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TikTok for Non-Profit Marketers: Three Things You Need to Know

Every few years, we see the rise of a new social media platform that dominates the cultural conversation. It can be overwhelming when thinking about how to incorporate a new platform into your existing strategy. How should we use it? Does it make sense for us as an organization? Do we have the resources? As TikTok has taken over this past year, especially amidst the pandemic, it’s getting harder to avoid. But—fear not—it is not as daunting as you might think and the benefits of using the platform could be significant for your non-profit organization. In this blog post, we outline how non-profit marketers can use TikTok to elevate their social impact messages and causes.

Audience: TikTok is Bigger Than Gen Z

One of the most powerful aspects of TikTok is its ability to reach a younger generation of donors. 59% of Gen Zs report having been inspired to donate to a charity through a message or image they saw on social media (source). Combine these two facts and, as a non-profit marketer, you’re thinking, “I need to be on TikTok to reach the Gen Z audience.” Guess what…you’re on the right track, but there’s even more potential for you to untap.

While 41% of TikTok users are aged 16-24 (source), the platform saw growth across all demographic segments this past year. TikTok is becoming more than dance challenges, but a prime destination for all types of content, from comedy to social justice to cooking, and across multiple demographic groups.

Platform Features: Tools to Engage Donors

More good news for non-profit marketers is that TikTok has started developing tools specifically for the philanthropic space. Typically, we see social media platforms add custom features for non-profits at later phases of growth. However, TikTok has prioritized the development of tools that cater to non-profits. Here’s a snapshot:

TikTok for Non-Profits Tools: Profile Markers

People have the ability to feature a non-profit they’re supporting on their individual profile, making that non-profit highly visible (and clickable) for everyone to see. This is a great tool for awareness, evangelization, and ongoing small-dollar fundraising. Learn more about this tool and how it works here. We’re definitely encouraging our clients to think about creating entire campaigns centered on this tool. If that feels too big too soon for you, then think about it for your executive team, board members, or even your employees. Start where you feel comfortable.

TikTok for Non-Profits Tools: Donation Stickers

TikTok also offers people the ability to embed interactive Donation Stickers into their videos, guiding video viewers directly down a donation path. If you’re familiar with Instagram, you’ve probably seen this. Hopefully, you’ve experimented with it (if you haven’t, we’ve got a blog-full of easy tips for you). Think of this like a “Donate” button. The tool gives you the ability to add a donation sticker (again, call it a button if that’s more intuitive) directly into the video you’re posting. So, say you’ve got a video featuring your program operations team in the field. Pop a Donate Sticker in to encourage viewers to become supporters. If you don’t have your own TikTok profile, it doesn’t matter. Even if you aren’t on TikTok, there’s a good chance that your supporters are. So take steps to get your organization set up so that your supporters can help fundraise on behalf of your non-profit. You can learn how to set up your non-profit here. 

Content Strategy: Rewarding Quality, not Quantity

One of the reasons TikTok is attracting so many people in the first place is how the social media platform’s algorithm prioritizes quality, engaged content over content associated with accounts that have millions of followers. There are accounts with fewer than 1,000 followers that are able to garner thousands and thousands of views. That’s not the type of thing you see on Instagram or Facebook. Instagram’s algorithm prioritizes the account over the individual piece of content, relying on the number of followers that an account has to help determine how many people will see any given piece of content. On the other hand, TikTok is unique in the way it determines which pieces of content it elevates to present to people. The more a video is engaged with (i.e., the more it is liked, downloaded, and shared), the more TikTok presents that piece of content to people in their feed—this is such a refreshing approach!

Many in the space are applauding TikTok for rewarding the quality of a piece of content over the quantity of an account’s followers. What does this mean for you as a non-profit marketer? It means that it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a huge audience on TikTok. As a non-profit, you can still create content that is authentic to you, showcases your philanthropic work, and educates people about your social impact. As long as there’s an audience for your message, TikTok will help your message reach that audience, not find ways to minimize your presence on people’s feeds.

@nokidhungry

This #GivingSzn we thank you for your ExtraordinaryGenerosity. #TikTokPartner

♬ original sound – No Kid Hungry

So how do you know if there’s an audience for your message? Well, one easy step is to pay attention to what’s trending on TikTok (i.e., checking out which hashtags are popular at any given time). You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) just insert yourself into any conversation, but if there’s an authentic connection (a point of alignment between the cultural moment and your organizational or social impact story) then go for it! This is absolutely a great strategy for joining and helping to shape conversations at scale. You can learn more about how to identify which hashtags to use here.

Next Steps: Just Take it One Step at a Time

As you consider adding yet another platform into your digital marketing mix and try to anticipate the extra time and resources that might require, take a breath. Start by looking at your existing social strategy and reflect on how you can repurpose content you already have. You don’t need to go all-in on the first day. Once you’ve initiated your presence on TikTok and started to cultivate an audience, you can evaluate and decide how best to expand your strategy by creating content specifically for TikTok. For now, we encourage you to start by taking the steps we’ve outlined above to set up the building blocks of your TikTok strategy.

One last thing: There are a lot of great resources out there on TikTok. If you’re interested, we recommend Skillshare and Later as places to begin.

This article was written by Lindsay Williams.

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