Getting started on TikTok: a guide for charities
Video-sharing platform TikTok is a global phenomenon.
But its lockdown-fuelled rapid rise has left many charities bewildered. Organisations which once dismissed the platform as social media for lip-syncing tweens are now scrambling to catch up.
In this guide, we’ll look at how TikTok could become your number one route to the Gen Zers who will be your biggest fans in years to come.
And we’ll cover everything you need to know: from the basics like setting up an account, to developing a light-hearted yet authentic tone of voice, to learning how other charities are bossing it.
So is your #Charity ready?
1. How to set up your TikTok account
One of TikTok’s strengths is how easy it is to get started: all you need is a smartphone and an internet connection:
Step 1. Download the app onto your smartphone from Google Play or the iOS App Store.
Step 2. Open the app and go to the Profile icon.
Step 3. Click ‘sign up’ and decide which method to use: eg email or Facebook.
Step 4. Choose your username.
Step 5. Add a bio about your charity.
Step 6. Add a photo that sums up your work.
You’re in! To post content, you just need to click on the ‘+’ sign. But while TikTok is all about spontaneity and authenticity, as a charity, brand reputation is important. So to find the right balance, do a bit of legwork before you make your first video.
Click on the ‘Discover’ icon. You’ll see which videos, hashtags, sounds and effects are trending – perhaps giving you inspiration.
Look at other charities’ channels, and follow accounts you like. Your ‘For You Page’ (FYP) will fill with similar content – the power of algorithms!
Play around with the vast array of video editing features: filters, templates, effects, and stickers. Alternatively, you can edit your videos elsewhere before uploading them.
Start analysing what content performs well on TikTok, eg topics and tone of voice – there’s more on these below. How might your charity slot in?
2. How to boss TikTok
At first glance, TikTok is a perplexing place! Here are some of the key ways that charities can make the most out of it.
Want to tell people about your charity’s work? Or got something useful to teach people? It’s crucial that you do so in a fun way that helps build up a personal connection with viewers.
So try behind-the-scenes clips of your work, featuring volunteers and staff members.
Showcase the impact of what you do. If you’re talented or brave enough, try using music and dance – but don’t force it, or you risk seeming inauthentic (and doing yourself an injury!).
If you use Twitter and Instagram, you’ll have a handle on hashtags already. On TikTok, they’re the key to finding trends and joining in with your own content.
You’ll encounter hashtag challenges, often as part of TikTok for Good, e.g. #DanceForChange was launched by the UN to “create a virtual petition” for investment in sustainable agriculture. To set up your own, you’ll need a fun challenge, a memorable hashtag, and easy-to-follow instructions.
TikTok is all about nano or micro-influencers: non-celebs with between 1,000 and 100,000 followers who post a steady stream of engaging niche content.
They’re trusted and relatable, and are a great way of getting content to go viral, as engagement rates are higher than for other platforms.
So find out if any of your existing supporters are TikTok microinfluencers, or search for new ones under #Microinfluencers. Have a chat about ways you could work together.
Sharing to other platforms
Each social media platform has its own format, but there is some common ground. So just press the ‘share’ button to copy your video to your other channels.
You can use this to bring your followers on other platforms to your new TikTok account.
Wondering how all this content translates to cash for your charity?
TikTok recently introduced donation stickers, which can be added to certain charities’ videos and live-streams for viewers to make in-app donations. They’re being rolled out to more non-profits, so get ready now.
Fundraising from profiles
There’s another feature being rolled out that’s of interest to charities.
Followers can add the name of the non-profit they support to their profile, complete with a link to a donation page, meaning you can start building up your fanbase.
3. How charities are using TikTok
TikTok for charities is still quite new, so there’s plenty of scope for you to make your mark. Take a look at these charities for inspiration, and find more in our blog on the top five charity TikTok campaigns.
Be warned – TikTok quickly gets addictive! So think clearly about where it sits in your overall marketing strategy, and how much time and resource you can devote to it.
Also, remember that your social media activity might drive people towards your helplines, even if that’s not the direct aim of the campaign.
So your Marketing team needs to keep your Operations team up-to-speed with any activities that are planned, so they can provide the swift and smooth service that people expect.
Plus, those calls could come at any time that people are using TikTok – including at weekends or in the middle of the night.
At Connect Assist, we provide overflow or out-of-hours contact centre services to many charities, taking the pressure off your staff.
Finally, don’t forget to have fun! That’s what TikTok’s all about.
Citizens Advice deals with some complex topics: benefits, housing, and debt, to name just a few.
Their videos break these down into easy-to-understand chunks, fronted by relatable people and soundtracked with the latest tunes. TikTok has quickly become the organisation’s biggest social media platform.
Guide Dogs UK
Love animals? So does TikTok! That’s how Guide Dogs UK has amassed more than 12,000 followers. Its clips of puppies in training set to music, plus informational videos (do you know how a ping pong ball can help someone with sight loss?) will cheer up your ‘FYP’ (that’s For You Page)!
British Red Cross
It began with medics performing hand-washing, dancing videos during the pandemic.
It’s now covering vaccines, refugees, the climate crisis and much more, and boasts 400,000 followers. By putting its staff and volunteers centre stage, the British Red Cross is winning at TikTok – and it’s raising money too.
To mark Mental Health Awareness week during lockdown in 2020, Mind joined forces with TikTok for a hashtag challenge. #SpeakYourMind encouraged people to upload videos about the day-to-day difficulties they were facing as well as telling their loved ones that they cared about them.
At Connect Assist, we’re all about reaching more people through multichannel engagement.
Your charity’s social media campaigns can lead to a boom in people contacting your helplines at any time of the day or night.
So if you’re aiming to target younger people through TikTok, get in touch with us to discuss how our outsourced contact centre services can help you with peaks in demand or out-of-hours calls.