip in the cold waters of reality!
Observing the interactions on TikTok can help you ground your comms in real language and expression.
It can also help you identify and understand who else is influential in the areas that matter to you. This offers new paths to a broader audience.
For example, in our work on loneliness for the British Red Cross, we read, assessed and brought together the experiences of thousands of people talking about loneliness, to understand what caused it and why. This helped the charity to talk credibly, authentically and engagingly about loneliness and social isolation, using the right language for the right scenarios and finding case studies which resonate.
In this way, the 1 billion-user platform with its large constellation of subcultures and communities is an ideal place for charities to learn about, find and reach ‘the few’. For example, those motivating climate action could examine their target audience in #EcoTok, while charities advocating for animal welfare may look to #PetBFF or #AdoptDontShop.
Takeaway: TikTok analysis is an amazing tool for messaging, allowing charities to speak the language of their audiences.
Try it yourself
It’s early days and Marketing and Social teams are currently the ones leading the way with TikTok. But now’s the time for insight and research to catch up.
TikTok gives researchers a unique tool to help better understand their audiences. A tool to help think differently about fundraising, innovation and comms.
If you want to see how TikTok can help your work, search for relevant hashtags and immerse yourself in content that your audience is posting, watching and engaging with (or ask a friendly agency partner to help). This will let you:
- Better understand how your audiences feel, think and act about your cause
- Innovate and target your fundraising products more effectively
- Communicate with empathy
In short, to connect with your audience in the best way possible.
If you would like to learn more about gathering and applying insight join us for our upcoming seminar: Understanding your audience: gathering and applying insight
Banner Image: Rubaitul Azad on Unsplash