Understanding the role of reputation as a business asset is critical. Reputation management shapes and influences the public perception of an individual, company, or brand. Today, the most accessible way to communicate is through the internet, meaning online reputation management is essential.
Corporate business is paying attention to TikTok and how brands can use the video-sharing platform to drive brand awareness and business growth. The industry is embracing TikTok into their arsenal of weaponry to manage and safeguard their reputations.
As with all social media platforms, there is a reputation risk to take heed of, but with understanding and careful planning, marketers can reap a treasure trove of the platform's rewards!
Consideration 1: Reputation management
Successful online reputation management depends mainly on controlling the narrative. That means planning and managing how your organisation communicates and engages online. Certain websites, social media platforms and news publications may not allow complete control of your organisation's (brand) narrative, which brings risks. Before signing up to join any online channel, investigate the level of control you will have in managing your organisation's reputation – this will come down to either complete control, moderated control, or no control.
- Total control domains support your organisation's right to free speech. It includes your website, blog, and any secondary websites your company owns.
- Moderated control domains provide access to an established online platform where you can communicate as a contributor but where a third party vets your content. This category includes sites like Wikipedia and digital magazines.
- No control domains are high-risk domains as they don't allow any control of your organisation's narrative online. Social media platforms fall within this category.
TikTok falls in the "no control" category, yet so many companies take the risk by getting a TikTok account regardless.
Consideration 2: Business purpose
Investigate how the platform will add value to your organisation. TikTok grabbed the attention of its inspired consumer audience, allowing it to grow exponentially. The platform gained massive popularity with notable brands, influencers, and their onward consumer followers.
But how can this social media platform serve a serious business-to-business audience?
It comes down to defining your purpose and strategic objectives – what do you want your organisation to achieve on the platform? Who do you want to reach, and how do you want to engage with them? What key messages/themes will drive your TikTok conversations? How will you manage content development, and is your content relevant, relatable, and engaging for the target audience?
If you answered "no" for any of the above, you might need to revisit your approach before joining TikTok. With content having the potential to go viral instantly, it is easy for any account owner to start impulsively posting on the app to stay relevant. Unplanned content is a gateway to damaging your reputation with severe consequences.
Partnering with established TikTok influencers could help position your organisation and brand narrative. Be sure that they are aligned with your values and that they understand your business. Research previous campaigns and ask for referrals for the influencer. If there are any proverbial red flags or participation in a "cancel culture" initiative, steer clear.
To make the sound and considered decision that will be what's best for your brand, it is crucial to know your audience and be able to create content that will serve your audience and place their needs in the centre of your business. Concerns aside, all new ventures are worth a try and worth a considered risk. The good thing is that TikTok is a free app, and the account can be deleted when you feel it does not align with your brand's voice. The decision is not a permanent choice.
Why are companies leveraging TikTok?
- To create entertaining content while informing the public of their brand.
- To create partnerships with influential creators.
- To run advertisements.
- To launch hashtag challenges to boost engagement with their audience.
Consideration 3: Good for business, good for brand
In addition to gaining access to an audience of 1 billion active monthly users worldwide as a marketing channel, TikTok presents organisations with an opportunity to reposition their brands strategically and creatively.
The platform has seen an increase in a new generation of influencers on the application – from healthcare professionals sharing advice to real estate companies sharing property listings. How content is being shared and engaged with shows that the platform is evolving, and according to statistics, 42% of users on TikTok are 30 to 49 years old. It indicates that the platform's demographic is much more diverse than assumed.
With all the different demographics on the platform, your organisation should target the correct audience for your brand. TikTok follows insights from data through the "For You Page" algorithm. The algorithm suggests videos to your audience that they interact with, accounts they follow, hashtags they use, their location and language preferences. Organisations can use these factors as a starting point to find an audience that aligns with their organisation to grow their brand.
People may forget, but the internet never forgets
With new technology fuelling growth in digital platforms, it is vital to establish a future-focused holistic view of how you would like to position your organisation online. It includes careful planning and understanding the opportunities and risks involved.
Embrace new skills and invite new people into your team
Your business purpose must take centre stage in all engagement activities. Your brand might now require developing a new digital engagement strategy that it did not need before. A digital policy framework must now guide your business through these unchartered digital waters and unpack how your organisation manages and engages online. These might be new skills that you have never required before, and either externally or internally, you will have to strengthen your team to unleash the benefit that TikTok can hold for your business!